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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Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Best Healthy Places To Eat In Charlotte








It's 11:25AM and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel... lunch time! You have exactly one hour to walk somewhere, grab lunch, eat it, and get back to the office - but for some reason you're drawing a serious blank on where to go. Think Vanessa, think! This was me the entire year prior to my wedding. I worked in corporate America in Uptown, where part of my job was to take clients to lunch every.single.day. This could easily end up demolishing my entire days worth of calories in one sitting if I wasn't strategic, and so my master list of healthy food options in the city was born.  

I keep a list of all my favorite healthy eats around the city in a note on my phone. Whenever I'm in a bind on where to go, I just refer back to it and pick a place. It has totally changed the game for me when it comes to staying on track without giving up the freedom to eat out. 

Please note, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian - these are just places that I have found to have healthier options to choose from. I am not scared to ask questions about ingredients, or remove ingredients from a dish in the name of making it healthier which you will find in my recommendations below. 

Favorite Healthy Juice/Coffee Bars

Clean Juice // Probably my most frequented location on this list. Order the Hardcore (I add an apple and ginger), avocado toast on gluten free bread, or the Popeye bowl.

Not Just Coffee // Great spot to sit and work if you work from home! I usually go here for organic coffee and tea but the food is great too (Dilworth location does food, South End does not).

Fast Casual Restaurants 

Yafo // Their motto is honest and authentic. I typically build my own bowl here consisting of half salad, half rice, hummus, tomato and cucumber salad, a little feta, avocado, chicken and light tahini.

Chopt // While I haven't tried their new warm bowls, they look like something to be excited about! I typically go with the Santa Fe salad here, I remove the crispy shallots and get the dressing on the side or just ask for lemon juice as my dressing. Add chicken for protein. 

Little Spoon // Great spot for the healthy, and unhealthy. We like to brunch, and hubby doesn't usually want "healthy," but I do - so this cafe is perfect for us. I would recommend checking out the Chopped, Porridge, Avocado Toast, Egg White Raft, or omelette if trying to be healthy.

Whole Foods // America's healthiest grocery store! We like the hot bar here. I especially enjoy the fact that they cater heavily to paleo, gluten free diets. If you're not in the mood to cook or in a hurry - this is a safe bet.

B.Good // Food with roots! I haven't been here in awhile but like the Power Bowl. All of the salads look fantastic.

Crunch Bistro // Have to give kudos to Shane for finding this one. It's around the corner from his office (although they have multiple locations) and we enjoy the Cilantro Chicken Quinoa bowl. I always ask for the dressing on the side and 98% of the time don't even need it. 

Sit Down Restaurants 

Essex Bar & Bistro // The food is so good here, especially dinner. My go to healthy meal selection is from their lunch menu. It's a warm Brussel Sprout Caesar salad and I opt for dressing on the side. 

Soul Gastrolounge // This is another easy to be not healthy spot if you're with someone who doesn't care about that. Great date night location, the Nigiri or Sashimi is going to be your healthiest option. All the sushi is fantastic.

Suffolk Punch // They care about their ingredients. Opt for the Mixed Greens Salad or NC Shrimp dish.

The Manchester // This is a new spot in Charlotte. We had a great experience here with the food! Lots of great salad options which I haven't had a chance to experiment around with yet. But, highly recommend the Baby Spinach and Fried Goat Cheese salad. Yes, the fried part of the goat cheese isn't the best for you - but you can ask for the goat cheese not fried. 

Roosters // Roosters is a classic in Charlotte in my opinion. The Joyce Farms Chicken, corn and spinach are a healthy option. If you're visiting at lunch check out what their Chicken Bowl is, or opt for one of the salads with chicken.

Bentleys on 27 // This is definitely a fine dining experience and a bit of a splurge. I took my clients here for lunch often and the views are amazing! Love the Tuna Nicoise Salad which runs around $18 - not too bad for great quality tuna.

Oku // Hands down my favorite sushi spot in town. They source lots of their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen and I've never had a bad experience yet. Highly recommend the Spiced Chili Edamame, Yellowtail Carpaccio, and any of the sushi rolls (although not healthy, the potato roll is most popular). Opt for the salmon and lemon roll if you're looking for something light, healthy, and refreshing.

PS: These photos are from our trip to the Foundry in Asheville. 

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Top Things To Do in Panama City Beach, Florida


This was my first time visiting Panama City Beach proper, and I've gotta credit Visit PCB for a killer itinerary. Our entire trip was so thoughtfully put together, I couldn't wait to share it with you! From the activities and adventures we experienced, to the restaurants we ate at - it was the perfect schedule of events. If you are planning a trip here in the near future, bookmark this page to refer back too - I promise you will not be disappointed.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably well aware that Panama City Beach was affected by hurricane Michael a little over 6 months ago. Media coverage around this area is more important now than ever as travel and tourism was obviously affected by this natural disaster. Having been a kid in Orlando, Florida during 2004 - one of the Atlantic's worst hurricane seasons to date, this hits near and dear to my heart. I've lived through those disasters first hand, and know it takes an army to rebuild. While I realize many are still awaiting disaster recovery in the Panama City and Mexico Beach area, from a tourism standpoint - I am here to say, go visit Panama City Beach (Bay County's tourism corridor). Tourism is a critical part of this city's economy, and will help drive recovery efforts while also providing jobs for Bay County residents. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Splash 1202 West

We stayed in a beachfront vacation condo this trip! While I love hotels, there's something so nice about having a full size refrigerator and kitchen at your convenience - especially on a beach vacation or if you're traveling with family or a larger group in general. The location of this condo is directly on the beach with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. The beds were super comfortable, and we each (Katie and I) had our own full sized bathroom (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms). It's also located just two miles from Pier Park, which is a wildly popular shopping center with restaurants, a Sky Wheel, large pier, and most importantly - a Starbucks. 


WHERE WE ATE

Breakfast

  • Andy's Flour Power // Casual cafe and bakery with fresh pastry items. I just ordered my usual eggs and avocado here but the options are endless and service is fast!
  • Thomas' Donut & Snack Shop // Famous for their donuts - we went back twice! Try the Morning Glory muffin if you're not a donut fan.
  • Gypsea Crepes // Tons of sweet and savory crepe options, made fresh to order. 

Lunch

  • Beau's // Casual southern BBQ.

Dinner

  • The Grand Marlin // So good! Relaxed atmosphere with pretty views of the water. Highly recommend the lobster fingers and fresh caught Swordfish!
  • Firefly // Also really good! I loved the atmosphere here. Wide selection of seafood, sushi, and steak. Highly recommend the Grouper dish and trying out the sushi.
  • Schooners Last Local Beach Club // An unexpected surprise! Don't be fooled by the outside, the food is outstanding here! It's super casual, but the live music (on Wednesdays all summer long) alone was worth the stay! Again, highly recommend the Grouper. 


ACTIVITIES

  • Jet Ski Adventure Tour via Lagoon Pontoons // If you enjoy jet skiing and dolphins, this is a must! We had an absolute blast. If you're not a big fan of jet ski's, they also offer pontoon rentals and tours that take you to Shell island which is absolutely stunning - highly recommend. 
  • Panama City Beach Winery // Tropical Winery with daily wine tastings! Great couples or girls day activity if you want a break from the beach.
  • Explore the SkyWheel and Shops at Pier Park // 124 shops, restaurants, and a SkyWheel with amazing views of Panama City Beach. Cross the street for the pier entrance - perfect views and photo opportunities at sunset!







 This is the perfect destination for all walks of life. Whether you're headed on a girls trip, a family vacation, or a getaway with your significant other - there's something for everybody here.  The travel time to get to Panama City Beach was super convenient. If you're located in Charlotte, there is a direct flight available with American Airlines that gets you into the city in a little over 1 hour. If you're not located in Charlotte, PCB is also a decent driving distance for most cities in the south. I can't thank the team at Visit PCB enough for an awesome stay, looking forward to many more visits to come!

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