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I haven’t owned a single thing with pom poms on it since I was a kid, but something about this dress lured me in. I don’t know if it’s the fun bell sleeves or festive details, but this summer dress gets questions from strangers when I wear it. Where did you get it? (Right here.) How much was it? (Under $27.) Would it look cute with flat, ankle lace-up sandals? (Yes!)

Pom poms are everywhere this summer, too! I originally planned on wear those super cute lace up flat pom sandals with this dress, but decided to pair it with classic staples instead of going all-out trendy. The dress is noisy enough; keeping my jewelry, shoes and purse simple was the way to go.

Now, let’s chat briefly about how to get rid of clogged pores in this summer heat. Sweat, makeup, bacteria…it’s all piling up day after day.  I love to use my Foreo to deep clean my skin when removing my makeup every night, but sometimes I feel like I need something even deeper for those hard to reach pores. When I had a chance to try L’Oréal’s new Pure Clay Masks, it was love at first clay. There are three different versions:Pure-Clay Mask Purify & Mattify Treatment Mask (green), Pure-Clay Mask Detox & Brighten Treatment Mask (black), and Pure-Clay Mask Exfoliate & Refining Treatment Mask (orange). Let me say this first: they ALL smell amazing. The texture and feel of the clay on my face felt like high-end spa quality, and each formula actually DOES what it says it will do! Don’t just take my word for it…check out hundreds of glowing reviews on their website.

I’ll rank them in order of preference and why:

  1. The Pure Clay Mask Exfoliating and Refining Treatment– If you have deeply clogged pores, this is the mask for you. It digs deep and cleans out everything, even the stuff you didn’t know was in there! It leaves your skin feeling super soft, and clears up any rough patches you might have. (I tend to get one on my chin.) A little goes a long way, so don’t get too much product on your fingers. Only takes 10 minutes to work wonders!
  2. Pure-Clay Mask Detox & Brighten Treatment Mask-This charcoal mask is perfect for pesky blackheads. It brings them all to the surface and easy to extract. Your skin will feel tighter, but not so tight it’s uncomfortable. Some people said this mask made their dark spots look brighter, too.
  3. Pure-Clay Mask Purify & Mattify Treatment Mask– the eucalyptus scent is really nice, and the mask gives your face a tingly feeling. Although I didn’t feel as if my pores were necessarily extra clean, the texture of my skin felt smoother and softer immediately after washing it off. This seems like a great one to start with if you have sensitive skin.

That’s it for today! Hope you enjoy the poms and try out the masks. You’ll love them.

Photography: S. Jackson

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I’ve done a lot of things, but solo travel for vacation hasn’t been one of them. I’d never really considered traveling alone, since it sounded a little scary and less fun than going on a trip with my husband or friends. But when I heard about Fit and Fly Girl fitness retreats (thank you, Shape Magazine), I was intrigued. I was in desperate need of a vacation in early June, and my husband didn’t have vacation days to use,  so it only made sense to take a trip by myself. So I did it.

And you know what? It wasn’t scary. It was empowering.

Tulum, Mexico has been on my short list of dream vacation spots, so the Fit and Fly Girl retreat taking place there was like kismet. My Spanish isn’t the best, but I didn’t have any problems at the Cancun airport or on the hour and a half shuttle ride to Tulum. The retreat was held at the breathtaking Shambala Petit Hotel, which is a tiny piece of paradise in the jungle and right on the beach. Roberto, the owner, couldn’t have been nicer when I arrived. He told me to remove my shoes, because I wouldn’t be needing them for the rest of the week. He was right. It was bare feet, no makeup, no hair styling…no problems. Just sand, sea, gourmet vegetarian/gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free dishes and three hours of fitness each day.

Three hours of fitness, you say? Yes! Our fitness instructor, Kiya Knight, is an awesome instructor out of Malibu who had boundless energy and encouraged us to find our inner strength. She’s one of those rare fitness coaches that actually makes the workout feel like play time. (There was plenty of time to recover after each session-downtime is scheduled in between each class for laying on the beach or exploring Tulum). We did yoga, circuit training, Zumba, long walks on the beach each morning (mine with hot tea in hand), and a cool “warrior” style class with wooden rods. Pretty awesome stuff, and I felt like I earned every meal. (Important to know: you don’t have to attend every class. It isn’t like summer camp, where you’re forced to participate in everything. You can pick and choose.) Speaking of food, Shambala Petit had THE best food I’ve ever eaten on a vacation. Did I have sugar withdrawals? Yes, the first two days. But after that, the natural fruit juices and fresh produce tasted so sweet and delicious to me. The sorbet for dessert at night was sweetly satisfying. And I slept like a baby in our open air casita every night!

Okay, now that I’ve covered the basics, I have to share what made this vacation so truly special. The scenery, food, and fitness were all wonderful, but it was the experience of getting to know the other ladies on the retreat that changed me. I don’t typically like the “getting to know you” process of meeting strangers and making forced dinner conversation. But this was different. We rotated tables each night to meet new people, and it gave us a chance to hear where each lady was from, what she did, and why she chose to come on a solo trip. This group of women was so diverse and spectacular! I learned so much from sharing this new experience with this group of 16 that it would take me all day to share how much I loved these women.

Side note: I had a roommate on this trip. (Some people chose to have a solo room, but several of us had roommates.) It’s always a little scary going into a vacation where you will room with a total stranger, but Fit and Fly Girl does an incredible job of pairing up women who have things in common. I can honestly say that I had so much fun with my new roomie that I am looking forward to her visiting Dallas this fall! It  was great to having new friends on the trip to do unscheduled activities with, like taking a cab into downtown Tulum to buy souvenirs.

Fit and Fly Girl retreats also build in excursions to the itinerary, so ours included snorkeling with sea turtles, climbing Mayan ruins, swimming in sea caves, and a Mayan clay ceremony. (I missed the last few days because I had to return to work, but my new friends sent pics and videos, so I felt like I was still part of the fun.) By the end of the trip, we were all pretty sad to say goodbye. It was a powerful experience. The only downside to the trip would have to be getting used to the humidity. I’ve never sweat so much in my life! My skin, however, always had a nice glow.

Are you considering a solo travel vacation? I recommend it 100 times over. Fit and Fly Girl is a fantastic place to start, and if you’d like to experience this exact retreat in Tulum next April, they are booking it now. They go to cool places like Ibiza, Costa Rica, and the French Riviera. The owners are super nice and helpful in arranging your trip. No matter where you go or how you do it, I just recommend trying solo travel at least once. It will change your life.

Photography by the fabulous Shana Anderson

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Summer travel is upon us! There are a couple of things you need to track down for travel that you’ll use over and over:

  1. A travel laptop bag with pockets for charging cords
  2. A sturdy suitcase with rotating wheels
  3. A passport holder

I have one and two, but number three was the last thing on my list. A passport holder is something you can have a little fun with, so I went for a soft pink version from Style & Travel Girl Passport Covers. This cute passport cover can be used as a wallet because it holds your passport, money, license, business cards and baggage claim ticket. It comes in a bunch of different colors, so they probably have your favorite. I also loved purchasing from this brand because it’s created by female entrepreneur Ariana Pierce.  She’s the brains behind Superstar Nail Lacquer and Style Shoppe, the online accessories company. She offers “rich girl beauty on a real girl’s budget”, which sums up my goals.

A few other fun things I want to mention from this post…

-White jeans are the perfect opportunity to wear that crazy printed blouse you bought. (This beauty is from Lion & Witch, and it has the most awesome criss-cross back detail!)

-The perfect berry lipstick that isn’t too pink or purple is Elizabeth Arden’s Wild Berry. It’s pink, but not bubble gum pink. It looks pretty with any skin tone, and comes across very natural without being too light.

-If you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling, pick a handbag that gives you easy access to your Passport Cover! One of the reasons I chose my grey bag from Closet Access is the secret pocket on the front. It’s easy to reach it, but it won’t fall out and would be difficult to steal.

It’s supposed to be hot all over the country today, so keep cool indoors. See you Friday!

Photography: S. Jackson

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When life hands you lemons….you wear them on your shirt!

There isn’t much to say about this look except that you can throw this on and go. I am getting ready for vacation, and nothing makes me happier than being able to pack outfits that demand no attention. Complicated fashion has no place on vacation. Hence, this adorable lemon shirt, comfy jeans, slip on flat sandals, and a lightweight (red) crossbody bag from Dolce Vita.

That’s it, folks! No fancy fashion sales pitch; just easy solutions.

Photography: S. Jackson

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Ikat prints have been dominating home decor the past few years, so it’s awesome to see it make the transition to fashion, too. This pretty print is from Lion & Witch, and it’s breezy and soft….perfect for those 100+ degree days. You can order one by going on their website or Facebook page, and for under $60, it’s a great choice.

Another great choice for me has been investing in a laptop bag I mainly use for travel and then one for work, meetings, and every day use. Trying to find a lightweight laptop bag that holds all my powercords, jump drives, pens, phone, and anything else I might need has been a challenge. When I heard about the Kickstarter for NEET, I did some research on it. NEET is known for their products that untangle cluttered cables and cords. They dove into making laptop bags this year, and they are ingenious! The thick padding of the Apprentice bag ($60) protects my laptop perfectly-it has a hidden luggage sleeve so it fits easily over the handle of your rolling suitcase, and it has an abundance of pockets to store your cords, phones, tablets, etc. The durable fabric (I spill a lot), and padded shoulder strap are a huge bonus for me…I have to haul my laptop to work daily. You can order yours here, and it will ship out to you later this month or early next month. It worked beautifully with my Macbook Pro!

Enjoy your morning, and I’ll be back later this week with my take on lemonade.:)

Photography: S. Jackson

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