Thursday, October 16, 2014

Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women

{This book was provided by BookLook Bloggers for my honest review}

It's a rainy day here. Quiet, gray, begging for quiet time with my Bible and an English Breakfast Tea Latte.

I've been needing a new everyday Bible. My old one is literally from elementary school and falling apart, loved as it is. The only other Bible I currently have is a travel version with my name on it that was a gift, and I cherish it, but find it a bit cumbersome for regular reading. So when I saw this lovely edition with real-life devotions by Lysa Terkeurst and the team at Proverbs 31 Ministries, I was super excited. I adore Lysa and Proverbs 31 Ministries. (you should SERIOUSLY follow them on Facebook...their posts are always timely!)

This NIV Bible is a Compact size, which is the size of a larger paperback book, bigger than my travel version but small enough to tuck into my purse. The embossed leather and smooth leather in lovely robin's egg blue and a deep turquoise are stunning. The pages have silver edges and blue pages for the devotionals. There are 365 devotionals throughout the book, one for every day. The devotions are focused on family and children, but the lessons are applicable to everyone. 

This Bible would make an absolutely lovely gift or a gift to yourself. It's a real beaut, and so is the box, a perfect box to keep cards or notes in.

Do you have a hardcover or softcover Bible? 
This is actually my first softcover one!
xo
Natalie

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lavender and Wine

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I simply canNOT stop wearing this orchid merino wool sweater with gold shoulder zips from J.Crew.  It's a bit drapey, but with fitted sleeeves and the nice side vents to give it shape. Perfect color for autumn, don't you think? I love this orchid color with navy, wine (as my boots are), chocolate brown, olive green, deep golden yellow, and tan, like my hat. Such luscious combinations!

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I've said before there are about 2 days each year where the shorts-and-boots combo actually works, and this was the fall day! Wool shorts are a unique specimen in and of themselves...because they're, well...WOOL. SHORTS. I mean...
But I did get compliments on the shorts, and I think they're super cute with boots. 

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Fall is the absolute perfect time for all of my wool hats, including this gem from American Eagle, believe it or not. I love its curvy 70's-style brim that highlights sunglasses just perfectly. And the bright bangles and earrings are from J.Crew, too, and add a fun pop of contrast to this outfit.

Have you ever worn shorts with boots? What do you think of the combination?

xo
Natalie

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nuts & Bolts: Open Enrollment #benefitsmatter




Grab a cup of coffee! Let's talk health insurance...

I like to occasionally talk about the more "Nuts & Bolts" aspects of life...frugal february, budgeting, and the like. So, along with Alfac, a Fortune 500 insurance company, I wanted to share some of my personal tips on how to get the most out of open enrollment season for health care plans. I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with the options and paperwork. It can be a tricky business to navigate, and Millenials are statistically less likely to be prepared. Here are a few of my tips (with my boyfriend's help!) on how to save for and make a good decision during health care open enrollment time.

Low- vs. High-Deductible Plans
I know health care can be expensive no matter how you slice it, and it's tempting to go for the cheapest monthly-cost plan. While this may be good for your budget in the short run, it could leave you high and dry should something come up (and that's the point of insurance, right, in case something comes up?). I personally prefer to budget more each month, knowing that I'm well-covered and wouldn't need to scramble to find several thousand dollars out-of-pocket for a higher-deductible plan at an already stressful time. If you do go for a higher-deductible plan, check out an HSA to go with it (see below).

Cross Your T's and Dot Your I's
It might seem dull, but it's important to read the fine print of all the available plans. You'll want to make sure your hospital of choice and the physician of your choice are "in-network," meaning you won't have to pay extra to visit them. Take a look at co-pays, prescription coverage and ER visit coverage. These will vary by plan, so find your priorities and try to balance them with your budget. For instance, if you have a lot of prescriptions, good coverage is important. If you have kids and envision ER visits in your future, good ER coverage is important, too. Of course, no insurance is perfect, but at least you'll know you're getting the best for your particular circumstance.

Consider an HSA
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a great way to supplement whatever health care plan you choose, particularly high-deductible plans and for people with families. The savings account (you generally set these up through your bank or your employer) allows you to set aside money for everyday medical expenses, everything from Band-Aids to eyeglasses. You get to keep this money and it can be incredibly useful to have socked away should you need to cover an expense that doesn't meet your deductible.   If you put $25 a pay period (assuming a bi-weekly pay period) into your HSA, you'd have $2,600 at the end of the year to help meet medical expenses that might come up. Aflac's post about how most of us are "One Emergency Away from Financial Data" shows the numbers and why an HSA may be a good idea. One emergency could greatly damage your credit and financial future.

Don't Forget Incentives
Once you've chosen your plan, don't forget to take advantage of incentives. Some plans will give you a discount if you don't smoke, plan to quit smoking, get a dental or eye exam, commit to regular exercise, etc. It can be easy to forget about these, so don't let them slip through your fingers! Also don't forget to take advantage of free physicals or other health screenings your insurance might offer. Preventative care is best!


Now it's time to go for a walk! Love me some crunchy leaves, the crisp fall air, and feeling of accomplishment for those pesky "grown-up" things like health insurance. Plus a walk is healthy for ya ;) 


Even if you're young and healthy, I personally think insurance is an important investment. Health can so easily be taken for granted, but if it fails, you won't want to be stressed about finances. So take your time this open enrollment season to take control of your health and future. And please note this is all based on my own experience and I am not a professional. Be sure to fully investigate your options before making a decision.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Once-a-Day Chronological Bible

provided for my honest review by BookLook Bloggers

The NIV Once-a-Day Bible, Chronological Edition, is one of my new favorite things! 

My boyfriend and I had been talking about reading the Bible chronologically for awhile now as a way to refresh our reading of the Bible and bring new perspective. We've also been looking for a devotion to do together, so when I had the opportunity to grab this once-a-day version, I knew it would be perfect for his birthday. We've been greatly enjoying reading together nightly. 

I will admit the readings can be a bit long each day, but you're reading the whole Bible in a year, so it's to be expected. I particularly enjoy the "reflection" section after each daily reading. 
It's fascinating to be reading the Bible in chronological order, so if you haven't tried this, I recommend it so far for sure. The once-a-day version makes it easy to stay on track. And the readings are merely numbered, not dated, so no need to feel guilty if you miss a day. I do wish they had a hardcover edition, but that's a minor detail. Overall, a great Bible to have in your house because of its useful and unique set-up. 

Have you ever read the Bible chronologically? What did you think?

Happy Reading, 
Natalie 



Monday, October 6, 2014

Fascinator Giveaway with Vivo Masks-CLOSED


Exciting News!

I'm so thrilled that Vivo is letting me give away a fascinator to one of my lovely readers! This is the perfect opportunity for entree into the fun world of wearing hats and fascinators!

 I'm giving away one of the under-$50 fascinators (the winner's choice!), which are smaller and more manageable for wearing to Thanksgiving, a school dance, a holiday party, or a birthday. Or even just because, if you're like me! Vivo has an amazing selection and I'm sure you'll find one you're in love with! Here are some of my favorites...

Favorite VIVO fascinators under $50

I think the hot pink one is my most-favorite. How about you?

Please enter and share!
 I'm so excited for this opportunity for another lovely lady to wear a Vivo fascinator.
Entry closes at midnight EST on Monday, October 13th.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Something Fascinating: What a Hat Can Do For a Girl

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(fascinator provided to me by Vivo Masks in exchange for my honest review)

There is just *something* about wearing a hat or fascinator. Something utterly delightful and intriguing, don't you think? It's unique, it's vintage, ever-so Princess-y, and entirely fun for the wearer and those who may admire the lovely hat or fascinator perched on her head.

Pin This Image: Hover and click the pink heart to pin any image.

What can a fascinator do for a girl? Here are 4 of the many things: 

*A fascinator can bring interest and attention to your face, to highlight your natural bone structure and stunning eyes.

*A fascinator can show off your beautiful hair by adorning it with something special.

*A fascinator can visually balance your shape or outfit with a nice little lifting of the eye upwards.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least: 

*A fascinator is a most beguiling way to show off your personality and sartorial flair.

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It's funny to me that these days we think it takes great courage to wear a giant flower on the side of one's head, and perhaps it does, but just a generation ago, hats were a daily ritual for women. One I'm sad our culture as a whole has abandoned. Not I! It's a ritual I enjoy greatly and am thrilled to show you my new favorite beauty, the Faith fascinator from Vivo Masks.

This is truly, truly a handmade work of art, with delicately ruched silk, horsehair and feathers. I simply had to take some more artistic shots to show you the delicate beauty of Faith: 

So ethereal.

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Utterly delightful to behold with the golden morning light behind it.

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Here you can see the beautiful ruched silk on the disc and the vintage velvet polka-dot veiling. 

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What a cheerful and uplifting thing. Vivo calls it a "sensation" and I'm quite inclined to agree! BEYOND fun! One might think a giant pink flower would be difficult to wear, but I find it just the opposite. The delicate nature means that the hat itself won't overwhelm an outfit. I can envision this with a black silk jumpsuit, a little white or cream suit dress, and any simple black dress.

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Vivo Masks and Fascinators is based out of Traverse City, Michigan (and Canada) which tickles me pink. I love that this hat company has Midwestern roots, like me. Their hats are all handmade in Europe, and their Venetian party masks are handmade in Italy.

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I was also very excited to get to wear some of my vintage glove collection with this outfit. Little lace gloves and pure white leather ones that I said are, "Like wearing marshmallows on my hands," because these are the descriptors I come up with and they are SO.SOFT.

I'm also wearing some sentimental light-pink pearls that were given to me by my parents on the occasion of my first ballet company performance when I was a teenager. Pearl earrings as well, another gift, to complement the necklace. 

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The cotton brocade (imagine, it isn't shiny!) dress is a lovely foil for the hat...the texture grounds the delicate nature of the feather flower, but the simple shape and straps don't distract.
The coat is one of my favorite pieces, a Rebecca Taylor gray jersey, silk and sequin jacket that hugs nicely. And the boots are my beloved wine suede wedges from Steve Madden.

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Just be sure your hat is properly affixed or you may end up with a wilting flower! ;)
 However, I knocked this off my head myself (I'm graceful like that), but extensive wear testing shows the elastic stays
tight and neat in place for long periods of time and activity.


What's that, you say? You'd like to try your hand (head?) at wearing a fascinator? Yes, please!
We're having a GIVEAWAY for any under-$50 fascinator of your choice, starting Monday!
Check back then for your chance to win.

Happy weekend!
xo
Natalie 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Fall!

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It has been a beautiful first few days of fall here! I love being able to wear my favorite boots and a few layers or heavier materials (such as this lovely alpaca sweater, one of my favorite fall pieces).

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These are all classic pieces that combine to make an outfit that is both timeless and modern, with the addition of a fun, colorful necklace and some details like wedges and zippers on the boots and bell sleeves on the sweater. I've had the Coach belt since high school!

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Big sunglasses are always a must, and a Cafe Americano can go a long way towards making a beautiful day, too.

Sweater: Catherine Melandrino//Jeans: Joe's Jeans//Sunnies: Local boutique//Necklace: Urban Outfitters forever ago//Belt: Coach, forever ago//Boots: Steve Madden

Happy Fall, my friends!
xo
Natalie

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Vlog


Finally another Friday vlog! Now, I know that the uninitiated might think this was a first take and that I should re-film it. But the truth of the matter is, this is at least the third take. So here we have it. 

Happy Friday!
What are YOU up to this weekend?
xo
Natalie

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From back when it was summer...

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You guys I just remembered I never posted this outfit! In all it's cute Labor Weekend red-white-and-blue-ness! Shame, shame. 

Here it is...an Anthropologie clearance rack number with a quirky vintage purse, red lipstick and big sunnies. How I roll. 

Anyway, happy almost-Friday!
xo
Natalie 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's All Be Brave


Let's All Be Brave. 
by Annie F. Downs
* 1 star
(Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review by BookLookBloggers. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post this review.)

I really wanted to love this book by blogger Annie F. Downs. It's the first book of hers I've read, and I loved the concept and title. I NEED more bravery in my life right now! And I know several good friends who really enjoyed this book.

So I was disappointed when I found this book to be lackluster from the very beginning. It was far too personal, as the entire book was simply "essays" about times in her life (some random examples, I thought) of when Annie tried to be brave, that were confusing, muddy, and convoluted to the uninitiated reader (i.e. anyone who is not very close to the author). I felt that this book tried too hard to be hipster by including the coffee shop where each piece was written. The pieces were not chronological, which made following Annie's travels and stories confusing. The stories were more like mini therapy sessions for the author, in my mind, with a,"So be brave! Like I sorta was!" at the end of each "chapter." Not what I was looking for. The writing style was also far too young for me, very adolescent-oriented and not quite deep enough for the subject matter. The sentence structure was very stylistic. That might suit others just fine, but it just didn't jive for me. I also found it disconcerting that Annie talked about the writing process a lot, making reference to the fact that she was writing a book, and in one or more cases, spending at least a whole page talking about how nervous she was to be writing what we were going to be reading on the next few pages. Bravery? Maybe. Good reading? Not in my book (ha, a book pun, get it?).

Sorry Annie and friends, I really am. But this one only gets 1 star from me.

Happy reading!
xo
Natalie

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Spirit-Filled Life


The Spirit-Filled Life 
Dr. Charles Stanley
***** 5 stars
(Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review by BookLookBloggers. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post this review.)

"Discover the Joy of Surrendering to the Holy Spirit" love that!

This was one of those books that fit into the category of "right book at the right time." I have been recommending this book to everyone! Dr. Charles Stanley was new to me until a few years ago, living in Minnesota and being blizzard-ed in a few times with my grandma, we watched his In Touch Ministries streamed church services. Dr. Stanley is smart, no-nonsense, but still comes across as a Mr. Rodgers type that you want to be your mentor. His sermon on anxiety resulted in 2 pages of notes that I still keep in my Bible to read frequently.

But back to this book. There are so many misconceptions about the role of the Holy Spirit in the church today. Stanley cuts through the confusion with a Biblically-sound, simple, straightforward and yet heartfelt and personal approach that every Christian should read. This will wake you up to the loving power of the Holy Spirit in your life. It's hard for me to tell you how much you'll get out of this book because it's just SO. MUCH. Total game-changer. Here are some of the things they list in the promotional materials:

  • who the Spirit is—and how to develop a relationship with Him
  • who the Spirit isn’t—and how to avoid damaging misconceptions
  • how being “filled” with the Spirit actually works
  • what the Bible really teaches about spiritual “signs” such as speaking in tongues
  • how the Spirit can increase your capacity for faith, hope, love, and personal transformation
  • what it means to “hear” the Spirit’s voice
  • how to make the most of your unique spiritual gifting to build up Christ’s body
  • what happens when the Spirit’s power is unleashed in your workplace, your family life, your friendships, and every other area of your life
Everyone I told I was reading this book (online, friends in person, and strangers who saw me reading it in public) said, "That book changed my life!" because it was originally published years ago and this is an updated re-issue. I can now add my own voice to that chorus! I've got a copy for my boyfriend already...grab your own for sure! I highly recommend it.

Happy weekend reading!
xo
Natalie

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Sound of Music Dress

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I bought this handmade vintage dress at an antique store last summer and wore it to see Garrison Keillor live. Y'know I love me some Prairie Home Companion. And I also desperately love some Sound of Music. Don't you think the shape and color of this dress is reminiscent of that beloved movie? Like something Liesl might wear on a date with Rolf.

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Since it has such a specific look in my mind, I had to change it up a bit. We are teetering into fall, so booties were in order. Then I added my favorite belt and a unique necklace that never fails to make me smile. So many colors! Pom poms! 

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The funny thing is the charm on the last bit of the necklace clanked against the belt buckle as I was ducking into church late, announcing my presence like a cattle bell. So much for being discreet! 

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I think this outfit strikes the transitional tone very well and could even be transitioned farther into fall with some tights, higher boots and a sweater. The dress is made of a lightweight wool, so it will keep me warm! I love handmade vintage...it has even MORE character!

PS> I'd love to share my poem I wrote for September 11th last year for Darling Magazine called, "Blue September." Here's a sneak peek: 



Have a beautiful day my friends! 
xo
Natalie
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