I'm on Vacation!

I'm going on vacation tomorrow so I won't be blogging for about a week! But no fear, when I return we will return to normal, and hopefully a post about my trip to Hawaii! Aloha!

xoxo, Courtney

Rebecca Minkoff M.A.B Mini

My bag from Privilege Boutique
I believe things happen for a reason. So when I checked my Facebook page two weeks ago after a not so stellar end to my work day, I was greeted with the following "Congrats, you've won a Rebecca Minkoff handbag!" In order to not get into too much detail, let's just say the past 6 months have been brutal in terms of work, as the economy has no signs of picking up in my field of work (or in anyone's, let's get real.) I was in such a Debbie Downer mood but coming home to see that message rejuvenated my spirit and gave me one chance to do a little bragging. I won't lie.

 But it also got me thinking about the situation I'm in. I entered a giveaway via Possessionista (a great blog to follow for fashion in TV/Movies etc.) for the Rebecca Minkoff Bag in late April. I almost forgot about it until I won two weeks later! My feeling is, life is going to give you some unexpected surprises. Good ones. You may have to wait a bit, but when you least expect it, something good will come along. So it may be a bit of a stretch in terms of winning a designer handbag, but I like my chances.
Me with my winning purse!
I gotta say, this bag is gorgeous. I always have craved a R.M bag, but this one is just divine. It blew me away! I love the details: buckles, tassels, etc. And the inside print is a bright blue with black polka dots! The quality is top notch and will no doubt last me for years. This is the most expensive purse I own by far, so I am so nervous for anything to happen to it, but I can't wait to wear it around town! 

The marketing coordinator at Privilege Boutique, Bailey, who arranged the shipment of the purse was such a doll and also a great resource, as we have similar positions in the industry. I must say, I think I was the right winner for the contest. :)

Check out Privilege Boutique for so many amazing designer finds, including my M.A.B Mini and several other Rebecca Minkoff bags!

xoxo, Courtney

Splurge vs Steal: Studded Pumps

Valentino / Shoedazzle

I have a love-hate relationship with Valentino Rockstuds. I am obsessed with them and every time I see them on Pinterest I get so envious that it seems everyone has these shoes but me. Honestly. So I made it my temporary life mission to find a cheaper version of this shoe. 

I'm happy to say I have succeeded. Luckily these replicas from Shoedazzle are under $50, or else a very impulse decision would have me sinking into my savings account for the real thing. Shoedazzle seems to have done an amazing job implementing the studded shoe, but we will find out next week when mine come in the mail!

These pumps amplify any outfit from ordinary to edgy. They come in a variety of colors and styles (I love the nude Rockstud pumps). Do you lust over these pumps as much as I do? Have you discovered a cheaper replica? Let me know! 

xoxo, Courtney

How to Shop at Forever 21

 I have been toying with the idea of this post for a while, but after writing down notes over the past few weeks, I decided it would be extremely helpful from a self-proclaimed Forever 21-aholic. I own a LOT of their merchandise from lingerie, pajamas to shoes, and think I can give some helpful hints to those who don't shop as often as I do. Don't remind me....

1. Browse Online, Shop In Store - Shop during the weekdays on a Tuesday or Wednesday at opening time (if possible). Never go on the weekends. This way you are limiting yourself to the organized chaos and hoards of people. There is no method to their madness, and how they organize their clothes, which is why you have to know what you are shopping for ahead of time, or you could be there for HOURS. 

Forever 21 Wishlist
2. Create a WishList- When browsing the site, add things you like on to your wishlist. I do this all the time. Above is a print screen of a portion of my actual wish list. Items will update if they go out of stock, but sometimes they will come back, so don't delete it right away. This keeps the items you like organized, and when you are ready to buy, it's a swift click of the mouse to bring what you want to your shopping bag. 

 3.  Read Reviews - I always read reviews, some will have great insight on the quality, material, and little details about items you want to know about.This is especially helpful for fit questions, especially if a particular item has a lot of reviews. If the overall consensus is negative, I tend to skip it

4.  Know the Policies- Forever 21 has the worst policies. They are no Nordstrom or Zara, let's be honest. If you buy anything on sale or use a coupon/promo code (ie: 30% on all sweaters) they call it final sale (even though on your receipt, the promo items will NOT be listed as final sale... I have a serious issue with this). Also, you can only get store credit back for ANY purchase, which means, more shopping for you at Forever 21, and more money for them. Also, I was at the store a few months ago and found a great necklace but it was missing a gem. The sales associate was only willing to give me 5% off... a whopping 5 cents. They aren't very customer service driven, or willing to go the extra mile, so know that going in. 

5. Use a Sales Associate - Take a print screen on your phone from your wishlist of products you want to find in store. Keep in mind not everything online is in store. But to keep your trip from going through lunch time, ask a sales person to see if they have any of the items you are searching for. I suggest asking a store manager, or someone that is more familiar with the products. And even easier, they can look up the item on their systems, I'm sure.

6. Use the Dressing Rooms - Always try on in store. I used to be the WORST when it came to trying on clothes before purchasing. I liked to try them on in the comfort of my own bedroom. But with Forever 21 you can't really do that. You need to take your time and try everything on because your money is at stake. I once had a $87 store credit to Forever 21, which sounds great, until you realize you would have much rather had that back in your bank account. Be smart. 

Forever 21 reviews
7.  Inspect Your Clothes - I was in my local Forever 21 today and I had to add this extra tip. It is crucial before you buy anything to inspect your garments. This is because the clothes are jammed in super tight racks, moved around all the time, and probably carelessly tried on by a dozen people. There could be snags, makeup stains or missing buttons. Don't buy the one shirt in the bunch with all these faults. 

8. Return the Favor - Write reviews for the products you keep, and even return. It is really helpful for shoppers to see reviews for products, especially since their products can vary in quality. Sometimes I get huge hits, and on the other hand, huge misses. Let others know. 

Happy Shopping!

xoxo, Courtney

Oven Baked Kale Chips

I am trying to eat as healthy as I can, even more in the past 2 months since I have a bikini to get into in 3 short weeks. But overall, I like to eat healthy and experiment with different healthy ingredients. But I definitely don't restrict myself. If I go out and want a burger, I'll get a burger. But during the week I try to eat consistently. I just feel better that way. One of the things I have experimented with is kale. Kale may be the new foodie fad after quinoa, and I am trying to find ways to incorporate it into my diet. One of those ways is kale chips. They are oven baked, not fried super delicious and a great snack! Below is my recipe on my at-home kale chips.

If you buy kale chips at the store, you can fork over $10 or so for a bag of kale chips. Not anymore. They are way too easy to make at home for you to be spending that kind of money. 

1. Get a bunch of kale and rinse and dry them. (Photo 1)
2.  Rip leaves into bits about 2 inches, and throw into bowl. Don't use thick ribs of kale. (Photo 2)
3. Pour about 2 tbls of olive oil into the bowl and coat leaves. Leaves should only be partially coated. Also shake sea salt onto leaves. Eyeball to desired amount, but start with less than what you think. Place onto baking sheet. (Photo 3)
4. Bake at 350 degrees until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Photo 4)

I strongly urge you to test different amounts of olive oil and salt and make note of what amounts work best. The first time I made them I used too much of both salt and olive oil. :(   I haven't tried using other ingredients with the kale, but I expect nuts or garlic would be divine!!!

Enjoy and let me know of any hints you have!  

Fab Find of the Week: Flouncy Pleated Skirt

BCBGeneration (similar) (similar) 
I get a feeling you guys think I shop a lot. Well... I'm not totally guilt-free. I do shop throughout the month, followed by some guilt and the usual, "I'm not going shopping for a while". We all know what that means. But that's for me to battle with my bank account. 

In order to give you a glimpse inside my shopping bag, these "Fab Finds" segments will allow you to hopefully get some of these items on the spot, since most are still available. You're welcome. 

This spring and summer, I decided to totally revamp my wardrobe. I used to wear denim shorts and cotton shirts (yuck) with the occasional sun dress thrown in. Not anymore. It's time to dress more sophisticated and get rid of those high school/college pieces that still manage to hang on every year. 

So when I saw this fun pleated skirt at the BCBG Final Cut store (the outlet for BCBG) I had to have it. It was under $30, and I already pictured a slew of tops to match with it. It's on trend, in budget, and hot weather friendly. 

The BCBG Final Cut store has some incredible finds, look for your nearest location on their website. It's totally worth the drive.  I also found this particular skirt on Ideeli but haven't tracked it down anywhere else. 

xoxo, Courtney