Marley Lilly Gift Guide

When I think of winter, I think of oversized sweaters that you can cozy up in while watching endless hours of
Netflix or effortlessly toss on and pair with some comfortable boots for a chic but comfy look to enjoy a night out (or in) with family and friends.

When I stumbled across Marley&Lilly I absolute fell in LOVE with all their monogrammed clothes, purses and accessories. I love a good monogramed item! The thing I love most about their site is they have such a large array of items that can fit anyone’s style and budget – you can’t beat that! They have so many fun pieces that would be perfect for layering for the winter months!
Midwest’s winters are long and cold so it’s nice having the holidays with family to break them up a bit – especially Christmas! While checking out MilleyandLILLYs page I found so many wonderful (personalized) gift ideas for family and friends for Christmas this year. Some of my favorite items I found are THIS and THIS. When it comes to giving gifts, I love giving monogrammed items – I think it adds an extra thoughtful something to the gift. And guess what? You still have time to place your orders to get them before the holidays!

Weather you like large monogrammed items or small, Milleyandlilly has something that fits everyone’s style! I have rounded up my favorite Christmas ideas for you below! Enjoy, and be sure to check them out! 

Have a great day, friends!

Michelle

 

6 Things I’ve Learned In My First 6 Months of Blogging

Lesson #1: Believe In Yourself

When I started this blog the first thing I was worried about was what other people (I personally knew) would think of me.  Starting a blog is putting yourself out there – and being the “model” in the pictures is REALLY putting yourself out there.  I was nervous, like really nervous.

But I decided to push forward and push all those negative thoughts I was having to the side.  I finally came to the realization that just like anything in life, you cannot convince people to like you (or your brand), or care about what you say if you do not first believe in yourself. If you think you cannot, then you definitely will not. Don’t be your own worst enemy – go for it! 

Lesson # 2: Be Authentic

Writing comes pretty natural to me – I have an ever moving mind and have a lot to say (sometimes it’s hard to reel myself in and not make my blogs 9,999 paragraphs long.)   Grammatical stuff is NOT my strong suit, (thank goodness for my husband who is great at proof reading.)

I love talking about fashion and family and relating my stories of fashion to things that have happened in my life. I love encouraging others to be who they are and to own it.

To write about anything else besides relating my stories to my real life would not geared toward my target audience, and would not come from my heart – I would never write about something just for the “numbers” on Instagram – I have to believe in what I am putting out there. 

Lesson # 3: Your success is totally up to you!

The results (much like anything in life) or growth of your blog are a direct reflection of the effort you put in. I thought about doing a blog for about 6 months before I got enough courage to just go for it.  I knew going in that I REALLY wanted to do this, so that alone has motivated me to stay with it, post daily and continuously try and grow as a blogger.

I think the toughest thing about blogging is you might put a ton of effort into it and not see results or growth for a while (and I mean months and months) but if you keep at it, once you do start seeing some movement in your blog it is so rewarding.  Maybe it’s a share from a company you love, or a post from a fellow blogger you admire, or an opportunity from a company you never expected.  I just recently got into RewardStyle and that was my ultimate goal – I am so so excited!  The success can come in so many shapes and forms and don’t be afraid to celebrate your successes, big or small, because you earned it! 

Lesson 4: Do not underestimate the power of social media!

Your family, friends and blogger friends can only get your blog so far. Social media will elevate your brand and your blog, use them, and use them all! Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I have never been a “marketing” type, I mean, I am a social worker, and branding and marketing myself is not my forte!  I have taken a few pointers from my husband (who is an excellent sales-type entrepreneur, he is the definition of the quote from the movie ‘Tommy Boy’ “he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a women in white gloves”.  He has taught me to step out of my comfort zone, reach out to brands and companies and post on all social platforms. Thanks babe, I love you!

Lesson 5: Be Consistent!

This is the#1 way of increasing traffic to your blog; posting consistently. Giving your readers new and quality posts and photos to read and look at increases engagement which in turn increases your page views and followers.  I post new pictures on my Instagram and Facebook at least 6 days a week and am trying to post 2 blog posts/week on my actual blog.  Do what works for you and your schedule – you know your followers best!

Lesson 6: Connect with other Bloggers! 

This is the best part of blogging (to me), meeting other (fabulous) like-minded women! I have met so many inspiring, sweet ladies! There are so many blogging Facebook groups, Pinterest group boards, etc. to meet people in the same niche as you! These different kind of groups give you a great platform to share your content, and connect with others to help grow your (and their) brand! 

Let me tell you from personal experience – once I got over my insecurities and gained the confidence to actually do this blog, it has been a great learning and growing experience for me.  I definitely stepped outside of my comfort zone, and I am so glad I did.  I have met so many amazing women and have already got to work with some pretty incredible companies. I look forward to seeing what other opportunities open to me in the future.

Cheers!

Rules for Wearing White

With summer coming to a close, let’s talk about the “no white after Labor Day” rule and, specifically, white jeans. This was year two since I took the plunge and bought white jeans.  It took me this long because I used to think they were not flattering or they could only be worn only in the summer months (and let’s be honest I don’t wear jeans too often in the summertime so they would of just sat in my closet.) The “no white after Labor Day” rule is no more, and personally I love this trend.  Wearing white jeans after Labor Day is a great way to get the most out of your clothing without having to buy anything new.

I am sure there are still some of you out there doubting the ability of white jeans to be both slimming AND season-less (and there are a few tips and tricks to wearing white appropriately after Labor Day) so here’s a little tutorial on how to wear white jeans year-round!

  1. First and foremost you must find the perfect white (non-transparent) pair of white jeans – THESE are my absolute favorite and are a steal at only $64 (currently 30% off with code: VIP) I also love THIS pair and THIS pair.
  2. You have to style them with cold weather shoes – I personally love pairing them with booties or knee high boots. I really love pairing them with THIS pair (shown in pics), THIS pair (currently 33% off) and THIS pair.
  3. Pair them with heavier, warmer fabrics and colors. My personal favorites are pairing it with flannel, grey, chambray, black or tan/rust colored tops or pops of pink– some of my favorite sweaters to wear with white jeans are THIS, THIS (shown in pics) and THIS

And that’s it! 

Wearing white after Labor Day is no longer frowned upon and this Midwestern gal absolutely loves the white pant trend!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day friends!

Marley Lilly Obsessed

Fall weather is just around the corner here in the Midwest, and this girl is pretty excited to say the least!  Apple orchards, pumpkin patches (well, pumpkin anything really), haunted houses, beer festivals, football games, the leaves changing colors and last but not least, cozy sweaters are what fall-weather dreams are made of. 

When I think of fall, I think of over-sized sweaters that you can cozy up in while watching endless hours of Netflix or effortlessly toss on and pair with some comfortable boots for a chic but comfy look to enjoy a bonfire with family and friends.

When I stumbled across Marley Lilly I absolutely fell in LOVE with all their monogrammed clothes, purses and accessories.  I love a good monogrammed item!  The thing I love most about their site is they have such a large array of items that can fit anyone’s style and budget – you can’t beat that!  They have so many fun pieces that would be perfect for layering when the fall and winter months roll in – I am absolutely loving THIS, THIS, THIS and THIS.

I am not going to lie, the only down fall to a Midwest fall is what comes after, the dreaded winters months, cue sad face.  Midwest winters are long and cold so it’s nice having the holidays with family to break them up a bit – especially Thanksgiving and Christmas! While checking out Marley Lilly page I found so many wonderful gift ideas for friends and family for Christmas this year.  Some of my favorite items are THIS, THIS and THIS.  When it comes to giving gifts, I love giving monogrammed items – I think it adds an extra thoughtful something to the gift. 

Weather you like large monogrammed items or small, Marley Lilly has something that fits everyone’s style!  Hope everyone is just as ready as I am for some fall weather, because she’s just around the corner!

Have a great day, friends!

Michelle

Taco Zucchini Boats

Nothing beats a leftovers that isn’t really leftovers – meaning, you use all the vegetables scraps you have leftover from the week and make a meal out of it.  I hate letting food go to waste, so when I have random vegetables in the fridge that are about to go bad I always make zucchini boats, stuffed peppers or some sort of stir fry with them.  This week, I ran out of tomato sauce to make my typical Italian zucchini boats so decided to change it up a bit and make it “taco themed”.  

I hope you all enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchinis (cut in half lengthwise)

1/2 cup pico de gallo (or salsa)

1 lb lean ground chicken

1 package of taco seasoning (or homemade taco seasoning recipe here)

1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese

1/4 cup chopped onion or cilantro, for topping

1/4  cup green pepper

1/4  cup red pepper

1 lime

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Using a small spoon or melon baller (or spoon), hollow out the center of the zucchini halves (I make little “chip” like bites for our 2 year old.
  2. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini in small pieces (can set aside 3/4 of a cup to add to the taco filling if you want)
  3. Brown chicken in a large skillet, breaking up while it cooks. When no longer pink add the spices and mix well.
  4. Add the onion, bell peppers, and reserved zucchini.  Stir and cover, simmer on low for about 5 minutes
  5. Using a spoon, fill the hollowed zucchini boats dividing the taco meat equally, about 1/3 cup in each, pressing firmly.
  6. Top each with 2 tablespoon of shredded cheese.
  7. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through.
  8. Top with cilantro and serve with salsa or pico on the side.

Enjoy!

A Suede Skirt for Every Occasion

Coming up with different looks besides the typical jeans and top in the colder Midwest temps can sometimes be difficult.  I have always been one to go straight to a good sweater or swing dress in the colder temps (which, let’s be honest I still plan to do all fall and winter long.)

This year I wanted to step out of my “normal” swing-sweater dress comfort zone a little and purchase a suede skirt to rock this fall and winter.  If you know me, you know I like to purchase things I can wear several different ways.  In my last post “these boots were made for walkin” I rounded up my favorite fall must-have boots.  I just recently purchased the perfect pair of black over-the-knee boots.   Because of this, I chose a neutral colored skirt (black) to style this fall and winter with my new over-the-knee boots. 

When rockin’ a skirt in the fall or winter, shoes or boots add an extra needed statement to the outfit – (and let’s be honest, sometimes in the Midwest the extra boot length on the leg is needed for the colder temps.)

When styling a skirt this winter here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to show a little leg in the cooler temps! In my opinion, showing a little knee in the winter is 100% acceptable and 100% adorable. Adding knee-high boots with a skirt is a way of adding an extra “layer” to the legs but still showing a little knee!
  2. Pick a neutral skirt so you can style it several ways! Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about adding pops of color in outfits – but add the pop of color with a top. Having a neutral skirt is an easy piece to ALWAYS go to in your closet, that way you can color when you want, and keep it simple when you want. Having a black or tan skirt in your closet is a must have fall and winter item.
  3. Different fabric tops, same skirt! Suede skirts are so extremely versatile. You can basically wear ANY top with these skirts – dress it up or dress it down. You can tuck shirts in, leave them untucked, wear fitted shirts, sweaters, t-shirts – the options are honestly endless!

This year I am all about stepping a little out of my comfort zone, not only with clothing, but other things!! Stay tuned to see some other ways I am stepping out of the zone!

Have a great day friends!

 

 

Outfit details:

Suede Skirt /Black Over-the-Knee Boots / Flat Shoes / Purple Top /  Grey sweater / Grey Top /Leather Jacket

Style JAMs

I have been asked a few times why I started my blog.

After having Anna, I left my job as a Full-time Social Worker to be a stay at home mom.  The first year of being a mom to sweet Anna I was extremely busy with learning the ropes, exclusively pumping, catching up on some much needed sleep when I could and spending time with my family and friends when I had the time. 

After Anna turned one, and my breastfeeding journey (and pumping 12 times a day) ended, I had some more time on my hands and decided I wanted to start on a new journey, the journey of blogging.  Jay, my husband and Anna, my daughter are the reason I started Style JAMs – so I could have an outlet to share some of my favorite things with others.  I love fashion, home decor, cooking, traveling and spending time with my loved ones, which are just a few of the things you see throughout my blog.

Another question I frequently get asked is where I came up with the name “Style JAMS”

Jay & Anna are also the motivation behind the name Style JAMs – Jay, Anna, Michelle = JAM.  I have always been obsessed with “JAM” because it is my dad’s initials (total daddy’s girl)!  It wasn’t till after we had Anna that I realized the “JAM” continued on with our names, and it kind of stuck!

I would love to do a Q & A blog post – so if you have any other questions please feel free to email me at stylejamsblog@gmail.com and I will read through them all and write a fun “get to know me” blog post!

Have a great day, friends!

These boots were made for walkin…

There are a few staple items every woman needs in her closet come fall, and a fabulous pair of boots is one of them. 

When it comes to splurging there are some items I am willing to splurge on. I stated in one of my previous blog posts, ‘For the love of Curly Fries’, a purse is one of those “splurge items” – because a good purse can last a lifetime.

Another item to add to that list that I personally am willing to splurge on is a nice pair of boots. For starters, and the most obvious reason being, you walk in them, like all day, and who wants to walk in an uncomfortable pair of shoes all day every day? Nobody – nobody wants to walk a mile in an uncomfortable pair of boots. And secondly, a good pair of boots can last years upon years. Boot styles rarely go out of style and there are a few that will not be going out of style anytime soon, if ever.

I have rounded up my favorite fall boot styles of the year…

1. Ankle booties – I have never been much of an ankle bootie fan – not because they aren’t absolutely adorable, more because I just haven’t found the right fit – I just recently got THIS pair from Nordstrom’s and it was love at first sight. Some others I am absolute crushing over are THIS pair and THIS pair.

2. Over-The-Knee boots – There is nothing hotter right now then a good pair of over-the-knee boots. They are extremely versatile and can be worn with literally anything – shorts, pants, skirts and dresses! Finding the perfect fit can sometimes be difficult, as you want them to be tight enough to stay up, but not too tight where you can’t bend your knees when you sit down. I found THIS perfect Sam Edelman pair at DSW. The fit and comfort of these boots are both a 10 on 10 in my book – and they also come in the color tan, which is the most versatile color shoe to own. Some other boots I am head of boots for are THIS pair and THIS pair.

3. Sock Booties – Nothing is trendier than a great pair of sock boots. I have been eyeing THIS pair for months and haven’t yet pulled the trigger – but plan to ASAP! These boots are perfect to pair with skinny jeans and skirts! Some of my other favorite pair of sock boots is THIS pair and THIS pair.

4. Western Boots – This style of boot has been “in” a few seasons now, and I don’t think it will be going out of style anytime soon, if ever. Most ankle boots I have seen have a “western” like look to them so when I found these over-the knee/at the knee boots that also have a fabulous western-like look to them I HAD to scoop them up! THESE boots will literally be taking me through the next few seasons – they are the perfect shade of tan and go with almost everything in my closet! I also love THIS pair and THIS pair.

No matter what the “trend” is currently a great pair of boots will never go out of style.

Happy Shopping, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Say yes to salad!

Whenever I was asked to make a side dish for family events I was always asked to bring a salad. Well, as a teenager/young adult salads to me consisted of romaine lettuce topped with cheese and croutons.  Not the most appetizing dish to bring as your side dish.

After getting asked 10 plus times to make a salad for different events, I went on the hunt to find the perfect salad.  After a few failed, soggy salads I think finally found a delicious winner!

My husband and I eat this salad as a side dish and have also added meat toppings (like bacon or chicken) to bulk it up a bit and have ate it as our main dish.

 

Ingredients:

Baby Spring Mix

Red onion (diced)

Grape tomatoes (diced)

Cucumbers (diced)

Feta cheese or Blue Cheese (grated)

Candied pecans (diced – I buy mine pre-made from the grocery store – homemade recipe here)

Dressing Options: 

Vinaigrette (my husband and I prefer vinaigrettes)

Homemade citrus vinaigrette dressing option HERE

Ranch (my dad and a few family members prefer Ranch)

Optional Toppings:

Crumbled bacon  

Grilled chicken

Enjoy!!

My best friends wedding!

I had the honor of being a part of my best friend’s weddings in Punta Cana this summer. We stayed at the beautiful resort, Now Larimar.  Anyone who knows me knows I HATE and I mean HATE public speaking.  I am an absolute nervous wreck when having to give them.  I am a crier, like full blown – weddings, movies, happy-exciting times, even commercials get me going (Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercial – come on who doesn’t that get to cry?)  This speech was no different. 

The key to a successful speech (for me, the crier) is to add in funny stories with all the sentimental stuff – that way I can get breaths in between all my tears.

Jaimi and I have been best friends for 16 years.  Our relationship is like no other – we are very similar and very different in several ways.  When it comes to love we are very similar we are both hopeless romantics – I love that about her – I always said she would be the perfect girlfriend (now wife) – probably the reason she makes such a great friend.  We are also very different – Jaimi is a straight shooter – she say’s what she means and means what she says. Me, you ask?  I am a full-blown people pleaser – I envy her on that.  She motivates me, supports me and loves me for exactly who I am and I could not love her more for that.

Below is my Matron of Honor speech I gave at her wedding in June and some pictures of her Bachelorette party and wedding in Punta Cana!

Enjoy!

“I want to start off by saying that every once in a while two people meet, and you know it’s meant to be.  You know instantly that the stars have aligned and their paths would bring them together regardless what the world may through their way.  This was clearly the case 16 years ago, when Jaimi and I first met.

Like I said, I’ve known Jaimi for the past 16 years.  We know more about each other than we probably care to.  When you’ve been close to someone for this long, you gather a lot of juicy secrets and hilariously embarrassing stories, however, I will spare you from those stories because 1. It would take me days to tell them all and 2. Because I respect Jaimi too much to embarrass her on what is supposed to be one of the best days of her life.  But, if you happen to catch me anywhere else, the embarrassing stories are fair game.

Okay well, maybe I’ll share a few.

I have always said that “every brunette needs a blonde best friend” and I truly believe that is true.  Jaimi and I balance each other out. 

For example, the first time Jaimi and I really became good friends was when she was hosting (and by hosting I mean her parents were out of town and she was throwing a binge drinking house party in her parents basement) – sorry Laura & Phil! 

That night Jaimi had a few too many cocktails and was hanging out with a friend of hers, his name was “Mr Toliet”.  During this time, Jaimi was preoccupied in the bathroom, the party was getting a little too out of control so I took over and kicked everyone out of the house – you’re welcome Laura & Phil.

See what I mean by balance now?!?

Another time, when Jaimi was working as a cocktail waitress at the Casino I came in with Nikki and Breanne after a few too many cocktails and Jaimi refused to serve me.  Yeah, you heard me right, refused to serve her best friend alcohol because she said I “didn’t need anymore, and that I was lucky I was even allowed onto the boat”.  RUDE!  Well, I showed her and found another waitress who WAS willing to serve me and walked right by Jaimi “threw up my drink” and smiled.  In all reality, she was probably, and by probably I mean definitely right- I didn’t need more alcohol.  We again balanced each other out.

If you want a real good time though, like the best time, find us on the days that we are both on 10 and the “balance” we sometimes show turns into an amazing shit show – it’s a good time … you will see later tonight.

In all seriousness,

I may sound cliché, but I cannot think of two people more suited for one another.  Joey’s outgoing and infectious personality encourages Jaimi to step out of her comfort zone and experience things she would have never attempted without him. Joey has that fun down for anything personality and it has been making Jaimi smiles for as long as I can remember.

Joe, I can’t thank you enough for making Jaimi so happy.  You are smart, compassionate and funny and it is with comfort knowing Jaimi will always have you by her side.  You are everything and more that I could’ve hoped for, for my best friend.

Before this moment you have been many things to each other – acquaintances, school mates, friends, companions, lovers, and dancing partners.   You have laughed, cried, matured and have become stronger as a result of one another.  Today is not only a celebration of where you are now and the road ahead, but the road that has brought you here. 

From high school dances, to college party days to engagements, marriages, babies and to this very day, Jaimi has been my best friend.  She is honest, loyal, smart and beautiful.   Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to me and such a great Aunt to Baby Anna.  We could not love you more.

Jaimi and Joe, May you live forever in love and may love live forever in you.

If everyone would raise their glasses now and join me in congratulating the beautiful bride, “Princess Jaimi” and the handsome groom. 

Congratulations to you both.”