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Pretty Party Dress and Lush Faux Fur

(Tobi provided these clothes to me for free in exchange for my post and honest review!)

Can you TELL by this photo how GLAM I am feeling in this crazy-cozy faux-fur collar cocoon sweater? It's like a little winter sleeping bag of glamour that I can wear with anything. It's so luxurious one lady thought it was real. The only thing that would make this EVEN better is a tiny little clasp to hold the two sides of the cardigan together, but I can add that with two stitches so it's no big deal. This also comes in burgundy, which I think would just be FAB with dark red lipstick and sunglasses. So movie-star-esque.


This is the lace skater dress I chose to wear for my birthday brunch with my boyfriend. He was horrified at the amount of skin showing since it was January, but I am wearing hose, thick high wool socks, a cashmere sweater, a scarf, and the big cocoon coat on top. I was quite cozy in our little round booth as we ate deliciously soft scrambled eggs with local bacon, fresh fruit, and seasoned potatoes. Mmmmmm, can it be my birthday every day?

Tobi also sent me a "boss lady" jumpsuit and I picked up a top of theirs on my own, so I'll be back with another post. In the meantime, go check this company out. I was quite worried, having never heard of them before, but now I'm seeing their stuff everywhere. I even saw a new with tags attached dress at my favorite consignment shop. The sizes fit normally (just pay attention to the measurements, but these are all smalls and fit me just fine!), the shipping and packaging was great. They have SO many cute things! 

I'm excited for the weather to warm up a bit so I can shed a few of these layers and take this dress out for a spin again. I think that means the boyfriend will have to treat me to a half-birthday brunch. Totally legit, right? 

(aaaand I totally just saw Tobi is having a 1/2 off site-wide sale so get overrrrrrr there!)

xo
Natalie 

Happy Socks!

 
(cupcake socks!!! affiliate links below :))

 Have you tried Woven Pear socks? They are SO MUCH FUN! I can't get over their unique, sassy, witty and colorful designs. They release new designs all the time, and they each have something special, such as a saying on the bottom or contrasting pattern. Mine are cupcakes, and the bottoms have sprinkles! I adore them and I call them my "happy socks" when I need a pick me up. I ordered a few of these for Christmas gifts too because I can't resist their happiness and everyone needs some happy socks in their life. Don't you? FREE SHIPPING right now in the US! Shop Women's Socks

woven-pear-socks

Happy happy-socks, my friends!
xo
Natalie 

End of Year Review


Merry Christmas, darlings! 

{studio pretties}

Hi friends!

I am thinking over 2016 and what a wonderful, busy, marvelous year it has been...and I hope you can say the same. Here are a few of the things I've been working on.

{gifts in jars in barnes + noble!!!!!}

{making gifts in jars in the studio!}

Gifts in Jars was released on October 18, 2016. It is so much fun to see my book on shelves across the country, to sign copies at Barnes & Noble, to read your reviews on Amazon (keep 'em coming!) and to host Gifts in Jars workshops in my studio. It's been a fun ride!

{FIRST LOOK! She's so pretttttty!}


I got the first copies of Happy, Pretty, Messy IN MY HANDS! This is my first book, my heart book (even though it's releasing second) and it comes out on February 7, 2017. It's available for pre-order NOW!

{making pretty food even prettier in the studio in my favorite apron and socks!}

So yes, I wrote 2 books this year. I also food styled another cookbook, which was awesome and I loved being able to do it in my own studio space this time.


On top of that, I signed contracts for TWO more NEW books due next year! I've got lots of writing to do :) And I'll be teaching poetry this semester at a local college.

It has been a good year for my heart. Poetry, food styling, writing books...my heart is full and grateful for it all.

Much love,
Natalie


Le Tote Review and FREE BOX for YOU!

Le Tote Free Tote

I have had my first LE TOTE box for 1 month and the second one is on its way to me...I am TAKEN by this service! I LOVED every single piece they sent me and wore each piece 2+ times. You can see the items they sent me and my initial impressions in my Unboxing Vlog HERE and you can try it yourself for free by clicking here! (affiliate links!) 

Some of my favorite outfits with items from the box: 

Tarte top and Octavia necklace

The Tarte top had a racerback and HIGH tulip hem! 

Wore several times, but loved it with these J.Crew floral shorts and blue sandals!

Next up is this gorgeous blue and black striped swirly wrap skirt! 

So very chic! I loved this and the way the wind made it move. Also wearing with the necklace (I pretty much didn't take this necklace off all month).

Tunic dress with great details...little tiny feathers all over! 

And the hem is longer in the back. AND no surprise I'm wearing the necklace again!

I also received a zebra scarf I wore on chilly nights. I really loved how everything in my box was coordinated and I could easily make outfits out of them all month. 

I can't wait to see what I get in my next box. The SECOND the post office scanned my return bag (so easy and free), Le Tote emailed that they saw it was on it's way and they were starting to style my next tote.

You can purchase any of the items at a discount, but after much mulling I decided to send all of these items back and rent some more!

YOU can try a Tote for FREE for 14 days using this link and code (affiliate link):


I hope you try it and LOVE it as much as I do!

Le Tote First Box Free



Pura Vida bracelets

Pura Vida Best Sellers
affiliate link! 

Have you tried the Pura Vida bracelets? Pura Vida means Pure Life and the bracelets are all handmade in Costa Rica by a team of 100 locals. I can't get over how cute and summery they look in a big ole' stack!

Happy shopping!
Natalie

Le Tote Trial



Hi guys! I FINALLY filmed another vlog...the unboxing of my first LE TOTE ! Le Tote is a clothing rental subscription company. They send you 3 pieces of clothing and 2 accessories and you can wear them as many times as you want in a month before sending them back (dirty!) and getting another selection next month. Or if you send the items back sooner, you can get another box the same month. It is $59 a month, and if you like something, you can keep it at a reduced price. I'm SUPER excited by the items in my first box and can't wait to wear them. Have you tried LE TOTE ? What did you think? This is NOT a sponsored post but the links are affiliate links :) Try it free for 14 days!!

  Le Tote First Box Free

Enjoy!!
Natalie 

Freelance + Freshbooks

As my freelance business has grown, I've really been trying to keep up with the growth and create systems for my workflow.

One thing that makes this so much easier is FreshBooks, a cloud accounting, invoicing and expense-tracking system that I really love. I'm an affiliate for them now, because I use them so much, so if you click through any of my FreshBooks links and decide to sign up, I get a commission at no charge to you!

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I used to make a new Word document invoice every time for every client, and email it. FreshBooks lets me send out recurring invoices, lets me email it as a PDF or Word, and they will even print it out and mail it for me (they include a return envelope)! It's awesome! My invoices have my logo and are easily searchable by client, and I can track paid and unpaid invoices. Clients can even pay me by PayPal or credit card, an option I never had before.

I also love the automatic expense tracking. Once you import the bank info (totally secure) for your business checking and credit card accounts, they automatically import your expenses and categorize them for you. WHAT HOW AMAZING IS THAT.

There is also a time-tracking feature, which is awesome for my bigger projects (like book writing). My favorite feature here is the real-time TIMER button, where you start and stop the timer and it automatically adds the time to your invoice. Woah-hey.

The mobile app lets me snap a picture of a receipt and add it to expenses so I can ditch the receipts crumbled up at the bottom of my purse for "sorting later" (you did that too, right?). And P&L statements? Literally click a button. I just love that I can access this anywhere, too, since being mobile is part of my freelance business.

FreshBooks is priced at $12.95 for up to 5 clients, then it goes up incrementally, but tops out at $39.95 a month for unlimited clients (click here for more pricing details & to start your free 30-day trial: Pricing). Trust me, this is nothing compared to the time and frustration this saves, which means I can add more billable time and projects to my week instead of spending it on invoicing, adding expenses, etc.

I truly love FreshBooks and if you run your own thriving small business, encourage you to check it out!

Reading Lately

I've been on such a reading kick lately, with the rainy mornings and quiet afternoons galore that Spring brings. 

copy provided for review by Blogging for Books


Find Your Extraordinary 
by Jessica Dilullo Herrin
4 stars ****

This was a GREAT book on business and lifestyle by the founder of the Stella & Dot companies. I wasn't familiar with Jessica Dilulo Herrin's accomplishments before I picked up this book. I found her to be inspiring, pulls-no-punches and tough-love in her words, but with an absolute conviction that she wants YOU to be able to live an extraordinary life. And living an extraordinary life requires a fire under your tush, which Herrin is happy to give you. It took me awhile to embrace her voice given those things, but once I did, I found the book very inspiring and one I will keep on my business shelf for awhile. I will also check out the Stella & Dot companies in more detail. 


copy borrowed from my book illustrator!

Big Magic
by Elizabeth Gilbert
4 stars ****

Big Magic has some great insights into the creative process and the nature of ideas. However, it is mixed with a lot of new-age mumbo-jumbo, so the Christian must read it with a strong grounding in the truth that creativity comes from God, the Creator of the Universe. with that in mind, you can certainly unearth some real gems here from Gilbert. This is a book that invites you to ruminate on the creative process long after you put the book down. And that cover! That cover is just all sorts of goodness. Grab this one and read it at a coffee shop sipping something delicious. 

copy from the library!

Do Over
by Jon Acuff
3.5 stars ***1/2 

Jon Acuff is one of those writers I WANT to like more than I do. Truth be told, though, I find it...grating at times, and a little too over-done. Now I've had the pleasure of seeing Acuff speak in person and I know that is just his way...the over-the-top enthusiasm makes him who he is. This book is chock-full of useful advice for those stuck in a career rut, but I did find it more geared towards 9-5ers instead of those of us in the creative field. Which is fine, since that's Acuff's background, despite his switch into the author/expert category. This is worth a read, as it's a quick read, but I won't be buying it for my own collection. Although that awesome cover makes it tempting....

provided by bloggingforbooks

Full-Color NKJV Study Bible
5 stars *****

This is a GORGEOUS full-color study bible in paperback. I could not be more thrilled by this. If you combined every huge Bible study tome on my shelf, including the giant Illustrated Bible Dictionary I have from Nelson's, this Bible would be their child. It's gorgeous, easy to hold in your hand, and somehow very manageable for the wealth of knowledge it contains. From extra articles, timelines, word studies, maps, and notes, this Bible far surpasses any others I've seen. I feel this would be a great gift for any man in your life, perhaps a recent graduate, because it seems to have a bit of a masculine feel, but of course I love it too. The personal size really keeps things manageable and I like that is is soft-cover, although they also offer it in hard cover. A true keeper and a must-have for your Bible resources shelf. 

Happy Reading!
Natalie 





Grove Collaborative



It is VERY hard to find glass spray bottles, and hard to find good spray bottles in general. I absolutely love my high-quality Grove Collaborative  (affiliate link) one, and can't wait to get a few more. I use this one for ironing, but also want one for homemade cleaning products and such. They're just too handy, beautiful, and lasting. 

Do you about Grove Collaborative (affiliate link) if you haven't heard of them. They deliver the best in natural cleaning and home products to your door, stress-free, and with all sorts of perks! Every order plants trees, offsets carbon, and does so much good. I've placed many orders from them and their customer service is top-notch, too. Not to mention you get the same goodness brought into your house...natural cleaning products, luscious candles and lip balms made by them, THE best glass spray bottles EVER, and, of course, my favorite Mrs. Meyer's hand soaps. 


They even carry the hard-to-find Limited Edition scents. I am DYING over the Lilac scent this spring. It is SO good. The Apple and Rhubarb are perennial favorites as well.

Check them out, here's $10 through this link :) Enough to nab one of these gorgeous glass spray bottles fo' FREE! OR a soap...your choice, tough call though.
(affiliate link) 

Love!
Natalie 


Book Review: How to Live in Fear

book provided by booklook bloggers

How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out
by Lance Hahn
3.5 stars ***

I was very intrigued by this book based on the title and subtitle. They say so much and speak to my heart right now. However, after reading the book, I am left with conflicting feelings about it. On the one hand, it is very inspirational to see a leading Christian figure struggle with panic disorder and still keep going, still keep making progress for the Kingdom. On the other hand, the book is full of anxiety triggers and I could hardly read more than a few pages at a time without feeling anxious because of his in-depth descriptions of his own panic. I also still wrestle with the whole idea of being chained to living in fear. I guess perhaps I still want a "way out." But maybe Hahn is bucking the system by NOT saying we have to have "enough faith" or enough medication, to dissipate our feelings and lose anxiety along with any other emotions. Perhaps he IS right in saying we should freak out, and live with the freaking out, as best we can. Hmmm....this is a thinker for me ;)


Reading Lately

{courtesy booklook bloggers}

The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way
by Dr. John Townsend
3 stars **

I thought the title of this book really drove home a point I'm passionate about: things are pretty darn easy these days, and we get lazy. You know what laziness translates into? Entitlement. Chances are we'll have an entire generation of entitled adults, if we don't already. Not I! So I was excited to review this book based on the title and subtitle. Unfortunately, it takes a pretty hard-edge view of things that was rather disparaging. It was not the hopeful, encouraging or even enlightening book I was expecting. I do not need to be barraged with the negativity. I want to know how we FIX this. How can I avoid it in my own life? How can we teach the next generation to dig in and do the hard work? This book was a disappointment for me. It might speak to some, but it didn't for me. Plus, I'm not sure anyone who actually IS entitled would pick up this book, giving it a "preach to the choir" angle that didn't suit me. Even the cover speaks of an axe to grind...and edge, instead of a hopeful point of view.

Valentine's Day Picks

OooooOOooo, it's almost Valentine's Day! But if you have last-minute plans that require a drop-dead outfit, Rent the Runway has you covered. It's not too late to rent a stunning dress for that first-date or fancy night out.

 (This post is sponsored by RtR but fully endorsed by me! :))


Here are some of my favorite picks from Rent the Runway for this holiday, all shades of red and glamorous. 



I am DYING over this jumpsuit! I want to wear it errrrryyywhere!
You just gotta wear this with GOLD and a sparkly clutch and some big earrings for that 70s-disco vibe. Cannot tell you how much I"m loving this one. 

Can't you just see this with some tights and high black booties? Super-loving the plum color, too. It has such a Taylor-Swift-on-tour feel.


Sweet Kiernan Dress
This sweet dress has a gorgeous texture, flirty line and a cut-out back. What's not to love for this sweetheart holiday?

Burgundy Cascade Skirt
Wear this with a just-perfect white tee tucked in and some sky-high heels for that, "Oh I didn't try too hard, I'm just naturally this glamorous" look we all want.


I just love celebrating Valentine's Day, with or without a boyfriend. It's just such a fun holiday. I'm also going to a gala at the end of the month and am eyeing that sleek red jumpsuit...how fun would that be to rock?

What are your Valentine's Day plans? Are you getting dressed up? Let me know if the comments!


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