Woman’s Words Wednesday – Hilarious, Honest, Happily Single, Holly

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“If there’s one thing that’s sadder than being single, it’s settling. And I refuse to do it.”

I first met Holly Ann Phillips when I was working at Abercrombie & Fitch and the abercrombie kids store in the Mall of Louisiana.

This had to be circa 2006/7. “Post Katrina”, as the time after August 2005 has been dubbed by NOLA peeps, I took a managerial job with the “model-y” clothing store in Shreveport. I had never really been a collar-popping, layer-centric type who wore the brand, but I was stuck in North LA because my City was flooded, I needed a J.O.B. STAT, and you had to have a college Degree to be a manager at A&F.

Yes I did it for the salary (teeny, tiny salary) and health insurance, but I also knew, if I was going to have a job on my resume that said “Manager” and was my first after graduating, I was going to make the most of it and excel, no matter the industry or location.

I became very good at managing, training, and styling the store which involved all the correct folding, placement and presentation of the merchandise, and dressing of the forms (mannequins without limbs), so much so that when there was a fire in the back of the Baton Rouge location, I was sent to help re-do the store. Impressed by the job I did the first go round, I was sent again one holiday season to help failing standards and quitting managers. That’s when I met one of my all-time favorite gingers!

Holly worked in the kids’ store and was as fiery and energetic as her hair would suggest. She was easy to talk to, spunky, good at her job and pleasant to be around. Holly and I would talk a lot about relationships and it surprises me in no way that she has become a professional writer and blogs about her relationship life.

At that time in my life I had made friends with a guy who was studying to be a brain surgeon. We had met and hung out in Shreveport, so when he went back to his hometown in B.R., and I found myself working a few weeks stint at the Abercrombie locations, we decided to hangout again. Mc-Very-Attractive would visit the mall on occasion and bring me treats like cookies. Holly and I would talk about him being the kind of guy who would make a good catch: handsome, great job, did nice things.

The good Doctor and I did not end up together, though we remain caring friends, and he is now married with children…

I tell this story to introduce my single sister Holly, but also to give a glimpse of just one of the many wonderful men who have come, and gone, in my life as I remain single. And over 30. And completely OK WITH IT!

I give this Wednesday’s Woman Words to the lovely Ms. Holly Ann Phillips because her blog today said a million things I have BEEN thinking and saying to people for a WHILE now. I love the life I have lead, the adventures I have had, the men I have loved, and hated, and wished for, and screamed about, and remain dedicated to a friendship with, and I wouldn’t trade it for a second of being settled because I settled.

Here’s  Holly to more pointedly and wittily explain:

 “I don’t think that’s a question I can answer,” I told her. “What if I don’t find someone?”

I’m single, stop asking why.

on The Bitter Lemon by Holly Ann Phillips

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The pictures were from the trip to Cancun I just returned from…I felt inspired by Holly’s post. How did Holly’s post make you feel readers? I’m highly interested. I’m sure she is too so comment here and leave her some feedback.

To my single readers, in the face of negativity or confusion from the coupled-crowd, brush it off and keep doing YOU! Celebrate your

Sexy Single Self

Try it Tuesday – Self-esteem Selfie

#20BeautifulWomenChallenge

I’ve noticed the above hashtag circling around social media sites. Perhaps you have too. So I decided to look into it…

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After doing some interweb digging I actually came up pretty short on the origins and meaning behind the latest selfie phenomena.

I did find there was a 20 Beautiful Women book that the Huffington Post gave an exceptional review. Author Sabe Tekle shares her own story alongside 19 other women she gathered for the 2013 publication. These stories of women conquering their battles, discovering their virtues and understanding what enabled them down their paths, sound like the kind of collection I need to get in-between the pages of, and QUICK!

But back to the hashtag.

The #20BeautfulChallenge can be described as a cyclical series of selfies to spread self-empowerment and self-esteem. (Awesome alliteration!) A nominated person posts a picture of themselves in which they feel beautiful. They then tag, and so nominate, 20 other people to do the same. The idea of the selfie is not to grab “likes” but to confidently share an ideal of yourself with others. The pictures I saw ranged from facial beauty shots to quirky faces, from travel photos to action shots. There are group shots along with the singles and members of the male gender as well.

While there are mocking pictures and negative feedback on sites like Twitter and Instagram, the negativity seems to be aimed at the self-serving-selfie takers interested more in posting for lust or likes and perhaps gathering followers through the movement.

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One Twitter follower seemed to be against the need for the movement the way people are against Valentine’s Day as a need to show love; if you love someone you should show it everyday, or in this case, friends don’t need to tag you for you to feel beautiful:

All-in-all, applied in the intended context, the movement seems to be another hash-mark in the positive column for hastags and the power of social media, much like the #nomakeup hashtag inspired clean-faced selfies and natural-beauty acceptance.

So in honor of the challenge here is my most recent selfie that is by far one of my favorites:

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This is my sister Ann & I in the Royalty Room with the King of Barkus and crew, before the parade this past Sunday, 2/8/15. This picture makes me feel beautiful because it captured the true excitement in our eyes to be spending such a fun day together. My sister is the other half of me in a way no one else will be and only a few can understand. Any time with her is fantastic. She is so ridiculously beautiful, inside and out, and she makes me feel more beautiful just by proximity. The sunlight of this gorgeous day shines on our faces and radiates from our smiles. I just think there are few things more beautiful than sister-love; especially when it’s glittered with the magic of Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

“A beautiful woman is peaceful: she has made peace with her past. A beautiful woman is passionate: she is on fire with a strong desire to change the world. A beautiful woman is purposeful: she knows why she was born and does what she was created here to do. Be beautiful.” Sabe Tekle

So my beautiful readers, I hope you will get inspired to post your own #20BeautifulWomenChallenge picture and nominate women you see as beautiful!

Spread Stupendous Self-Esteem

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Share your thoughts on the #20BeautifulWomenChallenge. Love it? Think it’s just a bunch of selfies? Know more about it? Have you done it?

Try it Tuesday – Bag Balm

 

Made for Cows – Great for Humans

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The Bag Balm Clover and Cow Logo


The only way that I can think to properly begin this post is to start with a confession…”Hi, my name is Alicia, and I love the reality show Laguna Beach.” I share this  because the show was the first place I saw Bag Balm. In a montage of behind-the-scenes footage, the product was raved about by almost all of the female characters. Me being the kind of gal who loves to try cult products (& now to blog about them) I went out to investigate.

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I was pleased to easily locate some Bag Balm at my local pharmacy but I was utterly confused to read that it was made for use on cows! (Utterly…cows…get it? Get it?? Ha. OK, I’ll stop.) Seriously though, the product says that it’s made

“…to provide moisturizing and softening…For use on cows…teats & udder…”

However, turning the signature green, square tin, I read it was

“For chapped conditions and superficial abrasions.”

IMG_5597Checking out the ingredients, it was clear that the “petroletum, lanolin base” are what provide most of the moisturizing properties.

I decided if it was a hit with California girls who dealt with the sun and salt water in Summer and wind and snow on ski trips in Winter, I was down to loose the less than $6 it cost if I hated it. I would be a fibber if I said the packaging, with it’s vintage, slightly apothecary look, wasn’t a significant factor in my choice to purchase. But then again, that’s why companies put so much research and money into packaging; it sells!

I got home and opened the signature, clover covered tin. I found exactly what I expected, a naturally colored, waxy salve.

IMG_5592Bag Balm has a fairly neutral smell and, thankfully doesn’t taste like much. If anything, a faint hint of minerals is present, but nothing overpowering. Because of this and due to it’s soothing qualities,  Bag Balm is excellent for all kinds of dry/chapped skin needs.

I had decided when I first got my hands on the packaging that I was not carrying the cumbersome cube around in my purse as the Laguna girls had done (note they do come in 1oz cans but are sometimes harder to find individually. Online, you can get them in packs) and choose instead to keep it on my nightstand. It comes in handy for all sorts of nightime rituals. I slather a considerable sized glob on my hands and then place them in moisture gloves, letting the balm soak in while I soak up a satisfying half-hour of whatever Bravo show I’m currently addicted to. I rub some on dry elbows, knees and feet. I have made coating my lips with a serious swipe a do-not-skip nightly step, the result of which has been soft, pleasantly plump lips when I awake.

Use on nails and cuticles. Take off stubborn eye makeup and waterproof mascara(carefully). Mix with lipstick remnants for a D.I.Y. gloss of a color you have almost used up. Treat burnt or blistered skin…The list goes on.

As we move into the winter months and our skin will soon be exposed to frigged outside air and drying inside heat, I highly recommend you grab yourself some udder jelly and make Bag Balm a part of your soft-skin regimen.

*Readers: Are you a Bag Balm lover already or have you taken my advice and purchased some of your own? Leave comments below and let us all know how you

Blob on  Bag Balm 

 

B is for … Bargains: Better Buds Bash

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We’re into the second month of the blog and the second letter. For the month of September, B’s theme is going to be “Better” in a  series of posts about simple ways to do things better. Brilliant!

Today’s do-better theme, Entertaining and Dinner Parties:

 

 

Entertaining:

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  • Presentation is key – When setting out food for entertaining, remember the old adage – We eat with our eyes first. I know that a good part of my presentation OCD comes from my event planning days, but those were valuable lessons learned. No-one sees the container the food comes out off, just the plate they take the food from – The lesson here is to go with the store brand or an alternative, cheaper option when possible with the food and serve it up in an eye-appealing way.
    • I love me some Water Crackers but at upwards of $4 a box, they’re a bit more than I want to pay for a snack “accessory”! There are many tasty alternatives like rice-crackers that come in several yummy flavors (Whole Foods 365 are delicious) and usually retail closer to $1 a box. Less expensive, crusty bread sliced in a basket looks rustic and inviting next to a cheese plate & a loaf can go for $1 from the grocery.
    • Wine in a box has come a long way in taste and quality over the last decade, offering award-winning wine at “bulk” prices, which is what you’re looking for when serveral bottles are likely to be poured. Black Box is a personal favorite of mine and several of my girlfriends. Just because the wine comes in a box doesn’t mean it has to be placed out for spigot use. Decanting that box wine makes for a lovely presentation and can enhance the taste through aeration and temperature; red wine will be kept at room temperature and white wine decanters are designed to keep the wine chilled.
  • Sharing is caring – As much as I love a visually appealing spread, having not yet become the recipient of a bridal registry, I’m lacking when it comes to presentation dishware. Buying them would throw my entire budget, however I know friends who do very well with thrifting for them. My suggestion, borrow from relatives, other friends, or even the friends you are hosting. Make the effort to collect from them in advance of the party and return the dishware washed and with a short “Thank You” note soon after. The small effort to collect and return equals huge payoff for a fabulous table setting.
    • Or skip the fancy dishes all together and place plain dishware on a clever table topper! Pinterest in full of “chalkboard table” ideas!
  • A little bit $$$ a lot of $ – When planning entertainment dishes like snacks, apps, small bites,  remember a rule of thirds. For every one pricier item, have two lower priced items, and make your pricier items only up to a third of the entire spread.
    • I love cheese and love, love, love a cheeseboard. Probably because I could sit and eat the whole thing! (Don’t judge) As much as I would like a cheeseboard full of Humboldt Fog and Roquetfort, I’m balling on a budget. Following the thirds-rule, I make sure my board has plenty of less expensive items on the spread: grapes, carrots, olives, nuts (drizzle with oil and cajun spices, toast in oven for a few mins for extra pizzazz), slices of delicious and inexpensive sharp cheddar, and let’s not underestimate the wonders of a block of store-brand cream-cheese with a pepper jelly on top.
    • Whole Foods has a basket of cheeses in the cheese department that’s filled with the odds-and-ends of the cheeses; the “last piece” basket. The pieces are usually no more than $5. Rummage through and pick out a few pieces. Spot these around your cheese board for variety and interest.

 

Dinner Parties:

 

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  • What’s growing = what’s cheapest – Though we live in a magical world of year round produce where you can get strawberries in the dead of winter, the most economical selections are those that traveled the least distance and are in season. Make sure to plan your meal around what’s growing to cut costs and ensure a superior product.
  • Shop with your eyes, then with your wallet – Grab the grocery publications or check online for the sales they are running. Plan a menu around that. This rule also applies for drinks and snacks for a dinner party.
    • If hummus is on sale, for instance, I will usually reduce or forgo the cheese plate for hummus and veggies. Delicious and easy frozen meatballs on special? You bet they’re going in a small bite dish for a party or as an app for a dinner!
    • This is also a great way to get pricier items on the plate. If it’s a rare occasion when crab claws are on sale, just one or two on each plate can really fancy-up the meal of a small gathering. Asparagus can be pricey but I love to scoop it up when it’s on special.
  • Good food is good food, period – Many people assume, because they are having company over, they should serve “only the best” to their guests. While I agree your guests should get the best you have to offer, what you have to offer should fit your budget.
    • Can’t afford to serve everyone steak? Go for a more economical cut of meat, like flank steak and serve it in a creative way (try it atop the Triple Threat Salad) or make beef stroganoff with inexpensive stew meat (Bonus: it can be made in the slow-cooker before the party).
  • No leftovers zone – Be reasonable with yourself about how much to serve your guests. Remember that restaurant sizes are not a good guide for serving sizes and that you will not be providing guests with to-go boxes. While second helpings are nice to offer, how many of your  guests do you anticipate having them? If you have served snacks before a dinner party meal, your portion sizes at dinner can be smaller; same if there is a starter, salad, dessert, etc.

 

In Sum: Plan for the sale and the season. Follow the thirds rule and aim for the inexpensive. Presentation over brand-name and  delicious over expensive.

And the most important thing to remember is the reason you are feeding…to gather everyone together for good food and a good time! It’s about company and memories, so concern yourself more with being a gracious host/hostess than a well-to-do one!

Bidding you Blissful Bashes! 

Fun Facts Friday – B is for Baking

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Last Saturday morning I decided to combat the bleakness of the rains pummeling against my windows with the warms smells of baking and coffee.SAS.M3

 

 

Wild-berry "protein" muffins

Wild-berry “protein” muffins fresh out the oven!

I made myself some wild-berry “protein” muffins.  Now before you go giving me any undue credit, I used a mix…but, as I often do when making food, I did change up the recipe and add a few of my own ingredients. That’s usually easier to do with cooking than baking, given the exactness required more often  in baking recipes but I find muffins to be pretty forgiving.

 

Fun story: In high school Home Economics class my group put all the melted butter listed for the recipe in our orange muffin batter. While the muffins were baking we went to prepare the topping and realized the butter was meant to top the muffins with. There was a slight panic in the eyes of four plaid-clad young ladies! What happened to the muffins, you ask? They came out looking perfect! We melted more butter, topped them with zest and sugar and got rave reviews for our super moist creations! HIGH-FIVE!

For Saturday’s muffins I just substituted vanilla protein powder for the milk and added more spice with cinnamon and nutmeg.  I added some flax too, just for a bit more nutritional value.

Making Muffins

I love my well worn muffin tin. It reminds me of fond times chatting over morning muffins with roommates and my sister.

September is a new month and so it’s time for a new letter: B! Inspired by our new letter and morning muffins, our first FFF is all about baking.

 

Encyclopedia.com defines baking as:

 two culinary processes: cooking by dry heat in an enclosed oven and making up flour-based goods (breads, cakes, pastries) that are cooked by baking. By extension a baking day is devoted to making breads and cakes and includes the idea of a batch bake or tray bake made up in quantity for cutting into smaller pieces.

and lists the occupations of the trade as the baker and the pastry chef:

the baker using yeast to make breads and the pastry cook producing delicate pastries and cakes.

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Bakers and Pastry Chefs have a patron saint all their own; Saint Honore. Honore was a Bishop and, fittingly, French. When Honore became Bishop, a woman baking didn’t believe it and to prove he was indeed Bishop, a piece of her bread was placed in the ground and grew into a tree. Celebrate on May 16th by baking with fruit from trees, like a lemon pound cake!

Saw this helpful hint on Today I Found Out:

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And an found article from Wise Bread to help crack the code! Buy Better Bread!

Color Coding Bread

One of the first things I helped my mother bake, cake. My mom was incredible and made all the cakes for my siblings and cousins. She was a master of themes and icing, creating everything from an army battle field to a Care Bear.

Cakes come in all shapes and sizes now but were traditionally round and here’s why:

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Find out about the history of cakes from Weekend Notes!

This symbolizes the cyclical nature of life, the sun and the moon, which is probably the reason why we have cakes during important events; highlighting that we are embarking on a new journey in our life-span.

Ancient breads were also round, typically fashioned into round balls and baked in shallow pans. In the 17th century, cake hoops made from metal or wood were increasingly used.

Now everyone together, you know the song…“Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake”

Know who the Guiness World Record holder for the world’s largest brownie is? All American Cooking does!brownies

It’s Something Sweet BakeShop in Daphne, Alabama who used  432 eggs, 216 pounds of sugar, 108 cups of flour, and 27 pounds of chocolate, 54 pounds of butter, to make the 234.2 pound confection! Sounds like just enough chocolaty deliciousness to satisfy my sweet tooth!

I hope these fun facts have preheated your desire-to-bake-oven! Click around on the links for more fun baking facts and tips and check back on SAS for upcoming baking ideas. Remeber, baking should be like these facts, fun! It doesn’t have to be from-scratch to count either. Slice-and-bake cookie? Yummy! Box cornbread? Yes, please! Cake from a mix? Make mine fun-fetti!

So my dear readers, whether you’re an oven  novice or a pro,

Blissfully Bust-out some Baking! 

What’s your favorite thing to bake or favorite baking tip? Let us hear it below!

Woman’s Words Wednesday – Audrey Hepburn

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Iconic. Enduring. Outspoken. Audrey!

For this second installment of WWW I am sharing the words of a woman who grew from an ingenue to a fashion icon to a humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn. Many of her most famous quotes are clever but thought provoking.

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The first quote to share, a personal favorite, is cheeky and wonderful all at the same time. I’m right there with Hepburn in her love for pink (pink nails are clicking the keys as I type), laughter as a legitimate fitness routine and smooching as a legitimate pastime! The playful quote goes on with words of empowerment and encouragement. It runs the full gambit, just like Hepburn.

 

 

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If Hepburn were alive today I think she would take a #NoMakeup selfie and use this quote on her Instagram feed. She may add the hastag #Eliza to reference one of her most famous roles (and her best in my eyes) in My Fair Lady. Hepburn’s  character  is seen as gorgeous after transforming her image and speech, but in the end it’s her spitfire spirit that wins over the hearts of those around her. It’s her true-self shinning through that makes her the most unforgettable.

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With today’s voyeuristic tendencies towards sharing images online and the difficulties of online and in-person bullying facing them, I believe many young women could benefit from Hepburn’s words.

 

In this quote, Hepburn again references real beauty coming not from the airs we put on, but the grace we put out.

 

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Hepburn did not just talk-the-talk, she also walked-the-walk and used her celebrity to encourage others to do so as well, becoming  a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund. Through her work, Hepburn aided children in  Latin America and Africa from 1988-1993.

 

As Hepburn’s words inspire us to, live a life full of love; love for yourself, love for others and love for the world beyond your own.

Wishing Women a Wonderful Wednesday!

 

 

 

The cosmopolitan humanitarian born Audrey Kathleen Ruston passed away on January 20, 1993 in Tolochnaz, Switzerland. (Her IMDb bio)

A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 2

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 Social_media_fashIn PART 1 of SAS’s Accessory blog I talked about some tips and how-tos of accessorizing with accouterments and adornments.  In this PART 2 I’m sharing some tips on why boutiques make ideal places to find accessories, inspiration and shopping assistance.

 

Tip 1: Use Social Media to your Fashionable Advantage

One of the smartest ways to expand your fashion knowledge and know-how is to follow the Social Media sites of fashionable people and shops. I always recommend choosing the sites of local or online boutiques. Most boutiques only carry one or two size runs of each style. The low inventory ensures well selected pieces and a less likely chance that your outfit will be on someone else at the same event. Following their social media sites means you can keep up with their inventory and snag something you love while it’s still in store.

Boutiques are known for carrying on-trend, of-the-moment inventory. Since accessories are the easiest way to update a wardrobe without breaking the bank, find trendy  accouterments and adornments at boutiques and incorporate them with your own clothes with help from social media.

Tip 2: Make Friends with Boutique Associates

Another advantage of boutique shopping is the associates that work at them. In general, boutiques are the place to find associates who want to be surrounded by fashion, love to read about and research what’s trending and want to dress up-to-date; they’re not just “working in the mall” for an after school job. Associates at boutiques are more accustomed to helping a customer pick out an entire outfit than, say associates at some department stores. So window or internet browse some local boutiques then go into the ones who best reflect the kind of style you have or want.

Get to know the associates and let them get a feel for the looks you’re after so they can help you pick pieces to update your closet.

 

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Have a fave place to shop? Follow them on social media and be the first to see what they have in store and how to style it!

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Styling tip: Follow IG posts of local boutiques for inspiration and make friends with the associates for in-store help!

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Make sure the places you shop have knowledgeable associates. The fashionable girls of Haus131 show off their fabulous arm candy!

 

Tip 3: Dress IN your Comfort Zone & be willing to step OUT of it

When you are first shopping a boutique and becoming familiar with the staff, dress in a style that most epitomizes how you like to look on a daily basis and best represents what can be found in your closet. In this case though, skip the accessories. By dressing in a style you’re most comfortable rocking, you allow yourself and the associate a jumping off point. Like I demonstrated in Part 1, a few accessories can make clothing appropriate for various occasions.

Instead of purchasing one whole head-to-toe outfit, work with the associate to select which accouterments and adornments they would suggest to transform the look you have on, thus what could also transform what you already have in your closet.

 

 

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The always fashionable owner of Haus 131 Miss Katie Rae Bowen

 

The key to a on-trend, chic and well stocked boutique is an owner with a excellent sense of personal style who cares about their shop and clients. A great local example is a lady who is beautiful inside and out, Katie Rae Bowen, the owner of Haus 131. This New Orleans native who just got back from meeting some of her fashion faves at Magic in Vegas, is passionately making her boutique dreams come true in bigger and better ways each year.

 

 

Find her at her shop at  5517 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 where she personally curates her inventory to make sure Haus 131 is “a boutique that provides individuals with a style that is exceptional and suitable for any lifestyle or budget”. Katie Rae has a personable and inviting demeanor so be sure to chat her up when you visit the shop and find out what’s the latest in the Fall fashion scene or how to incorporate trendy pieces into your current collection.

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Talk about a girl who knows her adornments! Katie Rae made these marvelous necklaces and has them on sale at Haus 131. Pick her brain about what she would pair them with, then get one of your own!

 

 

 

Follow Katie Rae and Haus 131 for styling ideas, inventory sneak peaks, sale announcements and much more!

 

 

So remember: Follow for Finds, to Accelerator your Accessory Aptitude then Buy at Boutiques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Pictures from Instagram and Haus 131 logo borrowed with permission. Logo and images are the representations of Haus 131 and associated sites and not directly affiliated with SAS.*