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August 2016 Bucket List

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Even though I missed my bucket list last month, I want to get right back on that horse this month! I'm excited about this month as I'm going to be traveling to the west coast!
Now, here we goi

  • Travel to the west coast: I am going to be visiting my best friend Jen in Oregon and then off to meet my boyfriend's family in California! I am excited, nervous, and feeling all sorts of emotions! Can't wait!
  • Try a DC restaurant week: I love restaurant week - all the restaurants put forth their best at amazing deals! 
  • Picnic at Jazz in the Garden: I haven't had time to do this at all this summer but I'm hoping to catch a concert before the end of August. Hope I make it!
  • Get a new header for this blog: I think it's about time I got a new header for my blog. I liked my old one but it clashed a bit with the theme of my blog so I had been putting off getting a new one. This is going to be the month though!
  • Get a DC library card: I have been living in DC for a few years but I have yet to get a library card. I think I've lowered the priority for this because I've just been buying my books but I really miss going to the library on weekends. This month I'm going to march over to the closest library and get me a card!

Tell Me About it, Stud | Draped Dress and Studded Heels

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Dress: ASOS || Accessories: Kate Spade crossbody, Ray Ban sunglasses, Zara necklace, Essie polish in "Ballet Slippers" || Shoes: Sole Society Tiia in "Black Adobe"

I'm all for comfort so when I saw this dress on ASOS I knew I had to have it. The draped front with elastic waistband ensures that not only would I be comfortable wearing it, I would have built-in space for a food baby should I choose to gain one (which, let's face it, is always the case). I also like that I could dress it up like I did today with these studded heels, or dress it down with a pair of sneakers and a denim jacket in the fall. 
While I featured these shoes a lot on this blog, I bought a nude version of it as well, seen here. I like these studded shoes - they're comfy and make me feel like a badass!

Thanks for reading!

Wiggle | Pastel Dress and Studded Heels

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Dress: ASOS || Accessories: Tory Burch Robinson tote, Ray Ban sunglasses || Shoes: Sole Society Tiia pumps in "Adobe"

I fell in love with this dress at first sight on the ASOS website. I wanted to grow my collection of dresses I could wear to work and this certainly fit the bill. I loved the color, the heavy yet stretchy material, and the midi hem - all perfect for the office. They called this a “wiggle” dress on the website and had no idea what that meant so I looked it up. Apparently, a wiggle dress is any dress where the width of the hem of the dress is narrower than the hips. Because of the width difference, it brings your knees together that causes a ‘wiggle’ when you walk. The more you know!

Thanks for reading! 

Currently...(Vol. 24)

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Another hot week and I'm surprised I haven't melted into the ground! DC is being struck with a heatwave with highs in the 100s and lows in the mid 80s. It is HOT!
This currently post is what's distracting me from the fact that the minute I step out of my house I will be a puddle of sweat so here we go:
  • Watching: Gilmore Girls on Netflix - This show is a gem and I can't wait for the revival! I'm rewatching this and I'm on the second season, remembering how much I hated Jess for Rory. (#teamlogan). 
  • Wearing: Essie's Gel Couture polish in 'Rock the Runway' - Like every other blogger lately, I've been adoring the new gel couture line of polishes by Essie. I LOVE Essie polishes as it is as I find they have an excellent range of colors but if I had one issue, it would be their staying power. They ALWAYS chip on me! I had high hopes for this polish range but unfortunately they chipped on me as well. To be fair though, I am kind of hard on my nails so it may just be me. In any case, I loved this bright scarlet red and I can't recommend it enough!
  • Eating: Jaffa cakes - I used to munch on Jaffa cakes in Britain with my tea and I was able to get my fix when a coworker came back with some on his vacation to England! So yummy!
  • Reading: Freedom's Child by Jax Miller - I'm still reading this! I've been so busy I didn't have time to finish but I got a good chunk of it read this weekend and I should have a review of this soon.
  • Drinking: Naked 'Green Machine' smoothie - I've been really into smoothies (I know, I'm late in the game), and the 'Green Machine' smoothies by Naked are my favorite! 
  • Playing: Pokemon Go - Like basically everyone in the world, I have been bitten by the Pokemon bug! My starter Pokemon of choice? Charmander of course. Also, I'm Team Mystic! :]

How to Create the Perfect Flat Lay

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I've become something of an amateur photographer thanks to this blog and my favorite type of picture to post are my flat lays. 
If you're an Instagram addict like me, you've probably seen tons of these photos by bloggers who've carefully curated the perfect "mess" to share. Despite appearances, these photos can be difficult to set up and capture but once I got the hang of it, it's been my favorite image to incorporate into my blog and Instagram feed. Today, I wanted to talk about this popular style and what makes for a good flat lay aesthetic: 
  • Lighting, lighting, lighting!: I can't stress good lighting enough! You want to chase natural light - that means a nice cloudy day (not sunny because that casts too much shadows). If you take your flat lay photos indoors, experiment around the house at different parts of the day to see where your photography looks best. I take mine right near a window in the middle of the day.
  • Get the angle: Most of the time, I have success with a bird's eye view, meaning I stand up and take my photo directly on top of my flat lay but I've seen people who take their photos from the side and the results are stunning. 
  • Mind the backdrop and props: The background of your flat lay can make or break your photo - you don't want something to distracting that takes away from the subject. I find a nice white backdrop to be perfect. I have a white bedspread and a white desk that I often take photos off and it works well. I'm also thinking of getting a foam board and covering it with marble contact paper to add texture to my photos in future flat lays which could also work well. Adding props also adds more to the photo so I'll add an accessory or two (like my cosmetics and such) while keeping in my mind to maintain a consistent color scheme. It really adds interest.
  • It takes practice: Sometimes it takes me a while to get everything set up just right and it takes a few hundred shots. Don't be afraid to experiment, stand in different places and be patient! 
Do you guys have any tips for creating good flat lays?

Brush Off | Off the Shoulder Dress and Prada Bag

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DressTobi || AccessoriesRay Ban sunglasses, Prada bag (similar here), H&M bracelet (similar here), Essie Gel Couture polish in 'Rock the Runway' || Shoes: Chinese Laundry (similar here)

Here's for a bit of change in scenery - we took these photos in front of the National Portrait Gallery! I have to walk by this place to get to work and while the inside features a beautiful art gallery, the exterior steps are just a fun place to hang out. In fact, on most nice days people sit on these steps and eat lunch. 
I wore this outfit this weekend for a day party. My good friend was celebrating her birthday and she called for a "west coast beachy" dress code (she's from Arizona). I wore this outfit to run a few errands and snap a few photos before heading to my friend's birthday in this exact outfit. I had never worn an off-the-shoulder anything before so I wasn't quite sure how to style this.  I thought about this post by Jackie from Something About That and tried to find a scarf that would work but it was so hot and humid I couldn't bear to do it. I would have liked to have worn this with a choker but alas, I didn't have any on hand. I also tried a few necklaces that didn't quite work so I just went for a simple and minimal approach.

Do you guys have any styling tips for this dress?

Photo Credit: Brian C. 

Google Chrome Extensions Worth Having

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My favorite browser is Google Chrome - in fact, it's all I've used since they first launched it in 2008. I love the extensive list of extensions (ha) that you can download and customize your browser with. Here are four I can't live without:
  1. Bloglovin - Ever since Google Reader was discontinued I came to rely on Bloglovin to give me a rundown of all the blogs I follow! When you download the extension, you will get a small button next to where you type in the url with the Bloglovin logo. When someone puts up a new post, it'll give you a red notification so you'll never miss a blog. Follow me on Bloglovin if you aren't already!
  2. Hola! - Once you download this extension, the world is at your fingertips! It offers free VPN access to websites that are blocked in your country! All you have to do is click on the extension and change your country to whatever country the website originates and voila! Instant access! This is perfect for when you're traveling with your laptop or when I need to get my Doctor Who fix on BBC. 
  3. Momentum - Momentum is an extension that replaces your new tab page with a dashboard that you can personalize with your own to-do lists. It's designed to help you become more productive and boy, does it! 
  4. Honey - Shopaholics rejoice! Honey will automatically apply coupons at any web store during checkout so you can be sure to get the best deals! I used to go hunting on but this extension will do the hunting for you! All you have to do is pay at the end once the coupon is automatically applied. 
For other Google Chrome users, what are some of your favorite extensions?

Workhorse | Striped Peplum and Studded Heels

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Top: Zara (similar by River Island) || Bottoms: J.Crew Minnie pants (similar Martie pants here) || Accessories: H&M earrings, Tory Burch York bag, Ray Ban sunglasses || Shoes: Sole Society Tiia pumps in 'Black Adobe' 

It's been a scorcher the last few weeks here in DC. On hot, muggy days I like to reach for my lightweight peplum shirt - it's cool, it's breezy, and it can be dressed up or down. For work this week, I paired this shirt with my twill pants from J.Crew. 

Stay cool out there this summer!

My Essential Makeup Tools

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I'm no beauty blogger, I just know what works for me and I only found that out through years of experimentation. I didn't buy my first tube of lip gloss until I was 17 and I only started to wear makeup once I graduated college. Since those days, my makeup collection has grown and my tools have gotten more advanced. I've narrowed my list of makeup tools down for you - these are the ones I think are most essential to me:

  • Powder brush: I usually sweep a bit of pressed powder on just the areas that need it to mattify my face and a good powder brush is quite necessary for this. I look for a brush that isn't too dense but can pick up just enough powder (not too much) with one sweep. 
  • Blush brush: Opposite to the powder brush, when it comes to my blush brush, I look for much more density because I don't use as light of a hand when it comes to sweeping blush on my cheeks. 
  • Flat shadow brush: I put this particular brush on here because it is the most versatile brush for eye shadow application, blending, mixing, etc. I think anybody who wears makeup should have a flat eye shadow brush that they can depend on.
  • Eyelash curler: It took me a while to find a good eyelash curler that fits my eye shape and doesn't pinch when I close it but when I did it was a game changer! It takes a few tries to find that perfect lash curler but when you do, it's worth it!
  • Beauty blender: I never really got into beauty blenders until this year because I used foundation brushes instead but these beauties definitely are handy. I really like this particular one from Maybelline because they have a handle on them.
  • Angled brush: I have so many uses for these angled brushes! Obviously, you can use them with gel eyeliners but I also use them with dark eye shadows to line my eyes and I've even used them to dip polish remover to clean those pesky polishes that get on the skin by my nails. 
What are some of your essential makeup tools?

What's in My Tory Burch York Tote

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I like to do these posts every once in a while, especially when I get a new "signature" bag. I bought this tote back in February when my Longchamp started to gain a few holes and I knew I would need a sturdy workhorse tote for an upcoming conference. I quite like Tory Burch bags in general because the designs are classic and the quality is amazing for the price. I knew that I wanted a black tote that would hold its shape and it had to be in saffiano leather because it tends to be more scratch-resistant. After doing some research I found that the Tory Burch York to hit all my requirements and then some! 
Anyways, here are some of the things I carry with me on any given workday: 

Bal'more | Off the Shoulder Dress and Big Tote

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Dress: Forever 21 (similar here) || AccessoriesTory Burch bag, Ray Ban sunglasses || Shoes: Chinese Laundry (similar here)

My boyfriend and I went to Baltimore last weekend!
Like I said before, I came down with a cold and was forced to stay in for a while so any excuse to get out of the house was a good one. We took the Marc train down and explored the Inner Harbor! My boyfriend and I took a quick day trip to Baltimore last week!

I mentioned this on Sunday but we decided to take a Water Taxi to get to various places. We could have walked, sure, but it was fun to take a boat. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon with very low humidity levels - quite atypical for the area, but we're not complaining!
We started off with an early lunch in Harbor Place at the Cheesecake Factory. I know it sounds ridiculous to go all the way to Baltimore just to have a meal at the Cheesecake but we've found they actually make amazing cocktails and drinks. We then made our way over to Fell's Point for a bit of sight seeing. We saw a cute store with painted bricks that look like points of interest in Baltimore! A future DIY perhaps?
Although I didn't get any pictures of this, I really should mention that we stopped by a Hattery for both men and women. I took a snapchat selfie wearing a fascinator but this was also a haberdashery of sorts. Guess who liked that? (hint, his name is Brian). 

Next we headed to Fort McHenry, a big battle site during the War of 1812! To be honest we didn't see much of the fort - we just weren't feeling it that day and they charged quite a bit to see the inside. We just wanted an easy-going outing, not an expensive history lecture in the hot sun. They had a nice grassy area where we hung out and we saw some of the canons and the outside of the fort. We did see a map on the ground and of course my first instinct was to get a picture standing next to Washington, DC. I know my boyfriend is getting used to my antics because before I could even request a photo, he says, "That'd be a nice photo op!" Gotta love having an Instagram Boyfriend :P

And we finished the night in Little Italy at a fantastic restaurant called Germano's Piattini
All in all, it was a great trip and I had a great time seeing more of the DMV (that is the DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area. If you guys are planning a trip out here, I would definitely recommend the Inner Harbor! There's lots to do and see while the port town has it's own quaint charm. 

Book Club: Anansi Boys

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I fell in love with Neil Gaiman's writing after reading about Shadow Moon's adventures in American Gods. Though that book is deep and foreboding, I had no idea what I would be getting into when I read the sequel, Anansi Boys. Where American Gods was epic and dark, Anansi Boys is lighthearted and reads almost like a comedic movie. Whenever I can actually see the book playing out in my head, I consider it well-written and "well-written" is an understatement when describing this companion novel to American Gods
Mr. Nancy, the human and American incarnate of Anansi the Spider Man (yes, from the stories), dies at a Karaoke bar in Florida while seducing women more than half his age and his estranged son Charlie is called to come to his funeral. Charlie (or 'Fat Charlie' as his father called him and everything his father said had a way of sticking) is a down-on-his-luck Englishman who is uptight and anxious - the exact opposite of his fun-loving and energetic father. At the funeral, a family friend reveals he had a long-lost brother who inherited his father's powers named Spider. The meeting of Charlie and Spider leads to an epic adventure that involves the stealing of a fiance, travels to the beginning of the world, the building of brotherhood, and the finding of self. 
What I particularly love about this novel is that it does everything Gaiman does best - it's got humor, wit, myth, gravitas, and a bittersweet ending that makes you smile. This novel took me on an adventure with so many twists and turns but not too much that it got confusing or boring. Gaiman has this ability to switch his tone within the novel from omniscient narrator to an involved African storyteller and while he never makes the switch officially, you can tell that the person narrating Charlie's adventure and the person regaling the tales of Anansi are different - even when the switch happens in the same sentence. 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a happy ending and a whole lot of story. You're going to get both. 

Just Another Day | Pleated Skirt and Dotted Shirt

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Another day, another dollar, amirite?
I took a sick leave from work a few days last week because of my cold. I actually did try to make it through a work day but upon seeing my tired face and hearing my hacking and coughing, my boss sent me home. Later on in the day, the chief officer of my department went to look for me and my boss emailed him (cc'ing me) saying that he sent me home because I was as "sick as a dog" and needed rest. Message received :/ I actually have a really good relationship with my boss though so this was all in jest, in case you were wondering.
Anyways, coming back after three days of being sick meant that I had quite a bit of catching up to do when I got back. I do advocacy work in Washington, DC and things happen really fast in our office. I came back to about 212 unread emails, all of which I had to weed through because I hate having unread emails sitting around in my inbox. I'm happy to report that I'm caught up now though!
I wish I had less boring things to report in my life but man, those emails were a lot!

Thanks for reading!

Top: H&M (similar here)
Bottoms: Gifted from Korea (similar here)
Accessories: Tory Burch Robinson mini, Stradivarius belt (similar here), Ray Ban sunglasses
Shoes: Michael Kors  (similar here

Currently...(Vol. 23)

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Hello lovelies!
I took a blogging break last week but I'm back in full swing! I caught a really bad cold and it just went on for far too long. Summer colds are the worst - I felt both hot and cold at the same time! When I got better I took a quick day trip to Baltimore (always on the go, as usual) which I plan to have a post about this week.
Now, on to the other updates!

  • Reading: Freedom's Child by Jax Miller - I received this book from Blogging for Books a while back and I haven't finished it yet. It's not the book's fault though, I just didn't have time to read it, between my sickness and my playing catch up when I went back to work. I actually quite like this book so far and it kind of reminds me of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places a bit in tone. 
  • Eating: Sashimi - My family and I went out for sashimi this weekend. We went to a very Korean population-heavy area in Virginia called Annandale and went to town! It'd been a while since I had seafood so this was a real treat! Plus, spending time with my family is always fun.
  • Watching: Breaking the Magician's Code on Netflix - I remembered watching this show as a child and I was kind of excited that they brought it back on Netflix! It's always interesting to see how a lot of the illusions are performed and while some tricks are a bit of a letdown once I know how it's done, some tricks actually require a lot of skill and involves an element of real danger. 
  • Wearing: Ray-Ban folding wayfarers - These sunglasses are the best! They fold into a really small size but when they're unfolded they're quite big (they cover, like, half my face). They're easily put away and don't take up too much space in my bags. 
  • Drinking: Starbucks Pink Drink - This makes me sound so basic but I finally gave in and tried the pink drink from Starbucks that all the other bloggers are drinking. It was so good! I recommend it!
  • Riding: Baltimore Water Taxi - I took a water taxi when I was in the Baltimore inner harbor last weekend! I had a blast and it was just a fun way to get from place to place. 
Thanks for reading!