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Spring 2016 Weekend Casual

Spring 2016 Weekend CasualSpring 2016 Weekend CasualSpring 2016 Weekend CasualSpring 2016 Weekend CasualSpring 2016 Weekend CasualSpring 2016 Weekend Casual

Outback Red button down (Similar) | Necklace (Similar) | American Eagle Jeans (Similar) | J. Crew Factory Sunglasses (Similar) | Lauren by Ralph Lauren Jakayla Boots in Cognac (Sold Out) | The Limited Bag (Similar) | OPI’s Kiss Me I’m Brazilian

It may not be spring yet officially, but here in Illinois the weather is doing crazy things; on the weekends it warms up into the 60s, and during the week it drops back down into the 30s and sometimes even decides to snow. I’m hoping it’s the last of this crazy pattern and the warm weather is here to stay.

This past weekend I turned 21, which called for a fun-filled weekend. I got to visit with my mom for a day, and Ty also came to visit! On Sunday I wore one of my favorite casual spring outfits: my Outback Red button down, distressed jeans and Ralph Lauren riding boots. I guess this outfit is such a staple in my closet that I didn’t realize that not a single item from this outfit is still available for purchase. To make up for it, I’ve linked similar pieces that I’ve found online for you, so you at least have some options to look at.

These Lauren by Ralph Lauren Jakayla Boots in cognac are my absolute favorite (can’t you tell from the heel?). I actually like that my picture (taken by the awesome Ty) captures the wear on my boots. I’ve been reading a lot of posts and comments lately about bloggers staying real and authentic on our blogs and social media. Well here it is! My untouched boots are worn and scuffed. I could have easily avoided posting a picture of the back of my boots, but the back is the best part. The detailing it beautiful, and honestly, this picture is the reality of what happens when you love a pair of boots so much, you wear them almost every day for an entire season. When the warm weather is here to stay, I’ll be putting my boots away to preserve them the best that I can, so I can still wear them come fall of 2016.

Another tiny detail of this outfit that I love is my lighthouse bracelet. If you have been following me on Instagram for a while, you might have seen the picture I posted when my mom first bought the bracelet for me in Door County, WI. As I mentioned in my Instagram post, the packaging had the most inspiring quote on it: “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” To me, this bracelet is a symbol of guidance, stability and hope. It also, of course, is a reminder of the amazing vacation and fond memories I have from Door County.

Then, what can I say, I love the sunglasses, blouse, jeans, necklace and bag. I told you, this outfit is a staple in my closet. Obviously I love it!

If you want to stay up to date and catch more outfits, make sure to follow along with me on Snapchat (aliinbloom) for more snippets of my weekends.

I want to know: has your weather been doing crazy things? What is your spring staple? Let me know down below in the comments.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Unique Valentine's Day gift ideas for her - whether you are looking to make her a DIY present or go shopping. 

Valentine’s Day is a hard holiday to shop for. The gifts never really seem quite straight forward; it all depends on how long you’ve been dating, how serious you are and what type of relationship you have. Here’s how I see it: if you are in a new relationship and don’t want to go all out, think small – buy her chocolates, flowers or that cute teddy bear you eyed up at Hallmark. They sound cliche, but sometimes we girls are simple. If it’s a new relationship, she’ll just be happy that you got her anything! You can personalize your gift even more by adding a sweet note or turning it into a DIY.

DIY gift ideas even work well for more established couples. I have to admit, they are personally some of my favorite gifts, because you know your significant other put a lot of work and time into making something special for you! Some ideas for DIY gifts are this romantic quote mug or other mug designs (all you need is a mug and a sharpie!) or a ‘reasons why I love you’ box or card book,  but you know Pinterest has so many more.

On the other hand, if you are looking to buy your girl something unique and exciting this Valentine’s Day, there are so many other options for you as well. Hey, maybe you should even surprise your mom and sister with a cute little Valentine’s Day gift. The items on this Valentine’s Day gift guide range from $6 to $225, so there is bound to be an option for any relationship, budget and girl.

Kate Spade New York ‘Gramercy Grand’ Watch

Wow, we’re starting off big here, but I wanted to go in order of appearance, so don’t get discouraged. This is BY FAR the most expensive item on the list, and there are much more affordable options in the intro and to follow! But if this Valentine’s Day is an extra special one for you two, and you want to splurge on your present, this Kate Spade Watch is classic.

Tisty Tosty LUSH Bath Bomb

Let her know that she deserves to be pampered. LUSH bath bombs are an inexpensive yet luxurious treat. This is a gift that would be great for your girlfriend, sister or mom! Everyone needs a relaxing bath every once in a while – and there is a scent to fit them all.

Kendra Scott ‘Mabel’ Necklace

The ‘Mabel’ Kendra Scott necklace is a great staple, meaning if you’re not sure what style jewelry she would enjoy, ‘Mabel’ will probably suit her. There is nothing too flashy or stylistic about it. It is a simple yet elegant, classic piece. It’s also petite and dainty, perfect to wear everyday and think of you.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Définition Lipstick

Lancome carries some of my favorite lipsticks. I don’t have time to reapply my lipstick throughout the day, and with Lancome, I don’t really have to. Even after the initial coat wears off, it leaves your lips a pretty color close to the first shade – just slightly more muted. If she loves beauty and makeup, pick her up one of these (available in more colors)!

Kate Spade New York Stud Earrings

Again, studs are kind of a classic, and you can’t go wrong with them. Although these Kate Spade earrings seem like a bold choice with the hot pink color, there are other color options available for any style.

Victoria’s Secret Mini Eau De Parfum Gift Set

Choosing a fragrance for someone can be hard! Especially considering fragrances smell different on every person that wears them. That means that what it smells like in the store, might not be what it smells like on her. This mini eau de perfum gift set allows you to play it safe and allows her the excitement of trying a new fragrance each day. It’s fun, and you might have provided her with the opportunity to discover her new favorite scent!

Xhilaration Long Fur Throw – Cream

A cozy blanket with a little note about your next cuddle session would make any girl swoon. Wrap it up with a movie, candle or her favorite book to take your gift to the next level.

Personalized M&Ms

Feel lame just buying her chocolate? With these personalized M&Ms, she’ll be wowed by the fact that you went out of your way to personalize them – because it’s the little things, you know? Customizing these little treats can get out of hand and expensive quickly, but if it’s done right, it can be worth it and done on a budget.

May Designs Notebook

May Designs offers cute, customizable notebooks for every style, meaning there is an option out there for the woman in your life. With May Designs, you have the option to change the cover design, interior pages and add a monogram. The cover pictured above is Burst of Pink. Make this gift extra special by leaving her a special note on the first page or spice it up by giving her a fun pen set as well.

I want to know: what is your favorite gift idea on this gift guide? Do you love getting DIY gifts? Let me know in the comments below!

Planner Comparison Through the Years

There are so many planners on the market, it’s hard to pick just one (I mean, you have to keep it around for a whole year!). I realized this week that for the past three years, I’ve bought a different agenda. Since it’s my last year needing an academic planner, I’m doing a round-up and comparing my favorite and least favorite aspects of all three. This year I bought Lilly Pulitzer, last year I chose Plum Paper, and my freshman year I used May Designs. Here’s what I thought:

lillybright

Lilly Pulitzer – Junior Year

Price: $17 – $36 (w/o tax)

Pros: The designs on the cover AND on the interior are so bright, colorful, and cheery. Each month you get a new quote to make you smile or inspire you. That is by far my favorite thing about this planner.

On top of that, Lilly Pulitzer agendas are surprisingly inexpensive; the price varies based on size and whether the spiral is covered or not. I went ahead and purchased a covered spiral, and I think it’s worth the money. It creates a sleek finish that isn’t there with an exposed spiral.

Cons: These agendas are 17 month planners, so you could never use one in its entirety. They run August – December of the next year. You would either miss the back of your old agenda if you bought a new one in August or the front of your new one if you purchased the next one in December. If someone understands this, I would love to know… To me it seems like it’s a way to avoid having to create two separate academic and regular planners (one that runs August-July and one that runs January-December).

Overall: I obviously have not actually used this planner yet, but I think I am really going to like it. Everything about it just makes me smile and that’s why I bought it. It is a great value and with free shipping and a free gift (a set of four multi-colored pens), I am more than happy with my purchase.

Planner Comparison: Plum Paper

Plum Paper – Sophomore Year

Price: $39.75 (w/ shipping w/o tax)

*I purchased the regular planner – not the academic planner.

Pros: You have 4 different formatting options for the inside pages. I chose hour-by-hour planning, and I loved it. It was highly useful and made me very organized. When I first picked it, I was worried my schedule wouldn’t fill it up, but in the end, it did, and I loved it!

There are pages for notes at the beginning and end of each month, which also helped to keep all of my thoughts and important reminders in one place.

After a year, it still looks the same as it did 12 months ago. There is virtually no wear and tear. The protective cover on this agenda was definitely a worthy addition.

Cons: First, it is the most expensive out of the three agendas.

Second, with the hour-by-hour layout that I chose, you only have 3 spots to write what you have to do daily. I have way more than 3 ‘to-do’ items a day. This was by far the biggest negative I found.

Overall: While using this planner, I truly felt that it kept me the most organized I’ve ever been in a time when I was the busiest. Everything was clearly laid out on the pages. There was room for quickly jotted side notes. Plum Paper offers a strong planner option.

maydesigns

May Designs – Freshman Year

Price: $29 (w/ shipping w/o tax)

Pros: The cover designs are so fun! And the choices are plentiful. May Designs fits a lot of different styles and offers the most exterior customization to your planner. They do preppy, retro, classic, girly, nautical, graphic, artsy… EVERYTHING.

One unique touch they add: if you purchase an academic planner, it comes with an adorable ‘design a life you love’ page, where you have space to fill in your goals for that year. The page includes goals for work, family, social, personal, etc.

Cons: After a year in my backpack, the cover was warn from rubbing in between my textbooks, leaving the design faded and splotchy.

Another cover issue: they’re not hardcover, which is definitely just a personal preference for me. On one side, not being hardcover makes them daintier and in a way cuter, but I need a durable planner.

Overall: I will be buying from May Designs again. I know that my May Book took a beating in my backpack, so I’m going to get a stay-at-home notebook for blog post ideas next time. They’re too adorable to pass up.

Conclusion

Is it fair to claim a favorite before I’ve even fully used one of them? Right now, my analysis is that Lilly Pulitzer wins out for my favorite based on looks. Plum Paper wins for functionality.

It’s a huge debate. Who creates your favorite planner? What do you love most about it? Just because I’m graduating in 2016, doesn’t mean I won’t need a post-college 2017 planner!

5 Must Haves for Every Blogger (Excellent Gift Ideas)

Nope, it’s not must have blogging techniques or design elements. I have no blogging tips today; it’s stuff for you! A list of real world items you should have to help you improve/connect with/ embrace your virtual hobby. Let’s take a look vv

Must Haves for Bloggers - a plan

1. A plan… If you’re starting to get serious about blogging, it always helps to have an editorial calendar and an idea of where you want to take your blog. Blogging is so flexible and allows for a lot of creativity and exploration, but losing focus all together can cause trouble. Sarah Morgan from xoSarah recently released The Badass Blog Planner: Your guide to defining your purpose, creating clarity, and building a year of killer content (pardon my language; I swear it’s what it’s called), and it looks like a really intense, valuable planner! I haven’t purchased my own yet, but when I’m back into the swing of things, I fully intend to. If it seems like too much for you, buy a regular planner to jot down post ideas and dates in.