5 reasons why I love this new style for fall

The versatile sweater vest.

It’s been a long-standing staple that has graced the closets of many fashionistas for decades and yet I hadn’t experimented with this classic piece until now.

I never fully appreciated the puffer vest or really any vest as I always thought these looks weren’t exactly functional for cooler temps, nor were they all that flattering on my hour-glass frame.  When I discovered the softest stylish belted open sweater vest recently at the Loft, I figured why not at least try it on.  I was immediately blown away with how the sweater was so flattering and was the perfect way to add a chic layer to a chilly office without hiding the sculpted sleeves of my blouse (a major ongoing fashion trend).

Here’s 5 ways to style this refreshing trend for fall and where to find my current favorite pieces:

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Loft Sleeveless Coatigan $69.50

I love the soft fluffy material of this warm coatigan.  It comes in 3 colors (shown in charcoal), toasted oatmeal heather, and rioja (a burgandy red).  I purchased the oatmeal heather, which is a delicate cream that I can wear with almost any color.  I styled mine for the first time with dark grey cropped pants and a light blue blouse for the office.

I’m obsessed with the sweater options the Loft currently carries including this bold poncho and this casual vest in grey which I’m seriously considering purchasing for errands on the weekends.

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Anthropologie Shawl Vest $98.00

I love how this cozy update on the open cardigan is styled perfectly with a bell-sleeve turtleneck, allowing for all the details to shine.  The vest comes in two colors – camel (shown), and khaki (a dark blue and taupe combo).  Style these earthy neutrals with a pop of jewel tone a la Anthropologie with eggplant-hued tassel earrings.

Find more of the waterfall ruffle detail with this Adreana vest in ladylike mauve, or experiment with elegant faux fur as seen on this Basia vest.

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Anthropologie Anchorage Vest $168.00

How darling is this detailed ivory sweater vest, complete with a cozy faux fur collar and tassel trim.  I’d pair this with tall boots and a felt fedora for a stylish fall vibe.

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Nordstrom Rack Traveling Cables Vest $54.97

This sweater from Nordstrom Rack is the perfect alternative for a cozy date night.  Paired with leather leggings and velvet heels, the cardigan maintains its functionality of keeping you warm while adding a sophisticated touch for an evening out.  I’d dress up this look further with a skinny belt to cinch in the waist.

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Dillards Double Knit Vest $99.00

This adorable light grey knit vest can easily transition from day to night throughout the season.  When pairing outerwear over a dress, keep the dress length a touch shorter than the length of the vest or trench coat to polish off the look (as seen above).  I’d add a few silver bangles or statement earrings for cocktails out, or wear the vest with boyfriend jeans and ankle boots for brunch with friends.

What do you think?  How would you wear this refreshing fall trend?  Please let me know in the comments below!

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5 things on my mind right now

It’s Friday!!

We’re approaching that ever elusive hour of just getting off work and starting the weekend.  As my workday winds down, my mind is racing with all the plans and things I want to do and accomplish this weekend and during the next coming days.  I once read that when you are so completely distracted by your thoughts and to-dos, the best way to regain focus and calm is to jot down everything.  So here goes!

Hiking in southern Missouri – Mike and I have made plans to do a long hike early Saturday morning with some friends and then reward ourselves with a winery visit afterwards.  We’re doing the scenic 4 mile stretch of St. Joe State Park and I’m especially excited for this as we’re bringing Penny (our German Shorthair Pointer pup) and our friends are bringing along their GSP puppy, Lucie.  Penny and Lucie have not yet met and we’re super curious to see how they will interact during the hike.

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Twin Oaks Vineyard and Winery – Post-hike we’ll be driving to Twin Oaks which is about 20 minutes from the park.  I will not only need to come up with a hiking outfit but also clothes to change into for the winery.  It is always quite challenging for me to come up with one cute outfit to pack so wish me luck on narrowing down my choices (currently debating between a maxi dress, flowy maxi skirt and crop top, denim shorts and long-sleeved buttoned down, or a romper).  At least after that first glass of wine I won’t care what I’m wearing!

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Gulf Coast Jam in Panama City Beach – Mike and I are super excited for Labor Day weekend this year because we will be spending it on the beach!  We’re taking a short 5 day trip to PCB with friends and spending Friday through Sunday at Gulf Coast Jam, their annual country music festival.  This year Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, and Luke Bryan are headlining and I can’t wait to enjoy rocking out to some incredible music by the ocean.

 

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In-ground pools – Yes, random, but hear me out.  While we love our small 2 bedroom city home dearly, Mike and I would like to potentially upgrade and we’re always on the search for our next home.  While keeping updated on the housing market, we’re also making a list of some of our “dream needs.”  We are currently obsessed with the idea of having a very small in-ground spa-like pool for our next home.  I love the new trend of these delightful little wading pools that provide just enough refuge from the heat without overwhelming your entire backyard.

 

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Welcome Fall! – Oddly enough, the weather here in St. Louis has been phenomenal.  We are experiencing sunny days with highs in the low 80s and cool crisp evenings… completely unheard of for August in the Midwest.  Naturally, this cool refreshing weather has got me absolutely ready for Fall.  My wardrobe is slowly transitioning with a rotation of deeper hues and cozy fabrics (including my favorite purchase of the year so far – a pair of caramel suede low-heeled ankle boots ).  I’m also looking forward to updating our home decor and upon our return from our final summer vacation to PCB, I fully intend on dragging Mike with me to World Market for some autumn inspiration.

 

Happy Friday everyone!

 

 

 

The perfect jumpsuit

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw today’s post with one of my favorite new styles – the culotte jumpsuit.  The waist-defining, cropped wide-leg makes this look surprisingly flattering for all body types.  It’s a refreshing take on the breezy summer midi dress and can be dressed up with a great pair of heels for fancy events or worn casually with sandals for daytime.  Scroll down to see more examples of this versatile look, then tell me which ones are your faves in the comments section below!

 

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Cami Straps Frill Trim Jumpsuit – $26
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Bardot Tropical Print Backless Jumpsuit – $25
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Aztec Print Tassel Tie Neck Jumpsuit – $22
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Self Tie Halter Surplice Jumpsuit – $18
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Rose Print Surplice Belted Jumpsuit – $22

My top dress picks for a black-tie wedding

June 1st has arrived…of course with summer time officially here, that also means wedding season is in FULL swing.  I love the opportunity to get dressed up for a wedding especially if the wedding invite reads “black-tie invited.”  But what is that exactly??  I have interpreted that to mean cocktail or floor-length dresses, sports coats and ties,  and absolutely under no circumstances denim of any kind.  For a friend’s upcoming summer nuptials, I decided to turn to the wedding attire experts at Rent the Runway and wanted to share a few of my favorite picks from their summer line-up (just released!).

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Nicole Miller Mint Pleated Sweetheart Dress – $80 Rental

I love the elegance of the summery light mint color of this dress and the silky fabric paired with lace detail makes it just formal enough for a black-tie occasion.

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Jay Godfrey Yellow Gatlin Dress – $55 Rental

There’s nothing like a bright yellow hue for summertime.  This color is not only a stand-out, but it compliments all skin tones.  The ruffle detail and #OTS look is super on-trend and adds a formal vibe to this midi confection.

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Badgley Mischka Red Odessa Crossover Gown – $100 Rental

Who doesn’t love a floor-length red gown?  This flattering bright hue translates to all seasons and the cut-outs add appeal without taking away from the black-tie vibes.

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Jay Godfrey Blush Flutter Cut Gown – $100 Rental

Another floor-length gem but in a muted blush that doesn’t quite steal the whole show.  I love the flirty hem of this frock – how can you resist showing that off on the dance floor?

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Shoshanna Mint Flutter Dress – $65 Rental

The pale green on this flirty number is so refreshing for summer and the added flutter sleeves keep it formal, while the short hem-line is perfect for showing off your summer tan.  I’d add lots of bling with a statement necklace and cuff bracelet to keep the look refined and fancy.

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Jay Godfrey Fuchsia Torres Gown – $80 Rental

How gorgeous is the hot pink color of this dress?  In a world full of blushes and rose-gold, this gown is quite the pick-me-up!  The cascading ruffle detail adds even more interest and the front slit will surely turn heads while keeping the look breezy for a classic summer wedding.

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Jay Godfrey Periwinkle Ruffle Slit Dress – $50 Rental

If you’re wanting an effortless formal wedding outfit, look no further than this lovely midi dress in a light lavender.  The fabric and ruffle detail make this dress perfectly black-tie appropriate, while the fun front slit and refreshing color is sure to wow.  Play up the clean lines of this look with bold chandelier earrings and metallic strappy heels.

Which look is your favorite??  What would you wear to a black-tie summer wedding?  Let me know in the comments section below!

How to save time with these easy makeup tips

My morning makeup routine has changed dramatically since I began wearing makeup at 13.  Back then I was much more cover-up driven and focused on eliminating oil and shine…now at 30, my priorities have shifted.  I never leave the house without applying moisturizer to keep my skin healthy and glowing.

Typically the goal of my beauty routine is to keep my makeup looking natural, fresh, and wearable throughout the day.  I work in an office from 8 – 5 weekly and the environment is “conservative business professional” … so I try to keep a smooth appearance without wearing anything too heavy.  I’ve now mastered applying my daily beauty look in under 10 minutes…here’s how.

I start with a clean face, and apply my favorite moisturizer immediately after stepping out of the shower.  I love Olay’s Active Hydrating Facial Moisturizer for its clean, lightweight feel and it provides the perfect base without drying out my skin.  Lately, I’ve become obsessed with applying the light cream to the thin skin under and around my eyes and lids to post-pone those wrinkles as much as possible.  It also acts as a great primer for eye liner and highlighter if I’m doing a more glam, evening look.

Next I apply a liquid foundation with a makeup sponge (these cosmetic wedges from Target my faves).  My go-to foundation is L’Oreal’s True Match in Nude Beige.  It’s extremely light-weight and goes on quickly and evenly.  I’m a big fan of keeping my makeup feeling clean and this foundation achieves just that.  Plus it’s got SPF 17 built-in so I save myself that extra step of safe-guarding my skin from UV rays all year round.

To set my look, I dust a light layer of sheer powder with Bare Minerals – Mineral Veil Finishing Powder.  This stuff is incredible for smoothing out my skin and adding a glowing finish without looking too shiny.  It’s also great for all skin tones so I don’t have the added stress of matching pigments to my specific skin tone.

I have two makeup brushes that I use daily – a large brush for all-over powder and a smaller size for applying blush (this brand is my absolute go-to for its soft rich bristles that work well with sensitive skin).  I rarely leave the house without applying a soft blush to give a refreshed appearance.  Lately I’ve been using NYX Ombre Blush in Nude to Me.  This product has built-in highlights to create a radiating affect.  I start at the apples of my cheeks and sweep a fine dusting in a diagonal upwards towards my hair-line.  Depending on the time of year I’ll mix up the blush shades, using a more rosy hue during the winter months and incorporate corals and bronzes during the summer to compliment my changing skin tone.

I’ll do a quick curl of my eyelashes and next I’ll focus on my brows.  I never paid any attention to my eyebrows until a few years ago when I signed up for a complimentary makeup tutorial at Sephora.  I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding and instead of paying for professional makeup, I decided to take the plunge and purchase the high quality stuff and learn how to apply it expertly myself.  It was well worth it as I still use those application techniques (including brow shaping!) today.  I like to swipe a dark brown shade of fine brow powder and I then define the color with a small brow brush.  This quick makeup trick helps to make my eyes and brows pop without needing to add eye liner.

My very last step for makeup is mascara.  I apply a few swipes to each set of lashes and use a Q-tip to clean up any smudges should they occur.  I try to purchase fresh mascara every month or so to keep my lashes clean and void of pesky bacteria.  I’m currently using L’Oreal’s Original Voluminous mascara in their darkest shade to make my eyes pop.

And less than 10 minutes later I’m out the door!  Scroll down for a before and after from this morning’s application as well as the products I’m currently loving.

What are some of your favorite makeup products, tips and tricks??  Let me know in the comments below!

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Pre Beauty Routine
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Post Beauty Routine

A small anecdote in growing up an #introvert

I was 6 going on 7 in second grade at Immaculate Conception school in a tiny little town in Southern Illinois.  With a late-May birthday, I was one of the younger children in my class throughout middle school.  I was shy, hyper-aware of everyone around me, and easily distracted by other people and their thoughts about me.  I was a born introvert.

My teacher in second grade, Mrs. Stechmesser (a thin, light-complected woman with jet black hair perpetually styled in a tidy bob), had a favorite habit of rewarding the class with candy to get us to behave.  She kept a glass jar filled to the brim with Jolly Ranchers displayed on her rectangular pine desk.

While Jolly Ranchers were indeed my all-time favorite candy, I always seemed to be on my best behavior in any class through out my childhood.  I knew some classmates misread this as a classic “teacher’s pet,” and yes, while I also possessed the annoying habit of being a bona-fide people-pleaser, I mainly attributed my stock-pile of Jolly Ranchers to my quiet, introverted nature.

I can remember following my fellow second-graders into the classroom after each recess.  They would be hot and red-faced, loud and hyper from the outdoor activity, and not too keen on returning to their quiet school work.  I, on the other hand, would walk quickly to my desk, sit down carefully, and as Mrs. Stechmesser instructed, lay my head down on my arms and close my eyes.  She expected the whole class to eventually do the same and would of course reward those who remembered with candy.  For her it was a quick and easy method to calm down a room of 25 kids without having to raise her voice, and it was quite effective.  However, I always seemed to be the first to win this game after each recess.

And it wasn’t intentional.  I excelled at being quiet.

I loved closing my eyes and escaping the noise and clutter of that chaotic room and getting a few moments to collect my thoughts while I patiently waited for my fellow classmates to relax.  I couldn’t help but be the first one in that room to block out the world and all its distractions…and what was so funny to me, was that the LAST thing I wanted to gain from that exercise was to be called out in front of an entire audience of 25 rowdy classmates while accepting my candy reward.

I remember at the time (yes even at 6 years old) how painful it felt and how my ears burned walking up to that jar of candy on Mrs. Stechmesser’s desk in front of the entire room whose attention was now 100% focused on me.  After selecting a brightly colored plastic-wrapped square of sugar, I would scuttle back to my seat and stare straight ahead until my classmates eventually lost interest and the moment would pass.

Shy, maybe.

Anti-social, not all the time.

Introverted, absolutely.

How to impress your friends with these 4 fresh cocktails

My best kept secret for hosting an incredible party?  A signature cocktail!

Every good party comes with a single cocktail that guests can sip on throughout the evening.  Not only does a signature cocktail provide a fun way to add interest to your party, it also gives your guests the added convenience of choosing a yummy drink so they can concentrate on what’s priority – socializing!

I’d recommend having a small selection of wine and beer on hand as well, however in my experience, friends always choose the signature cocktail when offered.  It gives guests an immediate icebreaker as well as a way to connect to new acquaintances.  Everyone’s enjoying the same drink and starting off on an even playing field.

As temps rise and we begin the glorious spring season full of late night BBQs and patio parties, here’s my top 4 freshened up cocktails to add to your next get-together.

Pink Lady

This bubbly concoction is ideal for bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, or a girls’ night in.  I love the summery coral pink shade of grapefruit mixed with fizzy champagne.  It’s a light, sweet way to mix up this classic celebratory beverage.

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Add 2 parts champagne to 1 part chilled grapefruit juice and garnish with a tiny wedge of grapefruit.  Optional – soak the rim of your champagne flute in grapefruit juice and coat sugar or pink sprinkles on the glass for some added girly flair.

Summer Slush

Hosting the next casual BBQ?  Add this fancy summertime drink to your menu.  Refreshing lemonade mixed with sweet raspberry vodka makes this beverage the perfect dessert to top off an evening of burgers and brats.  The crushed ice gives it a full on ballpark aesthetic that both guys and girls will love.

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To mix a batch of this drink ahead of time, add 1 cup of raspberry flavored vodka or rum (Bacardi makes my favorite) to 1.75 liters of lemonade (or 1 jug of Simply Lemonade) to a pitcher.  Stir well and add more liquor depending on your preference.  Leave the pitcher in the fridge to chill.  As your guests arrive, pour the drink over crushed ice and serve with a lemon wedge or garnish with fresh raspberries.

The Cinco

Looking to make the perfect, classic margarita for your next holiday bash?  This recipe is yummy, easy and always a hit.  I love using several ingredients to whip up a batch of margaritas (in place of sugary pre-made grocery store mixes) to really impress my friends.

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You’ll need the following:

  • 1 750 ml bottle Silver tequila
  • 2 cups Triple Sec
  • 1 1/2 cups lime juice
  • fresh limes
  • sea salt

Combine the tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice into a pitcher and chill.  Dice the limes into wedges and slice a cut into the top of each wedge.  Wipe the rim of your glasses with a lime wedge and twirl the rim into a dish of sea salt to garnish.  Serve the drink over ice.

Rockin’ Rosé

This is my favorite quick, easy signature cocktail to add some punch to a party.  To try this amped-up take on the blush wine trend all you need is a few bottles of your rosé of choice and fresh blackberries.  For a drink this simple, I like to add appeal by serving the rosé in glasses of varying styles (think champagne flute, cordial, brandy glass, highball glass, and martini glasses).  Pop a few blackberries into the drink and you’re done!

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Having a signature cocktail is an easy way to take your party to the next level.  Impress and treat your friends to a yummy beverage and take the guesswork out of what to prepare for your next event.

Which ones are your faves??

How to crush spring style with these top picks

I’m so ready to embrace longer days and warmer weather!  As spring heats up, so do my cravings for refreshing new trends and unique styles.  Here’s a sampling of my current faves and where to find them (under budget!).

Palazzo pants

Break away from the skinny jeans (an exhausted trend that everyone’s been wearing since their debut in 2007) and slip on an ultra-flattering pair of wide leg, flowy palazzo pants.  I love how the slimming vertical stripes add a cute springy nautical flair.  Style with a body-hugging off the shoulder sweater to balance out the voluptuousness of the silhouette.

Striped Palazzo Pants
Forever 21 $22.90

 

Feminine bomber jacket

Layering is essential during spring, and my current favorite way to stay warm while out on the town is by adding a comfy bomber jacket.  Find a style with floral prints, silky fabric, or light blush hues to maintain a feminine vibe while playing up your cool-girl status (and staying warm!).  I love the romantic print of this floral bomber and I’d wear over a white tee and dark blue denim for daytime.

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Jennifer Lopez for Kohls $66.00

 

Pastel crossbody bag

I’m a sucker for a good crossbody and Sole Society has the perfect line of pastel hued vegan leather and suede bags for spring.  They create the ideal way to carry around your cell, keys, wallet, and lipgloss.  I love the convenience of a compact, hands-free crossbody bag for running errands on hectic weekends.  This lovely pale blue shade is a refreshing neutral alternative for spring.

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Rowen Mini Crossbody $49.95

 

Culotte romper

Culottes are an extremely chic way to upgrade your pants.  They are slimming, comfy, and do a fab job of showcasing your gorgeous footwear.  Even more practical for a girl on the go, is a culotte romper which eliminates the need to throw together an entire outfit.  I’d add a light silky scarf for daytime and a belted long open front cardigan for chilly evenings.

 

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Lotus Ruffle Jumpsuit $89.50

 

Block heels

As a girl who loves her neutrals, I’m always looking to add a pop of color when it comes to accessories.  The latest trend in heels helps me do just that with ankle-strap block heels available in colors ranging from black and tan to bright fuchsia and cotton candy blue.  I love the heel height and bold lipstick red of these chic sandals from Target.  I’d keep the rest of my outfit low-key, pairing with light blue denim and a flowy white blouse for spring.

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Marcella Low Block Heel Pumps $27.99

 

 

What styles are you dying to try this spring?

My responses to the biggest love dilemmas

Valentine’s day is tomorrow!

Are you and your significant other making plans?

Or are you a #singleton ready to take the city by storm with your squad?

Or perhaps you haven’t given the holiday a second thought and are much more focused on the latest episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airing tomorrow night.

Whichever you may be, here are my opinions on some of the biggest mysteries of love and relationships in an little ode to Valentine’s Day.

1.  Do you believe in love at first sight?

I’ve never personally experienced love at first sight, but I do believe that anything is possible.  I’m not the most dramatic person and rarely do I “wear my heart on my sleeve,” however I think there are people who love fiercely and never question their emotions.  I met my college boyfriend at a party during our junior year and as we began talking, I instantly knew that we would be a couple, however I didn’t think I was in love until months later.

2.  Longest relationship and why?

My current one.  My husband and I have been together for 4 years (married for 6 months).  Our communication has been stronger than any other past relationship I’ve experienced.  We both had spent a significant amount of time being single prior to dating and I think that greatly strengthened our knowledge of who we are as individuals and the type of person we would be most compatible with.  We also happen to be complete opposites in a variety of ways which I think only bonds us closer.

3.  Favorite celebrity duo?

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt.

4.  Have you ever been dumped?

Once and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me in terms of my love life.  I learned so much about myself post break-up and I grew immensely as an individual.  It was my long-term college boyfriend who I thought I’d marry and play housewife while he got his vet degree.  I was blindsided at first but hindsight is truly 20-20 and I’ve only been grateful that he was able to read the writing on the wall when I could not.  I enrolled in post-graduate classes, paid off my car, got a second retail job in addition to working my accounting day job, and eventually made enough money to comfortably buy a home in the city.  My friendships were strengthened and multiplied and I really enjoyed getting to know who I was and what I was capable of on my own.  I also lost 20 pounds!

5.  What’s your breakup playlist?  

I’m not a very patient person and I don’t tend to mourn and listen to slow, moody music…I coped with my breakup through angry alternative rock songs with pumped up beats that motivated me during long workouts.  My favorite way to get over the sadness and hurt that comes with rejection was to jog it out for long miles around my parents’ neighborhood in the burbs.  Britney Spears’ #Stronger was my anthem.

6.  Deal-breakers?

I’ve been very fortunate that basically all my relationships were fairly healthy and I truly dated some great guys.  There’s no bad blood between me and any ex…100% of my relationships fizzled out when the attraction slowly went away.  A primary deal-breaker for me would be if I’m not feeling like I’m his main priority.  If you’re not into me, don’t waste my time.

7.  What’s your breakup mentality for what you do with the sentimental stuff? (Notes, cards, presents, etc.) Do you give it back? Hold onto it?

Throw it all away.  I purge every last evidence of the relationship.  I also don’t keep in contact with any of my exes.  If we didn’t have social media, I probably wouldn’t remember half their names from high school and early college years.  Nothing against them, I just don’t like to live in the past and I think it makes it very hard to open yourself up to a new relationship and gain the trust of someone you’re wanting to date when you can’t let go of that ex-baggage.

8.  What’s your take on taking a break?

I’ve never done this before, probably because I don’t believe in it.  If either person is feeling like they want out, it needs to be over.  Especially the older we get, life is too short to waste time with someone you’re not really sure you want to be with.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get your space.  I’m crazy-introverted, and when my husband and I first began dating, he was able to recognize those qualities in me.  He would make a point to give me some alone time after work before he stopped by so I could re-energize and re-group.  And after awhile, I discovered I wasn’t so dependent on that alone time and I grew to prefer to be with him as much as possible.

9.  Valentine’s Day – do you celebrate?

I’ve always loved this holiday, single or not.  It happens to be my Dad’s birthday (he turns 60 tomorrow!) so that was always a good reason for chocolate cake and visiting loved ones.  I attended an all-girls private high school and we were allowed to wear pink or red and jeans to celebrate the day (versus our strict uniforms) and I loved the excuse for a new outfit to parade around my friends.  With or without a significant other, I always liked the idea of celebrating love, whether you’ve already found it or are waiting for the one to come your way.

Southern Caribbean Cruise – Part 2

After spending a leisurely day in the beaches of Barbados, Mike and I were looking forward to another adventurous island visit.

Our forth stop of our excursion brought us to the gorgeous jungles of Grenada.  This tiny, quaint island provided some incredible natural scenery.  We booked a trek for the day which began with a roller-coaster bus ride through the winding little town of St. George.  We hiked with a tour guide who enthusiastically showed us every spice (nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon) and tropical plant life (banana tree, cocoa seed and aloe plant)  growing freely along our path.  The end of our trek brought us to the cascading Bamboo Falls, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

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Fun times on a muddy trek through Grenada
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Bamboo Falls – Grenada

We were told Grenada boasts some of the finest chocolate in the world due to the pure properties of the cocoa seed they harvest from their island.  We decided we must try this delicious treat and easily found chocolate bars in many different flavors for sale in the shops nearby the port.  We selected hazelnut-infused and dark sweet chocolate bars.  Similar to a Hershey’s #pip, the candy was divided into mini bricks, and it did not disappoint.  The chocolate was rich and flaky, giving us the perfect pick-me-up after our long tropical hike.

After Grenada, our cruise diverted from the casual island-vibe, Bob Marley feel to a more formal, crisp, Dutch colonial atmosphere.  We made our way to the colorful city of Willemstad, Curacao on day 7, reaching the port in the early afternoon.  We again decided to experience the island’s favorite beaches and took a quick taxi to Playa Porto Mari.

While this beach was much more rocky than we were used to, it provided amazing snorkeling opportunities with all the diverse reefs collecting among the shoreline.  While Mike was searching for marine life, I made friends with a group of blonde, blue-eyed Germans from Hamburg.  They spoke extremely fluent English, and actually communicated to each other in Polish.  This was their first visit to the island and they were loving their vacation as much as we were.

Since our schedule at this port began later in the day, we weren’t departing until 9 that evening.  Mike and I were excited to witness a bit of the night life on the island and enjoyed a long walk through the city after leaving the beach.  We took a ferry to the main hub of the city and found a casual seafood restaurant where we dined outside and sampled fried tilapia and scallops.

On our walk back to the cruise ship, we crossed the Queen Emma Bridge which is actually hinged to open for boats passing through.

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Indulging at Playa Porto Mari
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Rocky beaches of Playa Porto Mari
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Viewing Willemstad from the Queen Emma Bridge
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Queen Emma Bridge, all lit up

 

Our final destination brought us to the sleepy little town of Kralendijk, Bonaire.  We arrived bright and early on day 8 and ventured out to our last beach stop.  We discovered a wind-surfing hotspot in Sorobon Beach and posted up on our lounge chairs.  The beach was surrounded by a natural, government-portected reef, keeping the waters calm and full of wildlife.  We were again in awe of the incredible clearness of the water and spotted many tiny fish swimming happily around our toes.

While at the beach, we drank pina coloda smoothies with rum and feasted on fried cheese, a Dutch favorite.  Our bartenders were two young girls from Denmark, working the island on their holiday break.

After the beach, we took the 20 minute taxi ride back into town and marveled at the rows of multi colored shops and restaurants packed into the city streets.  Famished from our day at the beach, Mike and I stopped into a local Dutch brewery for a pint and their delicious take on Swedish meatballs (essentially fried sausage and cheese).  YUM.

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Sorobon Beach – Bonaire
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Windsurf Boards piled high on Sorobon Beach
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Sampling local fair 

After departing the lovely island of Bonaire, we had almost three days of travel at sea before arriving back on American soil in Fort Lauderdale.  We spent the trip home debating our favorite islands (we still can’t decide), favorite excursions, and favorite hotspots.  We’re already planning our next trip back!

Mike and I had a honeymoon of a lifetime and we couldn’t ask for a better way to begin our lives together.