Happy Thanksgiving! Oh how I wish I could have gotten this gift guide to you weeks ago! Time has definitely gotten away from me and I’m constantly feeling behind… but I think that’s what moving will do to you right? There is nothing I love more after a full Thanksgiving belly than curling up on the sofa, listening to Christmas music playing, and doing some online shopping! Like a lot of people online shopping has become an ultimate pleasure in life. So today I decided to put together a 2021 gift guide for ideas under $50, and not only have I shared my $50 ideas for her, but for him too… which is always hard, plus home gifts and gifts for the foodie! So if you’re looking for some ideas I’ve got them for you!
How about sipping a cup of delicious apple cider while you finish your holiday shopping? My slow cooker apple cider recipe is simple and delicious… plus your home will smell divine! Cheer and happy shopping!
Happiness, sadness, anger, and guilt are the 4 words I would use to describe my birthday, let me repeat that last word again though, GUILT. When it comes to having a 9/11 birthday I have a lot of guilt, and it weighs on me like a ton of bricks.
September is generally a very happy month for me, I love life and I’m blessed to be alive and well, but I have not been okay this last week. So here I am 17 years later, still emotional, still feeling guilty, still peeling back the layers of emotion and trying to process them. Last year hit me hard, this year has been even worse. It has been 17 years and I DO NOT HAVE CLOSURE.
Growing up I always loved my birthday, it was the one day that was mine, it was just about celebrating me and my birth, it was that one special day all to myself. I could be loved, spoiled, and happy. Then on my 24th birthday it was taken away and suddenly it was a bad terrible day. Every year I have pushed my emotions to the side for many reasons.
The last few days I’ve been depressed, I haven’t gone a single day without crying. 9/11 is never going to go away, people suffered and died… I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it completely, but I do need to find some way to heal. I’ve been struggling so hard this week, Brian is trying to help me with my emotions. He says I need to write this as part of the healing process, I actually don’t want to write this because it hurts too much, but I’m willing to do anything to heal my heart. I’ve actually written this post a few times, I’ve even put it in the trash. Today I’ve pulled it out of the trash, determined to write this, my eyes are full with tears, I’m struggling to breath… but I’m going to get through this.
Let’s first address why in 17 years I haven’t dealt with my feelings… my daughter Haley. So you don’t get confused I’ll give you the speed version… I had my first, a son, Corey when I was 17 years old, and married Brian a month before I turned 22. Haley is my middle child and I had plans for a 3rd child in the future, but Ashley was a happy early surprise. I’ve been blessed with 2 surprise babies, but I struggled for well over a year to get pregnant with Haley. I prayed for her a lot, I would close my eyes and I could almost see her face, she was a happy little girl with curly hair and blue eyes like mine, and then it happened. I became pregnant and I was ecstatic later to find out she was a girl.
Haley was due October 4th, but late in the evening on September 10th my back started hurting, and then sure enough a bit after midnight contractions started and we went to the hospital. The doctor said I was far enough into my pregnancy that he wouldn’t stop labor, and my son was born around 36 weeks too and he was just fine. I still remember the nurse putting the hospital ID bracelet around my wrist and verifying my information, “Laura Salter” she said, “9/11…. well Happy Birthday.. and a baby on your birthday too!” I was so excited, it was my day, and I was having my baby girl, and it would be her day too, we would share it forever.
Then it happened. I was in the final stages of labor and everything was a blur. I knew something bad had happened. Family was distracted, doctors and nurses were distracted, I was in pain, I was confused, what was happening. The news was on while I was in labor, finally in the last few minutes the doctor said let’s turn this off. At nearly the exact minute flight 93 crashed into the ground Haley was born. Suddenly I didn’t care about what was happening on TV. The day was just about me and my daughter.
I had walked into the hospital at 23 years old and left at 24 with a newborn baby and a national tragedy on my birthday. Suddenly my special day and my baby’s was full of suffering and death. It was an evil day, I read articles, I watched the news… but I had to shut it out, it was too hard to process. I wanted to take my 2 kids, run away from it all and hide.
Of course over the years I was haunted by it, but my way of dealing with it was pushing it aside and not think too much about it. It was just too sad. The anniversary of 9/11 was everywhere, but it was Haley’s first birthday. Having her was a wonderful distraction, on Haley’s 2nd birthday I was pregnant with Ashley. I focused on my kids and life, when I did think about 9/11 I tried to instantly change the subject in my mind. Not that I didn’t care, it was simply unbearable to think about.
I have never written something so painful as this post. It is still raw, and it hurts me that this happened, it is a burden I carry. I feel guilty for wanting to have my day back, I feel guilty for wishing my daughter had a normal birthday. It’s not my fault, but I feel embarrassed and ashamed of my birthday.
I want to celebrate, am I allowed? Yes, I am but then the guilt kicks in. Am I judged when I celebrate on such a terrible day? I still cringe when I hand over my drivers license and people see my date of birth, I’m embarrassed for anyone to tell the restaurant staff it’s my birthday.
I am ANGRY when my daughter is forced to watch videos of the World Trade Center burning and crashing down on her birthday at school. I am SADDENED when every year a friend of hers sobs at school because her Dad died in the 9/11 attack. I am physically SICK when I realize all who died and even sicker when I realize the people who knew death was about to come.
I must move on, heal and find closure, but it’s incredibly hard. I will never forget for a second how cruel humans can be towards each other and I will never forget those who died, but I must give myself permission to feel happy on this day. If Haley and I can’t enjoy our birthday and the simple gift of being alive then the terrorists have even more power.
As part of my healing and moving forward we’ve decided to volunteer or do random acts of kindness on 9/11 to honor those who died & the hero’s who tried to save. Not just me, but my daughter and I need to find a way to honor those each year so we can celebrate without the burden. This year we are bringing cupcakes to the firemen at the local fire station. We can all do something wonderful today in honor of the victims, big or small and I encourage you to do so too.
Today I will put on my favorite outfit, smile, eat cake, and open presents. I will allow myself and my daughter to be happy, but behind those smiles we know and we haven’t forgotten.
If there is one thing we can learn from 9/11 it’s to have love and tolerance for everyone. Who cares about religion, politics, race, or sexual orientation. We all share this planet together and that should be enough to bond us and overlook our differences. The world would be so boring if we were all the same.
The first time I visited the National September 11th Memorial in New York it was under construction, but a couple of years ago we did visit over Christmas and we took the girls. Haley was there and it was a lot to take in, it’s a hard day for all people not just Americans, and it’s a hard birthday.
Perhaps I feel even more vulnerable having just returned from New York last week, I thought about it then, but I couldn’t go to the memorial. I wish I could have, but it was hurting me too much, with my emotions coming to term I would of been a hysterical mess. I asked my sister who was also in New York to take the above photos of the memorial. It really is beautiful.
I believe God gave me my daughter early to help ease my pain. Trying to cope while pregnant, without her on my birthday would have been unbearable. She was my comfort.
My baby girl Haley spent the first 14 months of her life pretty much bald, but when her hair did grow it was curly, just like I envisioned.
Happy 17th Birthday Haley, you were my best birthday gift ever. I’m so proud of all your accomplishments and I know how hard you have worked to achieve your goals. You are such a strong women and I know you’ll continue to do great things. XOXO
This blog post was just written from my perspective, but I know a tremendous amount of people have suffered and been affected. Many people died but focusing on all the beautiful souls that were born that day, like my daughter gives me some comfort.
Let’s spread love and make the world a better place.
A while back I did a post on why I love decorating with trays and how they provide instant style. You know what? Books fall into the same category. The right kind provides instant style but, also helps to anchor objects that would other wise not work or seem lost. Using books in your home decor will not only save storage place, it will encourage you to think and dream. I think those are things we could all use more of! I like to use books to tell a story about what I love, and you can do the same.
Books will provide visual interest, pattern and color to your home. Although most of our books on display fall heavy into the picture category I still read and thumb through them often. Sometimes I’ve had an awful day and it just feels good to pop open a bottle of wine and thumb through a good book. Nothing beats being transported into a story… a beach, vintage celebrity photos or stunning couture, it’s good for my soul.
The little pink macaron pill boxes I’m in love with! My girls gave them to me for Mother’s Day, they actually found them months ago at Hobby Lobby bought them and had hid them from me. So sweet!
Smaller books look so cute on trays, and I especially love stacking small objects on top of books. It gives great texture and visual interest doesn’t it? I’m always on the look out for small objects to decorate with and this bronze hand from Pottery Barn certainly fit the bill, and it’s holding my husbands grandmothers earrings. Not only are they do they look beautiful, they enhance the story I’m telling with the fashion books. I love using small objects around my house of family members who are no longer with us, it brings their life into our everyday life and I love that.
I think this plant above on the shelf is a perfect example of how a book can anchor objects. Without the book the plant looked stark and boring. Gotta love it when the camera picks up the dust on your shelves – LOL!
Elements of Styleis hands down my favorite design book EVER! It’s full of great home design information and HELLO – this book looks incredible everywhere! Black and white stripes just do it for me! Here are more of my favorites, if you’re interested. If not go out and find books that represent you and make you happy!
I’m constantly tweaking our house and moving this around from room to room. So when you see a book and think wait didn’t that used to be on your desk? Yeah, probably so… but remember I suffer from I can’t leave my house alone. I’m not just styling a blog photo, I’m constantly rearranging. I call it shopping my own house!
My Mom will vouch I’ve been doing this since I was probably 7 or 8 years old! It would take me literally all day to clean my room because I would have to perfectly stage all my toys on my book shelf. What can I say? OCD starts young.
Ugly old books an be spray painted, they look fabulous gold! Use painted books as risers under objects that need height or to be anchored visually.
Use one large book for a simple but bold statement, or create stacked groupings of books. Vary the size, placement and direction, and add fun trinkets on top for style and interest.
Let the books you decorate with represent you and what you love. If you love science and nature that should play into your choices.
When buying books online don’t assume you know what size it is just by looking at it! Especially if you’re creating a book display. Be sure to measure, use other books or magazines for size reference so you have an idea size wise if your books will stack well. I have a few books I just love together, but they aren’t sized right, so nope!
I like to look for books that I love but ones that have covers that will make a statement and style beautifully. In this case sometimes I do judge a book by its cover. After all when a book is on display it’s closed most of the time!
Sometimes books you love aren’t the prettiest and no LOL you don’t have to always spray paint it. Simply stack a nicer coordinating book on top and let that book do all the visual work.
Happy Friday! I feel like I sort of dropped the ball reminding everyone about the Nordstrom Triple Pointsale! I have failed you… I am so ashamed. It goes on until May the 6th so if you’re a Nordy shopper like me be sure and take advantage. You can earn triple points online and in stores today through Sunday. I like to save up all my rewards and then splurge on shoes or bags.
I’ve been dreaming pink a lot lately, the color just makes me so happy, I’m even getting little pops of pink in our home just in time for summer. I’m always on the lookout for pretty pink clothes and accessories, but this time I was on a mission specifically for the perfect pink dress. My little sister and I are going to see Mean Girls on Broadway at the end of the summer and I’m so excited! Even though the show’s on a Friday instead of a Wednesday I’ve still got to wear my pink! Mean Girls reference for those who have no idea what I’m talking about – haha.
So I spotted these 2 pink dresses online, ordered both, and thought well surely I won’t like one, or one won’t fit right. I’ll just return the one that doesn’t work, and wouldn’t you know it both fit and I love them both – story of my life!
With this dress I used Red Carpet Kolour in Light on my arms, chest, and legs. I really love that stuff! It’s not glittery but it gives your skin a nice sheen, blurs imperfections, and lets your skin catch the light. It comes in Light, Medium, and Tan. I have all 3 and there isn’t much difference between the Medium and Tan. You can also mix colors together easily to get a custom shade.
Amazon has the light for $30, but is out of stock in the other colors. I did find theMedium and Tan/Dark in stock at another store but it’s $49.95, or you can wait and see if Amazon restocks it. I freakin love this stuff. Once you apply it let it dry a few minutes before getting dressed. After that it shouldn’t rub off on your clothes unless you get really sweaty. Even then it washes out of clothing. For the next pink dress I do not have Red Carpet Kolour on so see if you can tell the difference. I can, I’ve been lazy when it comes to spray tanning lately, so this stuff has made my pale skin look human. If you look really close you can see the difference where I stopped at my ankles.
I did have a really dumb moment with this dress when I first put it on. I thought why is it so hard to walk in? I was walking around like a penguin wearing it thinking is my butt really this big? It wasn’t until I took it off I saw the slit was stitched up in an X. Once I removed that it made a world of difference and is easy to walk in.
It reminds me of the last time I was in NYC on the subway I saw a lady who really looked put together wearing a skirt dressed for work, I was admiring her outfit. Then when she got up for her stop I saw the back slit of her skirt stitched up with the white X. Ouch – you’re supposed to cut that out. I guess we all have our fashion faux pas!
The lace detail on this skirt is just gorgeous, and another thing I love about this dress is the adjustable straps in the back. I’m wearing my usual size, it also comes in navy and a gorgeous pale blue. It’s also machine wash and line dry so I can take it to Europe with me this summer. I might be washing clothes in the hotel sink!
Here’s my second dress choice. Another dress I fell in love with. I’m getting more of an Elle Woods vibe with this dress but I still think it would be super cute. It’s so stretchy and comfortable, Ted Baker sizing is a little different, but don’t let that throw you off he has great dresses.
The polka dot clutch is another Etsy find. You can pick from so many patterns and it’s under $30! There’s a small detachable chain that comes with the bag if you prefer this. I’m crazy for polka dots lately.
The only negative about this dress is it’s dry clean only. Not at all a deal breaker for me, I can usually get a few wears before my clothes need dry cleaning, but dry clean only means it will not be coming with me to Europe this summer. This dress also comes in white and for a while was available in black. There’s a chance they’ll restock in black so keep an eye out if you’re interested in that. Bloomingdales has a very pale pink one and the Ted Baker website has a navy which is also very classy.
I just can’t emphasize how comfortable this dress is! It’s so stretchy and the fabric feels so breathable, it’s almost like fancy pajamas!
We took these photos on the way to a favorite spot of ours, Chez Fabian, and look we finally made it! Yay! If you’re local it’s in Grapevine and part of the Main Street Bistro & Bakery, it’s a favorite. So which dress will make it to Mean Girls with me? I have no idea actually but I’m sure it will end up on Instagram. I have a hunch if the lace dress does go to Europe with me I might be sick of it, so the hot pink one for Broadway…. but who knows.
It’s May and I’m so pumped! Who else is with me? We are officially counting down to summer. Normally the girls have school a full week into June but not this year, nope we’re done with it all before Memorial Day. Yay! I’m really looking forward to our summer plans and especially looking forward for the teenage pile of school papers, lunch boxes, shoes, tennis gear, and backpacks to go away. I especially love it when I unexpectedly trip over them… so fun.
Oh, something else I wanted to mention is Holy Ads! I decided to get Adsense back up and running, for whatever reason last year at this time we couldn’t get it to work. Google has been randomly choosing the ad placement and I’m trying to tweak it, but there seems to be a delay. So no, I’m not trying to drive you crazy with ads, I’m working on getting them to calm down.
Let’s get back to my white jeans! I’m getting better about staying clean since my original White Jeans Love blog post. So I thought I’d do an outfit round up of some of my favorite white jean outfits and we could chat a little bit.
This has actually been my favorite outfit so far with white jeans. I mean striped tees just look so good with everything, especially white jeans! I have such a love and fascination for Chanel. Everything Chanel is freakin awesome but other than the Chanel fashion books I decorate with in my home these Chanel shoes are the only thing I have. It was a total freak accident I even got them.
I was walking through the Nordstrom shoe department one day wearing some nice designer shoes, and long story short, a sales person asked me how I liked them and I said I didn’t care for them because they made funny squeaky sounds. Together we walked around the store so he could hear the squeaky sounds, he gave me a new pair to try, still squeaky. So he said I’ll give you a full refund for anything you like, shoes shouldn’t sound like that, so combined with that and my Nordstrom rewards that’s how I ended up with Chanel shoes for $200. I love them so much that sometimes I want to sleep in them.
Can we talk about these earrings? They’re from Etsy and just $16! They just scream summer to me, I love supporting sellers on Etsy. If I let myself I can browse for hours at the Etsy website. These crochet earrings come in so many colors and they’re weightless feeling, seriously a great purchase!
I’ve also been having a serious straw bag addiction lately, another trend I’m grateful for. It’s getting so bad lately that I love every single one I see. I really love cross body bags too, they’re great when you need to be hands free and your contents are light, but now there is a tote version in this bag and I’m like ahhhhh!!!! I wish I had that one too!
This is how I act when I’m just so sick of having my picture taken, but seriously white on white is such a chic look… that is if you can stay clean! I love wearing monochromatic outfits, especially with black. I’m coming around more with white, and learning my limits… ok no salsa or red wine. You know, the white outfit basics.
The story with most of my outfit photos is I’m usually just out running errands with Brian or we’re on our way out to eat. We’re in the habit now of grabbing the camera and we’ll usually pull over and get a few quick snaps. Sometimes the kids are in the car rolling their eyes at us. I’ve been eyeing this pretty yellow building around the corner from where I live for a while and we finally remembered to get a snap. I’m always looking for cute photo spots, so is Brian. He’s the best trained husband ever.
Moving on… let’s talk about how spring and fresh gingham and white jeans are. I don’t want this gingham trend to ever end! I mean gingham will always be around but lately it’s everywhere, in every color, in everything. Patterns just make me so happy. I’ve worn this shirt with everything lately from shorts to even unbuttoned over a maxi dress.
I love this utility camo jacket so much! Another pattern that looks great with practically anything, I even wore it some while hiking the Palo Duro Canyon. I ordered my usual size a small but I still found it a little bulky, I washed it and it shrank just slightly and now it’s perfect. I especially love pink and came together, the rugged contrast combined with girly colors and sparkles is such a fun look.
I just ordered this jacket in mauve color too, it was finally restocked in my size. Stalking stores online really pays off! I thought it would be the perfect light weight jacket for Scotland this summer, I’m really confused what to expect weather wise in Scotland in August. The camo jacket packed great for our hiking trip, very minimal wrinkling so I think it will work well on chilly nights.
Hey! Don’t forget Saturday is Cinco De Mayo! It’s time to get your chips, salsa, and margaritas on! I’m sure we’ll end up at Uncle Julio’s, it’s our favorite Mexican restaurant. If you’re near a Williams Sonoma check out my Skinny Margarita Taste Test from last week, they were so good! Until next time.
Holy surprise, back to back blog posts? I know, it’s been a while since I’ve done that. I had to hurry because these pants just went on sale. This is all too familiar with me, buy something, photograph it, then before I can hit save on the blog – poof it sells out. But odds are you didn’t wake up thinking I must buy a pair of wide leg polka dot pants today, so we’re probably good. Or did you wake up thinking that? Either way you can keep reading.
Fashion this spring has been amazing, I’ve been in heaven with all the patterns from gingham to dots… like I said it’s been amazing! I just couldn’t pass up these black and white polka dot wide leg pants. They’re just so fun, which I can’t believe they’re marked down already! It’s good they’re on sale but bad because they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. If you’re not feeling polka dots luckily there are so many other awesome wide leg options out right now too. I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with different ways to wear them…
The pink tassel earrings I just recently picked up from a little store called TarJay. I’m sure you’ve never heard of them. But seriously I was headed to the checkout line when my eyes scanned the clothing and accessories. Just keep walking I said, you have too much stuff and you don’t need a thing. It was working, then out of the corner of my eye I see pink earrings and stop. I mean, can you have too many pink earrings??
For the top I’m actually wearing this Commando Short Sleeve Bodysuit, it’s substantial enough to wear as a top, if you’re ok with the tight fit. It also layers beautifully with jackets and looks great with jeans and shorts too, plus it’s also on major sale right now, 62% off making it under $28. It’s also one size fits all, or they say once size fits most, it’s very stretchy.
I just picked up these Halogen wedges too and they’re so comfy! I wore them all last week, I’m tempted to order more colors. They come in a cute pink and tropical print too.
I love how vivid these pants are and it was fun giving them more of a casual vibe with this pink raw edge tee. Like I mentioned in my White Jeans post I like to have pockets sewn shut on my pants. Luckily these came with all pockets sewn shut! I love it when this happens, it’s really easy to open them up with a seam ripper, but I don’t recommend it. Big gapping pockets aren’t flattering and give the appearance of looking larger.
How cute are these striped ball earrings? Did I mention how the pink tassel earrings were a 2-pack? What? I know, I know. 2 adorable pairs of earrings for only $20? Thanks TarJay!
Have you heard of the Keto Pink Drink from Starbucks? It’s what I’m drinking above. It’s so good and I’m obsessed with it, it’s passion fruit iced tea, a few pumps of sugar free vanilla syrup and a big splash of heavy cream. It tastes so good, like a milkshake and with the cream it’s actually filling.
I love how these wide leg pants have great movement and flow, that’s something I’ve always been drawn too. I read a few negative reviews saying these pants are way too long and made for giants. This is something I definitely want to address. I’m 5’8 and I usually have most if not all of my pants hemmed. Unless I’m buying cropped pants, I’ve just come to expect they probably need altering in some way. I have no idea how designers would be able to pick a one size fits all length with pants, even with petite, regular and tall it can be difficult. It’s still possible to get lucky and have the length of pants be perfect, but shouldn’t be expected.
Designers tend to make pants long to accommodate the tallest of the ladies and it should be accepted that pants need to be hemmed according to your height. A good tailor is the best wardrobe weapon anyway. Hemming pants is very reasonably priced, most dry cleaners offer this service and high end stores such as Nordstrom do this as well, sometimes free of charge. To get the most out of your wardrobe you want your clothes fitted to your body.
This cami was a great find too, it’s lined really well so it’s not sheer, and not too low cut either. I’m still playing around with ways to wear it. I can already tell it will help me build lots of new outfits. I could definitely use some solid black wide leg pants, you know for those times you just wanna keep it chill and not be all polka dotted. So I’ll be on the lookout for the perfect pair.
Ugh… can I whine a little? Today we’re having a garage sale. I’m not looking forward to it and I’m just ready to get it over with! We really need to declutter some stuff but garage sales where we live get crazy! I’m talking everything from random strangers asking to use your bathroom to people just walking off with your stuff without paying! Never a dull moment I’ll tell ya. Wish us luck and we’ll chat more next week!