I'm BACK! Over Christmas, I took a tiny, unexpected break from new posts, social media, and the like to focus on family and soaking in as much of the holiday spirit as I could before it disappeared. My older sister, niece, and nephew flew home to Maryland - I hadn't seen them since last Thanksgiving which, truly, should be a crime in itself. Because they were only going to be home for a few days before heading back to Arizona, my whole family took off work and I organized our very first family photo shoot (ever) *gasp.
It turns out that organizing a holiday-themed photo shoot for 8 people (including toddlers) is a lot more challenging than one would guess. By no means did we have a large budget for choosing or coordinating our outfits but, we totally made it work in the short time frame that we had. Most importantly, we had so much fun during this session. Since Sam and I have gotten pretty comfortable shooting for the blog (especially in front of a crowd #citylife), my family had a ball poking fun at us and using expressions like "cheek to cheek, forehead to forehead" and laughing hysterically through the whole thing.
On Friday, we ventured out to Mount Airy in Western Maryland to Gaver’s Tree Farm and it was even dreamier than I had imagined. As a family that generally uses an artificial tree during the holidays, it was a nice change to smell the fresh pine and run through rows of fresh, pretty trees. It was the perfect way to jump start the holiday weekend and get in the spirit.
Family is truly the most important thing to Sam and I (fun fact: Sam's parents live 4 streets down from us). This year, Sam and I proposed a small shift in the way that Christmas was celebrated: we didn't want the holiday to be focused so heavily on gift-giving (naturally). So, we created a gift-ban on my side of the family - one that was inevitably broken after a lot of sneaking around.
Although it didn't entirely alter our gift traditions, I have to say that it helped significantly in the overall feeling of the holidays. For the first time, I didn't feel that anyone was stressed out about what to buy each other, or frantically running to the store on Christmas Eve to finish shopping. I focused on mainly non-profit items (like Half United and Love Your Melon) and sentimental gifts (like photo frames or albums) for my family. It felt so much more special.
In place of gifts, we focused more on decorating gingerbread houses (v. important), watching old home movies, late night dance parties in the living room, and rounded out the long weekend by hiking our favorite, local mountain all together. I must have said to Sam at least a dozen times that this Christmas had been my favorite yet.
Shop our look:
Now that we have all (hopefully) finished our Christmas shopping - just 4 days before - it's time to start thinking about what you'll be wearing for New Years Eve. With shipping delays and last minute alterations, I decided to put this guide out a bit early so that you have time to prepare. NYE is always my favorite night to get dolled up and wear something out that isn't necessarily fit for the rest of the year (think: sequins and cut-out's).
Although, in some cases, NYE gets a bad reputation for being over-the-top or too 'hyped up', if you plan it out right, it can be a night filled with loved ones, bubbly champagne, and the big count down to 2017. It's significant for me because it is a night to reflect on the prior year's accomplishments and best memories, as well as make resolutions heading into the coming year. I can't wait to share these with you in my New Years' blog post (and hear about all of yours)! In the meantime, however, let's get to shopping so that we can look fabulous ringing it in.
I was loving so many different dresses, jumpsuits, and accessories that this guide is truly one of my favorites so far *adding to cart as we speak*.
Happy Friday, babes! We're getting down to the wire here for the holiday season and, for me, that means squeezing in as many festive events, treats, and adventures as I possibly can before the New Year. This past September on the blog, we featured one of my close friends in the blogging industry, Abbey from Twenty Something in the City. In our "Behind the Blog" series, Abbey shared her big move to New York City and what inspired it. So, today I've asked Abbey back to share her top 10 favorite places to visit as a Twenty Something in the city for those of you who are planning to travel this month:
"I’ve been living in New York City for over a year and half now. That means two out of the six seasons I’ve lived here have been Winter, and even in those six months, I haven’t been able to pinpoint all of my favorite locations, moments and memories. There are so many brilliant places to visit in the city and the boroughs; yet [somehow] I was able to narrow it down to 10.
1. The Best Place to Warm your Hands and Your Heart: City Bakery in Flatiron - If you are anything like me, then you are constantly craving a cup of cocoa once the temperature dips below 50 degrees (okay, maybe 40). This place is sure to warm up any snowy afternoon with it’s delectable hot chocolate and fluffy, homemade marshmallows. Yep, they are homemade, along with everything else in this place. Fair warning, though… This stuff is lethal. It’s so chocolaty I swear it probably has 4 melted chocolate bars in one cup. I always share with a friend or a date.
2. The Best Place for Stocking Stuffers: Winter Village in Bryant Park - If you live in New York City, Bryant Park (along with Time Square and Grand Central) is usually one of those places you go out of your way to avoid because of the crowd. That said, New Yorkers usually flock there for the few short weeks leading up to Christmas. This place is a gift-giving dream fully equipped with artist booths, food vendors, and the second largest Christmas Tree in NYC. If you have time, ice-skating may even be added to your itinerary. I’ve gotten countless gifts from this market for as long as I can remember.
3. The Best Place for Pies, Puppies and Pine: Union Square Green Market - This hidden gem isn’t so hidden anymore. After living in the East Village for a year, this was a place I frequented often in the Summer. Now that the Winter has rolled around, the farmers' market has become a haven for aspiring chefs, dog-walkers and tourists alike. All of the produce is fresh and in-season and all of the locals bring their dogs along for a Winter’s walk. I don’t think there is anything better than walking around and enjoying the people, food and scenery while sipping on a large cup of hot apple cider. Pro-tip: The Union Square holiday market is open as an extension to the farmers' market for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years.
4. The Best Place for Foodies: Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza Hotel - With food vendors like Luke’s Lobster, Lady M and Todd English, it’s hard to believe that many people don’t even know that this place exists. Think -- any kind of food you could possibly imagine: Ice Cream, Caviar, Tacos, Sub Sandwiches, Pho, Pasta, and Lobster Rolls. While some of the vendors can cost a pretty penny, it’s a casual atmosphere and the food quality is literally out of this world. Funny story - the last time I was here I got a picture with Santa Claus and Dr. Oz…. In the same photo. How random!
5. The Best Place to Relive Your Childhood: The Plaza Hotel - Whether you were an Eloise fan or a Home Alone fanatic, this place is legendary. When I walk in, I can’t help say to myself, “Credit Card? You got it.” (see: Home Alone, Lost in New York). The lobby is covered in Christmas cheer, and don’t forget to have a drink at the Rose bar. It’s incredibly romantic. Not to mention, the last time I was here I saw Miley Cyrus, Bill Murray and a Yankee’s Player that I couldn’t recognize.
6. The Best Place for a Photo Op: The Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park - If venturing into Central Park scares you (and it scares everyone because it’s so huge!) simply visit the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. This is the most iconic area of Central park and so quintessentially New York that you will feel like you’ve been painted into a perfect picture. When it snows, it’s as if you’re in a snow globe surrounded by street lanterns, large ascending staircases, a frozen pond, and of course, pure nature. I’m smiling just thinking about this perfect spot now. To reference #5, a couple of scenes in Home Alone 2 were shot in this very area.
7. The Best Place for a View of NYC: The Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park - If you haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge, now is the time to do so. With the weather a little cooler than some folks enjoy, it’s slightly less crowded and the crisp air is so silent when you get to the middle of the Bridge, it’s breathtaking. I would suggest taking a walk at night, to see the city light up the night. Finishing your evening all bundled up in a cozy bar in the outskirts of Brooklyn Heights while enjoying the view of this incredible city.
8. The Best Place to Go Sledding: Prospect Park, Brooklyn - While this one only applies for when there is enough snow on the ground to go sledding, it’s one of my favorites. Surrounded by kids of all ages (5-95), everyone treats each other as equal as they sled down the giant hill. Last year, we had a record breaking snowfall in New York and let me tell you, did we take advantage of it! Snowmen, snowball fights and sledding everywhere. I think Lorelai Gilmore said this one best, “Everything’s magical when it snows.”
9. The Best Place to See a Christmas Tree: Houston Street, Lower East Side - This one may seem a little odd, but I have never been surrounded by so many Christmas trees than walking east down Houston. While these Christmas trees are naked, and waiting to be bought, the smell of pine is overwhelmingly sweet and whisks you away into a Winter wonderland. At night, the signs for the tree stands lit up the sidewalk and it makes you feel like you’re home.
10. The Best Place for Christmas Caroling: 14th Street, Union Square Subway Station - This subway station is pretty legendary due to its roles in movies and a wall of post-it's past election season. While generally, this place is pretty quiet, around Christmas time the halls are filled with familiar Christmas tunes by soloist, guitarists, bands, quartets and even church choirs. You can't help but get in the holiday mood and want to sing along.
To say that I am entirely unprepared for Christmas would be an understatement; I've only just begun my holiday shopping this week. Nevertheless, December is always my favorite time of the year. Sam and I finally got around to decorating our home last weekend and I must say that I have really been digging the holiday spirit since. I've been blaring non-stop, Christmas music - which is surprisingly not my style; I'm craving all things gingerbread, I switched out my favorite red wine for a festive moscow mule, and I'm styling blinged-out reindeer sweaters to the office (thankfully, we have a pretty relaxed dress code). Just this upcoming weekend, Sam and I have THREE different holiday parties to attend.
With that being said, I know that it can be difficult to find outfits to wear for your corporate holiday party, Christmas family dinners, and the ultimate New Years' Eve night out - especially on a budget. So, Sam and I decided to share our holiday best with you today! [I've added a ton of gorgeous options to shop from at the bottom of this post]
Since Sam and I both generally have fancy work functions to attend during the holiday season, I wanted to find a festive (and affordable) gown that I could easily dress up over and over again. This merlot-colored dress from LuLu's is the perfect Christmas gown and needs nothing more than a simple shawl draped over it to finish off the look. Although... a pair of crystal, drop earrings never hurt anyone, either ;)
To compliment my dress without going over the top, Sam styled his new Banana Republic chunky knit sweater with waxed Nudie Jeans, a button-down shirt, and simple dress shoes. He always knows how to dress up while remaining comfortable (and warm). Maybe he'll teach me one day - LOL.
Can you believe that this was our very first time shooting in Washington, DC? Sam and I both have lived within 1 hour of the capital all of our lives and had not visited the Lincoln Memorial together until this past Sunday. Although it was 35 degrees and my fingers had turned purple from shooting without a proper, Winter coat, it was decidedly very worth it. Even more so because I didn't wind up with an awful cold on Monday (the definition of a true Christmas miracle!)
I mentioned on our Instagram story briefly that this day was an extra special one to put in the books of shooting with AEE. The afternoon before this was shot, our location had fallen through with a vendor so, we were kind of scrambling last minute because of the chilly weather. Jade, our photographer, and I had decided to just go for it and drive to DC to shoot outdoors instead. What you don't see in these photos is that between shots, Sam had me wrapped up in jackets, coddling my fingers, and shielding me from the wind to keep warm.
After we made it back to our car and I changed into the coziest of sweaters in the back seat (#bloggerproblems), we ventured over to the Union Market and got ourselves two, hot teas, Korean tacos, and warmed up while walking hand in hand through the gift stores. I could not stop smiling at how perfect the day turned out after being so stressed just the night before. It was a nice reminder that although life doesn't always go as planned, it is truly the people you are surrounded by that help make the best memories.
Shop this look:
Can you believe that we have less than 3 weeks until Christmas!? I'm not going to lie, I have not even made a signficant dent in my holiday shopping for this year yet (heck, I spent the better part of Cyber Monday shopping for myself #guilty). Sam and I are finally decorating our Christmas tree this weekend and I plan on whipping up my first batch of gingerbread cookies as well. So, I can't deny any longer that the holidays are becoming real. *whispers to self: get it together, Anna* I guess it's about time to start shopping my own gift guides.
Last week, we shared our first guide of the holiday season "under $150 for him & her". Now, since this isn't my first go-around, I know that we're all rapidly running out of time and money. So, today we're sharing an easy gift guide under $50. It's true that you don't have to break the bank to get the perfect gift for your significant other, parents, siblings, or friends. Sometimes, the best gift that you could give is a really good book or a pretty, personalized necklace. Shop our favorites below:
(Click on the image to be taken directly to the sale); photo via Bows & Sequins
Next up is our holiday style guide for him & her (including New Years Eve) so, stay tuned! What is on your holiday shopping list this year?
xo Anna Elizabeth
Lexie, founder of J'adore Lexie Couture, was one of the very first friends that I made in the blogging world (only 3 years in, omg!) We met at a bloggers' happy hour/conference and, after chatting for about 2 minutes, I knew without a doubt that we clicked. I remember her making her entrance into the event in this beautiful, pink dress and a pair of glitter sneakers (I would soon learn that this is her signature style) and immediately needing to know all of her secrets. We shared selfies, drank champagne, and laughed all night. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Her style is pink, feminine, and totally chic.
Aside from having an incredible fashion sense, I've also known Lexie to be one of the sweetest women that I have met in this industry. She is quick to build up a fellow blogger, lend her hand for support, and inspire you to have confidence in yourself.
That's why I knew that Lexie would be the perfect babe to continue our "Behind the Blog" series today. Below, she is sharing some of her secrets in the blogging and fashion industry and giving a closer look into her personal life:
What are a few words you live by? "Make it pretty" is definitely the words that I live by but, I also try my best to live by being in the "here and now".
Who or what inspired you to start your blog? I wanted to share my feminine style with the world and truly try to project a pretty perspective because life isn't always pretty, you know? I wanted to create a blog and brand that was uplifting! My inspiration came from my children, mostly. As a young mother, I doubted my abilities so much. I thought that I couldn't go for my dreams any longer and I was let down but, I was truly the only one holding myself back. After my second child passed away and I was pregnant with my third, which honestly felt like to me the worst timing ever to start a style blog, I said to myself "just go for it". I wanted to create a pretty place that would be inspiring to not only myself but, to other women and mothers as well.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting J’adore Lexie Couture? The biggest challenge I have had is fighting my self doubt. I think we struggle with this. That little voice in your head that says you're not good enough or why even try? Honestly, I've battled that voice every single day to get up and show up for my blog! The biggest challenge for me is proving to myself that I can do this!
Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter? Instagram all the way!! I love sharing pretty photos and a look into my world! I am still trying to get the swing of Snapchat, I am just so not used to it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 5 years, I see myself turning my love for feminine style into a huge brand that inspires women to put their best foot forward stylistically and mentally! I am all about building each other up because that's so incredibly important!
What is your all-time favorite movie? My favorite movie is always changing but, for the last few years it has been Midnight In Paris. I love how witty and romantic the movie is but, what I love most is the movie's message that you need to really live in the moment and understand that the time we have right now is truly the best. Whatever golden age before that you may wish you lived in would have its own problems and issues that you would end up not enjoying either.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since staring J’adore Lexie Couture? This may sound silly but, my biggest accomplishment is that I haven't given up yet. You wouldn't believe how hard I can be on myself and how much I doubt myself but, I've tried my best to prove that I can do this and that I can keep going. My blog and sharing my style is truly a passion of mine but, I think that we all have fears of being rejected or putting in so much work into something only to never get the recognition that we'd like. Choosing to go down a path like this means that you have to accept that it is going to take some time, even years, to get the recognition that you'd like and to reap the rewards that you desire. I truly am proud of myself that every single day I've shown up and put in at least some effort to my brand, regardless of the life challenges or daily obstacles I've been dealt.
What is your favorite item that you’ve ever bought? Oh gosh, this is seriously such a tough question!! I would say that up to this point my favorite thing that I have bought would be my camera. I love being able to capture not only photos of my style and decor but, of my little ones too.
Finish this sentence: My readers would never guess that ______. Usually, I have a child or two clinging to me while I try to keep up with everything from the blog to social media!
What is one thing on your bucket list? My dream is to create a feminine dress line and that's definitely at the top of my bucket list.
What are you looking forward to most this Winter? I've been really looking forward to decorating for Christmas! I LOVE just about everything surrounding Christmas, especially being able to listen to the holiday music on repeat and putting up pretty pink and pastel decorations.
What is your most loved/popular blog post to date? My most popular post to date is a bedroom styling tip post that I made. I had different contributors work on the post and it has been so incredibly successful on Pinterest as well.
What is your go-to recipe or meal? I love Greek and Mediterranean food so, one of my favorite meals to cook is related to that. I love making gyros with sautéed chicken, feta, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes tossed in homemade lemon balsamic vinaigrette!
If you could be any celebrity, dead or alive, for one day who would it be and why? This one is really tough for me because there are a few lovely ladies that I'd love to be for a day. For right now, I am going to say Lauren Conrad. She is such a huge inspiration to me and she's a boss lady as well. I can't even begin to imagine what her day is like but, I would love the chance to see and hopefully have just as much success myself one day
What advice would you give to someone just starting out? I would definitely say please don't give up!!! Doing something like this can be so challenging and I believe you can be especially hard on yourself starting out. Don't compare yourself to others, instead use them as inspiration. Admire what they do and if it's someone who's really successful, look at their success and tell yourself that you will be there one day and that you won't stop until you are! It's amazing to see how others started out and the improvements they have made along the way. That fact should show you that you don't have to start out with everything being perfect or just how you'd like it; you'll get there eventually! The best thing you can do is to enjoy the process, every step along the way and improve everyday.
Shop Lexie's Style:
xo Anna Elizabeth
Every week, Sam and I look forward to Sunday mornings because we head over to the Farmers Market downtown and pick up our favorite local produce items for the week. Sometimes, we'll come home lugging heavy bags of apples, handfuls of roasted nuts or fresh eggs, and sometimes we'll walk around the market for an hour and get nothing but coffee and free entertainment. But, it's our designated time to relax and plan our last full day of the weekend together before heading back to work. Even if that plan sometimes consists of simply lying on the couch in our pajamas and drinking moscow mules for the rest of the day. ;)
The market was suspiciously empty this past Sunday (lucky for us, right!?) We grabbed the must-have's: french baquette, Zeke's coffee, freshly baked donuts - missing from the photos because we ate them so fast - and a korean barbeque breakfast sandwich, before popping a squat on the nearest bench to enjoy and people-watch.
With the holiday season upon us, it feels like an extra nice treat on the weekends to slip into easy, comfortable clothes without much thought. Converse sneakers, a baseball cap, and a pair of ripped jeans? Count me in. That is the main reason that I love this dark bomber jacket so much.
Last weekend when Sam and I were in Tilghman for Thanksgiving, we snuck away to the outlets to do some quick shopping. I picked up this jacket from the Kendall & Kylie collection (on sale now!) and I haven't been able to safely store it away since. It goes with so many items in my closet and it adds an edgy vibe to any look without going over the top.
The black, suede jacket that Sam wore has been a staple in his closet for years. And, since suede and velvet seem to be the "it" fabrics of this season, he brought it out of retirement for a casual pairing with a Nudie Jeans beanie, Joe's Jeans joggers, and his Android Homme sneakers. You can shop both of our full looks at the bottom of this post!
Shop this look:
Do you have any weekend rituals that you look forward to doing with your boyfriend or husband? Let us know!
xo Anna Elizabeth
Welcome to Anna Elizabeth, my creative space for fashion, recipes, styling, tutorials, figuring out how to run a successful business... and all of the little moments in between!
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