Shop Small, Y'all

So, you've probably heard that some stores may be having some sales or something on Friday. Dunno what that's about... ; ) But seriously, if you plan to do shopping of any sort this holiday season, whether this weekend or later on, I highly encourage you to scope out the stores of some of my friends below.

So why give your business to these small shops this year? If I may, a few reasons:

1) They are ALL women-owned businesses. (Can we say #GirlBoss?)

2) They all have a web or social media presence, allowing you to shop whether you live in Northwest Arkansas (like me), or Timbuktu (like Timbuktuians).

3) They are genuinely nice people you'll be supporting. (A bit of insight: I'm picky about who I work with and promote on this blog. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather buy from people who do right by their customers any day of the week.)

These women and their boutiques are the real deal. So go forth and shop your pants off.

If you haven't shopped from my gals at Riffraff before, the holidays would be an excellent time to do so! Kirsten and her girl gang are breaking records (numbers, not the vinyl kind) and taking the retail world by storm. And the coolest part? The flagship store is still located right smack dab in the middle of Fayetteville.

Riffraff has stocked some darn cute items (per usual) to keep us all in style and on budget this Christmas. Best of all, you can create your own wish list on their site and make sure you get everything YOU want this year.

Find them on Instagram at shopriffraff

I have been collaborating with Maude Boutique on this blog for FIVE years now. Five. That's longer than a presidency.

I can tell you that every year, I'm blown away with their merchandise. (Seriously, Becca and team never disappoint.) The items in stock at Maude currently are no exception. Last year, Maude expanded their offerings to other gift items outside the realm of just apparel and accessories. Don't know what the heck to buy for someone? Call them, hit 'em up on Instagram or stop in and they'll help you select something fabulous for your recipient!

Find them on Instagram at shopmaude and keep an eye out for a 'Very Merry Maude Gift Guide' coming exclusively to this blog soon!

Two words that comes to mind when I think of SF? High style. Tess and the ladies keep their customers looking amazingly chic, but with price points that still allow you to pay your electric bill. If it's big city style - you know, the stuff you see in Lucky every month - Savoir-Faire is your ticket.
I'm loving all of the super fun pieces they just added to their Party Shop! (Takes all the guess work out of planning your holiday looks, doesn't it?) And, their sweaters...my personal favorite section. So many, many options that would tickle anyone on your gift list to pieces.

Find them on Instagram at shopsavoirfaire

If it's a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry you crave, please get yourself over to Southern Vintage. Stop in on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. or make a private appointment to stop by on another day of the week! Karey has so many gorgeous pieces that will satisfy any jewelry lover - and for unbelievable prices.
Southern Vintage is located in downtown Bentonville at 123 S Main St., Suite 3. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook for daily pics and inspiration. Stop in and make your wish list or get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

Find them on Instagram at southernvintagebentonville

If you live in Fort Smith or the River Valley, you're probably already familiar with this little gem of a boutique. And if you haven't met HH yet? Well, it's high time. Meagan carries only a few of each piece, so you know that wherever you go, you won't have that awkward "she's wearing my outfit" moment ; )

Meagan and her team at Hazel's Haven can help you choose something special for your friends and family in store OR through their Instagram account. Yep - even if you live in another city or state, you can shop their Instagram account and Facebook page to have a little piece of Haven (see what I did there?) sent to your door!

Find them on Instagram at hazelshaven


Baby/Blogging/I'm So Emo Update: 
I've reached a point in this pregnancy that I've been dreading: the miserable point. I never felt like this during my pregnancy with Caroline, but I also didn't have a toddler underfoot then either. Physically, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I wake up exhausted, ache in places I never thought possible, can no longer wear real shoes -- we're meeting with my O.B. about this crazy swelling tomorrow first thing -- and frankly, I just find myself overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I still have left to do before this baby gets here. 

This morning, Caroline was standing at my feet crying and when I went to pick her up, my back just sort of gave out. I couldn't physically do it. Try explaining to a toddler why momma can't scoop her up and hold her like always. After I got her situated with her toys in the living room, I just sat at my breakfast table and bawled the ugly cry.

We are also hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year and the thought of cleaning house and doing food prep brought on an eruption of tears. (This isn't meant to garner sympathy or scare anyone away from having a baby one day (ha!), but I try to keep it real.)

I know that this will all be worth it when she gets here, but man - I'm tired. Real tired.

With that said, I'm going to take the remainder of the week and weekend off from blogging and focus on our family, our home and my ever-growing to-do list. Unless craziness ensues, I fully intend to be back next week.


Anyway, y'all have a good night and a very happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful for your readership and your support on this little platform every day.

See y'all next week!


Gifts Under $30: {No, Really!}

There's nothing that makes me more frustrated than when a blog, magazine, website, etc. brags about their "affordable" holiday gift guide, then you click over, get to reading and discover that the cheapest thing on the list is a $190 coaster set.

This isn't that holiday gift guide. 

Better yet, nothing on here looks like it's less than $30, so they'll think you spent a lot more. (Little do they know...)

1. Pave Pearl 360 Studs in rose gold - $28      2. Faux Fur Infinity Scarf in grey (also available in cream!) - $24     3. Michael Kors-inspired Titanium Crystal Accent Chronograph Bracelet Watch in rose gold (includes FREE shipping!) - $20     4. Women's Cierra Slide Slippers in gray (also available in cream!) - $16.99    5. Pinch Provisions 'Checkmate' Mini Emergency Kit for Her in red plaid - $18 (includes FREE shipping!)

6. Threshold Plaid Throw in navy - $19.99 (buy-one-get-one 50% today!)     7. L'Artisan Parfumeur 'The Perfume Box'  - $20      8. Double Diamante-Trimmed Faux Pearl Cocktail Ring in gold - $6 (great for an under-$10 gift exchange party!)     9. Diagonal Rib Beanie in pink (also comes in gray!) - $26     10. Monogrammed Tassel Bracelet in black (comes in 14 other colors!) - $24.99

Happy under-$30 gifting, gals! And happy Monday.


You can stay up-to-date on all things baby (and otherwise) by following me at ablondeambition

P.S. - Thanks for all the support and encouragement on Instagram (username: ablondeambition) on Saturday's baby update pic! We survived the weekend without a trip to Labor & Delivery and, although I'm still having contractions, they slowed down enough to stay put at home on bed rest, thank goodness. We go back to the doctor for another non-stress test at 1:30 today and we'll get a better idea of when my O.B. thinks we should take her.

Our goal is to try to keep Ainsley in there as long as possible, but at least until 37 weeks, which we'll be on Thursday. She's weighing in average-to-above average, (quite a bit bigger than her sister was at this point!), so they think even if she does come soon, she'll be very healthy. But still, I'd prefer her to grow a little more and get those lungs nice and developed. I'm confident that with our doctor's help and advice, we'll get her here healthy.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Hey, hey! Since I didn't do a bumpdate this week, I've themed mine "pregnancy confessions.

By the way - we're 36 weeks along as of yesterday! Crazy, right? That went by freaking fast. Let's hope these next couple weeks do also because I'm ready to burn these maternity pants.

Taken yesterday at 36 weeks- hey, hey, Ainsley girl!

Here goes:

1) I confess that the entirety of my Christmas shopping this year will be done online. At this point, it hurts to stand, bend and move in any shape or fashion. And battling holiday shopping crowds with nine-months-worth of pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins? Nope. Not happening. {Hello, Amazon!}

2) I confess that I miss having ankles. Holy fluid retention, y'all. I never had this issue with Caroline until after the C-section, but it's so different this time. They look somewhat normal when I wake up in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, they're crazy huge. My mom came up for a couple days earlier this week while Stephen was traveling for work, (just in case I "popped"), and I had to have her help me pull  pry my riding boots off Tuesday night - ha! No more tall boot wearing for this girl until after the baby. Booties, heels and flats only.

3) I confess that while my mom was staying with Caroline and me this week, she made a huuuuuge dish of banana pudding and I singlehandedly ate the entire 9 x 9 pan in three nights. Oops.

4) I confess that I will have been "with child" an estimated 560 days of the past two years by the time this is all said and done. I'm pretty sure my uterus would like to punch me.

5) I confess that the only thing that makes me feel slightly more at ease about that fact is knowing that the Asiatic elephant has to endure a 609 day gestation period. I hope those momma elephants get some reeeeeally nice push presents.

6) I confess that all of the not-so-fun parts of late term pregnancy are immediately forgotten when I go to get Caroline out of her crib in the mornings. Her smile and excitement for seeing me and starting her day just make my heart happy. Parenthood/mommyhood is the single most incredible thing, and Caroline has been such a great reminder of the how amazing the little gift at the end truly is.

Y'all go out and have the best weekend in the history of ever. And if you can't do that, at least have a really good one.

P.S. - Blogging may be a little more scarce next week as I tie up some loose ends around the house/with work/with Thanksgiving prep. (Next week is my last week at work, plus I also very intelligently decided I'd host Thanksgiving this year. Because that seemed like a fabulous idea back when I was 10 weeks pregnant and believed in unicorns.)

I promise in advance that I will not have fallen off the face of the earth, (unless, of course, I do.) I will, however, be posting regularly on Instagram throughout the week, if you want to follow my very riveting life in pictures. My username is ablondeambition.


    An InLinkz Link-up


Buy This - Not That: {Make-Up Edition}

You asked and here it is, chicas!

I was able to locate every single "bargain" product at one or more of the stores below. If they don't have the products in stock in your city at one of the stores listed below, I linked them for you to places you can get them online for the exact same price : )

I'll preface this by saying, I think some brands/products are worth splurging on if you can (i.e. the Estee Lauder Double-Wear Foundation.) To me, some formulations just cannot be matched and that foundation is one of 'em. However, I tried to scope out as many awesome comparable products as I could find...and find I did!

Dior Diorific Illuminating Pressed Powder ($77.78) vs. Physicians Formula Nude Wear™Glowing Nude Powder ($14.95) 

Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat-top Multipurpose Brush ($15.79) vs. It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Foundation Buffing Brush ($48)

Charlotte Tillbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Glastonberry ($36) vs. Loreal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire Liquid Lipstick in Plum Adagio ($9.99)

Essie Luxeffect in Rock at the Top ($8.50) vs. Deborah Lippmann glitter nail polish in Boom Boom Pow ($20)

Mac Blot Powder in Light ($26) vs. Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent ($3.99)

indeed Laboratories Hydraluron Moisture Serum ($19.99) vs. Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate ($84)

Bobby Brown Creamy Concealer Kit in Ivory/Pale Yellow ($35) vs. NYX Full Coverage Concealer in Yellow ($5)

Revlon ColorStay Shadowlinks in Copper ($2.99) vs. Makeup Forever Artist Shadow in Pinky Beige (21.00)

NARS Bronzer Duo in Orgasm/Laguna ($42) vs. e.l.f. Contouring Blush & Bronzer Duo in St. Lucia ($3) 


I think we all deserve need to treat ourselves now and then on a cashmere sweater, expensive perfume, luxe handbag or department store facial cream -- hey, we're women and we work darn hard -- but, it's always an amazing feeling to find a bargain. Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed researching/writing it!

See y'all tomorrow. Be good or be good at it, ladies.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Let the chorus of angels sing; it's Friday, gals! Why waste time? We have a weekend to get to, so let's confess:

1) I confess that I think I should have been more specific when I asked Mama Nature for "cooler" weather. The highs this week and for the foreseeable future are in the low thirties and upper twenties. In November. In Arkansas. We're usually wearing short sleeves at Thanksgiving, so this has taken everyone by surprise. (Yeah, those outfit pics from the Shabby Apple post? It was 27 degrees when I snapped those on Tuesday afternoon. Talk about freezing one's booty off in the name of fashion.)

2) I confess that I'm thisclose to breaking out the Christmas decorations. I don't want to wait too much longer, just in case little lady Ainsley decides to make an early entrance. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do yet, but this pretty pic I found on Pinterest might serve as my inspiration. My MIL is going to help me decorate, so I'm sure she'll have some awesome suggestions on how to recreate this look.

Photo and burlap skirt tutorial via The Frugal Homemaker

3) I confess that I'm in loooooove with this sweater overlay that I bought on mega-sale from Ann Taylor. Outfit post coming next week, but I wanted to spread the word today because it's on super sale right now, (and won't be by Monday!)

Sizing reference: 
I'm 5'4" and I went with a small. Plus, Ann Taylor usually runs pretty big, so I'd size down if you choose to buy it, too. Order now and get an additional 40% off of the SALE price. (Code is FRIENDS40

I styled it with this turtleneck in the navy stripe from Old Navy (also on major sale...like, $13...yeah...) Anyway, both the sweater and the turtleneck are one heck of a bargain at a sliver of the original prices. Tip: the Ann Taylor sweater is only on sale until Monday and sizes are going fast. Trust me, you will want it!

Sizing reference:
I went with a medium in the navy stripe for the turtleneck to accommodate the bump now, but also purchased the burgundy in a small to wear after the baby. For $13, I figured why not get a couple of colors?

4) I confess that I've never smelled a more perfect candle than the Capri Blue Volcano candle. (If you've ever been in Anthropologie, it's the one they're usually burning.) I'm not quite ready to bust out the holiday-scented candles yet, so it's a perfect transition scent for fall-to-winter: deep, luxurious and warm, but really clean. 


P.S. - I LOVED the suggestion that a couple of you had for doing a Buy This - Not That drugstore make-up edition! I did some recon at Target and Walgreen's yesterday, so stay tuned for that next week. Let's just say I even found a couple new favorites for my own collection for a whooooole lot cheaper than I was paying at department stores. 

Your turn. Confess away, my loves!


    An InLinkz Link-up


35 Week Bumpdate: {Baby GIRL Sisti #2}

Just a handful of weeks left until we see our girl. (Insert wide-eyed Emoji face with the touchdown hands Emoji right beside it.)

An outtake from yesterday's outfit post. Hey there, Ainsley Cate!

As enjoyable as the pregnancy has been, (and I sincerely mean that), I'm ready to meet our Ainsley Catherine, (or Ainsley Cate, as we've been calling her), and see this precious girl face-to-face. It's funny, but we have absolutely no idea what she looks like. We saw so many facial shots of Caroline when she was in utero that we had a pretty good idea of who she favored before she ever made her entrance. Short of one profile shot at our 20-week appointment, Ainsley has been covering her face with her hands at every appointment.

Last week the u/s tech at our high-risk OB was able to get a shot of her from the front for a brief second, which was just long enough for us to see that she has her daddy's big, puffy lips : ) And, we are told she has hair like her big sister did. We shall see!

A few fun facts about life in week 35 with little AC:

-She's weighing in around 4 lbs. and 10 oz., and around 18 inches in length

-Ainsley enjoys break dancing on momma's bladder every night from about 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

-She gets the hiccups at least twice a day. I used to love that feeling, (and still do), but now it hurts, ha!

-I started getting all of her little clothes put into her closet on Tuesday night. Most belonged to Caroline, but there are definitely a few new things in there, too!

-I bought newborn dipes again this week...so surreal.

-My ankles have been swelling every night this week. Didn't have this problem at all with Caroline until the very last week, but I haven't been so lucky this time. What can I say? Sitting down is just rare these days.

-My normal bras stopped fitting this week. I mean, woah. (In the voice of Billy Crystal, "Helloooooooo, ladies!") On that note, I'll be making a little detour to Vicki's Secret after my appointment this morning. And what I'll be buying probably won't come from their Very Sexy line.

-I make very glamorous grunting noises when I get out of bed.

-I have been using Ruby, our dachshund, as a heating pad this week to relieve aches and pains. She gets to lay on the bump, I stay nice and toasty, everybody wins.


Stay tuned for week 36...


Be a Gem

Jewel tones epitomize fall, don't they? From deep navy to burgundy and emerald, these shades look good on anyone with any skin tone. The best thing about gem-toned hues is that they always add color to your complexion, even if you're as pale as me : )

This navy blue Anytime Wrap Top from Shabby Apple is about the best thing ever. It's non-maternity, but at nearly 35 weeks, the design and cut made it a home-run for my baby-bumpy silhouette. It's a classic piece that's going to be a staple in my fall rotation now and well after Ainsley arrives.

The breakdown:

Felt Floppy Hat in Burgundy
Anytime Wrap Top in Navy Blue c/o Shabby Apple
Tassel necklace via Evereve last year (similar here and here)
Fitight leggings in Dark Green
Boot socks here

Try to Explain Boots in Whiskey c/o Riffraff (sign up for re-stock notify here!)
Prada Saffiano Tote in Caramel (similar bags here and here)

(Sizing reference: I'm 5'4" and wearing a size 4 in the wrap top.)

I like to pair these colors with gold jewelry instead of silver because I feel like it balances out the coolness of the jewel tones. But, it's your world, so go with silver if that's more your thing.

For more outfit inspiration, you can follow Shabby Apple on Instagram (username: shabbyapple). I like to keep up with them for daily outfit ideas, which is great when I'm feeling a little uninspired - easy to do when the weather gets colder!

Until tomorrow, gals--


Buy This - Not That: {November Edition}

Back by popular demand, it's Buy This, Not That time! This has quickly become my absolute favorite post of each month, and it seems y'all love a good deal as much as I do. See? That's why we'd be great friends in real life. (Birds of a bargain-hunting feather, we flock together.)

Enough blabbering from this blonde. Here are my picks for the month of November:

Boys Club Sweater in Black & White ($58) vs. Rag & Bone Talia Plunging V-Neck Sweater ($395)

Leopard Fold-Over Convertible Clutch ($34.93) vs. Dune Faux Pony Leather Clutch ($123.18)

Michael Kors Faux-Fur Long Vest ($175) vs. Faux Fur Vest in Ivory ($58 + FREE shipping) 

Tessa Textured Midi Skirt in Black ($30) vs. Preen Line Quilted Skirt ($593)

TIBI Evergreen Plaid Scarf ($175) vs. Buffalo Plaid Infinity Scarf in Evergreen/Blue ($32) 

Sigerson Morrison Janika Over the Knee Riding Boot ($595) vs. Andora Over the Knee Riding Boot in Black ($149.90 + FREE shipping!)

Crystal Posy Stud Earrings ($28) vs. Ben-Amun Small Crystal Flower Stud ($120)


Now go forth, you bargain-hunting babes and conquer those clearance racks--


Rich Red + Silky Suede

Outfits like today's are exactly why I prefer fall/winter clothing to any other season. The rich colors, the dreamy textiles, the print mixing, the luxe fabrics and the coziness of everything...I'm sorry summer, you just can't compete, sartorially-speaking.

The breakdown:

Sunnies here (less than $10!)
Double Breasted Knit Coat (size small) c/o Maude Boutique
Scuba Maternity T-shirt in Leopard Print (size small), (non-maternity option here!)
Prada Saffiano Tote in caramel (very similar here and here)
Fade to Blue Secret Fit Belly Skinny Jean in Indigo Wash (size LS)
Overjoyed Wedge Bootie c/o Maude Boutique
Necklace purchased at DSW in store last week (very similar here with FREE shipping!)

*I'm 5'4" for sizing reference

I've always liked a rich red, but haven't ever owned a red coat, so this one from Maude won itself a place in my closet. It's a good length, with the hemline falling below the booty, and the sleeve length is perfection.

(Tip: want to elongate your arms and make them appear more slender? Look for sleeves that are cut ever-so-slightly above the wrist, (like half an inch or so), or just roll them up to that length. That's why jackets and shirts on store mannequins often have the sleeves cuffed or rolled juuuuuust so.)

I've been in search of a pair of suede black booties for a while and when the girls at Maude suggested these, I flipped. SO cute and incredibly comfy! I wore them for about six hours last Monday while I was on my feet and they passed the test handily.

Also, if you live in Fayetteville or the Northwest Arkansas area and love Maude as much as I do, be sure to join me at their 7th Birthday Party this Thursday, November 13 from 5-7 p.m. I'll be there hanging out and you should, too!


What color (in terms of clothing) do you most associate with fall? For me, it's this oxblood shade of red, but I want to know yours!