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Spring Beauty Update



After returning home to Florida from a year abroad in Italy, my skin was a hot mess! My skin had grown accustomed to a new climate and did not take well to returning to the humidity of Florida. I have never had flawless skin, but I have also never had really bad skin. My forehead was dry while my chin and neck broke out continuously.

Finally after trying a bunch of products, a friend of mine who is a make up artist and moonlights at Bare Minerals suggested I try some of their new skincare products. I am always inclined to go for oil-reducing cleansers and moisturizes for my oily skin, but she suggested trying their oil-based cleanser. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn't make your skin more oily. I was amazed at how balanced my skin was after just a couple of uses. It takes off all of my makeup but doesn't leave my face feeling stripped.

She also suggested I try their new Skin Longevity to help repair my skin and brighten any scaring or dark spots caused by my recent and relentless breakouts. No lie, using these two products together turned my skin around in less than two weeks.

Lastly, I wanted to try this Glam Glow mask that I feel like I have seen everywhere. I have only used it a couple of times, but it definitely feels like it is pulling out all of my skin's impurities.


In addition to my skin freaking out, I was running low on most of my makeup when I returned home. With spring approaching, I thought it was the perfect excuse to update my beauty routine for spring. Dior's Airflash is another product that I have heard tons of people rave about. I was curious to try an aerosol foundation. I mean it seems so convenient and efficient. And it is! I was skeptical, but this stuff really does glide on, giving you naturally flawless looking skin. It doesn't have a lot of coverage with one coat, but it is build-able. I was worried that with my oily skin this would make me look overly dewy or a sweaty mess by the end of the day, but it held up really well and I was no more oily than usual.

I don't know about you, but I am always searching for the perfect pink blush that gives a girly flush to your cheeks. This Dior blush is the closest I have found. It gives you a great natural rosy glow.

I also picked up this really subtle but gorgeous highlighter and this setting spray. This setting spray makes all of the difference when it comes to my eye make up and foundation. I can go all day without having to touch up or re-apply.


Lastly, I picked up a new black eye-liner (I am determined to master the cat-eye for spring), the prettiest pink lip gloss (#765), and this Korean eye brow tint (in grey-brown). I am always searching for a way to enhance my poor brows. I love the Anastasia system, but I also want something that will last and that I don't have to reapply every single day. So I took a chance and tried this tint. I actually love the results. My brows look fuller without any makeup. It doesn't last more than a week, but it is great for the days you don't want to do your makeup but still want better brows.


What is it about updating your beauty routine and cleaning out your make up bag that makes you feel so rejuvenated? What new products are you loving for spring?


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Insta-Algo-Geddon



As I am sure you already know, Instagram has decided to change their platform and use an algorithm to determine what you see in your feed instead of simply displaying posts from the people you follow in reverse chronological order. And, if you were alive yesterday, you probably witnessed the Insta-wide freakout over this.

My feed was spammed by posts pleading with followers to "turn on your notifications, so you can see my future posts." I have to be honest, seeing 30 consecutive insta-pleads felt... well, really desperate and not very genuine. By the end of the day I was so tired of those arrows!

I get it. Change sucks, especially when something everyone is profiting from (or seeing results from) changes. But let's all take a second, inhale deeply, and really think about this for a moment. I think yesterday's reaction was a bit of an overkill.

First, I am not going to turn on my notifications. And I would advise you not to do so. Receiving hundreds of notifications a day is not only annoying, but also drains your battery! Second, even if you do want the notifications, this isn't going to solve the problem. Notifications don't ensure those particular posts will show up in your feed. The algorithm will prioritize the people and feeds you interact with the most, not who you turn on notifications for. So, as long as you are viewing, liking, and/or commenting on your favorite accounts, you will still see them. Furthermore, there are plenty of accounts whose posts I miss. Guess what I do? I search their name and take a look if I am curious about what they have been up to (this happens a lot for the accounts I follow in Europe/Italy).

Finally, we are all assuming this is a bad thing. Why? I have to admit, Pinterest's algorithm actually helped me. It continues to expose my pins to non-followers (exponentially, I might add) and drives a ton of traffic to my blog. Who is to say the same won't be true for the new Instagram? At this point, only time will tell.

Despite yesterday's scare that today is the day, Instagram has actually been rolling out this algorithm and testing it for a while now. In fact, when I think back on my own feed over the past six months, something has seemed off. My likes peaked in the summer, but despite growing followers throughout the fall and winter, my overall likes per photo have gone down. Perhaps less people are seeing my posts because of these changes? Even if my suspicion is true, I have lived with it for six months (or more) now and it hasn't adversely affected my Instagram or it's growth.

Basically the point of all of this is to say don't stress! I love Instagram for its artistry, and no algorithm can change that. We all get so caught up in number of likes and followers, but numbers shouldn't validate us. Just keep 'gramming!

And be sure to turn on notifications for me if you want to see my posts... just kidding!
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Outfit: In Full Bloom









dress (available for pre-order here) // trench (also here) // hat (similar, and I need this one) // sunnies // bag // wedges (similar)


Spring is in full bloom in Tampa. I swear every street I stroll down in my neighborhood is more beautiful than the last. Kelly found this particular street the other day and immediately called me to let me know that she found a great spot for photos (love her!). It did not disappoint. I mean, look at that purple-covered sidewalk and those gorgeous pink roses!

I stumbled upon this stunning green, floral print dress while scrolling through Tuckernuck's new arrivals (they are currently sold out, but Revolve is taking pre-orders for the same dress). I love dresses with sleeves, and I have never been able to figure out why they are so hard to find. So when I saw this one, I pounced. I sized up (to a M) because I've never tried this brand and it looked very fitted. I am glad I did. The quality of the dress is great - the cut is lovely and it's fully lined - but the zipper was not strong enough to handle the heavy-weight fabric and cinched waist. Luckily, Kelly is an amazing seamstress and she helped me replace the cheap invisible zipper with a stronger gold exposed one. Never underestimate the power of simple alterations.

This dress just feels like spring. Now, if only spring last for more than a couple weeks (if that) in Florida. Temperatures have been climbing steadily and I fear all of these gorgeous blooms won't last long. Oh, and if this trench looks familiar, that is because I loved the striped version so much, I ordered the basic trench version too. It's a great trench.

Anybody else love spring (and spring style) as much as I do?


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Outfit: Cape Trench







cape trench // stripe top // jeans // sunnies (c/o Ditto, also available here) // bag (old, similar) // shoes

Capes always unleash my inner Blair. There is just something about them that make me feel fabulous and like I could take on anything. I love that this jacket merges the classic trench with the trendy cape. It's the best of both worlds.

I was surprised at how stiff the cotton of this trench cape was. But I guess that makes sense, since a heavier fabric would be necessary to hold the shape of the cape. The arm slots feel a bit awkward at first, but after wearing it for a bit, I forgot they were even there. I paired it with a neutral striped tee and my favorite flower print lace-up flats.

Happy Friday!


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Making Prints and Patterns



Apologies for being a little MIA this week. Last week, spring break, was supposed to be my week to catch up on life and even start some fun new sewing projects. But, unfortunately, I had to spend most of the week (and this week) writing a conference paper. This paper is one of those that is just slightly far enough from my particular field that it requires a lot of extra work to ensure I know what I am talking about.

Despite not being able to sew, I have been able to design some fabrics! As much I am enjoying learning to sew, I am really loving the ability to design and create my own fabrics. It's great because you can create exactly what your wardrobe is missing or the perfect piece you can envision, but never find. You can also make affordable prints inspired by your favorite expensive designers (you probably remember this Kate Spade-esque floral pattern I created).


I use Spoonflower to print my creations. I love their linen-cotton canvas and cotton spandex jersey. If you are feeling inspired to create your own prints and patterns, here is a great lesson on how to make a pattern seamless or repeating (which is key when printing yards of fabric). I use this Wacom tablet and these brushes.

I think I have taken to creating prints because it's quicker than actually sewing a skirt or dress lol. But I am excited to get to work (hopefully this weekend) on a dress using my coral poppy fabric. You can see all of my fabric creations here.

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Outfit: Striped Trench







trench NOW ON SALE! (neutral beige version here) // Suite dress (similar) // sunnies // hat (similar) // bag (old, similar) // wedges (similar)

Let me tell you how much I love this trench. It is unique and fun while still being comfortable and flattering. I love that it is so light weight and wrinkle resistant, which makes it perfect for traveling. It will definitely be coming with me this summer, since it's the perfect weight for May's temperamental weather in Italy.

Naturally, I can't leave stripes well enough alone and I had to pair it with a little floral. My favorite Suite dress worked perfectly. For those of you who aren't familiar with Suite, it is a line of fun and whimsical party dresses and escape coats created by my good friend in Florence, Jen. You can see all of her creations on her Instagram or in her Etsy store. She also does custom work, like this little number that she created for me last summer.

Finally, I completed the look with my latest pair of glasses from Ditto's Endless Eyewear Program (which you can read more about here). One of the best parts of this sunglasses rental program is you can go bold and have a little fun with your sunglasses with zero commitment. Sometimes you just need some oversized, orange sunnies in your life.

Happy Monday!

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History in High Heel's (Ultimate) Florence Map Guide




Ok, I finally did it. I created one comprehensive map of Florence with all of my favorite coffee stops, restaurants, must-see museums, and even good photo ops (and much more). Even though these custom Google maps can be a bit time consuming to create, they are completely worth it. You end up with an interactive map that you can view (on or offline) while traveling. They also allow for constant updates, that way I can quickly add new places of interest and keep the map current. I plan on adding more to this map over the next couple of months so stay tuned (my next goal is to add walks).

I am flying to St. Louis this weekend to meet with this summer's group of students studying abroad with the program I work for. So, now seemed like the perfect time to put this map together. I am excited to meet this year's group. It is amazing to be apart of someone's first experience abroad.

I know there are also lots of people planning summer vacations, hopefully you will find this map helpful too. Despite being home just three months, Florence feels like a lifetime ago, and I am itching to return for the summer. I think I am addicted to Florence.

You can access the map here, and you can learn more about custom Google maps here.

And here are some of my top Florence posts:
My Road Trip Through Tuscany
If You Only Have One Day in Florence
How to Drink Coffee Like an Italian


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The Graduate School Balancing Act



The other day on Instagram someone commented that they wanted to see a week in my life because they didn't understand how I travel so much and keep up with the work/responsibilities of graduate school. I'll be honest, most of the time I don't know how I manage to do it all - work on my dissertation, teach, grade, run my Etsy store, blog, and work as a study abroad coordinator. But, I promised myself when I became a full-time graduate student that I wouldn't sacrifice my quality of life or my other interests (hence the blogging).

Keeping that promise, however, isn't always easy. Blog post don't always happen when they should, and most nights I am up late trying to fill Etsy orders, edit photos, answer emails, and grade papers.

But, I maintain that having a full and rewarding life outside of graduate school is essential to maintaining your sanity, keeping you productive, and preventing burn out. I believe the myth that you need to do nothing but grad school - i.e. lock yourself in the library and obsess over your work - in order to succeed is unhealthy and actually counter-productive. 

A happy and balanced grad student can think clearly and thus more efficiently. A grad student whose life doesn't revolve around department politics or competing with their peers will be less susceptible to debilitating self-doubt and imposter syndrome. 

Taking the time to exercise, socialize, and maintain my creative hobbies forces me to use other parts of my mind and releases important chemicals that keep my brain in balance. And if your brain is the muscle you depend on most in grad school, it is important that you keep it as healthy and as highly functional as possible.

Now I am not saying I don't spend a lot of time working on my dissertation and reading, trust me I do. But, it isn't all I do. Thanks to my other pursuits, when I do set aside time to work, I am more productive and happy to do so. I also believe that you have to give yourself time to think about things. So even if I am traveling, working out, painting, or blogging, I am always thinking about my dissertation. I think we waste a lot of time being unproductive. It is important to remember that number of hours logged is not proportional to output.

Studies have shown that constant stress can actually damage brain structure and connectivity. With that in mind, I encourage those in the overly stressful and competitive environment of grad school to take the time to be happy, healthy, and pursue hobbies and activities outside of school. In moderation these will not take away from your productivity; instead, they will enhance it.

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Outfit: Gingham Moto Jacket







moto jacket // dress (old, similar) // hat (vintage) // sunnies // tote // espadrilles

I was so excited for this jacket when I saw it on J.Crew's Pinterest preview board. I immediately pre-ordered it with high hopes. And this jacket did not disappoint. It's a perfectly scaled navy gingham pattern on a well-cut cotton moto jacket. Not only is it flattering and easy to wear, the details on the jacket really make it. You can even cinch the waist with a hidden drawstring.

For this outfit, worn for a day of strolling Sarasota with Emily, I kept things simple and paired my gingham jacket with a white dress, white and navy accessories, and my new-favorite gingham espadrilles (currently on sale!). Emily also showed up in gingham, completely unplanned.

Although it looks great with white, I think this jacket is going to be surprisingly versatile. I can't wait to have some fun with it and get creative with what I pair it with. Right now, I am thinking floral and gingham.

Have you hopped on the gingham bandwagon for spring?


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Outfit: One Last Winter Look







coat (also love this one, both super sale!) // popover (similar) // beanie // tights // flats // sunnies // bag

I think I can safely say that this is my final winter ensemble for the season. Thank goodness, because I am ready for spring. And I am sure I am not alone. I love this yellow coat and it certainly brightens up any winter look, but, I am ready to replace yellow wool for my navy gingham-lined trench.

Speaking of gingham, have you seen J.Crew's latest arrivals? It's a gingham palooza! I am trying not to go crazy, because nobody needs that much gingham in their lives. Hopefully, I can keep my touches of gingham strategic... we will see how long that lasts lol.

I have to give credit to these lace-up flats. Not only did they work with tights (hello, year-round versatility), but they are surprisingly comfortable. I wore them all day in DC and clocked some 10 miles with zero discomfort or blisters. You know how much I appreciate a comfortable shoe, I may to invest in another pair down the road.

Happy Friday!

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