Some days you just want to throw on a princess skirt and twirl around your favorite shop. And that is exactly what I did in this beautiful chiffon maxi by Dainty Jewell’s. I recently discovered the online boutique’s wide selection of modest yet modern styles and fell in love with this ultra-feminine skirt. The Fluttering Fancy Skirt is priced at $64.95 which is a steal for this whimsical staple piece. Each one of their pieces is uniquely elegant and gives a nod to the best fashions of the past and inviting them into the present. While they not only have a large selection of styles, they also respect the different bodies of women and offer several sizes to include every woman. Each piece is created timelessly for women by women. Dainty Jewell’s is definitely a new favorite shop for dress-up occasions when I want something completely different.
Beyond their everyday wear collections they have also expanded their site to include beautiful bridesmaids dresses that can be worn throughout the year. What I love about their bridesmaids pieces is the unique prints and colors. They have cultivated their own styles and stay true to their core values of offering modest and modern pieces.
I hope y’all have a fabulous Monday and check out Dainty Jewell’s unique collection for some classic pieces!
With August quickly approaching, new classes of law students will begin their journey through learning the legal system and jargon that encompasses our country and state. I thought it was an appropriate time to reflect and share my experience this past school year. To be honest, I had to take a few weeks since the ends of finals and return of grades to feel free to discuss my year as a 1L at St. Mary’s University. I finally feel as if I am not reeling from the constant stress of preparing for the next class and balancing a healthy schedule and social life. Everyone told me law school would be hard, and I definitely did not fully appreciate what that meant. Even with my expectations high I was still smacked with the heaps of reading, mind-wracking briefs, and challenges of learning new vocabulary (which was definitely a struggle for me). I have broken down the dimensions of what it was like being a first year law student and hope this rings true to my colleagues and can give some guidance to future 1Ls.
New friends and old friends supporting you through the good and the ugly. There were definitely some days I was not pleasant to be around. I am naturally very shy and tried to blend into the small sea of people. However, this was tough with the Socratic method dragging you out of your shell in front of a roomful of brilliant minds. However, after enduring the tomato colored blushing a dozen times or so I managed tp adjust to the discomfort that is law school and learned that your peers are more than an audience. At least for me, I secretly cheered for anyone called on for the day while simultaneously thinking to myself “thank goodness it’s you and not me.” Usually the things my peers know were things I had struggled to grasp, and things they struggled with were thoughts that may not even even occurred to me.
Throughout the year we watched each other grow and find our voices. Some people who scraped by the first semester lead the class our second semester, and others maintained a steady pace.
Accomplished more reading, writing and public speaking than I ever hoped to do. At the end of this year I was so happy to complete a year that turned out to be tougher than I could have ever imagined.
Moot court was surprisingly a lot of fun. My teammate and I to our own surprise opted-in!
Learning to argue. This may seem obvious, but I actually learned how to craft an argument. One of my best friends recently graduated from law school in England and I remember having discussions with her last summer. I remember thinking to myself how logical she was about everything. She could always look at a situation and point out things I never would have thought of. And while my 1L year of education cannot be compared to her education, I would like to think I have developed some of those analytical skills and no longer allow emotions to drive my arguments.
Age variation. Sometimes I had to step back when I felt overwhelmed and think about all the parents who were enrolled in my same classes. People came from all walks of live. There were students hot out of undergrad, mother’s with three kids and retirees. I went home to a studio apartment to study with my boyfriend and do our best to unwind from the hectic day. But I can’t imagine the strength it took to go home to a family and provide support to them. So go all my fellow 1Ls who are much more responsible than I am!!! You all amaze me!
There is always room for compassion. That’s all.
Dating. After I graduated undergrad, the dating pool dramatically shrunk. People were no longer living in a population of potential love interests. My friends and I often commented on this challenge. But on the first day of law school, people began pairing off. Throughout the year many people’s relationship status changed as they all began to find themselves as future attorneys; some left relationships in the past, others clicked with fellow students or took the next step with their significant others.
New interests.After reading so many cases and taking an assortment of classes, my interests began to widen. All the sudden my apartment lease became a document of fascination, trying to decipher all the legal jargon I signed my year away to without a care.
Yes people get cut!And this was weird. In fact it was the buzz the first week of school back from holiday.
Grades are bittersweet. Strengths get stronger and weaknesses are more pronounced. I was terrified learning that my final exam would make up 100% of my grade for most classes. However, you learn to take each semester in bite-sized chunks and before you know it you are studying for the final. While it can seem overwhelming, the school gave us all the tools needed to learn the material.
Second semester was wayyy harder than first semester. This truly caught me off-guard. After struggling through the first semester I couldn’t imagine enduring much more pressure. But second semester hit me like an fire-hyrdrant on blast.
Juggling 7 doctrinal classes in the Spring, a 30 page brief, moot court, 2 midterms, summer applications and your sanity was “interesting” to say the least. I am not going to lie, time management may have been the most frustrating aspect for me. I learned a lot about myself and how I function happily, and law school did a good job of prohibiting me from doing just that. I no longer had the time to spend on the phone catching up with friends for 30 mins or skype the ones that live far away. I missed time visiting with my family and when I did go home I was consumed with reading or stressing about the next assignment. This often made me feel detached from my favorite people. But alongside my local friends I met other people. I also started my blog which gave me a creative outlet I desperately needed. It forced me to get out and see more of San Antonio and spend time with people who never failed to inspire me. I felt connected to some sort of community other than the law realm.
Humility. You’re going to have your bad days and you’re going to have your good ones too. Triumph and enjoy the goods ones and learn from the bad ones. One thing I quickly learned was not to take anything personal and trying my hardest. Everyone fails at answering a question or completing his or her reading. Trust me there were days I gambled with my assignments for an extra couple hours of sleep.
Emotional cases. Reading the daily cases offered a variety of emotions: curiosity, boredom, anger, apathy, internal conflictions and compassion. I think every student found a few cases throughout the year that really boiled their blood. The cases can go from a contract breach over a cheese manufacturer to a burned toddler in a second. And there are many times you do not agree with the majority opinion. The law is not as clear as I previously thought, it’s often muddled. There were many times I thought a dissenting opinion was much better than the ruling one.
While you may think sacrificing your time, energy and relationships is bad enough, law school also took a little more from my eyesight than I would like to have given. My vision is nowhere near terribl but my once nearly perfect vision has morphed into blurred characters and needed glasses for everyday reading.
But after all this, there are still moments I am surprised I made it this far. It has been much more of a marathon than I ever prepared to partake in, but I have quickly realized my effort are worth it. But without the loving people behind me there would be no way. This summer I have been blessed to work at a local immigration firm and have continued to flex my brain muscles. I’ve met some amazing attorneys whose dedication to the profession serve as a light to the end of my law school tunnel. I hope in three years I will be working in an office with a passion for people, their cases and the law that governs all aspects of my work. I am also looking forward to joining a law journal this fall and all the many challenges ahead. If you are on the fence about law school or have any questions, I will be more than happy to try and answer them.
From a rising 2L!
Photography: Wayfarer Photography and Froylan Calderon
I recently discovered Welly Merck and their beautiful mesh strap watches and knew I had to get my hands on one. I’ve seen other mesh straps however, what I love about the Classic New York watch is the straps are interchangeable. Everything about the brand is timeless and fashionable. Behind the company is a classic romance which we all know is my Achilles heel.
The name “Welly Merck” is the final two words in a fairy tale romance. It is based on the true story of an American boy, Merck, falling in love during an Italian vacation with a girl named Welly. The two overcame the challenges of a long-distance relationship and found a home together in Switzerland where they created the next chapter of their story. Here, their watch company was born. Their initial vision to create affordable luxury in watches continues to embody the brand’s reality today.
Beyond the Welly Merck’s exceptional story, my expectations were quickly surpassed. The watch arrived quickly after ordering it in a beautiful teal box and made me feel proud to own my first luxury mesh watch. I chose the rose gold watch because I wanted something summery, but I quickly realized it would become a year-long staple for me. It is simple and elegant. I have received so many compliments on this piece and honestly have never loved a watch more!
I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
P.S. If you are interested in purchasing your own piece feel free to use the code BARELYBLONDE20 at checkout for 20% off your purchase www.wellymerck.com.
If you’ve ever had the itch to step outside of your comfort zone in a creative endeavor, I cannot recommend working with Obsidian + Blush enough! Nico and Michi work endlessly to create a fairy tale photography experience. Their vision challenges the bounds of creativity from floral corsets to Cinderella themes and monochromatic sets. They create the entire set themselves handling everything from styling to hair to makeup to snapping the perfect angle.
I had the pleasure of joining them on a Victorian fashion shoot several months ago and was truly inspired by their work. They make being professional fun. They make you feel like a supermodel from encouraging you to play music, bring beverages and even bringing friends!
I jumped at the invite to shoot in their pink and white monochromatic sets for something unique. The pink set looks straight out of a movie. If you love pink, then this may finally satisfy that! I would never consider white a playful color, until I saw the balloons and tiles composing their second set. It was like swimming in a sea of childhood bliss tossing around dozens of balloons. They are by far my favorite creative duo and I can’t thank them enough for their unique photoshoots! Keep your eyes out for a winter/holiday theme coming soon!!!
Production: Obsidian + Blush
Photography: Nico Nordström Photography
Set Design/Construction: Nico Nordström and Michi Lafary
Hair/Styling: Michi Lafary
Sitting in a white chair, grasping an iced coffee she responded with a beaming smile, “I always would choose to be deaf. I wouldn’t be Emma without all the challenges and struggles everyday. “ Katie, Emma and I had been sitting in the quant Bird Bakery for nearly thirty minutes meeting for the first time and she felt like a friend I’d known my whole life. I had spent the past four weeks reading about Emma Faye anticipating our meeting but could never have expected how charming Miss San Antonio would be!
She sat there dressed in a white and floral maxi dress from a local Boerne boutique Ella Blu paired with clogs fit for a busy day. Her dress was the perfect transition piece from a coffee date to a photo-shoot. In the Texas heat, she not only looked amazing but stayed cool. I opted for a braided crop top and flowy white skirt from my latest trip to La Cantera. I can’t seem to make it out of my favorite outdoor mall without snagging a bag, or two, or three!
While chatting with Emma, it became clear nothing about her was surface level, through and through she was true beauty; sweeter than sugar. Over the past year, the 21 year-old had carefully created the first ever deaf music festival, Good Vibrations. The festival stemmed from her non-profit Aid the Silent. She had raised over $150k to support the event and had even implemented her detective skills to encourage companies to sponsor her event. With a couple giggles, Emma reminisced about finagling her way on a flight to a Las Vegas hotel where she knew a company’s Vice President was staying for a conference only to knock on his door and smile her way into a sponsorship, “my mom and I are crazy in the best way.”
While she makes her success look like a breeze, it was no easy journey. Growing up as a deaf child, Emma often felt isolated, frustrated and her dreams to create a non-profit for the deaf and to compete in the Miss America circuit overlooked. She commented, “no one knew me (the dream in me), they didn’t know I wanted to play music.” It wasn’t until she turned 14 that she realized it was her choice to choose joy. After attending a Young Life retreat, people said the Emma they used to consider a blank slate now wore joy on her face. While she continued to dream of pursuing music, a deaf non-profit and the Miss American crown, she thought the reality of these were too distant to chase. Even leading up to her high school graduation, Emma planned to attend Beaumont University in Nashville to pursue a degree in Graphic Design following in her mother’s footsteps. But the week leading up to receiving her diploma proved her path would diverge. She felt called to attend UTSA and focus her energy into Aid the Silent.
At this part in her story, Emma interrupted herself inquiring what Katie’s forearm tattoo said. Katie read the handwritten ink “life’s not fair.” Emma nodded with a smile, “so true!” She segways the conversation into her first year in college when she met another deaf person for the first time. She volunteered at a homeless shelter where she had the revelation that she would spend her life serving the deaf. She immediately went home and purchased the domain for Aid the Silent. The non-profit addresses four specific areas in the deaf community: ministry, research, resources and education. Among the many services Aid the Silent provides they offer scholarships for families to obtain hearing aids the government does not provide. The organization also provides classes for people to become bilingual in American Sign Language to encourage communication with deaf loved ones. They also send children to summer camps. The entire non-profit is a rubics cube of bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.
A few years ago, Emma generated #showyouraids which was a movement to fundraise for young girls. The campaign to show off hearing aids spread across the country and eventually the world! Good Vibrations became an extension of her efforts to integrate the divided deaf and hearing communities. The event embraced the deaf as guests of honor. It welcomed everyone to experience music like never before. The event married the rhythm with visual depictions of sounds such as a light-up dance floor, pulsing LED beach balls and backpacks that vibrated with the beat. Everyone was able to roam freely and not be pushed off into the shadows typical of a hearing environment, isolated to the corner with an interpreter. Emma talked about how dreamy it was to see deaf children experience music for the first time and break out of the silence to dance.
She began to play music at 14 through the vibrations resonating off a piano. She describes the feeling of the notes dancing through her arm as her experiencing music. After learning to play the piano she then added the guitar to her repertoire of skills. When playing the piano she felt the music in her arms, but when she plays the guitar she feels it in her heart. Eventually she began to learn to sing. Instead of feeling the sound in her chest she was able to learn how to control her pitch based on the feeling she had in her head! While she joked about still asking for help to check her sound, she has the voice of an angel. To hear her singing check out “Love Hears: In the Silence.”
Finishing up our coffee we decided to begin our photo-shoot. We had the pleasure of meandering through the recently renovated Witte Museum in childlike wonder. We marveled at the Dinosaur exhibit, interacted with a multitude of technologies and twirled around the temporary whales display. The Witte gave us a chance to step away from the heat but still enjoy the sunny day in its floor to ceiling windows.
Today Emma is working as Miss San Antonio for her second time. She is the first deaf Miss San Antonio as well as the first one to have founded a true non-profit. Because of her job as a public figure, her non-profit has skyrocketed. She aims to advocate for members of the deaf community and act as a role model and lobbyist for others in a world void of deaf leaders. THIS WEEK, Emma will be traveling to Dallas to compete for the Miss Texas crown, taking a step closer to her dreams. The thing that stuck with me after my time with Emma was not just her shear kindness but that love is a language all can hear.
Thank you all for your love and support! And lets cheer our sweet Emma on this week at Miss Texas!
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of shooting a few of my favorite looks on South Congress in Austin, Texas with my sweet friend Monique Rodriguez and her assistant aka younger sister Samantha. The duo had me laughing the entire shoot with their banter and playful instructions for poses. Monique always has a smile behind the camera as she ponders new angles to properly reflect the moment, while Samantha opts for the honest truth making sure her subject looks their best. Between the two personalities I can hands-down say this was my most entertaining and attention-getting shoot I’ve had (all in the best way possible). It was a challenge to time shots between the crowd, adjust to the lighting and share a cup of Amy’s Ice Cream between three girls but that’s what made this whole adventure so memorable.
Since I hadn’t been to Austin in several months, driving up I-35 invited memories of my time in undergrad. I was excited to get back to the places and people I love so much and still consider a home-away-from-home. Austin definitely did not disappoint and provided a wonderful backdrop for my newfound fashion passion. We started out the shoot near the Turquoise Door on SoCo where we shot the Aurora Dress. This is currently one of my favorite summer dresses I own. I love the crossed neckline and the length of the dress makes it easy to go from day to night. It has quickly become one of my staple pieces for the hot weather in Texas!
While I changed into my new look Monique described plans she has to travel Europe later this summer. You won’t want to miss this out so follow her website and social accounts to keep up with her work! She has been published in a variety of mediums and always provides the highest quality photography. While she did an incredible job on my lifestyle shots, she has creativity pulsing through her veins which is clear in her other work too. Check out this link for more of her work.
The second look I styled was an OTS daisy embroidered blouse from Ann Taylor LOFT with a dark washed jean. I thought the floral details and a big bow in my hair embodied Spring. I am completely obsessed with the current off-the-shoulder-trend so this little number was right up my alley. Since it is a solid white piece I paired it with a bright blue bag for a pop of color!
My final look leans more towards the work wear style but I thought it would be cute when you get off work too. I chose these pleated bell sleeves because I thought they were a fashion forward take on the classic button-up. They just went on sale for $62 so you may want to snag one for your work wardrobe. The ribbons on the wrist gave them a feminine flair on top while I kept my bottom half simple with dark jeans. This top would just as easily pair with a pencil skirt for the office if you prefer.
Hope y’all enjoyed this variety of summer go-to looks!
What do you get when you find 4 girls from El Paso in New York? Big dreams, 1 Job or No Job star, lots of laughs and new friendships! Last week my mom, sister and I jetted off to the Big Apple for some fun after finals. My sister had just completed her Junior year at the University of Arizona and I survived, what seemed to be, the eternal 1L year. My mom was able to step aside from work and the three of us unwound from the chaos 2017 had invited into our lives and careers thus far.
Through a series of the most fortunate events, we were able to meet with Christy Gutierrez, an El Paso native living in NYC. She landed a job in New York after participating in ABC Family’s Job or No Job tv series. Christy and I connected on Instagram last fall with no clue we shared the same hometown, and made vague plans to meet up for a photo-shoot if I ever visited NY. A few months later I messaged her again and we made plans to meet up and get creative in Brooklyn. As if things weren’t already lining up perfectly, Christy paid forward our photo-shoot as I am trying to manage my student loans. I couldn’t believe how gracious, talented, and kind Christy was; a real go-getter! The afternoon of the photo-shoot, the three of us descended into the subway, and reemerged and waited at Dumbo, a local pizza joint. Christy arrived, and we stepped outside to see the lovely backdrop Christy had planned: the bridge straddling two buildings with the Empire State building peering between its arch, golden hour light danced along the street and made the whole experience magical.
This shoot will always hold a special place in my heart. It combined some of the things I love most in life into several shots: my girls, El Paso kindness, travel, fashion, laughs, and new friends. While Christy provided an amazing photo-shoot, she didn’t realize she also captured the intimate relationship my mom and sister have with my blog. They often talked to me about past photo-shoots and I wanted to share one with them. They have spent countless hours mulling over ideas with me, helping me edit blogs, and supporting my every post. They are the pillars to my success and I don’t know where I’d be without them.
So thank you Christy, for your skills and warmth to make this shoot come to life. Thank you Mom, for never doubting the heights I could reach. And thank you Lola for cheering and challenging me along the way. I had the most fabulous girls trip to NY with y’all!
Colorful shorts and maxi dress season is officially here! And I am beyond excited to style boho crochet tops, scarf print shorts and a wine colored dress for looks that you can wear all day. All three of these pieces are from Tobi, an international boutique offering a laid-back West Coast vibe to their customers.
I had the pleasure of shooting these three looks with my sweet friend and longhorn sister Kelly O’Connor before grabbing a lovely dinner at Ocho on the Riverwalk. It was amazing to have an evening to catch up on our lives and travels over the past two years! I couldn’t believe how quickly time had flown but it has helped us both grow into better, stronger women and for that I am happy. If you live in Austin and are looking for a photographer, give Kelly a shout at kellyoconnorphotography.com! She has an eye for perfection and keeps the session flowing with ease. I can honestly say the world looks more vibrant and beautiful through her lens. Beyond being an incredible photographer she is a dear friend and offers a variety of services. She’s always open to new ideas and a pleasure to work with!
Between Kelly’s talent and Tobi’s fashion, my job was easy! I started by pairing the Only Chance top with some gray trousers for a bohemian vibe. This top is lose fitting and light which was great in the Texas heat. I love the large knit details and the off-white color to mix up things a bit.
The Wanderlust Lace maxi is also very light and hugged in the right places. I thought the color was so rich and perfect for when I don’t feel like wearing something bright but still want color. I could easily see myself wearing this to a summer wedding or a night out.
The Gina Tunisian Scarf shorts also surprised me how comfortable they were. Kelly and I kept joking how they felt like wearing pjs! I love their pastel color scheme making them easy to pair with a bold t-shirt or white blouse. Here I went ahead and wore an embroidered tank for a beachy vibe. I was truly pleased with my online order not only because the pieces looked like the pictures but because they also were true to size.
So if you are looking for an online boutique with a huge variety of styles check out Tobi! Hope y’all have a great day and enjoyed the pieces I styled.
I’ve had long hair for the past five years, and I will be the first to admit it is more maintenance than it looks. While I love the long locks, it can be a challenge to find products that fit my budget and my expectations. I am always looking for better shampoos or leave-in products that will keep my hair healthy. I recently tried Pantene’s Pro-V Ultimate 10 Shampoo and thought it would be unfair not to share my experience!
People always told me not to wash my hair everyday because it strips your hair of its natural oils but that often left me with the challenge of timing the arrival of greasy hair. With Pantene, I don’t have to try and avoid cleaning my hair because the shampoo doesn’t take away the good stuff. Instead it leaves behind antioxidants and lipids that make it soft and easy to detangle, which is always a huge plus for me. I also experimented with using the shampoo as a hair mask, and it was a success!!! Trust me, I have tried a lot of Pinterest ideas (one ending with me cooking raw eggs in my hair under a hot shower) and this is by far my fave.
Pantene recently came out with a new shampoo formula that actually penetrates into the core of the hair to replenish lost moisture and protect hair from damage. So if you are looking to one-up your current shampoo and strengthen your hair, I advise you try the new products.
I rarely check the mail, but within this last week I found myself peaking in the mailbox on multiple occasions, anxiously awaiting a jewelry package. Yes, I do love jewelry but that’s not the only reason I was so excited for this particular parcel to arrive. And finally it did. Inside it contained the most lovely gold layering necklace next to a handwritten note that read, “Your purchase of Starfish Project jewelry provides for my housing fund.” Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Starfish Project is a unique jewelry company that restores hope to exploited and sexually trafficked women through shelter, counseling, employment and education. It allows consumers to purchase handcrafted jewelry that encourages us to celebrate the gifts and opportunities of other women while allowing others to taste freedom. Not only does each purchase provide employment, but 100% of the price is reinvested in the company’s mission to strengthen the lives of women.
I received the London necklace which is absolutely stunning. This $54.99 necklace is equivalent to 1.5 weeks of vocational training for a woman to help establish her independence. Each item is priced differently depending on the material and the cause it will sponsor. While the meaning behind each piece alone is exquisite, the design itself rivals in beauty. I love how easy this layered necklace is to pair with everyday clothes and how naturally it acts as a conversation starter for discussing the meaning behind it.
I had the pleasure of asking Virginia Scharf (Chief Strategy Officer) a few more questions about the Starfish Project to share with you all.
1. Who, and what started the starfish project?
Jenny McGee founded Starfish Project eleven years ago when she began visiting the red light district and forming relationships with the women there. 2. Who designs the jewelry?
Jenny McGee, our amazing CEO! 3. what do you find most challenging about your mission?
Balancing the need to have good business practices and good outreach practices. We want to hire as many women as we can while maintaining an excellent standard of care, and that can be a tricky balance because we want to hire everyone! The more customers order, the more women we can hire. 4. How do women in need find you all?
We have outreach teams that go out into the shops once per week. They bring small gifts and interact and offer the women an alternative job. It can take months for a woman to trust us enough to join Starfish Project, so our outreach teams faithfully go out each week. 5. What might your audience be surprised to learn about you all?
That Jenny McGee, our designer and CEO, barely wore jewelry before she started Starfish Project a decade ago!
The final piece of advice Ms. Scharf left me with was, “use your gifts and resources to love other people well.” If you are looking for something special to give your mother for Mother’s Day, I cannot encourage you enough to order a piece of jewelry from these amazing women. Not only can you show your gratitude towards your loved one through a fair trade purchase, but you can help empower the women whose work and talent are embedded in each piece. And if you feel compelled to be more involved, check out their advocacy program.