Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Hello, ladies! And Happiest of Halloweens to you all!

A few ghoulish confessions for your day today:

1) I confess that...I'm obsessed with Pandora's fun little Halloween song mixes! If you have a Pandora account, (and you totally should), check out the Hipster Halloween mix...so fun!

2) I confess that...One of my very favorite Halloween movies? Um, that'd be Disney Channel's made-for-TV classic, Halloweentown. Yes. That's right. Okay, so not exactly the most intense of Halloween movies, but hey - I enjoy it ; )

3) I confess that...y'all better get ready to see a few thousand photos of my kid dressed up as Red Riding Hood on Monday! We won't be able to take her trick-or-treating tonight, (we are heading to Central AR for my great grandma's funeral, which is early tomorrow morning), but we will be taking her to a fun Halloween event on Saturday where she'll get to show off her outfit! I plan on taking LOTS of photos.

Above, a tiny preview : ) Ari (our big German Shepherd) is going to be her "Big, Not-So-Bad Wolf" and actually has a costume himself. Can't wait to see the two of them in full get-up on Saturday.

Okay girls, short and sweet! We are trying to get on the road at noon sharp, so I'm going to start getting us packed. Y'all have a fun and safe Halloween weekend!


    An InLinkz Link-up


THE Most Perfect Fall Boot

Sweater via SheInside // Sunnies here // Scarf via Heart & Home Collection // Jeans via Destination Maternity // Socks via Target (in leopard) // Try to Explain Boots in whiskey c/o Riffraff // purse (Prada Saffiano Tote in caramel), similar here and here

I'm sure you've heard all you care to hear about boots thus far this fall. (Or, maybe you're like me and can't get enough. Either way.) But girls, these are just too darn good not to share.

My hand to the heavens, these are my most favorite boots I've ever, ever owned, (and I've owned eleventy million.)

33 week bump problems: when your necklace won't hang straight down because your baby belly is in the way. 

I also find it coincidental that these are called the Try to Explain boot because it's hard to put into words what makes them so great, only that the subtle heel, rich color and soft leather check off every one of my qualifications when it comes to boot-buying.

Oh, and at the price point they're listed, you can still afford to buy groceries this week. Holla.

Take a gander at the Try to Explain boots and all the other cute shoe offerings available at Riffraff. Oh, and if you do decide to make a purchase, use the code BLONDE to get yourself a nifty 10% off.


Video Tutorial: {How I Curl My Hair}

As promised last week, I filmed a video tutorial of my hair curling technique for you ladies. Nothing fancy, just a basic video of me...well...using a curling iron.

A few things before you watch:

1) As I say in the video, I think the way my finished style looks has more to do with the way my hair stylist cuts my hair than anything. If you have long hair, (my length or longer), I'd suggest asking your stylist for some long(ish) layers to help lighten up the weight of your hair in the front, which will help in the styling process.

2) It's all about the iron. If you haven't shelled out the $40 for a Hot Tools curling iron yet, do yourself a favor and make the purchase. Hot Tools just makes a better iron.

3) I'm not a fan of the curling wands. I tried a friend's a couple of times and I prefer the old style with the clamp. This would work just fine with a wand, though.

Products mentioned in the video

You can find a complete list of the other products I use on my hair, including shampoo and conditioner, on this page.


Another email topic that frequently comes up: baby bangs and baby sideburns and how I dealt with this strange postpartum phenomenon.

I'll start by saying, I didn't avoid it, (and am still dealing with it a bit), but I didn't get it too badly. I think one thing was instrumental in that: Davines MELU Heat Protecting Shield. I used this stuff religiously both before and after Caroline was born. It helped to put a halt to breakage and speed up the re-growth process.

(A lot of people think the short postpartum baby hairs are from breakage alone, but it's actually new hair coming in and, sometimes, subsequently breaking off due to heat styling. See? Learning new things daily. That's what we do here on this highly educational blog.)


Thanks for watching me curl my hair and thanks for reading this blog. It shocks the heck outta me at how many of you take the time to read this little piece of the internet daily and I sincerely appreciate that.


A Beautiful Bundle of Fall: {DIY featuring The Neat Nook!}

Photo is property of The Neat Nook blog

Hi, girls! You all are in a for a treat today from one of my very favorite creative people and personal mentors, Kate from The Neat Nook!

I have worked with Kate for the past few years at the PR firm where I'm employed. Today, we are both copywriters at the agency, as well as bloggers : ) Kate recently took her decorating, organizing and writing skills and funneled them into The Neat Nook, a resource for all things creative, beautiful and inspiring.

I'm going to stop rambling and introduce you to your next favorite blog, The Neat Nook.

Take it away, Kate!


First, I’d like to say how incredibly honored I am to be a guest on Leslie’s blog! As you all realize, she’s beyond amazing, which left me beyond excited at the chance to post a little something special.

I know how much you all love beautiful things. Who doesn't? So I wanted to share a project that will help you dress up your entryway (or special nook in your home) that’s beautiful, simple and affordable. That’s the trifecta of ALL decorating projects, IMO.

All you’ll need:

       3-4 bunches of wheat
       A pretty vase with a fairly small opening at the top
       Tan rubber band or string
       Fabric ribbon for your fabulous finish

Here’s what you’ll want to do:

1.   Neatly gather all of the wheat into one bunch. The amount of wheat you’ll need will depend on the size of the opening of your vase.

2.   Secure the bundle with a rubber band or string. I used raffia because I had some handy. A rubber band works great, too.

Photo from The Neat Nook

3.   Next is what I call the “fan & grab.” Twist the bundle from the middle, so the tips and tops fan out. I like to think this gives volume to your bouquet – kinda like what teasing does for your hair. Then squeeze the ends together so it will fit easily into your vase.

4.   Do a quick height check next to your vase. Cut the ends of the wheat, if needed.

5.   Place the wheat inside the vase, then fluff and arrange.

6.   Add a pretty bow around the vase to add some cuteness – and also hide the string or rubber band. Being from the south, I’m all about the bow. Make those babies big and proud. If you need help with this, I’ll have a quick lesson on my blog next week.

I mean, how simple is that? Have fun pulling this together, and I hope you’ll share pictures of how yours turned out. I also hope you’ll check out my blog at www.theneatnook.com for more ideas to make your life beautiful, organized and creative!


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

It's Friday and that, my friends, is never a bad thing. It's the time of the week where we dish, vent and spill. Ready to get to it? Me too.

1) I confess that it dawned on me yesterday that we only have about seven weeks of this pregnancy left...and I cried. I'm not sad that it's nearly over at all, (although I have really enjoyed it), but I think the reality of all the stuff I still have left to do just hit me like a ton of bricks. It occurred to me at 2:30 a.m. that I hadn't yet ordered Ainsley a car seat. This then sent me into a frenzy of thinking of all the other things I hadn't gotten her yet. (A changing pad for her dresser...that we still haven't ordered, either. Or the much-needed black-out curtains. Or a second baby monitor. Or new tubes for the breast pump.) And just like that, I was sitting at our breakfast table scrawling frantic lists until the wee hours of the morning.


You know, totally rational and very important thoughts to have in the middle of the friggin' night. (I believe they call this Losing One's Shiz.)

After a little more sleep and a good, strong cup of coffee this morning, all was right with the world again.

Besides, a pregnancy just isn't a pregnancy without at least one good hormone-filled meltdown.

2) I confess that I have been craving (and eating) frozen Eggo waffles...in their frozen state. No, I don't mean I crave the toasted or warmed ones, I mean I've been eating two of the whole grain waffs right outta the freezer every morning like a teething baby. Strangest and most absurd pregnancy craving to-date.

3) I confess that ne'er a day goes by that I don't embarrass myself in some form or fashion. We bought a more family-friendly car, (an SUV, actually), on Wednesday night and when the salesman handed me the keys to the new ride, I walked out the door and walked straight over to...my old car. I had gotten as far as opening the door when Stephen started laughing and brought it to my attention that we had to leave that one at the dealership. Good lord.

Alright, enough of that. I'm ready to hear your confessions this week. What have you got for me?

P.S. - Happy 30th birthday to the love 'o my life! Honey, you will always be the funniest, best-looking, most-Tebow-esque, most-Cutler-esque, most sarcastic, most charming and most enjoyable-to-be-around guy in the room. And, I'm proud to call you mine. Thanks for being born.


    An InLinkz Link-up


Updates on Stuff You May Be Curious About

The fact that this post title ends in a preposition is going to drive me crazy, but it sounded too stuffy to title it "Updates on Stuff of which You May Be Curious". I just wanted to acknowledge that in writing because, well, I'm a wee bit tightly wound concerning grammar and such. 

Home Tour
I've been trying like the dickens to get our house assembled enough to take you guys on a home tour, but I just haven't had the time. I've been trying to wrap up things at work, get what's left of our things unpacked and stored in the attic, plan a first birthday party and a 30th birthday party (my husband's birthday - tomorrow!), begin Christmas shopping -- I'll be out of commission due to the C-section in the weeks leading up to, so I'm doing it now -- and basically just keep my head above water while I finish out this pregnancy. 

I'm still in search of art for the living room and kitchen, as well as a new comforter for the master bedroom because ours is shot. As soon as I can finish up those details and have a chance to take some photos, I'll let y'all come on in. I promise!

So, all that to say, our home tour may be a Christmas home tour (or winter home tour) instead of a fall one, but by golly, I'm determined to finally show y'all where we live. I love our little abode; we worked really hard for this house and I'm so proud of it.  

My MIL is going to help decorate it  for Christmas and she is a living, breathing, southern version of Martha Stewart, at least when it comes to holiday-i-fying a house. (However, she's never been to prison for insider trading. Do y'all remember when that happened to M-Stew? I still laugh about seeing tabloid photos of her in a prison jumpsuit, collecting pine cones out in the jail yard. I think her stint in the pokey made me love her more.)

Our Second Kid Will Have a Nursery, (or At Least A Crib and Bedding)
In other decorating news, Ainsley has a crib (!!) She won't be sleeping in a milk crate, after all ; ) We ended up going with a slightly different model than the Pottery Barn Taryn crib after we learned a different style converted into a larger toddler bed, (read: more miles out of one bed.) We are putting it together this weekend and I'm so excited!

I also just ordered bedding. This bedding. I love it and I'm pretty sure Ains will, too.

Hair Curling Video Tutorial
I filmed a hair curling how-to for you ladies. If you've got long hair, be sure to tune in late next week, (probably Thursday), and check it out! I think it would definitely work for shorter hair with a few modifications. I'm no pro, but the method I'll demonstrate works best for me.

I've updated my "Products I Love" page
If you've been unable to sleep due to wondering what kind of concealer I use, you can finally rest easy. On this nice little page, you'll find a complete list of the mess I use on my face and hair, as well as tools like my favorite curling iron and hair dryer. If you've been hankering to add to your make-up collection or hair product vault, check it out

And if not, it's sure to help you doze off if you've been battling insomnia. 

Please note: If you have questions about how I apply any of the products, please leave a comment at the bottom of the Products I Love page. I try to answer emails promptly, but these days, that's the best way to get a fast answer to your question. I'll reply back on the page, so look for a response within a few days.  


The Duster Cardigan and Why You Need One

Oh, duster cardigan. Where have you been all my life, dear friend? You cover all the right places and give the perfect amount of attitude to the classic jeans 'n' heels ensemble. (And, you make me feel taller!)

Really, you're what I've always been looking for and never knew it.


And friends, the duster is just what you've always been looking for, too.

Duster cardigan c/o Savoir-Faire (sold in-store, but very similar here on their website) // tank c/o Savoir-Faire (sold in-store, but I love this one, too!) // jeans via Destination Maternity // heels here 

Maybe you've purchased one of these trendy jacket things this season or maybe you haven't. Point is, fall and cooler weather are here, and you need a duster cardigan, like, yesterday. My girls at Savoir-Faire have quite the collection of amazing duster cardigans.

Like this one...

And this one...

Oh, and this one.

My favorite way to wear it? Over a tank, paired with jeans and worn with heels or booties. It works for the office or out to dinner. I found mine at SF in-store, but they have several very similar online.

Want to spice it up? Put it over a mini shift dress with some over-the-knee boots. Instantly sexy without being too crazy, since the length of the duster leaves lots to the imagination. See? It's the perfect fall item.

Couple things to keep in mind with duster jackets:

1) Make sure to pair it with a shoe with at least a little bit of heel to it. I'm not saying you need to run out and purchase a pair of 6-inch stilettos; something as subtle as a wedge bootie, like this one, will give you all the height you need to pull off the duster.

2) Make sure it fits around the shoulders and arms - not tightly, but enough that it's a little snug. Nothing sadder than a beautiful girl (like you) pulling at her top or jacket all night because it's too big. The duster jacket should fit (somewhat) around the shoulders, then flow around the waist, thighs and butt.

The other rule?

WEAR it. Walk with confidence and stand tall. It's a statement piece. So make a friggin' statement.


That's it, ladies. That's all I've got today. Get yourself a duster cardigan and, if you do, show me how you style yours on Instagram. My username is @ablondeambition and I'd love to see what you do with yours!


Seeing Stripes

I've said it before and I'll say it again - fall has to be one of the best times to dress a baby bump. At 31 weeks, I've loved living in sweaters, leggings, fall dresses and riding boots, a fun alternative to ballet flats and great for chasing a (very) mobile kiddo!

I was overjoyed to find that this little black & white striped shift dress, (courtesy of my friend Megan, owner of Hazel's Haven), not only accommodated, but flattered the bump. Trust me, after being pregnant for what will be nearly two years in a row, it's like Christmas when you find an item that just makes you feel, well, pretty.

Dress (c/o Hazel's Haven // Necklace (c/o/ CoraLee Boutique) // Moto jacket via H&M last year, similar here (less than $50!) and here // Sandal-booties via Target // lip color in Plum Velour by Revlon here
I wanted to give it some edge and really showcase the wide stripes (very much "in" this season), so I paired it with a leather moto jacket, my favorite black sandal-booties and lots of fun jewelry. The result? A comfy, yet on-trend answer to a dressier fall maternity look.


I've always only worked with a handful of stores (most local) that I really, truly believe offer something different to their customers. Hazel's Haven is one of those. So, what makes them different? Megan carries only a few of each piece, meaning you won't see 20 other women in the Starbucks line wearing your cardigan ; )

How to shop Hazel's Haven

1) The best way to shop HH? Instagram, babes. Hop on regularly and check them out at @hazelshaven to scope out pieces every day. Just leave a comment or even call the store at (479) 242-4295 if you see something that tickles your fancy, and they'll make sure you get what you need.

2) You can also check out Hazel's Haven on Facebook, too!

3) Or, if you happen to live in NWA or the River Valley, they're located in Fort Smith at 908 S. Greenwood Road. Stop in and see 'em and you'll fall in love, just like I did.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

It's Friday and we're confessing on this blog! Let's just jump right in.

1) I confess that American Horror Story with this whole clown plot line is almost too much for me to handle. Stephen was traveling for work this week, so he was gone Wednesday night. Like an idiot, I opted to watch it anyway. I just can't NOT watch AHS when a new episode debuts.

Big mistake. Shows featuring demented clowns should never, ever be watched alone. I don't think I slept a wink that night. Thank the Lord he is back now and I can resume getting some shut-eye.

2) I confess that I'm going to give these pumpkin topiaries a try this weekend. I wanted to do something pretty for our porch this year - something that could stay up well past Halloween. I think these fit the bill. I purchased some plastic garden urns from Amazon and bought some foam pumpkins at Hob Lobb. IF, (and that's a gigantic "if"), they turn out decently, I'll post a step-by-step on here. Wish me luck!

Beautiful photo via Sondra Lynn at Home blog

These gorgeous topiaries and this photo came from the blog Eclectically Vintage

3) I confess that our city just got a new DSW shoe store and it's taking everything in my power not to hop in my car and go over there. I've already purchased some new shoes for fall/winter, so I'm definitely not in need of anything...but man, y'all, it's hard to resist.

4) I confess that I'm pretty much addicted to Guilty by Gucci, this fall. I bought the travel size vial at Sephora, just to see if I liked it well enough to invest in the larger. I do. I really, really do. I wish I had discovered it ages ago, but I'm glad I have it now. I love playing with new fragrances each season, and this one may be the best cold-weather scent I've smelled to-date.

5) I confess that my mom and I are toying with a small business idea - and it's exciting! Naturally, I don't have enough on my plate already, but it's too good to pass up. Hopefully more on this very soon.

Don't you love a vague confession? Ha! Well, friends, what have you got for me?

Talk 'fessy to me!


    An InLinkz Link-up


Buy This - Not That: {October Edition + Blanket Scarf Video Tutorial!}

Lipstick I'm wearing is here. I also use a 1-1/4 inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron

I'm loving the bargain hunting aspect that comes along with this monthly post series. I've scored so many designer look-alike items through research for these posts. Not sure my bank account is thrilled, but my closet is way happy ; )

Behold (!!) My picks for October:

Jessica Simpson Beagan Boot in Bourbon Fudgie ($99) vs. Frye 'Shirley' Over-the-Knee Boot ($478) 

3.1 Phillip Lim Medium Pashli Bag ($825) vs. Ann Taylor Pebbled Signature Crossbody Bag in Taupe Latte ($98)

Tinley Road Pleated Fit-n-Flare Dress ($89) vs. Milly Fit-n-Flare Textured Dress ($450)

Via Spiga Quilted Trapunto-Stitch Leather Jacket ($269) vs. Maurice's Quilted Faux Leather Jacket ($69)


Finally, I wanted to show y'all how I tie my blanket scarf. These babies can be a little bit daunting because, well, they're massive. Hopefully, this will help if you're struggling to tie yours!

Also, I mentioned in the video that I got mine from Heart & Home Collection. Unfortunately, it looks like they're sold out : ( (They do have it in a very pretty red color, though!) CORRECTION: Megan says she still does have some - yippee!! Looky here!

My girls at Riffraff also stocked this scarf, the Mad for Plaid scarf in Multi, last week and, though it's currently sold out, they will be getting more. Simply enter your email address on this page to be notified when they have arrived.

Also, can we please take a minute to appreciate the incredibly moronic look on my face in the still shot of this video? Thanks, YouTube. 

(The lipstick I'm wearing in both photos and the video is called Plum Velour by Revlon and can be found here.)

I'll see you back here tomorrow for Confessional Friday!

P.S. - If anyone else knows of stores that have the blanket scarf in stock, leave a comment telling where! I know lots of ladies that are still looking to get their hands on one, so I thought that might be helpful!!


Happy First Birthday, Caroline Rose!

It's surreal to be writing this post for our Caroline; we now have a one-year old! Exactly one year ago today at 8:30 a.m., Caroline Rose made her debut. She was 6 lbs., 9 oz. of pure perfection, with a head full of raven-black hair and big, blue eyes.

As I sit here and think about the previous year, I'm blown away. Blown away by the amount of love, joy and excitement that she brings into our lives, but also blown away by how much she has taught us. There truly is no learning experience quite like being a parent.

I've learned:

-A tiny human has the power to make you cry, make you laugh uncontrollably, make you terrified, make you joyous, make you slow down, make you re-prioritize, make you think you're losing your mind while simultaneously increasing your ability to remember the most intricate of details during special moments, holidays and milestones. (For instance, I can't tell you what shirt I wore yesterday, but I can tell you exactly what song was playing on the iPod during the car ride when we brought Caroline home from the hospital. I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers.

-How to change pee diapers, poo diapers and POO diapers. Yes, there's a difference. Moms and dads, y'all know.

-That trying to dress a 12-month-old is much like dressing a heavily caffeinated octopus. Though most days, I think the octopus might be easier.

-There is no love and no connection like that one you'll have with your child. None. Period.

-Baby girls are a curse on shopping budgets. (But man, are they fun to dress up!)

-You'll have days where you do it and do it well, the whole motherhood thing. You'll also have days where you just barely survive. But you will. And the good days far outweigh the tough ones.

-How to pack a diaper bag in 5.7 seconds.

-That working outside the home whilst' raising a baby isn't for the faint of heart. Neither is staying home with a kiddo all day. Point being: mommas work hard no matter what they do from 9-5. Call and thank yours today.

-Want to see a man turn to mush? Place his daughter in his arms. Then stand back and watch as he melts into a puddle on the ground.

And lots, lots, lots more.

Yes, babies teach us a great many things. Above all, they expand our hearts and fill it with more love than we could ever fathom. That's what Caroline has done for us. It has been, without question, the best year of our lives. I cannot wait to see what Year Two has in store for us.


Taken yesterday afternoon, 10/13/14

Caroline Rose,

We love you more than life itself. In fact, darling girl, you ARE life itself. Please never lose your bright smile or that light in your eyes. You have a gift for bringing joy into the lives of others and we think - your daddy and I - that one day, you'll use that gift to impact the world in amazing ways. Don't ever forget that God has a very special plan for your life. And, little one, if you ever lose your way, He is only a prayer away.

Thank you for giving us the best year, Sweet Caroline Rose. The pleasure has been ours.


Confessional Friday: {Link-Up}

Hi, guys! Busy, busy with work, (I'm sitting on a conference call while I type this), and party planning stuff for Caroline's first birthday tomorrow, so I'm just going to leave you with the tool to link up if you've written a post.

A momma's work (at home, at the office, at...anywhere) is never done.

Y'all have a great weekend and follow along on my Instagram (username is ablondeambition) for a few fun pics of the party tomorrow : )


    An InLinkz Link-up


Three Things

I have a to-do list about four miles long today, but Caroline is taking a nap, so I'm going to sit here, eat my lunch and type.

1) American Horror Story: Freakshow starts tonight, friends. If you're an AHS junkie like I am, then surely you're on pins and needles, too. What's funny is that I have to watch this show with all of our lamps and lights illuminated, the dog in my lap and my finger poised over the mute button for silencing jumpy sound effects during tense scenes. Why do I put myself through the anxiety that comes with watching this crazy show? Because Ryan Murphy is a genius. That's why.

2) So, this happened: Last Saturday morning, I took a ginormous Tervis Tumbler of coffee out the door with me, bound for Hobby Lobby to round up some party supplies. The FedEx man pulled up as I was getting into my car, so I sat my coffee on the top of my car and met him halfway up our driveway to retrieve a package.

I don't know if it was the excitement of a solo trip to HL or if I had temporary loss of short-term memory, but I hopped in my car and began driving down the street. There was a group of landscapers working on a new house in the subdivision and they were waving manically at me as I pulled up to the end of our street. I thought, "Wow, they're so friendly for this early on a Saturday morning!"

It never dawned on me that they were trying to tell me to get the freaking half gallon of coffee off the top of my car until I pulled out onto the highway and...wham-oh.

Milky coffee went everywhere. All over my windshield, my side windows and even somewhat on the car behind me.

Want to feel like a moron?

Now you know how.

3) I need these. That is all. (And they're less than $30. Score.)