The Refined Woman

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OUTFIT | Kimono time

I sort of have a hard time calling this a kimono - probably because I lived in Japan for a while and this is not really a kimono at all.

But it’s not a robe is it? It’s kind of a robe.

I guess no matter what you call it it’s still pretty awesome. You know I’ve always been on board with sweatpants, and since I’ve had a baby my mantra for pretty much every new thing I buy is

1. It is comfortable?

2. Is it kind of like pajamas that I can wear in public?

If yes to both of those - buy in multiple colors. Repeat. 

Heck I even wore this to a wedding a few weeks ago. I think that maybe I could have managed to get myself into a dress - but I figure that since I was carrying around a 3 month old people would give me a free pass just this once. 

Don’t tell Kat though, I think she’d die if she saw me wearing this to a wedding. 

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This tunic from Zara is on sale too!

xo, Em

Weekly Round-up

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Can you believe it’s already the middle of JULY? I can’t! Even though fall styles are beginning to pop up, I’m soaking in all the summer I can get for just a bit longer.

Earlier this week, Kat shared her beautiful hope-filled, inspiring, and encouraging story with us on the blog and on Conscious Magazine.

Also have you seen Lara Casey’s adorable prints…be sure + check out her Beauty Is… article from last week! 

In the market for a summer maxi? Here are some great options! 

Love how Olivia mixed florals!…but let’s face it, we sorta just love everything about her!

Glam sandal + simple dress= majorly chic!

Peaches (one of my favorite fruits!) are showing up all over the farmer’s market- here’s a great way to put ‘em all to use! 

Can’t make it to Italy? Bring Italy to you! 

This signature drink sounds perfect for a day poolside. 

How great is this shirt-dress? And fun heels?! 

Let’s go to Ojai and bask in Marysia Swim bikinis…Please….what? leave tomorrow at noon?  Ok!!!

XO,

Lauren :)

Happy Birthday Kat!

To the woman who never stops dreaming and striving to be a better version of herself, but who is full of amazing grace too. You make me want to dream bigger and this blog would not be what it is without you. 

You are the peanut butter to my jelly, and I’m so glad you were born. You make my world a better place by being in it. 

You are beautiful and cherished. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAT!

xo,

Em

Beauty Is…Quiet

Every morning, I take a walk through a nearby retirement community with my daughter Grace. Bright and early, toaster waffle in hand for her, I push the stroller down our street toward our path. Sometimes I laugh at the chorus of birds that sings good morning to us — it’s almost surreal. Like a nature soundtrack. But, it is indeed very real and a reminder to be present and listen. The moment we cross over into Carolina Meadows, I take a big deep breath. It’s on this path, so familiar to us now, that we have met Beauty. 

Beauty has met us in the hearts of our silver-haired friends day after day, tickling Grace’s feet, telling us of their gardening adventures, and mostly, telling me to savor these moments. Life is fleeting. Youth fades. But, what remains is what matters: deep, meaningful connection. The moments we spend with these special friends each morning have added up to shared lives. Beauty speaks to us in these quiet voices that carry with them such rich stories and memories. 
Beauty is quiet because Beauty is not about us. It’s about sharing our lives with another. Beauty gives. Beauty encourages us to savor these moments.

XO,

Lara Casey

PS…Lara designs these awesome + inspiring prints + we’re giving one away on instagram today!  Check it out:)

[Years ago I met Lara Casey on the busy street corner of New York City during Bridal Market.  It was my first time ever to New York City + I was given the opportunity to photograph runway.  (That trip would later become a catalyst in my move to The Big Apple). In the brief moments that I spoke with Lara she radiated grace, warmth, dignity.

Little did I know at that moment that Lara’s journey would have a profound impact on my own journey.  Lara is editor of Southern Weddings Magazine (one of my favorite wedding publications) as well as founder of the amazing Making Things Happen.  Lara is a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, business owner, and leads a life this simply put is…beautiful.  I’m so excited for you to get to know a bit of her journey now through Beauty Is…]

XO,

Kat

I Choose to Believe My Story Has Power

Photo Courtesy of Kallima Photography

This week Conscious Magazine published the below article I wrote about parts of my past.  My soul feels naked and exposed having these words out there for you and the world to read.  I have felt more vulnerable in the last few days than I have in a very long time, but what I want more than anything is for people to know that in brokenness there is HOPE.  God is good.  He is faithful, and his promises abundant.  If just one person can connect with my story, and be encouraged then I am grateful to have shared it!

Everyone has one, and it shapes who we are, what we think, and the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us.

Story has the opportunity to tear down or create.  Story has the power to change my life, your life, the world, and the generations after us.

I choose to believe that my journey has power.

I choose to believe that one person indeed has the power to impact generations.  What if we all got to the place where we believed our unique individual stories mattered so deeply that we collectively changed the world together?  Hand in hand united for the greater good.  A story is a spark, a small flame with the power to blaze an entire forrest…if we choose it to.

Freedom begets freedom.  Creativity begets creativity, and it all begins with a story.

Here is a bit of mine.

From the outside it looks like I grew up in upper middle class in Dallas Texas, one of six kids, made good grades, was captain of the Varsity tennis team, went to state, and later played on a full ride college scholarship, was involved in church, and had a ton of friends.  You could say that my life was pretty suburbia.  Sure my parents split when I was 10, and both remarried but that is seemingly pretty normal these days…right?

Yet, in between the lines of a storybook childhood there were moments, days, and years, riddled with fear, heartache, and brokenness in my heart and in and throughout my entire family.

What really was going on for the majority of my high school and college life was a life where my father abused alcohol and drugs.  My holidays were filled with broken promises, dad simply not showing up, or showing up under the influence.  Intervention after intervention and nothing would stick longer than a few months.  Memories upon memories of living with my dad in the summer and him disappearing for days at a time only to return home shirtless, shoeless, without a car or dime to his name.

Over and over again my heart was broken; it got to a point where it felt like such a bloody mess that I decided no one could come near.  I decided that my heart was not worth fighting for because if it was then my daddy would stop using.  If I was worth it, he would do whatever it took because he loved me, because he loved my sisters and brother.  But nothing I ever did was ever enough.

I tried finding my worth in grades, in sports, in boys, and later on men, and nothing quite answered my question:  am I worth it?  Am I beautiful?  Am I lovable?  Am I enough?

Near the end of my college career I mourned the death of my father.  Even though he was still alive he was light years away from living.  I watched him go from being a successful business man to a homeless man on the streets of Dallas who lost everything and everyone that was precious to him.  I lost all hope that he would ever be sober on this side of life.

Then something miraculous happened.

Over my senior year of college my Dad got sober. I could hardly believe the transformation that was taking place before my eyes.  He started calling me everyday to let me know he was sober, in a program, was living a life surrendered to God, and that he loved me.  This went on for months.  I begged him to stop calling, told him I did not want him in my life and that my heart could not handle another heart break.

But my father persisted nonetheless, and looking back I needed him to pursue me during that time.  My wounded heart needed to know my father loved me, and would do whatever it takes to restore a relationship with me and my brother and sisters.

And he did just that.

What seemed like an irreparable situation was repaired.
What seemed impossible was more than possible.
What was broken is now fixed.
What was death is now abundant life.

My dad is almost 8 years sober now, and has a redeemed and beautiful relationship with each of his children.  He is one of the greatest heroes of my life.

Through this immense pain in my family I have learned about hope, identity, value, redemption, forgiveness, and the reality that love is messy!

So much has transpired in my heart, in my family and throughout our lives over the last 8 years.  I have come to believe the message in my soul that I am to share with the world is that there is HOPE!   My question of worth has been answered:  I am enough, I am beautiful, I am worth the fight…and guess what:  so are YOU!

My message is for young women to know their value, and their unimaginable beauty and worth.  That I, we, as women are beautiful and of infinite value because of WHO we are not WHAT we are.

My vehicle for this message is photography and my lifestyle blog.  I am a voice to my family, to my community, to the world that love actually does win.  That beauty is more than skin deep.  I want to change the way we as a culture view beauty.  I want to see diverse women on the covers of magazines, I want to see young ladies chasing their dreams with reckless abandon.  I want my story to ignite fire inside the hearts of young people that your story, who you are, where you have been, where you are going matters!

We live in a world full of damage and heartache, but I believe that truth sets people free and story changes lives.  Take heart, and have hope for I believe nothing in this universe is so dark, so lost, so broken that it cannot be repaired.

We are a resilient creation, teaming with hope.  So go ahead…share your voice.  The world needs you.

Monochromatic Mondays | Pineapple

When I was a little girl there were certain fruits that were such treats!  I mean apples, oranges, and bananas were pretty common, but mamma only brought out the “big guns” on special occasions.  Watermelons for 4th of July.  Strawberries for birthdays, and pineapple well pineapple was a rare gift that was like for vacations.  

In fact I think my first pineapple bought was in college after my 21st birthday when I made Pina Coladas for a fiesta!

I digress…basically I love pineapples…they’re special in my book.  So umm…why not wear them right? 

Pineapples are the new black?  #anyonewithme ??

A Very #Merica Weekly Round-up

Beautiful reminder from Verily!

Well today is the 4th (one of my favorite holidays) and I couldn’t be more excited to break into all those Independence Day-themed desserts, drinks and everything else that comes with a classic American BBQ! So, inevitably, this week there are some festive recipes and DIY in the mix…lets go ‘MURICA. Enjoy those fireworks!

Kat was in beautiful Ireland this week! (Read that with a Gerard Butler accent). 

Em showed us how she would pull of red, white, + blue over on Verily

Uhhh, WOW. Sign me up for one of these (can you tell I have a sweet tooth(! 

My kind of popsicles…eager to try both!

Love this beauty tip, definitely adding it to my beauty repertoire.

Sounds perfect for a hot night…and mint ice cubes??? #imallforit

A great reminder as so many of us get caught up in the busy schedules of summer.

Love this fun retro-inspired shoot.

My mouth is literally watering…Anyone want to recreate this brunch with me?!

How fun is this clutch?! Lovin’ the pom-poms…and the price ain’t bad either.

Easy + adorable festive DIY for the 4th? Count me in.

A great last minute dessert for that 4th of July BBQ

XO,

Kat + Lauren.



OUTFIT | Pretty Patriotic

USA! Merica!

The World Cup + The 4th of July has got me feeling pretty patriotic these days. Even though we lost yesterday I am still proud of how far we went.

Recently I put together a RED + WHITE + BLUE look for Verily’s Style Challenge and it was a really fun one. I realized though that I don’t have any stars + stripes in my wardrobe so that is a hole I’m going to have to fill STAT.

Check out my piece on Verily as well as Hilary’s awesome look too!

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You can find the links for this look over on Verily!

xo,

Em

Monochromatic Mondays : Powder Blue

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This is my absolute favorite color right now - every tone of this bright fresh blue has got me hooked. 

I can pretty much pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love - it was when Lupita showed up to the red carpet in her Nairobi Blue Prada. I mean COME ON. What a goddess. 

So I was SO excited when Lauren rounded up some beautiful powder blue pieces for our Monochromatic Monday post today!

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xo, Em

Weekly Round Up!

Well it’s officially summer and we couldn’t be happier! And it seems like everyone else we follow is too.

Enjoy the links below for some summertime inspiration. And check out our Pinterest for more of what we’re currently lovin’. 

  • Are you reppin’ ‘Murica with the World Cup in full swing kick and the 4th quickly approaching? P.S. love the vertical stripes.

xo,

Em + Lauren (The most FAB intern of all time)

image via darling