Rose-Colored Glasses

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My brother, Nathan, and I are on completely different career trajectories: I’m an event planner and he’s in the Army working with explosives. I’m guessing that this is his official job description, but all I know for sure is that he has a security clearance and we’ve called him Hurt Locker.

So, you’ll understand why I was feeling awfully savvy when Randolph Engineering reached out to me about their American-made sunglasses. The brand is the “Frame of Choice” for the Department of Defense, giving soldiers like Nathan an alternative to the standard military-issued eyewear. They also supply sunglasses to the U.S. Army and Navy and allied Air Forces worldwide. 

I, however, opted to try out the non-military-issued rose gold frames. They’re a glamorous update to the classic aviator style and, as you’d expect from their military partnership, the quality is impeccable. They’re lightweight, sturdy and comfortable. 

A few additional highlights:

  • they’re made in USA
  • the solder joints have a lifetime warranty 
  • they have adjustable silicon nose pads for customized fit
  • they’re made with lightweight polycarbonate lenses
  • they come with a case, microfiber cleaning cloth, and small maintenance kit (as you’ll see below, the cleaning cloth gives a nod to their aviation heritage)

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Featured: Randolph Engineering aviators (c/o) // Coach bag // Coach card case // Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Cherry

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Outfitted

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While this getup is quintessentially fall, it’s completely out of my comfort zone. I’m not actually a fan of jeans (or pants in general) and I’ve never worn a pair of riding boots before Naturalizer reached out to me with the opportunity to try a pair of their shoes.

I’ve always wanted to purchase a pair of riding boots, but it’s a discouraging process when you have wide (ahem, “shapely”) calves. Most options are matronly or have a bizarre v-shaped inset of elastic that looks like an afterthought. I appreciate that the elastic on this Naturalizer pair is thoughtfully incorporated into the design and is partially hidden by leather buckles. It allows for a comfortable fit without sacrificing style. 

Naturalizer has a reputation for comfortable shoes and these are no exception. (No breaking in period!) I planned to wear them for a day at a state park, but they were just as comfy for what those plans morphed into: a stop at the New Glarus brewery and an afternoon spent browsing small town gift shops.

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Featured: Lands’ End jacket // Banana Republic shirt // J.Crew jeans // gifted Naturalizer boots // gifted Hobo bag // gifted Gorjana necklace // gifted oNecklace necklace // gifted Cynthia Jones ring

Goodness, that’s a lot of gifted items in one post. I only accept items that I adore, so they’re in heavy rotation!  

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Onecklace Review

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I’m a pretty firm believer that if you wore a trend the first time it was popular, you should probably stay away from it the second time around. It’s why I’ve been hesitant to wear a nameplate necklace again. No, I didn’t wear one when Carrie Bradshaw made it popular. I wore one when I was seven years old. I found the little 14” necklace when I was packing up my childhood bedroom and, with all sentimental pieces, I tucked it away for safekeeping. 

When oNecklace asked if I’d be interested in featuring one of their name necklaces, I couldn’t bring myself to wear my first name on my collarbone again. Instead, I opted for a cheeky “Bonjour” necklace in the Alegro script

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Review: In a Clutch with 3FLOZ

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Standing over the sink and squeezing the last bit of my preferred shampoo into a flight-approved bottle is my least favorite part of packing. However, I don’t check a bag, so it’s the only way to avoid hotel soaps and lotions that irritate my skin. Enter 3FLOZ. The site features a selection of luxury beauty items in sizes the TSA won’t confiscate with resources to make your travels so much easier:

  • Frequent flyer? There’s a replenishment program.
  • Heading to a new destination? Shop by activity
  • Forgot something? They’re now putting beauty vending machines in major airports. 
  • Not sure what you need (or are just too darn stressed to make a decision)? There are six curated kits with all of the essentials.

The 3FLOZ team sent over a "In a Clutch" kit for my trip to D.C. It’s full of must-haves for a night out, but the Air Repair rescue balm has already become my favorite everyday product. It’s an all-purpose moisturizer for lips and skin. (I had a dry patch on my lip that wasn’t healing even after applying Vaseline and ChapStick for two weeks; this Air Repair product did the trick in two days.)

What’s inside?

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A huge thanks to 3FLOZ! That rescue balm was a lifesaver! 

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What’s in my bag?

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You may have noticed that I’m more likely to splurge on a clutch than a larger alternative. Even though totes are ultra practical and I do carry one to work, I much prefer the ease of small bags. They don’t hurt my shoulders, my must-haves are close at hand and it forces me to be tidy. (There’s just no room for it to become a bottomless pit of receipts!) This Hobo “Camilla” cross-body is the perfect way to pare down to just the necessities. 

So, what is in my bag? I’m linking up with Hobo today and a few of my favorite bloggers (Fran, Lydia, Laura and Rose) to share what we keep stowed away. Check out my essentials - and the other bloggers - below! 

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What’s in my bag?

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Featured: Banana Republic top (similar) // J.Crew dress // gifted Hobo bag // Tiny Sparkle Studio ring // grandma’s vintage bracelet // Hermes bracelet // Kate Spade shoes (similar) // Essie “Bikini So Teeny” nail polish

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Visit these lovely ladies today to peek inside their Hobo International handbags: FranishChic on the CheapLaura Bear and Blonde in this City

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Giveaway: Color by Amber

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Summer is rapidly coming to an end, but I’m taking advantage of every last warm day with these tropical-meets-modern earrings from Color by Amber, a collection of environmentally friendly jewelry. The brand’s sustainable mission is certainly evident in its business practices (nothing goes to a landfill), but also in its primary design material called “ecoresin.” Ecoresin encapsulates the decorative elements in the jewelry and is made with 40% pre-consumer recycled content. (As an added bonus, ecoresin makes these earrings lightweight and easy to wear all day.)

Giveaway! Color by Amber is giving a $30 gift code to one lucky reader! My top picks and the entry form are below. Good luck!

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image1. Stud Earrings, $19.95 // 2. Silver Link Bracelet, $19.95 // 3. Scalloped Necklace, $34.95 // 4. Petal Necklace, $44.95 // 5. Cuff Bracelet, $16.95 // 6. Hex Bangle, $24.95

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Hey, Good Lookin’

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I’m not a beauty junkie. Once I find a product I love, I’m intensely brand loyal until I happen upon a replacement or it’s discontinued (which has actually happened on multiple occasions). Here are five I couldn’t do without:

  • Essie nail polish in a bright color like "First Timer." If you’re going to go this bright, you’ll have to keep it pristine. For me, that means not doing dishes. We wouldn’t want them to chip, would we? 

  • Maybelline Color Whisper in “Cherry on Top.” I actually discovered this in Chicago a few weeks ago when I left my other lip products at home and Walgreen’s was sold out of Revlon’s Lip Butter in “Sweet Tart.” There’s more pigment in Maybelline’s version and it leaves behind a lovely stain when it eventually wears off. 

  • Smashbox Photo Finish primer. I hate to say it, but all those years of furrowing my brow in displeasure have caught up with me. A layer of primer disguises those fine lines and keeps makeup looking fresh longer. Well worth the splurge.

  • Kate Spade’s “Live Colorfully” fragrance in a travel-friendly roller ball. Given how much we travel, I needed a scent that wouldn’t get swiped by the TSA.

  • Eucerin Intensive Repair hand creme. This one is new to me, but I was eager to give it a whirl when Eucerin offered to send over some samples. I have dry skin and my hands are especially prone to chapping. This stuff moisturizes thoroughly without being greasy. (I also read that we should take more care to put lotions and sunscreen on our hands to avoid premature wrinkles and sunspots. I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a Chicken Little, but it can’t hurt to heed the advice.)

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In addition to the hand creme, I tried four additional Eucerin products over the last couple of weeks. The Daily Protection lotions contain SPF 15 and while I appreciate the protection, they take awhile to absorb. This wasn’t bothersome for the body lotion, but I’m too impatient to let the face lotion fully absorb before applying makeup. The Original Healing lotion is great for dry, sensitive skin like mine. There are no fragrances or dyes and the texture of my skin visibly improved after using it each day. My favorite of the bunch (aside from the hand creme) was the Smoothing Repair lotion. The label indicates that its formulated for long-lasting moisture, but I couldn’t get over how silky my skin felt seconds after putting it on. It’s the most luxurious of the bunch.

Shop It: Intensive Repair Hand Creme // Original Healing Soothing Repair Lotion // Daily Protection Moisturizing Body Lotion // Smoothing Repair Dry Skin Lotion // Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion

Big thanks to Eucerin for sending over samples!

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Filed under: sponsored review beauty 
Review: Hotel Lincoln in Chicago

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Dave and I had been talking about a summer weekend in Chicago ever since we visited the city in December for Christmas shopping along the Magnificent Mile. That weekend was unseasonably cold, rainy, windy, and didn’t allow for any time outdoors. A late-July visit just had to be better. So, we jumped at the chance to plan a warm-weather escape when Hotel Lincoln invited us to stay for a weekend. Unfortunately, it was on the chilly side again. (I even had to buy a pair of tights. In July.) But, a 65-degree day is always better than freezing temps with a full itinerary and a gorgeous hotel to keep us in good spirits.

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The original Hotel Lincoln was built in the 1920s. It eventually became a Days Inn, fell into disrepair and closed for six years before Joie de Vivre Hospitality took over the property in 2010. The new owners gave it a multi-million dollar face lift with a vintage-meets-modern vibe. There’s a gallery wall of bad art, more fabrics and textures than you can count, a reception desk made of antique drawers (not all open, but some have candy in them), and a quirky menagerie scattered around the hotel. Really, it shouldn’t work, but it does. 

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I can’t believe a hotel with such prime real estate sat vacant for six years. Hotel Lincoln doesn’t waste a bit of the incredible Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan views. The hotel’s rooftop lounge, The J.Parker, overlooks the lake. It’s an upbeat, upscale venue with craft cocktails and imaginative shared plates. We snagged a quiet table to share a light dinner and toast to our weekend in The Windy City. The lonely Peekytoe crab beignet below is testament to how delicious it was (we remembered the camera just before devouring the last one). The fries with paprika aioli were a surprising standout. It’s open seating with a few reserved spots. If you’re planning to stay for snacks, arrive early to swoop in on a just-abandoned table.

The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast at Perennial Virant, the street-level restaurant connecting to the hotel. The interior is beautiful with large farm style tables and plush seating. We ordered the housemade sausage and the three-egg skillet. Honestly, the sausage was a little dry, but the side of breakfast potatoes mixed with cheese curds was incredible - so much so that I Instagrammed it, Facebooked it and raved about it to our friends that evening. (Wisconsin should have been doing that for years!) The real highlight were the fried green tomatoes (a surprise from the chef). I first tried the Southern dish in Savannah earlier this year and Perennial’s version was just as good. We ended brunch with breakfast cocktails: a Bloody Mary garnished with an elk stick (seriously) for Dave and I sipped on a seasonal mimosa made with fresh raspberries. 

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We stayed in a junior king suite with a breathtaking view of the lake, a spacious seating area and two bathrooms (!). I’m happy to report that the reception area’s kitschy design flows into the guest rooms, albeit in a much more understated way. A serene palette of olive, blue and brown creates a sophisticated backdrop for the hotel’s signature red accents. At check in, you’re warned that finding some of the amenities is a bit of a scavenger hunt. I forgot about this the next morning when I was searching for the hairdryer. Eventually I did find it, along with an extra roll of toilet paper and additional bedding. Historic hotel don’t always have the closet space to accommodate these necessities, but it adds to the charm. (I know that “historic” and “charm” are sometimes code words for less-than-stellar accommodations, but Hotel Lincoln doesn’t skimp on the upgrades. There’s a fairly large flat screen TV, an iPhone dock and Kohler fixtures.)

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Make reservations with Hotel Lincoln online or by calling 855-514-8112. Upgraded stays are available with special packages like the “Bark in the Park” package for pups (a doggie turndown service!) or the “Bed to Baseball” package (a romantic getaway with your guy?). No Chicago plans yet? Keep up with the hotel on TwitterInstagramPinterest and Facebook

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A huge thank you to Hotel Lincoln for the incredible stay! 

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Trina Turk for M-Edge

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When Dave gave me an iPad Mini for Christmas last year, I’ll admit that one of my first thoughts was “ooh, now I can buy a cute case for it!” Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot to choose from at the time and I settled for protecting it with a scarf when we traveled. It certainly wasn’t the best solution, but it worked until something better came along. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when M-Edge reached out about their Trina Turk collaboration. An iPad Mini case with Turk’s signature designs? Count me in! Fortunately, it’s not all about the aesthetics with this case (although that’s a huge selling point). It’s generously padded and has a soft microfiber lining to keep the device safely stowed away. Much better than a flimsy scarf! 

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I have my eye on that yellow and grey case for the day I finally upgrade my phone to the iPhone5. (It probably won’t be too much longer. The home button on my iPhone 4 will sometimes open an app when pressed instead of closing everything.)

Shop It: iPhone cases // iPad cases // iPad Mini cases // laptop sleeves

Special thanks to M-Edge for sending over the iPad case for review!

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Book Review: The Hundred Dresses

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The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time takes a wonderful tongue-in-cheek approach to chronicling history’s most memorable frocks. A variety of classic styles (the wrap) and pop culture icons (Bjork’s swan dress) are covered by author and fellow blogger Erin McKean. McKean’s signature wit pairs beautifully with Donna Mehalko’s fashion illustrations making for a delightful - and educational - trip down fashion’s memory lane.

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Special thanks to Bloomsbury for sending over a review copy of the book!

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Filed under: sponsored review books