Anna turns 2

August 14th 2015 we welcomed our sweet daughter Anna into the world. I am going to sound like every parent and say that I can’t belive it’s been 2 years already and I am happy to say that we’ve been completely blessed with one of the most beautiful, happy, fun and loving children I’ve ever met. But of course I would say that, I am here “mama”.

Truthfully, I’m just grateful to be fortunate enough to experience parenthood. It enriched m soul in a way that is indescribable.

In a way, we both grew together over the past 2 years. Anna learned many things, and I learned many things. In many ways, Anna taught me more than I taught her.

And here you are, two years old – happy, sweet yet sassy, independent yet cuddly, strong-willed yet easy-going little girl.

Thank you sweet girl for the lessons, the laughter and changing me forever – you’re everything and then some!

Happy 2nd birthday sweetheart!

1K GIVEAWAY TIME!

A few months ago I decided to start this little fashion and lifestyle blog.  The goal of this blog was to have a fun outlet where I could share all about my favorite things.  The blogging world is a big one, like, really big.  I am a small needle in a haystack of talented people.

In just a few short months, I have met so many wonderful women around the world.  They are inspiring, talented and supportive.  The greatest thing about the “blogging world” is the support – and I mean real genuine support that you find from other bloggers.  When I was working in the social work field, I was always an advocate for supporting, encouraging and helping others meet their goals, now being a stay at home mom, this has been such an amazing place to fulfil that desire again.

I think the thing that strikes me the most is the support that comes from the “big time” bloggers who have 100,000 plus plus followers who respond to ALL your messages, questions, etc.  These ladies are busy (and I mean BUSY) – I have a mere 1,100+ followers and there are days I find it difficult to respond to everyone – so I can only imagine how difficult it is for them.  They genuinely care, will take the extra steps to help you with your blog and are always willing to lend a helping hand where they can – BLOGGER GIRLS RULE!!

Over the last few days I have been getting some questions from other bloggers on how I started to grow my (little) following (which by the way I am so freaking proud of) – it’s a lot harder than you would think – and I am SO SO thankful for everyone following along with me on this journey!  I am NO pro on this what-so-ever and I felt very grateful that others are reaching out to me.  Over the last few months this is what I have noticed has helped:

  1. Interacting with other users matters – it is called “social” media after all – so this is definitely KEY! I think the main thing is staying true to yourself and engage with others that have similar accounts to yours or have accounts with topics that interest you. I love following fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, travel bloggers, food bloggers and home decor bloggers – because ALL of those things interest me. Making comments on photos and liking photos is a way to build a relationship with others – although this is all over social media, you will build relationships with these women/men.  I have met SOOOO many wonderful women – and I hope one day I will get to meet (in person) these awesome ladies!
  2. Content matters – make it eye catching – when people look at your content the first thing they see is the last few posts you have made – so it is important to put effort into your content. I thought when I first started that I needed to hire a photographer – and while this is an amazing thing, I don’t think it is always necessary. You can have you friend, family member, husband (in my case) take your photo and have it blog worthy!  I have found I get just as many “likes” taking a mirror selfie as I do with professional photos – so as always, do what works for you!
  3. Timing matters – this is the most recent thing I have learned. Most Instagram users are most active before work/school, during lunch and other breaks at work and right before bed. I have also found that Friday and Saturdays are the “slowest” Instagram times.  It is important to make sure you aren’t posting too much or too little.  You want to stay engaged with your followers!  A lot of bloggers post 2-3 times/day.  I post one time a day – first thing in the morning before I get busy with the hustle and bustle of chasing around a busy toddler.  I spend nap time replying to all of my follower’s questions and comments.

As I have said, I think the key is being true to yourself.  I am proud of my small little blog – and weather it turns into something “bigger” or not isn’t the goal for me- it’s a fun outlet for me and I am loving engaging with all my followers and other blogger babes in the blogging world.

As a big Thank you to all of my followers I am doing a GIVEAWAY for my blog reaching over 1K followers!!!

Giveaway: I am giving 4 lucky followers each a $25 gift card to Nordstrom!!!

To Enter Giveaway:

  1. Follow me on Instagram – www.instagram.com/stylejams
  2. Then follow the remainder of the rules on my Instagram photo

Giveaway ends Friday, July 21st!

Good luck, friends and thank you from the bottom of my heart for following along!

Stylejams session below:

 

Father of the Bride

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a daddy’s girl through and through.  It has been that way as long as I can remember.  My dad is one of a kind. I cannot even begin to describe the pure perfection of a father that he is.  Let’s just start with childhood and work our way forward.  When I was younger, my dad didn’t miss one sporting event, dance, or mental breakdown I had throughout my grade school to teenage (well really any) years.  He has always been there to pick me up, wipe my tears and cheer me on.

I remember in 9th grade, I had just started high school, my dad and I were shopping at our local mall. We came out of one of my favorite stores, Vonmaur and I noticed some older “popular” kids all hanging out together outside Vonmaur. I quickly grabbed my dad’s arm and said “dad, I think I am done shopping we can go home now” – first of all ME done shopping – that is crazy talk!  My dad probably knew it at the time, but didn’t say a word about it. He just looked at me and said “okay, let’s go grab some dinner”.  The truth was I was embarrassed as a new freshman to be seen at the mall with my dad- silly, right?  I think about that small decision I made still to this day and it makes me sad.  Sad that I was so worried about what others may think of me, sad that I wasn’t confident enough in myself to show off the fact that I enjoyed hanging out with my dad, and sad I missed out on extra time with the sweetest man on the planet.

Well fast forward a couple years and a few confident boosts later, and a new “tradition” started.  Every year from the middle of 9th grade till the middle of my college career my father and I would take yearly bus trips to Chicago to go on a shopping trip around Christmas time – bless his heart.  He would get on a bus with me and 50 other women, bus 3 hours to downtown Chicago, shop for 8 hours and bus 3 hours back.  1 man, 50 women.  Now, I would say he was “taking one for the team” but my parents were divorced, so I am pretty sure being on a bus with 50 women wasn’t all that bad for him- haha!  Shopping  was his least favorite thing to do but spending time with me was his favorite thing to do- so he did it with a smile on his face, year after year.  And that is just the type of man he is. He recently just brought up how much he missed those shopping trips so we plan to start again this coming Christmas. 

Adulthood was no different, my dad was supportive every step of my undergraduate college career, which lasted longer than most – he stood by my side and encouraged me to keep going till the very end.  I did it, I graduated, and I had never seen my dad beaming quite like the day I received my diploma.  Fast forward 2 more years and I started my graduate classes, he stood by my side and encouraged me through all 3 years of that as well. The day I received my Master’s Degree I think was one of the best days of his life.  He has always told me to forget what people say, do your best – and nothing else matters.  He’s a simple man, and that’s what I love most about him, he’s genuine, generous and oh so thoughtful.  I could not have had a greater man by my side  growing up.  I am so blessed.

The day I got married, my dad, like every other occasion, stood by my side and walked me down the aisle and lead me to my husband, Jay.  Jay is a lot like my dad – caring, genuine, nurturing, honest and loving.  I have been so incredibly blessed by these two loving and patient men.  My dad’s speech was like nothing I had ever heard, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – he’s just so tender hearted.  He will always be my best friend, my “number one stunna” and the man I can always trust, lean on and believe in.  Thank you dad, for being the greatest human on the planet and for loving me the way you do.  I love you “daddy-do”

On the topic of weddings, I don’t know about you but I am always “stumped” on what to wear and what not to wear.  Summer weddings are all about COLORS – don’t be afraid to add in different color combos to summer weddings. I have rounded up my favorite summer wedding reception dresses on the blog today that also double as PERFECT summer vacation dresses.  You will find out quickly that I am not one who likes to buy a dress for one specific occasion – I am a planner (and a cheap butt) and I like to be able to wear something to several different occasions to get the most bang out of my buck.  The best thing about summer dresses is they never go out of a style – these summer dresses will also be perfect for next year’s Easter festivities, bridal showers, or spring wedding season!

All dresses listed I either own, have ordered (and am anxiously awaiting their arrival) for my upcoming trip to Punta Cana or are on my summer wish list.  Just click on any picture below for a direct link to each item.

All pictures taken by my adorable hubby!  Direct link to yellow dress here and pink dress here.

Cheers!

For a little stylejams inspo – click link below:

 

 

 

 

For the love of curly fries

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion comes and goes but style lasts forever.” I have to be honest, I never really gave this quote too much thought. I mean it is what it is – clothes are just clothes and nothing more, right?
When I sat down to write this second post I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, my grandma Enstrom. Since I was a young girl my grandma has always been my fashion icon. She has always dressed amazingly, has always put together the most fabulous outfits and will always be my favorite shopping buddy. I like to think I got my love of fashion (or shopping) from her. 

My grandma always tells the story of the times I would call her on the phone when I was younger and ALWAYS say “grandma, can I stay the night at your house this weekend, and can we go shopping and then go to Arby’s and get some curly fries” (smart little girl I was, who doesn’t love a good curly fry?). Well 20 years later, I still love shopping, and I definitely still love curly fries.

I’ve learned a lot from shopping with my grandma, who in my opinion is the greatest shopper who has ever walked this earth! Here’s a few of the many things I’ve learned from her:

# 1) She taught me if you don’t absolutely love an outfit at first glance, leave it. If you can’t stop thinking about it after some time passes, then go back and get it. There is no worse feeling then buying something and having instant regret. This handy little grandma trick has helped me a lot in the past on not having buyer’s remorse.

#2) She’s never truly expressed this next thought. But now looking back, she always splurged on the RIGHT items. This is something that took me YEARS to master. I used to buy a new black purse every so often for $50ish, and every year that purse would get so beat up and fall apart and I would have to buy a new one every 6-12 months. Well after 2 years of that, I spent well over $200 on purses I had to throw away. Annoying right? That’s when it clicked! Splurge on items that don’t go out of style and that can last a long time (if not a lifetime). Splurging a little on your purses will actually save you money in the long run. Now, I know everyone’s “splurge” is much different than the next persons, and that’s fine, I definitely won’t be splurging on a Fendi bag anytime soon. But I have found that good designers like Michael Kors, Kate Spade (my personal favorite) and Tory Burch are purses that are good quality and last a LONG time. I have had my Kate Spade purse for over 3 years and it still looks brand new, is still “in” and it is still my favorite go to purse. Now, if I would of purchased a not so “high quality” purse, I would of purchased 4-6 $50 purses in that time frame, which would have been more money then what I spent on my Kate Spade. There are several good places to find deals on Kate Spade purses, Michael Kors purses and on Tory Burch purses as well.

#3) My grandma always used to talk about outfit planning – how she could wear specific pieces several different ways or to several different occasions. When I was younger that wasn’t something on my mind. If I wanted a dress for a special occasion and I already knew I would never wear it again, I didn’t even blink an eye – I would buy it. Now that I am a mother, I am a more “practical” shopper. When I buy something I now think to myself, can I lug around a 25 lb child wearing this? Will my butt hang out when lugging around the 25lb child? Can I wear this outfit to several occasions? Is this something I will be able to wear for several years? Now, don’t get me wrong there ARE times you need to spoil yourself and buy that MUST have item. But for the most part it’s all about planning ahead or “smart shopping” – finding items that you know you can wear a lot of different ways for several different occasions. 

These shorts from J.Crew Factory are a hot item in my closet, meaning it is a piece I KNOW is worth the money because I will get a lot of use out of them. When I initially saw them I thought to myself those would be super cute, casual shorts for errands, day trips and even for golf, so to me that was enough reasons to buy them. It wasn’t till I got the shorts in the mail that I realized they were a slam dunk purchase! Not only was the price amazing, but I realized I can take these shorts from casual, all the way up to a dressier girl’s night out look! Here are a few different ways you can style the same shorts from casual, to semi-dressy, to girl’s night out dressy!

Anne Klein said it perfectly when she said, “Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.” I just recently signed up to volunteer as a personal stylist for Dress for Success and I absolutely cannot wait to start! When I was still working in the social work field, I referred several of my clients to this wonderful organization. When my clients came back from their appointment, with their new head to toe interview outfit, they were completely beaming from ear to ear. It amazed me what a new outfit did for these women – it gave them confidence! Confidence to go into their interview and to knock it out of the park and that is what it’s all about. If you want to wear high heels when you work out or sweatpants to a formal event do it! Do what works for you and what is practical in your life. Clothes are just clothes, but it’s about how the outfit makes you feel that is truly magical. As women, I think it is important to always support, encourage and cheer on others in ALL their endeavors. BeYOUtiful. 

Special shout out needs to be given to my style guru and my favorite shopping buddy for life- my grandma. Thank you for always taking me on your shopping excursions and spoiling me with curly fries after. Those will be moments I will hold near and dear to my heart forever and ever! I love you!

Cheers!

Michelle

(Note: Complete outfit details are linked under “shop my instagram” tab)

All photos taken by my adorable husband!

For a little stylejams jam session enjoy the link below!

My Mariachi Band

I once heard the quote “you can buy children anything in the world, but nothing will compare to the memories you make with them” – this has become my parenting mantra.  Parenting is hard, like really hard, at times we do the best we can with just trying to raise happy & confident children.  There are days we feel like we have it all figured out and we are on top of our “parenting game” and other days we may feel like we fall short and can’t do anything right.  I am here to tell you, you’re doing a wonderful job, keep up the great (hard) work and give your kiddo(s) an extra hug and kiss today!  The statement is true, “the nights are long but the years are short” – Gretchen Rubin.

This winter we were able to take a vacation to Florida and Mexico with our little toddler, Anna.  Now I use the word “vacation” loosely because anyone who has traveled with a busy toddler (or any child for that matter) knows it can be hard work filled with unexpected twists and turns.  Day 1 in Flordia Anna had a delayed allergic reaction to some medication she was on the week before, which resulted in an ER trip (all ended up good and she was 100% fine the following day, just another example on how things don’t always go as planned.)  We pushed through all the  “difficult” situations  and decided to accept the good with the bad and truly embrace both vacations.  All I really wanted out of these vacations was  family time, cuddles, endless laughter and unforgettable memories made with my two favorite people on the planet, and that is exactly what I got.

The first time Anna hit the beach and took off like the free soul she is,  I thought to myself,  “wow, we are living in the wrong place – this girl is a natural beach babe, we must move out of the cold Midwest immediately!” But all wishful thinking & joking aside, she rocked the beach like she owned it!  The smile she had on her face the entire time she was at the beach made everything worthwhile!  These memories will last us a lifetime.  It’s the same happiness she shows at the local park, grocery store or even in our front yard.  Children have it all figured out and are present with whatever they are doing – it is definitely something we as adults can learn from.   And always remember, you are doing an AMAZING job parenting your children!  Keep up the GREAT work.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of our two winter vacations.  Enjoy!

Michelle

“I wish I was a little bit taller… I wish I was a blogger…”

My dad always tells the story of the time we went to the doctor when I was 10 years old for a checkup.  At this appointment, he said my doctor said I was never going to reach 5 foot tall.When we left that appointment, my dad said I turned and looked at him and said in the most serious voice, “I will just DIE if I don’t reach 5 foot.”  Now looking back at it, there were quite a few perks of being short when I was younger.  For starters, I was always first in line in grade school (they always lined us up shortest to tallest); therefore, I was always first to lunch, recess, gym and first out of school in the afternoon!  I was always picked first for dodge-ball in gym class.  Being a smaller target made it difficult for people to get me out and I was definitely a quick little thing – Hello, short people PERKS!

Well, 20 years later and a few inches past what the doctor predicted (3 inches to be exact, on a good day, technically 2 inches past what the doctor predicted), I am standing “tall” at 5’2 and proud of it!  What I didn’t realize 20 years ago, at 10 years old, was that something called high heels existed.  If you want to be 6 foot tall, put on some high, very high heels! If you want to be 5’2 – wear flats!  Now there are some downfalls to being a ‘shorty’ too. For starters, I can’t reach anything on our top shelves of our kitchen.  Getting Anna into my SUV is a daily tippy-toe struggle and I have to get every dress, pair of pants, etc. hemmed to my short girl length (Ugh, I hate spending extra money on things like that!).  Lastly, the struggle of all struggles for a short girl is the unworn item we all call a jumpsuit.

Jumpsuits weren’t a concern of mine for many years, until they came back into style and it was love at first sight.  I tried on a few and realized instantly these things were NOT made for short people.   Not only were they too long, but they also weren’t made for shorter torsos, weren’t made for girls with a little junk in the trunk and they rode up in all the wrong places (probably because of the junk in the trunk).  I was completely convinced that jumpsuits were not an option for me and for us ‘shorty’s’!

 

It wasn’t until a couple months ago my girlfriend Erin Smith who works for Trunk Club randomly sent me a jumpsuit in one of my trunks.  I pulled out this navy blue beauty and instantly fell in LOVE all over again.  I couldn’t believe it, minus the length, this jumpsuit fit like a dream! I instantly texted my girlfriend a picture and she agreed, it fit me like it was made for me (minus the 10 feet that needed to be cut from the bottom haha).   So here’s the low-down on being lower to the ground and like anything in life, you’re not going to find the “perfect fit” in ANYTHING.   You just have to keep on trying, keep putting your best foot (or heel) forward and give it all you got every single day!  I encourage you to go out and try something new!  Now I’m not necessarily talking about a jumpsuit, but maybe something that scares you, maybe something you’ve been wanting to do for a while but have been too afraid to try.  Maybe something you have been constantly second guessing yourself on or maybe something you are too worried to try because of what others may say…

And that’s really where the second part of the title of this blog post comes into play – “I wish I was a blogger…”  For quite some time now, I have been thinking and talking to my husband about becoming a fashion and lifestyle blogger.  I have went back and forth saying “I think I can do this” to “what would people say” to “would it even be successful”  all the way back to “I think I can do this.”  Through the roller coaster of emotions, my husband Jay has been nothing but supportive, taking my lead and supporting whatever I thought about the blog that day – thanks Honey!  About a month ago, and a few motivating words from my bestie Janelle, I finally said “I am going to do this.”  With Jay & my girlfriend on board I started reaching out to possible web designers to help/show me how to make my ideas a reality (raise your hand if you’re not computer savvy – my hand is raised high, very high!).  Thank goodness for my friend Kelly, who I went to grad school with, for stepping in and answering all my questions & several repeatedly and probably a few ridiculous questions too.  I know they say there are no dumb questions, but I definitely think I pushed the envelope on that one! Two weeks later & here we are.   I have a working blog that is all me, with the technical help of my girl Kelly, and I could not be more excited & proud!

My journey of a blogger will cover everything from fashion to motherhood, from home decor to cooking, and everything in between! I think back now on all the stuff I didn’t do in life because I was too afraid of failing or what others may think and I’m saddened that I let something like that stop me from doing something I wanted to do! I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again, and successful or not I am so proud of this little blog I have created. I hope you all enjoy and stick around on this journey with me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming to this site, taking time out of your busy day & reading what I had to say – believe me when I say it’s very, very much appreciated!

Go out & do something crazy!  Tell that little negative Nancy in between your ears to take a hike and remind her who’s boss.  Go out & do something crazy… like buying a jumpsuit haha!

For a little jam session of “I wish I was a little bit taller… I wish I was a blogger …” motivation watch the video below!

Cheers,

Michelle

Photos taken by: Amanda Allison

For complete outfit details: “shop my instagram”