Mani Monday #28: Grayish Blue

Confession: On Black Friday, I went a little crazy on Julep's website. In my defense, everything was 50% off. So really, how could I not go nuts? This is one of the several colors I purchased (as were the two colors in my last Mani Monday post...), and I'm obsessed. I love grayish blue shades, and this one is particularly nice because it's so dark and not so shockingly blue.
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Winter Getaway to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

A couple weeks ago, I went on my first tropical vacation. I definitely see the allure. Perfect weather, lots of relaxing, disconnection from the real world, and plenty of time to read books.

I went with my friend Alla -- this was not her first tropical vacation, so she showed me the ropes. I was a quick learner. Every day consisted lounging at the beach, quick dips in the pool, and food. I also managed to read 6 books. Overall, quite a successful week!

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Mani Monday #27: Plums + Sparkles

Happy Monday, friends! I'm trying to be extra upbeat today because not only is it Monday, it's my first day back at work after a week at the beach. So, for an extra challenging week, I opted for plum colored nails with sparkly accents. Hopefully the tiny disco balls on my ring fingers (and an extra cup of coffee or two) will help me through a day of catching up on emails.

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2015 Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are upon us! If you're on top of your game, you've probably already started (or finished) your shopping. If you're like me, you haven't started.

I've been compiling some things that stuck out to me as I think about what I want and what I think my friends and family will like. I'm sharing some of those things with you in my crude attempt at a holiday gift guide! I warn you, this list skews quite female. And by skews, I mean it's almost entirely female-oriented. Sorry, I can't help you with the men in your life.

If you have some great gift ideas to share, please send them my way! I welcome more ideas and inspiration!

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Mani Monday #26: The Dark Night

In keeping with my grey theme from last week, I decided to go with an extra dark shade of the color. It almost looks black, but I promise you it isn't. I've held it next to black polish and there's a (very slight) difference. That's part of what I like about this color, I feel like it makes it a little more interesting than if it were just black.
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Mani Monday #25: Shades of Grey

I've been trying to find the perfect light grey for awhile, but the struggle has been real. This one came in the mail just when I had given up, and of course I love it. It's a great neutral color without being boring, AND I received several compliments on it (bonus points for that). I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a lighter shade of grey.
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8 Festive Desserts for Thanksgiving

I'm having a hard time accepting that it's November. Probably because it's been in the 70s for the last few days, and that's more April than November.

But it is, in fact, November, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. While I won't actually be preparing food since I'm going to my parents' house (and my mom is significantly better at preparing the food than I could ever be), I still find myself drooling over Thanksgiving-themed desserts.

I compiled a list of some of the particularly festive desserts I found to help inspire your Turkey Day baking activities. If you've seen other Thanksgiving-inspired desserts, send them my way!

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Mani Monday #24: Mittens

Fall is here! Cooler weather is upon us! I get to wear boots and sweaters and jackets and scarves. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I love this time of year.

I also love it because it's time for darker nail colors. Although, if I'm being honest, I'll wear dark nail polish in the middle of summer, and I'll wear springy colors in the dead of winter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I'm not really sure what to call this color. It's blueish, I guess, but also kind of grey. I like it though, and it's perfect for fall/winter.

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What I'm Watching #8: Bones

I've been a Bones fan for many years now. I didn't start watching it when it was first on, but I caught up on it several years ago and have been an avid follower ever since. I'm not sure why, but for the past week I've been really into rewatching random episodes on Netflix. I'm not going in any particular order, which is even stranger for me, but I've been coming home from work and watching a handful of episodes almost every evening.

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Favorite Things: Greeting Cards by Julie Yegen

Greeting cards are one of my (not so) new favorite things. I've always liked those fancypants Papyrus cards with the embellishments, but more recently I've found myself drawn to the funny cards with pop culture references, or quotes from my favorite movies.

So you can imaging my excitement when my friend Julie launched her own greeting card Etsy shop! She has several amazing cards for basically any event. It's hard to pick my favorites, but I'm going to try to pick a few to show you. You should just head over to her shop and look at all of them.

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Mani Monday #23: Stealing the Show

I'm doing something a little different this week. That hand in the picture above isn't mine. Gasp! I know, crazy right? It's actually my friend, Ingrid. We went to get pedicures recently and she ended up also getting a gel manicure, and I'm obsessed with the color she chose.

She'd tell you herself that she isn't usually the person who would pick this color, but it spoke to her. I get it -- it's amazing! And since I love the color so much, I figured I would spotlight her awesome manicure for this week's Mani Monday.
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Take Me Back to San Francisco

I. Love. San Francisco. I've known this since I was 12 and first visited. I loved that I needed a light jacket in August, because anyone who knows me can tell you I love cool weather. I'm the person complaining in the 90-degree heat and loving life in the 20-degree chill.

I went back to San Francisco when I was 19 and again when I was 20. My friend, Yelena, lived there for awhile and I took that opportunity to visit the land of perfect weather (as I call it). But then Yelena left San Fran and I never had a reason to go back. Until this month.

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Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

I want to preface this post by saying this "recipe" is extremely adjustable. I was inspired on a recent trip to NYC, where my friend was preparing Thai shrimp lettuce wraps for a BBQ she was going to. In her case, she prepared each ingredient separately and made an assembly line where people could build their own wraps.

In this case, I went to Alla's house to meet her new baby kittens (aka the cutest creatures I've ever seen in my life), and we decided to make a variation of the lettuce wraps. We mixed all the ingredients together into a mixture of delicious, but I'm getting ahead of myself...

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Mani Monday #22: Trying DIY Gel

Remember that time I said I got an at-home gel manicure system for super cheap? Well, I tried it out again (this time without peeling it off right away, go me!), and I must say, it's pretty legit.

It came with 4 colors -- pale pink, pale purple, glittery blue, and this shade of bright green. These polishes are all-in-one, so they don't require a base coat or a top coat. I wasn't sure about that at first, but they're actually very shiny and feel just like any gel manicure I've gotten in a salon. Of course if I want to broaden my gel color selection, I'll have to either stick with all-in-one shades or invest in top and base coats, since the kit didn't come with those.

I always love the idea of gel manicures, but ultimately I manage to get bored and peel them off much sooner than I should, making the $35 price tag a big waste. This at-home version is a good alternative for my budget and my short attention span.
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Mani Monday #21: Color Blocking

Nail art is not my strong suit, y'all. I have tons of practice painting my nails, but every time I try to jazz it up, it ends up being the most epic of fails. So, for this experiment, I decided to keep it really simple.

As usual, I couldn't decide between these two colors. Given how different they are, I figured they'd look good together -- and I think I was right. The "stripes" on my right hand were shockingly difficult, so I decided to cap the nail art at 3 nails per hand. I'll have to keep practicing because this is definitely not perfect, but I think it's a little more interesting than my go-to of painting 9 nails one color and one nail another color.

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Mani Monday #20: Orange Sparkles

We've probably discussed this already, but I definitely go through nail polish phases. Sometimes I'm all about creme colors, other times I want all the sparkles my nails can handle. Sometimes I want light, neutral shades, other times I want the most obnoxiously loud colors.

Lately I've been all about the cremes and neutrals, so I was surprised when I saw this bright, sparkly color and couldn't wait to try it. It reminds me of the Zoya Pixie Dust shades in terms of the texture. Some sparkly colors tend to immediately chip or peel, but this one (and the Pixie Dust collection) are in it for the long haul.

I got more compliments than I expected on this color. It's perfect for summer (but that's not to say I won't rock it in the dead of winter), and it happened to match perfectly with a very colorful maxi dress I wore the other day. #win.
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7 Drink Ideas for Your Next BBQ

It's August, which means summer will be over before you know it. Depending where you live, kids may already be back in school. I'll be honest, I don't mind the end of summer because it means fall is coming, and fall is my favorite.

But even though I welcome fall, I know people are trying to get their BBQ on while there's still time. On a recent Pinterest bender, I came across a few summer drink recipes that sounded particularly yummy. If you're planning your own end-of-summer BBQ, or even if you're just attending one, these drinks will probably be a hit.

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What I'm Watching #7: Elementary

I'll be honest: Right now, I'm in the middle of what can only be described as a serious Hawaii Five-0 binge. I've seen every episode already, and I've watched just about every episode again for a second (or third...) time. I blame Netflix. Anyway! I'm breaking myself away from that for a few minutes to tell you about another show I really enjoy: Elementary.

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Mani Monday #19: Jelly

I seem to always go between crazy colors and super neutral shades, and right now is a neutral moment. I bought an at-home gel manicure set for a whopping $15 (what up, Costco!) the other day, but I managed to peel all of the polish off during a work meeting (oops). As expected, my nails were all jacked up from the gel, so all I wanted was a neutral shade to just hide the damage.

Enter: Julep Ming. It's one of their "jelly" shades. I'm not really sure what that means, but it's a very sheer color as you can see. I really like it though. I'm planning to alternate between this and OPI Bubble Bath when I want something simple.

I have plans tonight with Alla to get a gel manicure -- might as well tear my nails up some more before they get better. I can't decide if  I want something bright or light. Stay tuned!

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DIY Pin-up Girl-Themed Centerpieces

Last month, one of my good friends -- who I've known since 5th grade (fifth grade, you guys!) -- got married. And the month before that, she had a bridal shower. I know what you're thinking. I'm a wee bit behind on this post, right? I know. It's fine. Better late than never, right?

I was so touched when Una (the bride) asked me to be in her wedding. She had a solid group of bridesmaids who are awesome, creative, generous, and just really sweet ladies. Una wanted her bridal shower to be pin-up girl themed, so that's what she got!

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Mani Monday #18: Crazy Mosaic of Colors

This week's mani is a little out of control, and I love it. After being inspired by a recent Julep picture on Instagram, Lindsay created this geometric masterpiece on my nails. The best part is, it's not even nail polish! She used various acrylic paints and voila -- multicolored neon nails. (Also, yes. I am cradling a pineapple statue like a baby. It felt right in the moment and I stand by it.)

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That time I chopped my hair off

I made a spontaneous decision a couple weeks ago to chop my hair off, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

This is how it started: I was in Orlando for work, and I posted a picture on Instagram of me and a friend, and my hair did not look good. It might've just been in my head, but it looked stringy and thin and just way too long.

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All the pretty flowers

I really like flowers, you guys. They're just really pretty. I wish I could have a garden of beautiful flowers, but keeping plants alive isn't really my strong suit.

I've gone on some walks around my parents' neighborhood with my dad this spring/summer -- not nearly as often as I probably should, but that's a separate conversation. On these walks, my dad and I are always stopping and taking pictures. For me, it's usually of pretty flowers; for my dad, it's usually of the buildings and houses.

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Mani Monday #17: Bold

You guys, I am obsessed with these colors. I can't even pretend to be cool about it, I basically want to wear them all the time. I bought these along with a really interesting green (which is bound to appear here in the future) and couldn't wait to try them. Of course, the timing wasn't great because I had a work trip and felt that bold blues and purples may not be the most appropriate nail colors.

When I was finally able to test the new colors, I couldn't decide where to start. I opted for 9 blue nails and 1 purple nail because that felt like the obvious solution, right? :) This picture doesn't even do the colors justice. I love them so much! The only downside is the blue really stained my nails (even though I used a base coat). If I didn't love it so much, I would say it's not worth it, but it totally is.
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4th of July in New York City

Did you see that little firework in the picture above? Just wanted to point it out in case you missed it. :)

I went to New York City for 4th of July weekend this year, and it was a blast. My friend Yelena lives up there, so I try to visit pretty regularly. Ordinarily I would avoid going up on a holiday weekend, but as far as holidays go, this one is pretty painless. Most people in NYC leave the city, so it's a ghost town. 

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Mani Monday #16: Vampires and Polka Dots

I mentioned last week that you'd soon be seeing My Vampire is Buff on this blog since it's one of my favorite colors -- and here it is! I must confess, I still have last week's gel polish on (9 days! Impressive for me!), so this is an old picture.

I love this buff shade. It's a really interesting color yet it's still neutral, making it very versatile. The pop of sparkle makes it fun, of course. Sometimes I put the sparkle on all the nails, but that can be a bit overwhelming. And sometimes I don't use the sparkle at all. Either way, I've gotten a lot of use out of both of these colors and can't recommend them enough!
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Mani Monday #15: Pink Sparkles

Yes, I know. This color is very similar to last week's color. Both are pink, both are sparkly. But hear me out: I had an Amazon Local deal for a gel manicure that was about to expire, and I'm about to go on a trip for work and didn't want to go crazy with my nail color. I was torn between this and My Vampire Is Buff, which is a favorite of mine (and a color you'll undoubtedly see on this blog soon). But I've never worn this exact color, so I decided to give it a shot.

My goal is to make this manicure last at least two weeks. Full disclosure: I say this every single time I get a gel manicure, and I always end up picking it off sooner. But the woman who did this did a really good job. I don't see any areas where the polish looks like it'll lift soon, so I'm optimistic I can actually make this one last!
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What I'm Watching #6: Murder in the First

Murder in the First may be one of the lesser known shows I watch, at least based on conversations I've had with people. It's on TNT, which isn't necessarily a channel I think about when I think of original programming. A friend told me about it last year when it started -- she's a big Taye Diggs fan, so this show was right up her alley.

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Mani Monday #14: A Sparkly Princess

I know, I know. It's technically Tuesday, making my Mani Monday post a bit incorrect. I'll do better next week, hopefully. I wanted something light and pink and sparkly, so I opted for this color. It's a little more iridescent than I was expecting, but that's ok. It just means I'll be extra shimmery this week. :)
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Crafty Inspiration: 10 Craft Projects to Try This Summer

I've always enjoyed crafting, even if I'm not a pro at it. And I've always wanted to be one of those amazing crafty, artistic people who effortlessly make amazing things. I'm not quite there, but I'm definitely working on it!

I always find tons of craft ideas online that I want to try. In fact, I've gathered a solid 300+ ideas on my DIY & Fun Ideas Pinterest board.

Here are just a few of the projects I want to try this summer (slash into the fall...I don't want to limit myself or anything).

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I *will* use this Crock Pot!

Wayyyyyyyyy back in January (ok, so January wasn't that long ago but it definitely feels like it was), I told you about how I got a Crock Pot and made some mediocre chicken noodle soup in it. Remember? Of course you do.

I followed that up with my first attempt at Persian cooking, but I haven't used the Crock Pot since, and that is just unacceptable! UNACCEPTABLE. It probably thinks I forgot it exists. You know, if Crock Pots could think...

I had a lovely Memorial Day with my dear, dear friend Alla (you should probably follow her kittens on Instagram), and we started talking about how we used to have these Crock Pot nights where we'd go to each other's houses and have dinner prepared in (you guessed it) the Crock Pot.

I just described that as a very two-way situation, but let me clarify: Alla cooked, and I ate. The Crock Pot nights only ever took place at her house, never at mine. In my defense, I didn't have a Crock Pot at the time. But I digress...my point here is we decided we need to reinstate that "tradition" now that we, in fact, both can host the dinners.

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Mani Monday #13: Spicy

I've heard a lot of people say they love OPI's Cajun Shrimp, so the fact that I had never worn it needed to be rectified. For my birthday a few months ago, a friend of mine gave me a 10-pack of mini OPI shades, and Cajun Shrimp was one of them! This past weekend was the perfect time to test it out because I needed a coraly red color for a bridal shower I went to on Saturday (more on that later). I see why people like it. I'm not sure it'll be my go-to summer shade, but I'm sure I'll find another occasion to wear it.
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DIY Mother's Day Mug

I decided to go the DIY route for Mother's Day this year. In true supportive mom fashion, she likes my crafty gifts, so it seemed like the perfect idea. That, and she drinks a lot of coffee.

I got this idea from a Michael's email, actually, but I adapted it a tiny bit. It didn't seem like too hard of a craft, and I liked that I could use whatever colors I wanted. My mom loves purple, so that wasn't a hard choice. The steps are easy, but I'll share them with you anyway :)

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RIP Blueberry: Gone but not forgotten

My fish, Blueberry, passed away after only four short months with me. I got him for my birthday in January and became very attached to him, so it was devastating to come home from work yesterday and see that he died.

I'm not sure what happened. I took care of him, made sure he had clean water, fed him. My apartment had been warm lately since the building hadn't turn the AC on, but it wasn't that warm so I don't think that was it.

I guess I'll never know. Maybe he was an elderly fish and I just didn't know it. Regardless, I'll miss my sweet Blueberry and how he used to excitedly stare at me when he knew I was dropping his food in. I hope he's in a place now full of yummy food and lots of plants for him to hide behind (he liked that).

Thanks, Lindsay, for this memorial sketch of Blueberry. I think he would've liked it :)

UPDATE: Blueberry was very loved! My friend, Julie, wrote him this lovely poem today:

To the greatest fish that ever swam,
Your bowl was a kingdom,
Much like a dam.

We’ll miss your blueness and your spunk,
Bringing you home,
Was a baller slam dunk. 

At the pearly gates in the sea, you’ll be straight lazin’ 
And they’ll greet you like a boss, 
as Mr. Blue Raisin.
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Mani Monday #12: Feeling Mod

Mod About You by OPI may be my favorite nail polish color. It's pastel but also bright, it's festive but still pretty neutral. It's perfect, is what I'm trying to say. It's a fantastic spring color, but of course I wear it year round. It's been awhile since I've worn it though, so I dusted it off this week and it's even better than I remembered.
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My Week in Denver

If you follow me on Instagram, you have my noticed I recently took a trip to Denver. Denver has been on my list of places to visit for awhile now, and I just so happen to have some family there.

I spent the week hanging out with my cousin, her husband, and their (super sweet) daughter (#allthecousins!). I hadn't seen my cousin in 13 years (whoa), and I hadn't even met her husband and daughter, so it was a way overdue trip.

In addition to the quality time, I got to see some sights. I tried to narrow my pictures down a bit for this post, but it was harder than I anticipated. So let's jump right in!

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Mani Monday #11: Light + Dark

I was in Denver last week visiting family and being a tourist (more on that later), and midway through the trip I had picked off my entire manicure (typical for me, actually). My cousin would not stand for unpainted nails, so she and I did at-home manis with some of her colors. I couldn't choose between these two, so I decided to go with the neutral shade (Brigitte) for 8 of my nails and the dark sparkly number (Yuna) for the accent. I wasn't sure about how a light color would look with such a dark accent, but I was quite fond of the end result. Even though I had two very dark nails, it didn't seem to draw a lot of attention, which I liked.
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Super Easy DIY Bead Bracelets

I've always been drawn to the bead aisle in craft stores. I don't have a ton of experience making jewelry (although I did make an adorable necklace that one time), but I've always wanted an excuse to buy cute beads.

On a recent trip to JoAnn Fabrics (where my friend and I managed to spend three hours roaming the store), I found some beads that I refused to live without. I thought the colors were so interesting and I knew they would make cute bracelets.

I brought the bracelet-making supplies with me to Lindsay's place while we photographed a different tutorial, and she was kind enough to photograph this one as well. I mean it when I say it's a super easy DIY. It cost about $10 and took no more than 10 minutes. Here's all you'll need to make your own beaded bracelets.

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Mani Monday #10: Snow in April

It's not actually snowing here, but this manicure reminds me of snow. I'm keeping with the sparkle theme I started last week, but this one is even more subtle. It's kind of hard to really see the sparkles, but they certainly catch the light, which is what I was going for.

White is a strange nail polish color for me. It's not one of my usual go-tos, but sometimes I find myself really drawn to it. I think the reason I don't do it often is because it reminds me of elementary or middle school when I would paint my nails with White Out. Is that something you did too? No? Just me? Cool.
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What I'm Watching #5: Justified

It seemed fitting to discuss Justified just after the series finale aired, but I figure better late than never. Even though the show is over, you can certainly go back and watch it from the beginning--and I strongly suggest you do! It's free to stream via Amazon Prime. But what's it about? I'm so glad you asked. :)

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Planting a Succulent Garden

I mentioned recently that I bought some succulents to create my own little succulent garden, and now it's officially complete! I'm really happy with how it turned out!

The hardest part, surprisingly enough, was finding a planter for it. At first I was firmly against an unpainted terra cotta pot and wanted something glazed and pretty. I bought one, but it turned out to be too small. And since I had to go back to the drawing board, I also decided I'd rather have something more natural and earthy. I found my new planter at HomeGoods (my favorite store) and liked the stoney look it has. It looks natural but still pretty, and it's shallow and round which is exactly what I wanted, too.

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Mani Monday #9: Neutral Sparkles

Confession: This is an old picture. But this is the nail polish combination I'll be wearing this week, I'm just going to paint my nails tonight because I didn't get to it yesterday. I like this combination because the pink is very neutral and subtle -- it would be completely appropriate for an important business meeting, for example, if it didn't have sparkles on it. So, of course, I add the sparkles because I don't have any important business meetings this week. :)
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DIY Lilly Pulitzer for Target Pompom Scarf

Unless you've been avoiding the internet, you've probably heard about the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection that's launching on Sunday. I'm already eyeing a few dresses, tops, shorts, several of the items in the home collection...basically I want all the things. 

But as a lover and frequent wearer of scarves, I was particularly excited about the pompom and tassel scarves in the collection. After perusing the lookbook with my friend Lindsay of Shrimp Salad Circus, we decided to give this the DIY treatment! So if you can't wait for the collection to come out, or if the scarf you had your eye on sold out right away, or if you just prefer to recreate it with a different fabric, we've got you covered!

DIY Lilly Pulitzer Target Scarf - 2 Styles!

Lindsay and I have not one, but TWO, Lilly Pulitzer scarf knockoff tutorials for you to try! Head over to Lindsay's blog to learn how to create a cotton tasseled scarf, and continue reading here for a slinky pompom tutorial.

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What I'm Watching #4: The Blacklist

I've been on a pretty serious bender of The Blacklist lately. I was only a little late to the game on this one -- the second season was about to begin when I started season 1. My dad actually recommended it to me after he stumbled upon it on Netflix, and before I knew it I was binging it pretty hard.

I'm sure you're somewhat familiar with the show since it's pretty popular right now. But in a nutshell, James Spader plays a guy named Reddington who's one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. He becomes an informant in exchange for immunity and insists he work only with Agent Keen. Even she isn't sure why he requests her since she has never interacted with him before in her life (to her knowledge...).

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Mani Monday #8: Hot Pink

I decided to go for something bright this week, in case you couldn't tell by the very vibrant picture. I've been in a pink mood recently and this color magically appeared in the mail, so the timing worked out well. The color is even nicer in person, I think. If you're in the market for a bright shade of pink, especially now that it's almost summer, this one is worth checking out. (Another good option is China Glaze's Purple Panic).

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Succulent Garden Inspiration

Photo via a pair & a spare

I've been really into plants recently. I'm probably the most surprised by this than anyone considering I've killed every plant I've ever had. I had a blue orchid and basically murdered it (unintentionally, I swear), but my dad was able to bring it back to life. It's white now and way prettier than ever. I had a geranium (named Gerry) and he's no longer alive either.

But I think I can do better now! I recently bought a fern (named Fern) and I'm determined to keep her alive. Meet Fern:

Now I really want to branch out into succulents. I've been looking at pictures online of all the different ways to arrange them, and I'm feeling very inspired. I bought several succulents earlier this week, and a pot to plant them in, so now I just have to do it. Until then, here are some of the arrangements I found online that really spoke to me.

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