Monday, August 13, 2018

For the Bride: Two Dresses You Need!

It's finally here! This is my first real post about getting married and I'm happy to finally be sharing some of the details with you! Chris and I got engaged last April in France and it's been a whirlwind ever since. Originally, we started planning right off the bat and I was immediately overwhelmed with all the small details I had to decide on, the venue, who to invite and obviously the cost! Let's face it... a wedding is an investment. I weighed the pro's and cons of having an actual wedding vs the cost of eloping. I also did my research and asked my married friends their opinions and to my surprise... majority of them said ELOPE! You put so much time and money into planning this huge event for your guest that you forget that it's your day and it flies by. We also estimated cost for both options and we could have an incredible elopement/honeymoon in France for a fraction of what we would spend having a wedding- so there it is... we are getting married in France on April, 25th!

I recently went dress shopping for "The Dress" with a few of my close friends and had much success in finding "the one". I quickly realized during all of this that not only do I need a wedding dress but I need a dress for every occasion- bridal, showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinner- anything practically wedding related. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Chicwish who offers an amazing collection of beautiful dresses for every occasion- as well as other clothing. I was amazed after finding so many options all well under 100.00.

I decided to pick out a cute crochet number for my first outing which was dress shopping! We drove 3 hours to Melbourne to visit Olivia Bowen Bridal where I proceeded to try on dress after dress but after I slipping on dress number one... I knew that was it. I tried others on to be sure but it was unanimous that the first dress was going to be my wedding gown.  

I love the dress that I wore to the bridal boutique - It's extremely comfortable ( I did drive a total of 6 hours in the car wearing this dress) Lightweight and the fit is perfect! Usually I have to alter my clothes but I ordered an XS and I couldn't have been more satisfied with the fit!

I decided to add one of my favorite belts and my go to floral heels to complete the look. I honestly felt a bit like Julia Engel in this outfit and loved every minute of cute but curated outfit. I knew there would be a ton of pictures so, I dressed for the occasion!

I decided on a second dress from Chicwish for a small engagement party. I love to stand out and make a statement and I thought this dress was perfect for my personality.

One of the wedding venues we considered locally was the Herlong Mansion in Micanopy. I love it's historic charm and the fact that it sits back in a quaint little town. 

My favorite detail of this dress is the flower cut outs- I love that it makes a statement and doesn't require a lot of accessories. I ordered this dress also in an XS and the fit was perfect- it's like a fit an flair but isn't so fitted and more like a shift which I loved! It's definitely a dress that I can wear on more than one occasion. 

I've listed these dresses plus a few more options below! 


Monday, August 6, 2018

The Paris Guide

Coming from a Francophile...I can't explain to you the overwhelming sense of love and excitement I get when I think of France- let alone, Paris. Many places are beautiful, many places offer wonderful cuisine and many places evoke a magical feeling but nothing will compare to your first visit to Paris.

In this guide to Paris- I'll explain the do's and don'ts, experiences you don't want to miss and some insider tips from the ultimate Parisian know it all- who also helped guide us through Paris. Grab your pain au chocolat et cafe au lait and take notes!

1. Your absolute must do before getting to Paris: even though you're traveling to Paris where a lot of Parisian's do speak English- learn the basics. Know that "Bonjour" is appropriate morning and during the day- after sunsets it's bonsoir- if you're saying good night it's bonne nuit. Get to know your surroundings- if you're on the hunt for croissants and pastries- look for boulangerie and patiserrie. The Market is called - "marche"- it's helpful to know some of these in order to find what you're looking for. I recommend doing the "in flight French" CD and booklet and take this with you everywhere you go and practice, practice...practice. Parisians appreciate your effort.

2. Make a list of places you absolutely can not miss and map them out. Paris is a huge city and not everything is in walking distance. Versailles is a 30-45 minute drive outside of Paris- I would recommend a day here and also plan to see Giverny. Focus on different arridonsements for certain days. If you're at the Eiffel Tower- plan your day around surrounding areas. 

3. Be french: I get we all have our certain fixes and you might be use to something one way but I've said this before and I'll say it again- dive into being french- do as the french do, eat as the french eat. Have a REAL experience. You travel to explore, to experience and to learn- you can't do that by refusing to try new things, scouting out McDonalds or complaining that it's not like what you're accustomed to. 

Now for the fun part: What are my top must do's?

1. Montmartre: This is what I call "old Paris"- or Moulin Rouge. Chris and I took off on a Sunday morning- we had breakfast a cute cafe and indulged in cafe au laits and crepes while people watching from our table. The locals were setting up for their art market- I ended up buying a couple of pieces from a few artist and it's highly worth it. Montmartre is home to Le Consulat the restaurant , La Maison Rose- the cute pink restaurant famous in pictures. The most notable feature of Montmartre is the view including the Sacre Coeur. The view none the less is stunning- you over look all of Paris and the view goes on for miles. Also famous for this area are Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Picasso- who had studios in the area known for its claim to art.

2. Versallies: On the way over to France I watched Marie Antoinette (the one with kiersten Dunst) I've watched this movie hundreds of times but I was always so fascinated by her- although she ran the country into countless debt. The palace itself is fascinating. It's intricate details, it's elaborate gardens and it's overwhelming size is just incredible to see in person. We visited the palace when there was strike so unfortunately we didn't get to explore the interior but this is one I highly suggest!

3. The Noteable: Obviously you'll want to explore the Louvre, Notre Dam and the Eiffel Tower- these are the biggest attractions to Paris and all are equally as stunning. I recommend going early to beat the crowds- especially if you're into photography- the earlier the better. Be sure to also enjoy the gardens surrounding each of them- FYI- Jardin is garden in French. 

4. Places to eat- drink: This is such a loaded question: there are SO many
awesome places and it really depends on which arrondissement you're exploring that day but I would include these while you're mapping out your days.
-The ultimate cliche but totally french worthy cafe is Cafe de Flore- this is a must! The fun thing about Cafe de Flore is it has a rich history and you never know who you might find dining beside you. 
-Carbon- a fun little lunch spot or dinner. This was on our list but sadly we didn't have time to make it here. Definitely a must try.
-Brasserie Lipp- a true Parisian experience- they don't care for tourist so try to fit in and get a table- you'll have to hunt down the manager for a table but authentic and good food- dress nice for this one.
-We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower - beautiful views but high price points- try Monsieur Bleu for authenticity and charming views of the lady Eiffel.
-Hemingway Bar at the Ritz- this is a MUST! Drinks are pricey but worth it for the good times you'll have. The Ritz is breathtakingly beautiful and the Hemingway bar is full of rich history. Be prepared for the beautiful roses that accompany your order.
-Lapernouse is on our list in April. I read about the history of this restaurant and it's very intriguing. During the Belle Epoque , it catered to married men who discreetly entertained Parisian courtesans with champagne and gifts. The owners installed private rooms with entailed lots of velvet and privacy. Ask for the La Belle Oteri - the mirrors will bear scratches from the courtesans testing their lovers diamond gifts to verify authenticity.

- A couple of other noteworthy places to see:
Restaurants: Chez, Denise, Ellsworth,Le Grand Colbert, Chez Julien, Le Dome,Petit Palais and Septime. Any Boulangerie is great- I always suggest getting fromage, wine and pastries and having a picnic in the jardin.
* Caesar Salads are must order.

Cool Places: Shakesphere and Co., Cafe Kitsume at the Jardin- lots of retail shops- high end and consignment. Amorino for rose shaped gelato- also in this area is a cute little market area with restaurants- go explore! Wander around Saint Germain and Le Maris- both are really fun neighborhoods to explore. Champs Eylsee - good for sight seeing- Arc De Triomphe, the Ferris wheel, place de la Concorde. Sezane is a must for shopping- the store is instagram worthy with the perfect french garments, Andre if you're looking for cute Parisian shoes, Merci has everything- highly suggest going here and kiliwatch- I bought several items from here!

My BIGGEST Suggestion: Buy this book- I found Messy Nessy to be super insightful and I loved learning the history along the way. She will give you a true Parisian experience and give you all the glitz and glamour behind it. I used the book as a guide when exploring Paris because it breaks down what's in each arrodissement and what you're near. I also bookmarked notes and highlighted which places really intrigued me- definitely worth keeping in your purse on your trip! Also, She's on instagram @messynessychic

If you think of ANY questions or want to know more- reach out to me! I'm happy to help plan your stay in Paris.

Bon Voyage!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Francophile's Guide to the Anthropologie Sale

Bonne journee mon ami
I know - another sale but tis' the season! Anthropologie always has a sale section but I find this time of year- post tag sale is when they have the best selections at the best prices. Anthropologie is one of my favorite stores- mostly because I know I can always find the perfect item- unique in it's own way. 

After searching through the sale section, I glanced at my shopping cart which proceeded to hold 14 items. Having this much excitement for so many good pieces- I couldn't help but share what I found with you. I mapped everything out by category and even another- "Lilly's Picks" section. It's so fun to include her in these post and let her personality and opinions come to life- anything with a "cat" on it- will always be considered her "pick."

Just a side note: as of today... all sale items are an additional 40% off!

I found so many good finds in home and gifts- I've been dabbling with the idea of wallpaper in our home and anthropologie offers such a good selection- I've listed a few that were my favorites in the sale- yes there is a Paris themed wallpaper... I'm also a sucker for good coffee table books -these are typically pretty pricey so I thought these were definitely a good find! As far as kitchen items- you can never go wrong here. All of my current serving pieces are from Anthro. To better entertain your guest- I spotted these patio pieces- it says indoor/outdoor use but I loved the french flair of their style!

I love Anthropologies apparel and accessories section- you can find the BEST pieces that know how to make a statement. I've bought everything from Jewelry to shoes here- in fact these items are the ones that are in my cart and sizes are becoming limited so hurry up and shop while you can!

Last but not least- Lilly's ultimate picks from the sale: I think this is a great opportunity to shop for someone having a baby, back to school or even for the holidays.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Francophile's Guide to the Nordstrom Sale

While Lilly and I do love Zara and Mango for shopping- we also buy most of our favorites from Nordstrom. I never typically go crazy with the Nordstrom sale but I did pick out a few must haves for every Mom, daughter duo.

Lilly is at the age where she's so much fun to dress. She has her own personality and she knows what she likes. She lives for dresses, sequins and kitty cats- she's also developed a shoe collection! I let her pick out a few favorite items- with a little help for curating them together. 

A few of these items I already own ( like the OTK boots- love them!)  and well, the others... are currently awaiting shipment. (oops) I tend to be a fairly savvy shopper- it has to be a "must have" item and must be at a great price point. I don't believe anything on my list is over 100.00 AND- it's all transitional into fall/winter.

I probably buy more beauty products from Nordstrom than anything else- I love Sephora but Nordstrom carries some of my favorite brands like Charlotte Tilburry, Trish Mcevoy and supergoop. The lipstick and lip liner I currently wear are by Charlotte Tilburry - and are listed in a package together for the sale. I swear by the Trish Mcevoy concealer- I received this as a sample and WOW! 

For the home I love the scents of the diptique candles- every Francophiles must haves and worth every penny! The Savon Marseilles soap is one of my favorites- these two scents are my absolute favorites to have in my home. I've been wanting to try an air diffuser for some time now and I finally found this cute diffuser for such a good price- but is aesthetically pleasing.

Please feel free to tag or share all of your Nordstrom sale favorites with me!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

6 tips to swoon worthy hair

I've always had a love hate/relationship with my hair- more so hate until I could learn how to control it. At the age of 13 my straight hair became curly... and I mean SUPER curly and unruly. Since then, it's been a battle with humidity, styling products and torching my hair. I know a lot of you out there can relate- let's face it... humidity does nothing for ANY of us!
I've put together some tricks of the trade plus my own life savers for having lush hair. It's not something all of us are born with but we can sure make it seem that way.
1. Picking a stylist who has your best interest: This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. For example: you have very fragile, thin dark hair and you want platinum- a GOOD stylist will do a consultation and be completely honest with you and tell you why you should or shouldn't do this process- no matter the price tag. might be VERY disappointed after. My stylist, Melissa is incredible and I chose her for her book of business, reputation and her honesty with me- I know that she has my best interest at hand. Do your research!

2. Avoid shampooing your hair every day: This one was difficult for me because I felt like my hair would become fairly oily overnight. I'm usually an every other day girl or I try to do every 3 days if I can. I've learned to embrace the top knot and I found a great dry shampoo that didn't give me the "icky" feel. Try to use sulfate-free shampoo- sulfates can dry out your hair which could lead to breakage.
3. Try different techniques for thickening your hair: I know this one is typically a major issue for women because a lot of us aren't born with super thick strands and it can be frustrating to work with. I have thick hair but my hair strands are fine- which doesn't work in my favor always. A few tricks I learned to fake it: Use products that help with volume and try to blow it out with a round brush. Use hot rollers or a large curling iron after blow drying (do not straighten prior) - this gives the illusion to lush thick hair. Last but not least my easiest go to: hair can have these applied at a salon who specializes in them or you can buy the clip-ins. This adds instant volume and length and you can wear your hair- up down, topknot, braids- lots of versatility with this one.

4. Hair conscious diet: You are what eat- so make sure you're eating the right foods to help promote healthy hair. You should be eating foods with protein, vitamin C, Omega -3 fatty acids and zinc. This would include foods like almonds, blueberries, eggs, broccoli and salmon. There are hair vitamins also listed but I wouldn't just leave it at Biotin. I've listed the vitamin I use below and it can be found at Sephora.

5. Olaplex- the holy grail: One of the biggest changes in my hair has been the consistent use of Olaplex. My stylist introduced this product to me and it's been the ultimate game changer is the quality of my hair. Ask your stylist about Olaplex treatments and try to have them done every time you're in for your hair appointment. Olaplex helps combat damage done to hair and replenishes the protein structures and bonds giving your hair instant life again. They do sell Olaplex at Sephora but no.3 isn't the professional grade- however, I do recommend buying it and using it weekly to help maintain your hairs appearance.

6. Don't forget these hair care basics: use leave in conditioners, I use mine every time I wash my hair. I also apply product to help combat the damage from heat styling. My biggest tip is skip the hair tie- don't sleep in them... I made this mistake for so long and it caused severe breakage in my hair- even using the ones that claim to be breakage free- I typically wear a bobby pin, or you can try a loose braid. Satin pillow cases also help to prevent damage to your hair while sleeping. Try to limit your heat use- heat is the root of all evil but it's essential. Trying heat free hairstyle can save your strands tremendously!

You can shop my entire outfit and haircare products below.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Book Club: June

Hi friends! To switch is up and be super inclusive- I'm starting a book club series on the blog. Which I'm working to make interactive on my Facebook page and Instagram Stories ( You should follow me there @thehouseofbb if you're not already doing so) For each month I'll list a couple of books that I'm diving into- I read more than 1 book at once- it's okay if you don't, as we can have topics on  each individually.
For this months series I'm including:
1. The Nest, by Cynthia D' Aprix Sweeny.

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult sibling and the fate shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives. Every family has it's problems. But even among the most troubled, the plumb family stands out spectacularly dysfunctional.
( I love dysfunction)
2. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, by Amy Morin
Kick bad mental habits and toughen yourself. Master strength; revolutionary new strategies that work for everyone from homemakers to soldiers and teachers to CEO's. Dont waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Don't give away your power. Don't shy away from change. Don't focus on things you can't control. Don't worry about pleasing everyone. Don't fear taking calculated risk. Don't dwell on the past.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

8 French Instagram accounts you need to be following

Yes as we all know, I'm a self proclaimed Francophile. Why? I don't know... I can't really explain it- I love everything about France and their way of living. It's almost like everything there is beautiful. I try to incorporate a little "French living" into my day to day life...whether it's cooking, style, plants or home d├ęcor. If you're looking to add a little French flair to your life- I have 8 very French accounts for you to follow:

1. @Frenchisbeautiful: If you're planning a trip abroad or just wanting to learn a few "key" French phrases- she is your go to! I've followed her for quite some time and I love that she shows all sides to her life in Paris - her favorite coffee spots, where to buy the cute Parisian shoes and she'll show you how to order your wine (vin) in French. This will be your French Necessity.

2. @Pariswithme: You can follow Anna exploring every single crevice of Paris, while showing you where to stop for lunch, where to see the cherry blossoms or visiting the unique corners of Montmartre. I used many of her local recommendations for planning our trip and having a very local experience while in Paris. Tip- she also does photography- so, if you're looking for a few planned "hip Parisian" photoshoots- she's your go to girl!
3. @Everydayparisian: Okay, so Rebecca is my girl! She spends half of her time in Chicago and the other half wandering around Paris looking for the next best boulangerie. I love that she has the American vibe in Paris and can honestly tell you where to go, what to do and how not to be a touristy tourist. She's also a chocolate connoisseur - France is known for it's best chocolate and she knows exactly where to find it- along with the best baguettes.
4. @ Aparisianmoment: Partner of @georgiannalane- prepare to feast your eyes on the dreamiest photos of Paris that you can imagine. From colorful doors to pink gum drops of cherry blossoms blooming in the spring. If you want some major Paris envy- this one is it!
5. @Georgiannalane: As mentioned above- she is the co-founder of @aparisianmoment. Her feed captures the dreamiest images of Paris including crystal chandeliers and gold medallion walls from Versailles- up to the blooming carousels at the Eiffel Tower. She has a wide display of coffee table books including- "Paris in bloom".
6. @parisinfourmonths: I started following Carin years ago - just as she was making her journey of living in Paris while draped in Dior. This true beauty moved from Sweden to Paris to follow her dreams in the fashion industry and I love watching her journey. I love her effortless but chic Parisian style. If you want to amp up your Parisian style- she's your girl!
7. @vivietmargot: A must for shopping and drawing French country inspiration into your home. Charlotte, the owner of the shop named after her two daughters... owns a beautiful French farmhouse in the south west region of France. It boast and abundance of old world style and beauty. Her shop is filled with the perfect French market bags in all styles- along with linens and kitchenware. She's the top of my wedding registry list! I'll take 1 of each, please!
8. @messynessychic: I do not have enough words to describe my girl "messy nessy"... First of all... if you're planning a trip to Paris- go buy her book... " don't be a tourist in Paris". The book is full of everything that you should be checking out to have a true Parisian experience- not eating at McDonald's like an American... Her Instagram page is full of cool things you need to do- like the abandoned hospital... sounds weird but it was SO cool! Or the backroom in the Louvre... who knew!? Seriously, save your self from the ultimate tourist trip and look her up- you'll thank us both!
back to Instagram I go to get my French on...
Au Revoir!
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