Monday, August 19, 2019

Affordable Fall Fashion Under $40








With the start of fall just one short month away, and back to school season in full swing - I am teaming up with Walmart today to bring you an affordable and easy look for fall! Earlier this year, I shared these head to toe Walmart Fashion finds, and you all couldn't believe how good the jeans were; and to be honest, I couldn't either! So this time, I set out to find a pair just as good but in the ever so popular boyfriend cut. Boyfriend jeans are probably my most reached for, and most worn jean style in my closet. They are easy to dress up, easy to dress down, and mix well with high and low staple pieces. 

These are from Sofia Vergara's collection with Walmart (which by the way, if you haven't checked this collection out, you should), and come in at under $30! I am wearing a size 4 for reference, and they do run true to size. I have the hem of these jeans rolled down, but for a more casual look you can roll them up once. I paired them with a casual white t-shirt, and this duster cardigan from Sofia's collection, which comes in 4 colors with 2-day delivery. It's soft, super versatile, and looks great paired over a dress, or jean shorts as well. 

While I was searching through their website, I also came across this under $10 sweatshirt that I'm really excited about! I sized up to a Medium in it for a more oversized fit -- and again, it's another item that can be dressed up or down super easily! I'll be sharing a few more pieces I found on Instagram stories today (including a killer top for work), so make sure to tune in there to see!

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*In partnership with Walmart. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About the Jordan Edwards Fitness Program









Alright, alright friends! It's time for another fitness related post, because that's been my most frequently asked about topic as of late. What is my routine? Does it work? How long do the results take? What do you eat? Today I'm answering all of your questions about the fitness program that helped me lose 4 lbs and 3% body fat in just 4 weeks!

What is the Jordan Edwards Fitness Challenge?

If you're a regular around here, then you probably saw my before and after photos of this challenge over on Instagram a couple weeks ago. The Jordanke Fitness Challenge is a 4 week fitness program complete with a meal plan crafted by fitness trainer Jordan Edwards!

The program consists of 6 workouts a week that alternate muscle groups daily. Each workout consists of 15-20 minutes of high-intensity cardio like treadmill sprints, stair master, or walking at a steep incline, followed by a series of weight lifting. Two of the 6 days are dedicated to quads, legs and glutes, while the other 3 days a week are focused on upper body strength with 1 day at the end of the week for only HIIT training to allow your body to rest and rebuild. Abs are also incorporated into the back end of three workouts per week, alternating days.

Time Investment 

I talked about this in my social media post regarding the challenge, but in total, each workout lasts anywhere from 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes depending on which muscle group you are working. Days with abs are always closer to an hour and a half, while days without abs tend to run closer to 1 hour 15 min.

Financial Investment

There are different tiers you can purchase for this challenge depending on your meal plan preferences, but I spent $90 on the first challenge which included the workouts in a PDF file, as well as a coordinating meal plan for the duration of the program. I will be beginning my second challenge with Jordan on August 12th, in which I chose to do custom macro coaching which ran around $135. I decided to opt for this the second go around as I really wanted to be able to consult with her regarding whether or not my macros were where they are supposed to be based off my fitness goals, and to have the ability to adjust them with her based off how my body feels! On the flip side, what's different about this program vs many others is that Jordan actually offers the chance to win money at the end of the 4 week program for those who have the most significant changes! Winners are picked solely on her discretion via before and after photos submitted to her, and participating in sending the photos is completely optional (but worth it in my opinion as the prizes can be thousands in cash). She also runs mini challenges each week for things like Lululemon gift cards, supplements, and free entries into future challenges!

What does a typical day look like?

I found out about this program through a girlfriend of mine who had incredible results! I was inspired by her to join, and we used the buddy system to hold each other accountable throughout this last challenge. We start our workouts at 6 AM - beginning with the cardio portion first. Cardio is different daily, so some days we begin on the stair master while other days we begin with the treadmill. Regardless, we complete 10-15 minutes of cardio and then move on to weights. From here, we follow the guide provided by Jordan for each days muscle group, and then end our workouts with the remaining cardio (usually another 10 minutes). Weights are sectioned off into a main exercise, and a superset to the right of each main exercise. Supersets are not mandatory, however, we complete all of them and they are totally doable! While Meryl completes the main exercise, I complete the superset and then we swap until all reps are finished! This is also super helpful if you are doing the "gym" version of Jordan's plan as it can be challenging to occupy two pieces of equipment when the gym is busy (it's packed at 6 AM). On days that include abs, we complete abs after weights!

How long did it take to see results?

Every ones body is totally different! Some of the girls in the support group on Facebook saw results as fast as the first week, while others like myself didn't really start to see significant changes until about week three! Overall, over 4 weeks time I lost 4 lbs and 3% body fat by simply following the plan as instructed and completing all of the workouts! I took a two week break after the first challenge, and then came home from vacation and started the program over again! I have now completed almost 7 weeks of her workouts and am starting to see crazy definition in my quads and shoulders! Meryl is a much more petite female than myself, and saw incredible changes during her first four weeks, and even greater muscle gain during her second challenge with Jordan! Like I mentioned above, everyone will progress at their own rate - the point is that you're creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself that should hopefully carry on beyond the challenge. I should note, I continued my journey with Ro (personal trainer) during the challenge - meaning I worked out twice in one day 3 days a week during the challenge!

Is the meal plan easy to follow?

Girl, YES! It's so easy to follow and I absolutely loved what I was eating! I never felt like I was "dieting" or restricting myself of certain things, and I also never felt hungry - which is important because I'm a snacker! If you work full time, the meals are easy to prep on Sundays and take to work with you as well. Jordan also suggests incorporating intermittent fasting into your meals, and provides a breakdown of what time to eat each meal at depending on the length of your fast. Meals include things like overnight oats, protein smoothies, salads with grilled chicken, omelettes, avocado toast etc. Personally, I think the meals and accountability for sticking to those is a huge factor in the success of your results with this program! Something else worth noting that I really appreciated was a built in cheat meal on Friday nights! My hubby and I LOVE doing date night on Fridays and this allowed me to eat lighter during the day so that when I went out to eat that evening, I had room in my daily nutrient goal to cheat without feeling guilty! I used MyFitnessPal to track all of my foods, and saved all the recipes under the "meals" tab prior to the challenge so I could easily just click it and move it over with each meal without having to enter each separate ingredient for every meal.

Any advice for a first time challenge participant?

Buddy System

First of all, cheers to you for participating! The first step to a healthier lifestyle, is making a change. In terms of advice, I really recommend the buddy system! Even outside of this challenge, the buddy system has been one of the biggest drivers behind my motivation. It's also the reason I love personal training so much. I did this first challenge together with my girlfriend Meryl, and I truly think it makes a difference in how hard you push yourself, never skipping a day, and just to have someone to talk too who can relate to your experience! Ideas for people to recruit could be your husband, boyfriend, sister, friend from work, or anyone in your life that's expressed interest in being healthier maybe!

Using MyFitnessPal Efficiently 

 Something else I think makes things a lot easier is going through the meal plan prior to the challenge and adding each recipe as a "meal" in MyFitnessPal. Tracking your foods daily can seem like a lot of work if you're constantly having to enter each ingredient of the meal into your app manually. If you save all the recipes as meals, you can just click that meal and move it over in seconds when you need too! It also allows you the opportunity to put all the meals suggested into an "ideal" day of eating prior to the challenge to see if it lines up with the macro goals you've set for yourself! If it doesn't, you can adjust and swap foods out to end up within your goal prior to actually eating them! 

Muscle Massage Gun 

My last piece of advice is one that actually came from Meryl! It's a little bit of an investment, but I really think it's worth it. I was super sore after the first week of the challenge and just wanted to punch my thigh muscles with my first to get them to loosen up! Meryl suggested getting a muscle massage gun like this one. This is something she uses, and really recommends to help keep your muscles from being too sore to workout! I just ordered one myself and can't wait to use it this next go around! 

PS: If you have a killer sweet tooth like me, and want a healthy option to curb the cravings - give this no bake energy bites recipe a look! They've saved my life when the chocolate cravings kick in full force.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Master Bedroom Reveal












2 years in the making, and it's finally done... for now!! Excited to share our master bedroom with you guys today. Home decor has been the number one request amongst my readers lately, and I'm hoping to deliver on that, one project at a time. I'm including the links to everything in our room at the bottom of this post! 

I wanted our bedroom to be a place of serenity; somewhere we wanted to retreat too. I find so often that people love to travel to luxurious hotels because it feels nicer than their own home, but you spend the most time in your home - so why not make it equally as luxurious!? While I love all things bright and vibrant in my clothing, I like my home to be neutral. Neutrals represent a calming effect for me, and the light and airy tones make me feel awake and energized. While I still don't think it's "perfect" (because let's be honest, decorating is expensive), I'm getting there! I'd love to rip up the carpet and lay hardwoods in here in the future, and I'd also like to switch out the shag rug for something with a little pattern. With that said, here is where we are at with it right now! 

Furniture

- Bed // Crate & Barrel
- Bench // Wayfair
-Dresser // Pottery Barn
- Mirror // Ikea
-Nightstands // Pottery Barn

Textiles

- Shag rug // Crate & Barrel
- Curtains // Pottery Barn
- Bedding // Crate & Barrel 

Decor 

-  Pictures frames above bed // Framebridge
- Picture frame on nightstand // Kendra Scott
- Gold & marble candle on nightstand // Anthropologie 
- White faux peonie flowers on nightstand // Crate & Barrel
- Peace sign on nightstand // Theory Design Studio 
- Infinity Roses // Grand Fleur
- Large potted Orchid on dresser // Crate & Barrel

Art work 

- Abstract painting // Shain Gallery 

Lighting 

- Table lamps // West Elm
- 10-light Chandelier // Wayfair

Paint Color

-Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

2019 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: What To Buy


Where in the world did this summer go?! I feel like it's still just getting started, but the 2019 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale launches THIS week, and today I'm sharing everything you need to know to navigate the sale successfully. This guide will give you early access dates, benefits of being a credit card holder, access to the catalog, my favorite buys from last years sale, your favorite buys from last years sale and the 6 items I think are most worth purchasing during the sale after 3 years of shopping it as an influencer.

Just like last year, I will be shopping the sale in person on launch day so that I can provide you with the most optimal in-store shopping experience! This means I will be taking you along with me throughout the store via stories in real time, so if you don't already follow me over on Instagram click here to do so. I will break down my favorite items from women's wear, shoes, handbags, and beauty products and will be updating this post as I go (so be sure to bookmark it so you can easily refer back). 

2019 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Blog posts:
Give these a look for an idea of what to expect! This sale is very similar year to year, with slight variations in color tones and brands, but you will see lots of similar items on sale again this year and price points tend to stay within the same ranges.

2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale -- most beneficial read!
- Suede Moto Jacket from the 2018 Sale
- What You Need To Know + 2017's Best Sellers

- New links for additional posts will be located here once sale is live! 

FAQ's

 The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, nicknamed #Nsale on social media, is Nordstroms biggest sale of the year. For a limited period of time, Nordstrom offers brand new fall styles at deeply discounted prices. During the #Nsale, no promo code is needed - you will see the original price listed under the item of interest online, as well as the Nordstrom sale price below it. 

When is the 2019 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?
Nordy Club Icon and Ambassador level card holders can shop the sale starting July 9-11 in stores only! Early access for Nordstrom card holders begins July 12 -18 at 12:30 EST on the 12th.  If you're not a card holder, but would like to be, you can apply for the Nordstrom Credit card here until July 11th to still receive early access! The sale opens to everyone (non cardholders included) on July 19, 2018 and ends on August 4, 2019.

Why is early access beneficial?
Early access is beneficial because the hottest items sell out first. Access for card holders starts (July 9th depending on your status level) a full week before the general public (July 19th) can shop the sale, so sizes and selections are still fully stocked. In addition, the day you sign up for a Nordstrom credit card, you get a $60 Nordstrom note that can be used towards you purchase. Other perks of the card include personal triple points days where you have the opportunity to accrue additional $20 notes. I had early access last year, and was able to shop the sale from the flagship store in Seattle, Washington on the very first day it started - and items were already sold out within the first hour of it being live in the store! The good stuff sells out insanely fast, so it's important to take advantage of being a card holder if you want to ensure size availability and selection.

What kind of deals can I expect?
A preview of sale items for both women and men can be found in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog here. Some of the most popular discounted items include shoes (my personal favorite), tops and blouses, cardigans and sweaters, jeans, jackets, undergarments, purses, and dresses. You can expect discounts of 25-30% off, and in some cases more. I usually stock up on pricier/designer items during this time as they traditionally either don't go on sale at all, or not with these types of discounts. Items like Tory Burch flats and Stuart Weitzman boots have been a few of the most popular finds in years past. 

What were the top 6 most popular items amongst my readers last year?
BP Mock Neck Colorblock Sweater
(sold out during Early Access)
BP Stripe Pullover
(sold out during Early Access)
Madewell Ryder Cardigan in Blush
AG The Legging Raw Hem Ankle Jean
Leith Ribbed Shawl Cocoon Sweater
(sold out during Early Access)

What I got the most use out of/What I think is worth buying most?
Gucci 57MM Sunglasses
(I've worn these nonstop since the sale, got them for $100 off!)
BlankNYC Boyfriend Jeans
Still wearing these a year later!
Madewell 10-inch High Waist Skinny Jeans
Still wearing these a year later too! The most comfortable fit, especially at a super decent price point.
Steve Madden Reece Sock Bootie
Wore these all fall/winter, and plan on wearing them again this year! Held up fantastic + super comfortable to walk in.
Spanx Faux Leather Moto Leggings
So worth it! My most worn legging year after year.
BP Raw Edge V-Neck
I stock up on these during the sale every year! Great closet basic.

How should I shop the sale?
I recommend previewing the sale products via the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Catalog prior to the sale date, and starring items you are interested in. I also tend to shop for staple items first. Last year, I had the most success, and got the most use out of staple items I purchased like jeans, sunglasses, athleisure and leggings! I also really recommend shopping for these online. Most Nordstroms have an "in-store pickup" option, so if you're worried about fit, you have the opportunity to scoop up the most desirable items and sizes via their website (vs risking availability in store), and going to the store when it's convenient to try them on. If they don't fit, you can return them right there. 

To see my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks from last year, click here

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Business Side of Blogging: Sponsored Content








Tie Strap Minidress (on sale for $35!) // Lace Up Sandals // Woven bag (sold out, similar here) // Panama Hat

The first question I am always asked when I tell people I am a full time blogger, is how I make money. It actually kind of happens like word vomit seeing as the second it rolls out of someones mouth they almost immediately retract the question realizing it's a rather taboo topic to ask about in most industries. Regardless, I think it's important to educate people on how this all works rather than keeping it hush hush. At the end of the day, it's the new age form of marketing in an ever evolving world and there's nothing to hide!

There are several ways a blogger can make a living from blogging, but I'd say the most common form of this is via sponsored content. Essentially, brands have shifted from traditional marketing strategies like billboard ads, commercials on television, and magazine placement to using social media to promote their brand or product. This is a natural shift, seeing as social media is the new age way of consuming content. Think about it, do you remember the last commercial you saw on television? Or the last billboard ad you passed on the highway? Probably not. But you probably do remember that amazing product your favorite influencer or celebrity was most recently raving about right? Why? Because you spend more time on social media, consuming content you choose to follow, than you do in front of a television or on the road. If you're not the driver in a car, you are likely looking at Instagram or Facebook on your phone rather than sight seeing. If there is a commercial break on television, you are probably opening your phone vs watching the commercials. I know I do! 

For whatever reason sponsored content has a weird stigma around it on social media when people see the #ad or #sponsored tags being used. I've never understood the stigma around this because it's no different than a magazine editor being paid to write about a product she tried in a national publication, or a network being paid to run a commercial during prime time television. Influencers get paid to talk about those very same things, but on their social media platforms. I think the biggest difference is that any notable influencer typically only partners with a brand they truly stand by, and often times turns down amazing opportunities if they aren't the right fit. 

The communication between brands and influencers goes both ways. Often times the brand will reach out to the influencer and suggest a partnership, and other times the influencer will reach out to the brand. If there is a brand I really want to work with, I will send a pitch email to them outlining who I am, why I want to work with them, and what value add my brand can bring to the table for them. It's similar to anyone in a sales position who cold calls in the hopes of drumming up new business, but on a more personal level. If I am reaching out to a brand, it's because I really like their product, use it regularly, and want to create a story around it for my readers. I only promote or talk about things on TCB that I can 100% stand behind and truly respect in my every day life - that's also why you see me talk about the same brands and companies regularly.  

Rates for posts like these range greatly depending on a number of factors. Audience size, engagement rates (what percentage of your audience is liking and commenting on your photos), quality of the content, the overall ask etc. When you are actively engaging with your favorite influencers, you are providing support to them not only from a business standpoint, but also from an emotional standpoint in letting them know you are interested in their content -- I know I can speak for many when I say it is extremely motivating to continue to create when it is well respected. Nothing feels worse than spending a ton of time and effort into creating something you truly love, only for your readers to scroll right past it. 

Speaking of time, posts like these can take hours to create. I personally take great pride in my content, and never want to put anything on my platform that I don't love myself. Each post you see has had a planning session behind it which is where the creativity begins. I come up with a theme for the post, source a location to shoot it, research an outfit to go along with it, photograph it, edit it, and then put the actual post together and hit publish. Most magazines or broadcast stations have an entire team dedicated to doing this - one person does location scouting, a stylist handles the outfits for models, a photographer shoots and edits the images, an editor writes the actual post, and the publisher puts it together for publishing. Most influencers, unless you are super established or mega big, are doing all of these tasks alone - or in some cases with the help of one assistant who a lot of times, is a family member (shout out to all the Insta hubbies out there) or good friend. 

At the end of the day, the goal behind this little space of mine is to empower you to look and feel your best by bringing you fresh new ideas for styling outfits, healthy recipes, different workouts, and feeding your wanderlust with travel. These are all things that inspire me, that resonate with me, and that have helped me on the journey of self love throughout my twenties. Your trust and support are my number one priority so that I can continue to grow and publish content for you to consume.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 Bermuda Travel Guide: Where To Eat, Sleep, and Play


Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama! My love for Bermuda started back in 2010 when I took my first trip there on a cruise with my dad. I loved that cruise because it stopped in two locations and stayed over night at each, so unlike most cruises, you had a lot more time to explore the surroundings. So when the opportunity to go back to Bermuda arose 9 years later, I was thrilled.

How To Get There

Most people don't know this, but Bermuda is actually just off the coast of the Carolina's. If you're flying from the East Coast, it's about a 2.5 hour flight time from most major East Coast cities. I was able to find direct flights out of Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Miami, and one out of Charlotte only on Saturdays. Flight costs vary anywhere from $320 - $800 on average depending on when and where you're flying from. If you're booking far enough in advance, you can find deals on the lower end of that spectrum. 





Where To Stay

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club

The Pink Palace, otherwise known as Hamilton Princess & Beach Club to the rest of the world, was built in 1885 and renovated in 2014. This hotel is conveniently located just a short walking distance away from Front Street, which is a waterfront promenade with shops and restaurants in the heart of town. This area is really fun and lively! If you're around on a Wednesday, check out their festival with Gombey dancers and street food.





The Rooms

We had a Signature Harbor view room in the Fairmont Gold wing with two double beds. One of the best perks of this room was the huge balcony overlooking the marina! It was so nice to sit out there and have coffee or breakfast and listen to the birds chirp in the mornings. The beds were pillowy and comfortable, and the bathroom was marble. Bermuda is a British owned island, so the size of the bathroom is indicative of something you would have in Europe. Our room also included a Nespresso machine, and a walk-in closet with shelving units. 








The amenities at this hotel are fabulous! Most of you know that getting to the gym daily is a priority for me, even on vacation. However, most hotel gyms lack the comfort of your home gym. Not this one! They had tons of cardio equipment, weights, and they even offer Barre classes! Perhaps my favorite amenity though, was the private Princess Beach Club. The hotel offers a shuttle that takes you to and from the private beach, which is about a 20 minute ride away. Once you get there, you're immediately greeted by a happy hotel employee who explains that you are free to pick whatever chair you want, shows you where the changing rooms are (which are really nice), towels etc. and as soon as you sit down, someone is there to take your drink order. They also have buttons attached to the umbrellas, so if you need service but don't see your server, you just press the button and they arrive! The beach is also equipped with several hammocks that are both in and out of the water - so relaxing! We had lunch here two days in a row, and the food is fantastic too.


The Food

The Food at Hamilton Princess & Bermuda is amazing! We had the Fairmont Gold package added onto our stay which gave us access to a lounge on the 2nd floor of our wing that included a healthy continental breakfast, canapes, desserts, tea time, and an honor bar.  This was so handy when we just wanted a snack, or to walk over in our PJ's for breakfast (they offer to-go boxes too). We also had dinner at Marcus, located on the property, which is a restaurant spear headed by internationally acclaimed chef - Marcus Samuellson. We took our waiter up on his recommendation of the local catch of the day, which they get straight off the dock right outside of the restaurant. It was delicious! Try the chicken & waffles, cornbread, and tuna to start as well!

Other restaurants worth noting

I always like to experience restaurants off property in addition to the hotel options to get the full experience of whatever country we are visiting. Below are a couple we tried for dinner and recommend! They came highly recommended to us, and I see why.

Ocean Club // We had dinner here our first night in town. It's about a 20 minute ride from the hotel (close to the hotels beach club), but worth every penny of the taxi fare. The restaurant sits right on the water with spectacular views of the ocean. Tables are candlelit and the setting is so romantic if you're looking to visit with a significant other. The food was also delicious! Again, I opted for the locally caught fish special which in this case was Koni - highly recommend.

Mickeys Beach Bistro & Bar // We visited Mickeys on our last night for dinner! It's about 10 minutes from the hotel, and an Italian spot! The hospitality here was amazing. Our waiter was so friendly, the staff was around the pick up plates immediately so they weren't in the way, and the general manager also paid us a visit to make sure everything was on par. I obviously can't go without mentioning the food, but it's worth the visit! I always ask what the waiter recommends and typically opt for that while traveling, and on this trip it was seafood everywhere we went (no surprise since it's an island)! The Wahoo was fantastic. Super light, healthy, and not overly seasoned - it's a simple dish, but the freshness speaks for itself.

Other Activities In The Area

If you're like me and married to someone who can't sit still on a beach for longer than 20 minutes, don't fret - Bermuda has tons to offer. Below are a list of activities I would recommend checking out. 


Overall, I left my trip with the exact same feelings about Bermuda as 9 years ago - I can't wait to go back! It ranks in the top 3 island destinations for me, and I'm hoping my next trip will be together with Shane so he can enjoy the beauty of this magical place too. It's clean, the locals take great care and pride in their country, the food is fantastic, the hospitality is wonderful, and there's an array of activities to choose from. 

*In partnership with Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. As always, all opinions are my own.

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