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Best Anthro Finds Under $100

April 20, 2016

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I think one of the best ways to analyze your wardrobe is to look through what you have in your closet and examine the pieces that have stood the test of time. You know, the tops and dresses and pants that have been with you for years, that you keep coming back to wearing and loving time and time again. It’s been by doing this that I’ve really been able to see what stores are worth buying clothes from and what stores I should avoid.

It was by doing this that I noticed that tops and dresses from certain stores never got more than a couple wears before they were no longer flattering or didn’t wear well. I also realized that there were certain brands and retailers that were pricier on the front end but have been worth every penny in the long run. Anthropologie is one of those stores. The tops and dresses I’ve purchased there are high quality, beautiful and yes, a lot more expensive than other stores. However, the clothes that I’ve purchased there are always long-term favorites and the clothes I get the most compliments about. So, moral of the story is to invest in quality, beautifully made items and you will spend less in the long run.

I’ve curated a few of my favorite finds from Anthropologie that won’t break the bank. Every item is under $100 and perfect for spring and summer weather!

1. Everleigh Edgewise Peplum Tee  $68
2. Moon River Eyelet Blouse $98
3. Corbara Peplum Tank $78
4. Holding Horses Faye Tank $68
5. Maeve Calia Tunic $78
6. Crosswrap Dress $69.95

Madison

Uncategorized

An Expert’s Guide to Wine

April 19, 2016

Wine

Madison’s Note // Friends, I have a treat for you today! My dear dar friend, Emily, is sharing all about wine. While I don’t claim to be an expert on all things wine, I do like to drink my fair share. When I was texting with Emily a few weeks ago about a handful of wine questions, she graciously volunteered to share some of her expert tips one how to select the best wine and, more importantly, how to find the best wine at the grocery store. Living in a small town, our access to great wine isn’t as great as it was when we were living in Minneapolis, so this was super helpful to me, too! Now, I’ll turn it over to Emily! 

My husband and I moved to Sonoma, California almost five years ago, and it’s safe to say we’ve reached the point of total spoiledness over the amazing wine selection around us. Beyond the wines we’re able to taste through both our jobs–he’s an assistant winemaker and I work for a winery-specific public relations company– we’re surrounded by boutique wine shops and hundreds of tasting rooms. In other words, our cup overfloweth, something I see most clearly when we visit our hometown in Iowa and pop into the local grocery store for a bottle of wine. There are two almost opposite challenges to finding a bottle of wine at a supermarket: on one hand, there isn’t a staggering amount of diversity (in 2012, over half of the wine sold in the US came from three companies). On the other hand, one look down the wine aisle shows dozens of unique labels, multiplied by different grape varieties from each brand. Either way, wine selection can be a daunting task, so below are a few tips I’ve picked up during my early years in the wine industry and a few wines which, in my humble opinion, are worth grabbing from the shelf:

  1. Drink what you like. This is probably one of the most commonly heard mantras of the wine world: above all else, drink whatever floats your boat. No shame, even if it is that bottle of $2 wine from Trader Joe’s.  

  2. Don’t drink that $2 wine from Trader Joe’s. Let me clarify: above all else, drink what you like, but I will say this: those $10 bottles of wine are priced there for a reason–whether that reason is ultra-cheap grapes or industrialized winemaking practices that make sub-par juice palatable with stabilizing chemicals, added sugar and/or oak chips for flavor. By spending a few dollars more, you’ll enjoy a far better glass of wine.

  3. On picking grapes. Typically one of the most prominent words on a wine label is the grape variety: what Fuji, Granny Smith or Golden Delicious are to apples, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and more are to grapes/wine. The variety is the single most significant indicator of what a wine will taste like, so a basic sense of the “Big Six” can go a long way in navigating the wine aisle:

    Sauvignon Blanc (white)— high acidity, tropical fruit, green bell pepper or fresh-cut grass flavors
    Chardonnay (white)– apple and melon flavors, sometimes toast or buttered-popcorn-flavored Jelly Belly character if it spent time in oak
    Pinot Noir (red)— tends to be a lighter wine, sour cherry or raspberry and sometimes earthy flavors
    Cabernet Sauvignon (red)– fuller-bodied, tannic, blackberry bramble, sometimes green pepper flavors
    Syrah (red)– even fuller-bodied than Cabernet, peppery or smoked meat flavors and ripe black fruit
    Zinfandel (red)– full-bodied, ranges from raspberry flavors to dark black fruits or bramble, even chocolatey flavors. (White Zinfandel is a sweet rosé or pink wine – it’s not to my taste, but see Rule #1)

  4. Tour the world. In general, wines that come from a specific region like Sonoma Valley, Napa, Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Barossa Valley are better bets than if the label just says California, USA, France, Italy or Australia. Some wine regions outside the US–Italy, Australia and New Zealand, for example, are known for great quality for the price, though my list below sways to the patriotic side. :)

  5. Take two. (Two bottles? That, too.) Two quick minutes on the internet can leave you with a solid background on the wine you’re enjoying–and who doesn’t like whipping out a piece of trivia to impress one’s husband or dinner party guests?

One Wine Gal’s Opinion on Best Grocery Store Buys

Riesling – Kung Fu Girl or Chateau Ste. Michelle
Riesling is the cool kid’s alternative to Moscato. The wine can range from totally dry to super sweet, and these two are somewhere in the middle. Kung Fu Girl is a part of Charles Smith Wines, which is, like Chateau Ste. Michelle, based in Washington State.  

Sauvignon Blanc – Kim Crawford
Kim Crawford is a great wine name to know. When my husband and I took a wine class a couple years ago, this was the first wine we blind tasted: our instructor selected it because it’s one of the most quintessential examples of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, priced around $20.  

Chardonnay – La Crema or Kendall Jackson
Chardonnay is tricky because there are so, so many available–it’s the most largely planted variety in the world. These are two that I think show the grape well; both are large Sonoma-based wineries that have been around for 35+ years, and while they make a lot of wine, they put a lot of emphasis on people and place.

Pinot Noir – Simi or Bogle
Simi has been around since the late 1800s (with a break for Prohibition), Bogle Winery is on their sixth generation of family winemakers, and the wines reflects the solid reliability that comes with their histories.

Cabernet Sauvignon – L.M. Martini
Another longstanding Napa winery, Martini is another example of a winery that sells single-vineyard (AKA pricier) wines locally and in certain big cities, but their Napa or Sonoma Cabernet is much more widely available for a more approachable price.  

Zinfandel – Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Old Vine
Ravenswood is one of the pioneering wineries in Sonoma, and they created their Vintner’s Blend to offer a big and bold counterpart to other brands’ White Zinfandels. While they make high-end Zinfandels from old vine vineyards, the Vintner’s Blend is distributed nationally and is a lovely wine for the price.

Syrah – Coppola Diamond Collection Claret
This is actually a Syrah/Merlot blend from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which is a pretty rare combination. Francis Ford Coppola Winery is in northern Sonoma County, and they make a significant amount of wine, from $75+ bottles to under $10 (see Rule #2).  The Diamond Collection is their mid-tier range of wines, typically in the $15-$20 range.

Family

Mother’s Day Gift Guide // The Products I Love

April 18, 2016

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1. Beautycounter’s Lip Sheer // Twig, Petal and Rose are my favorites!
This lip color is sheer enough for people like me who don’t love highly pigmented lipstick while also providing a nice pop of color. I’m convinced that lip color is now a must-have for every woman.

2. Color Sweep Blush Duo // The Bloom/Tulip duo is my new fave
Every momma could use a little something to make her look less tired, am I right? This blush duo will do the trick! The two-color combo is key to achieving a natural, refreshed look.

3. Tiny Tags Necklace // I have the mini dog tag 24″ chain
I mentioned a few weeks ago how much I love my Tiny Tags necklace engraved with Ainsley’s name. It’s a great customized gift that any momma would go crazy for. NOTE: Order this week (by the 21st!) to get it in time for Mother’s Day.

4. Madewell Jeans // 9″ High Riser Skinny Jeans
Chances are the special momma in your life is a little reluctant to splurge on a nice pair of jeans, but these jeans are the best thing that’s happened to my wardrobe. Ever. Embrace the (cool) mom jeans. Bonus: Free shipping both ways!

5. Stella & Dot Hudson Tote 
I bought this tote from my friend Kim a month ago and it’s been going everywhere with me! Big enough to double as a stylish diaper bag, fashionable enough to not make you feel drab. Perfect going into summer!

6. Tieks Flats 
I think the best gifts are splurge-worthy versions of basics that you use time and time again. I’ve had my Tieks since October and they are far and away the most comfortable flats that I’ve ever owned. Perfect for any mom’s wardrobe!

7. Nespresso Milk Frother 
I’ve had this milk frother since Joe and I got married and it’s still going strong! I just love this milk frother for making fancy, coffee-shop worthy drinks at home. What mom wouldn’t want to make a latte at home each morning?

Madison

Fashion

No-Makeup Makeup Look // Before and After

April 11, 2016

MakeupComp

Since I work from home, most days I’m rocking the “no-makeup makeup” look. Let’s be clear: I have no qualms about going makeup-free, but I realized quickly that a little makeup and a few minutes will go a long way to making my “no makeup” look feel a little more polished. Plus, it makes me feel more productive when I’m working from home.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to look fresh and pulled together without putting on a full face of makeup, I’ve got you covered with the tutorial below!

My key products being an amazing tinted moisturizer (SPF is a must!) and a really good blush for brightening up your face and making you look a little more alive.

Other products used // Matte Bronzer 1, Brow Pencil in Medium and L’Oreal Butterfly Lash Mascara

Fashion

Natural Nail Polish Smack Down

April 6, 2016

NailPolishReview

In an effort to clean up my beauty routine, I decided to target what might be the worst offending category – nail polish. Seriously, guys, I don’t even want to know what’s in most conventional nail polish. As Ainsley’s gotten older and I’ve thought about painting her nails I just didn’t have a lot of peace about using regular nail polish on her little nails. So, I asked for recommendations of your favorite natural brands, ordered them all on my own dime and started testing them for a month in order to take the guess work out for you. It’s a tough job, friends, but someone has to do it! 😉

The Best of the Best //
1. Smith and Cult in Kundalini Hustle $18
I can’t even believe that I paid this much for a nail polish, but once I applied it and wore it day in and day out without chipping, I was sold. You guys, this stuff is pure gold. It’s 5-free but wears better than any conventional nail polish that I’ve used. It goes on flawlessly and I think you could get away with a single coat if you wanted.

2. Butter London $15 
I wasn’t crazy about the shade that I purchased, so I wouldn’t recommend that specific color, but the polish was lovely. It went on well, dried reasonably quickly and two coats was sufficient coverage for what I was trying to achieve. The formulas are 8-free, too!

Middle of the Road //
1. Zoya $10
This polish was the closet to my typical Essie nail polish that I’m used to using. It performed well and covered nicely. I didn’t love either of the colors that I picked, but that’s more my personal preference and less of a knock on the brand itself. I loved the price point, too, which was much more on par with what I’m used to spending on polish.

2. Ten Over Ten $18
The polish colors offered by Ten Over Ten are some of the best! They have a great variety and the polish applied nicely/wore well. I put it in the middle category because I loved the Smith and Cult better for this price point, but this is still a great option if you’re looking for a wide variety of colors.

Pass on These // 
1. SpaRitual $12
These polishes are vegan and 5-free, which is what attracted me in the first place. I will say that I loved the color going on. It was a little thin in consistency, but two coats provided nice coverage and it dried quickly, which I love, but it wore terribly. The nail polish chipped within a day, and within a couple days it looked pretty awful. I’m a big believer that safe beauty also needs to work well, and this didn’t pass the test.

2. Ella + Mila “Mommy” Line $10.50
I have the same complaint about this polish as the one prior: the wear was horrible! I really wanted to love the brand because they have great colors, great branding and a really nice list of ingredients they don’t contain, but once again after just a couple days of wear it was very chipped and didn’t hold up well to every day life. I will be giving their kiddo line a try in the future to see if it works better for Ainsley.

Madison

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