Life Lately, Vol. 5

Well hey there sweet friends! It has been a hot minute since my last blog post. This has been the LONGEST I've gone without sharing new content in the three years I've been blogging. So let's get caught up...

Happy New Year
Happy January
I technically celebrated three years of blogging on January 16th!!
Hope you had a great MLK Day, President's  Day, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day...

And your March is going well. Anyone on spring break this week?!

Yep, SO MUCH has occurred throughout this (really) extended blogging hiatus. So I wanted to kickoff this new found blogging motivation with a post catching y'all up on whats been going on in my life lately.

Why such a long break? | Life. No seriously. Life has been busy. I honestly hate that word though. It's an excuse. And let's be honest... we're all busy! Busy with work. Busy with side hobbies or activities. Hustling to make that promotion or scrounge up enough money for next month's spring getaway. Busy is good. It means we're working for something. Toward something. So I'm not going to apologize for my time away here, but instead relish in the fact that I have a lot of exciting opportunities going on and pray that I find the time to get them all done, ha.

Work | I don't usually share a lot about what I do, work wise, with y'all. I work in politics and because of that I tend to keep my blogging life and work life very separate. I'm sure you can gather though from the current political climate that my work life has been less than boring recently. I'd say my full-time job has been the strongest reason for my blogging hiatus. There just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.

I've been with my current office for 5 years this May. Yikes!! Has it really been that long?! I absolutely love what I do and for whom I work. Because of that, it makes going to work each day pretty rewarding and fulfilling.

Whole30 | If you follow me on social media, you may have seen recently where I began Whole30 (not sure what it is? learn more here). I did a lot of preparation before I started + read the Whole30 guide. I felt like I could tackle it with no problem. However, you really don't realize what you're getting into till you've actually started the program. It's no alcohol, no added sugar, no legumes, no gluten and no dairy. Basically a paleo diet with no alcohol. It sounds miserable, doesn't it?!

While I hope to share a full post with y'all soon explaining why I started it, I want to update y'all that I ended up quitting after 5 days, ha. Not because it was hard. Not because of the food, but because of the time commitment and cost. It just wasn't suitable for my lifestyle or budget. Whole30 is very time consuming. Especially since I live alone. Lots of prep + cleanup. It also can be very, very expensive.

Ultimately though I'm glad I started it. It taught me how much "bad stuff" I was putting into my body, and I never realized how much I ate, had added sugar. It really taught me to read the labels and limit the quantity of bad stuff I eat (and drink) each day. I've taken a few things away from it and plan to continue implementing those lifestyle changes daily. One example I discovered while on Whole30 is drinking my coffee black. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and I've continued doing so ever since. No sugar or cream. Those are wasted calories!! I also am loving zucchini noodles in place of pasta noodles with my spaghetti and meatballs. Save those pasta calories for an extra meatball or two, ha!

Social Media | I honestly haven't had a ton of new content to share on Instagram, but am really starting to love Insta Stories. Yes, I was one of the ones who initially hated it and was upset they were trying to takeover Snapchat. BUT I'm singing a different tune lately. Posting different content in two different apps is getting old. Insta Stories also offers a lot more variety, ways to share content and I get wayyyy more views on what I'm posting over there. So I'm considering getting rid of Snapchat. Has anyone else taken that plunge?!

My NCC | One of the biggest updates is that I've been putting a lot of time into growing my relationship with the big Man upstairs. Since initially getting back into Church seven months ago, I've gone to more services than the past seven years combined. My spiritual journey is just "re"-beginning and I have a long way to go, but I'm already seeing God show up and show off. He's led me to a place that is so fulfilling and I owe that all to Him. But it's also the family I've acquired through National Community Church. I've gained so many new friends the past few months, and my mental health and strength is thriving. I've never been this excited or hopeful about my future. I'm really looking forward to sharing a full post on NCC + more content on my spiritual journey with y'all as Easter nears. The perfect time to do so don't ya think?!

Gala Season | Spring in DC is my absolute favorite! There are so many fun parties, receptions and galas. Last Thursday I kicked off the official start to the spring gala season at the Cherry Blossom Pink Tie Party. It was so much fun y'all!

I found my dress for the party at Nordstrom Rack. It was less than $50, has bell sleeves + comes in two other colors!! Shop the exact dress here!

Prior to the party I got my makeup done by GLAMSQUAD! It's a new app that recently launched in DC. Through the app you can hire a professional hair stylist and/or makeup artist to come directly to your home and help you get "glam" for your event or party. Think at home blowouts, airbrush makeup, false lashes application + so much more!

My makeup artist, Kelly, came fully prepared and had my airbrush makeup done in less than 45 minutes! She was wonderful!!

I'm going to be using GLAMSQUAD again before next month's Taste of the South Charity Gala! This will be my first year attending the gala as an attendee, and not a member of the planning committee. I'm so looking forward to just enjoying the event and not being in charge of anything, ha.

Would you like to try out GLAMSQUAD yourself? Download the app and take $25 off your first use with code kroyster5669 within the promotions tab of the app.

Dating | I'd say you can probably compare how well my dating life is going to how well my blogging has been the past few months... open to it, but it's just non-existent. I've gone on a few dates over the past couple of months. Between an old fling coming round the bend, to a few blind dates gone wrong, I decided enough was enough. I deleted all of my dating apps and decided to focus on genuine, in person connections. I've gained a lot of time back each day (from not scrolling through apps) and started to really focus on meeting men in person. Imagine that, haha! So far it has made dating A LOT less stressful, and I've met some really nice guys offline. None have worked out so far, but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

Travel | I did a little traveling last month when I headed up to NYC with my travel buddy and friend, Jenn, for our second New York Fashion Week. I'll have a recap post on that soon.

Next month I'm traveling down to Georgia for The Masters. Yep, THE Masters. I'm going with my mom and dad to the last day of practice round. Which apparently is the best day, because you get to take a camera and take photos with all the players. Jordan Spieth... I'm coming for you! Because you can take a camera, you better believe I'll be sharing a ton of photos with y'all post practice round. Now, just need to figure out what to wear!

So what have y'all been up to? Is there anything you're hoping to see on the blog soon?


Happy New Year!

Sweater: H&M | Jeans: LOFT | Booties: DSW (similar here) | Phone Case: CaseMate
Scarf: H&M | Bag: Vera Bradley (c/o) | Necklace: Julia Vos (c/o) | Watch: Daniel Wellington (c/o)
Photos by Lauren

Well hello there... happy new year!! I hope everyone had a wonderful time ringing in 2017, and is having a great start to January thus far.

It seems like ages since I've shared an outfit post, let alone a blog post. Because of that, I wanted to start off the new year with a quick recap of what I've been up to and what lies ahead for me in the new year.

Honestly, I had this huge recap post planned. Well, two posts actually. I was going to recap 2016 and then discuss my hopes for 2017. And you know what? I deleted them both. Both posts were lengthy. No one has time to read paragraphs, upon paragraphs. So today's post is a more condensed version of the two I previously planned to share.

2016... was a year of many firsts for me. I started the year by moving into an apartment that I could call all my own. Very fitting that I'm doing the same thing as I begin 2017. But we'll get to that, ha. In February I traveled to NYC to attend my first New York Fashion Week. It was truly a dream come true. Sitting front row at my very first show (pure luck and being in the right place at the right time), and capping off the experience with the stunning Monique Lhuillier show (where Jenn and I sat two rows behind several of the biggest celebs... we were dying). I also traveled a lot in 2016. Headed to Key West for the first time in June, and back to Nashville to end the summer. I spent quite a few weekends at home in Knoxville, and witnessed in person one of the biggest Tennessee Vols football wins in a decade or more. I ended the year with my biggest and most personal accomplishment... finally finding a Church to call home in DC. I'm so thankful for everyone at National Community Church, and welcoming me with open arms. I made a ton of new friends this past year, unfortunately ended a few friendships as well, learned a lot about myself, and really left the year feeling older and more mature. If that's even possible, ha. But really though. I felt like I was finally getting a hang of this whole "adult" thing, ha.

2017... will be an amazing year where things truly come together. It's probably cliche of me to say, but I have a feeling that this new year will be "my year." Not in the sense I own it or anything, but that a lot of pieces of the puzzle will start fitting together. I'm starting 2017 off in a brand new apartment. Yes... I'm moving for the third time in less than five years. It's for a culmination of reasons, but majorly due to cost of rent. My new apartment is brand new and more affordable. No one has ever lived in it. The building has some amazing amenities, like an indoor lap pool. I used to be a competitive swimmer, so I'm seriously stoked to get back into the pool and start exercising again. I hate running, I hate gyms and I can't afford monthly cycling classes (although I'd love to). You can't really beat a pool in the same building you live in, with absolutely no payment required!

I created a list of "hopes for 2017" last night, and it ended up being two pages. I won't bore you with the list, but give you an overall idea of what I wrote down. It wasn't a list of resolutions or in a bucket list format. In my opinion, those limit you. Like if you write down... "lose 10 pounds." Okay, well what are you going to do to lose those 10 pounds? And what if you only lose 8? You'll feel like you failed. Instead, I choose to write down a list of hopes. Things I hope will happen in the new year, and then small steps I can take to bring those hopes to reality. That way, no matter what happens I'll end the year focusing on all that did happen rather then staring at a list of items never crossed off. For example, one of my hopes is to grow closer in my relationship with God. How will I do that? By going to Church more, being in the Word more each week and starting a brand new Bible study. It's a more overarching theme for the new year, rather then limiting myself by saying "finish the Bible study" or "go to Church every single Sunday." I don't want to limit myself, but instead encourage.

A few other hopes for the new year are travel somewhere I've never been, take the next step in my career, put myself out there more to meet someone special, and make better use of my morning routine.

I look forward to seeing what this year has in store. And I know I haven't been present with y'all on here lately, and to be quite frank... I don't know when or if things will get back to normal on the blog. I love blogging, and have loved the opportunities and friendships it has afforded me. I will continue posting when I have beneficial content to share, but for more frequent peeks inside my life, feel free to follow along on Snapchat (Kroyster815), Instagram or Twitter.

May the new year be the BEST one yet for each and every one of you! Thank you for being so supportive and for following along the past almost three years (my 3-year blog anniversary is January 16th!!). I look forward to sharing my 2017 journey with y'all on here, and hope you'll continue to follow along. Cheers to the new year, friends!


A Blogger's Favorite Things Dinner

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the opportunity to give back to those who give so much to me... my friends and family! Yes, "receiving" is awesome. But to me, the feeling of seeing someone's face when you "give" them a gift, is even better. Not trying to sound all cliche here (and not saying you should return my presents Mom), but I really do enjoy giving during the holidays.

That's why a few years ago I decided to start an annual dinner with some of my favorite bloggers. A way to gift some of my favorite things to some of my favorite people. It's just "my way" of giving back during the holidays. I like think of it as my own "Oprah's Favorite Things" or "Ellen's 12 Days of Giveaways!" haha. Each year I have partnered with some of my favorite brands, and held the dinner at one of my favorite DC restaurants.

This year for my 3rd annual dinner, I partnered with The Hamilton to host nine of my friends for an evening of dinner and drinks, celebrating the holidays together, and a little gift exchange.

The Hamilton prepared custom printed menus in the color scheme of the evening, red and white! The service was absolutely impeccable, and the lamb gnochetti is something I'm still talking about till this day. Is it too soon to go back and get another round, ha?!

Seriously though. If you're looking to host a dinner, shower or event, The Hamilton is the place to do it. I've hosted numerous dinners at their restaurant, and every one has been fabulous. They really go above and beyond with every detail... offering to customize menus for free, showcase a signature drink, and allow me to setup the table prior to my guests arriving. Their menu is also really expansive, so there's something for everyone and at every price range. The Hamilton will even split the checks for you! Which is a HUGE bonus for large parties like ours.

I worked with Swoozies to gift each girl a personalized wine tumbler + holiday sequined tote bag for the girls to carry all their goodies home in. How freaking adorable are these totes?! There's six different styles to choose from, and each one us under $25!!

The wine tumbler's are perfect for on-the-go, and can be used for both hot and cold beverages. I used mine last week to carry my coffee to work! And the bags... y'all, I have been stopped at least five times with people asking where I got my tote. It has been the perfect carryall to take my lunch and necessities to and from work this holiday season!

Kendra Scott gifted each girl a Naomi Two Finger Drusy Ring, either silver or gold. Very fitting for the holidays! Special thanks to Corbin for arranging this gift :) This ring is perfect for the holidays, but also perfect to wear year round. It just adds a touch of sparkle to your outfit!

The Flower Luxe donated two gorgeous rose boxes to serve as the most stunning centerpieces!! The white box is below, and they also donated a box of red roses as well. Sadly the lighting in the restaurant wasn't the best, so this was the best photo I could get of the setup.

I absolutely adored these rose boxes. How unique of an idea is this?! I first noticed them at this past summer's Blogger Scene event. So when I needed a centerpiece for my dinner, The Flower Luxe was the first brand to come to mind. These boxes would make a stunning gift or addition to any tablescape.

And Vera Bradley went above and beyond to gift My Favorite Thing of 2016, the Elena Leather Crossbody Bag to each of the girls. This has seriously been my favorite thing this year. I have it both in black and hunter green, and carry it just about everywhere. I love the quality of the bag, and how much actually fits in it. The girls went nuts when they opened their bags to find these!!

You're probably thinking... how can it get any better?! Oh, but it did! Along with these wonderful gifts, I gave each girl a bottle of my homemade vanilla + a tin of my favorite Christmas cookies and homemade chocolate turtles. Sadly they didn't last long enough for me to get a photo, ha!

I'd say this year was the BEST Favorite Things Dinner yet! Not only did each girl walk away with a bag full of my favorite things, but we also played the white elephant game. And not with gag-gifts. Each girl brought "their favorite thing" to play the game with. We had everything from cookbooks, to wine glasses, to beauty products and face masks, and more! I walked away with an "ice roller" that was Libby's favorite thing.

Phewww, what a night! So many favorites all in one place! My favorite restaurant, favorite brands, favorite foods, and some of my favorite people! A Blogger's Favorite Things dinner has grown to be another favorite... my favorite tradition of the holidays! Cheers to all the brands that made this year's dinner possible!

Photos by Lauren


Weekend in Review: Annapolis, MD

Oh hello, it's me. Checking in from my unofficial extended break from blogging, ha. I wanted to share with you some photos and details from a recent media trip myself, Laura and Jenn, went on.

A few weekends ago the three of us took a quick weekend girls getaway to Annapolis, Maryland. Surprisingly, Annapolis is a very short metro + Uber ride. Only about 45 minutes from DC. Also surprising, I had yet to visit the coastal town. Sad, right?! Well it was about time for sure!

We left after work on Friday, and metro'd out to the closest stop to Annapolis. We then hopped in an Uber, which took us straight downtown to our hotel. We stayed at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. Which is just as wonderful as it sounds. Right on the water, overlooking a harbor of sailboats and downtown Annapolis.

The three of us decided to stay in Friday night and just catch up over a bottle of wine. We grabbed some sushi, and then headed back to our room where the hotel set us up with a bottle of wine and snacks for the evening. So thoughtful of them!

Saturday we woke up, ordered room service, and then headed out downtown to walk around and do a little shopping. Downtown Annapolis is the most quaint little town, and they were actually in the process of decorating for Christmas. Everyone was in the holiday spirit, and very friendly. After an exhausting few hours of shopping, we grabbed lunch and then headed back to the hotel for some rest before dinner.

The hotel brought us up a really nice cheese plate to dig into while we got ready. We then headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant for dinner. We did a lot of eating, if you haven't caught onto that yet, ha! We capped the evening off by meeting up with some of Jenn's friends, and cheers-ing a few glasses of wine in downtown Annapolis.

Sunday we packed up and headed back to DC! But not till we ordered another round of room service, and snapped a few pics of the hotel. Typical bloggers, ha!

We had such a wonderful time in Annapolis, and owe our lovely stay to the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. If you're visiting the area soon, I cannot recommend staying here enough. It's right in the heart of downtown Annapolis, and only steps away to shopping, dining and the water. The hotel is all decked out (pun intended, ha) in nautical decor, and the staff are all super friendly. I can't wait to get back up in the spring time where we can enjoy more time outside on the dock, and maybe take a sailing trip! That'd be so fun!

Special thanks to Annapolis Waterfront Hotel for hosting our stay. 


Cyber Monday Sale Roundup

It's officially Christmas time!!! Let the countdown begin... 27 days till Christmas! That means, time is dwindling to get those presents under the tree!

Thankfully, Cyber Monday is here to help you out! I woke up this morning to about 200 emails in my inbox about Cyber Monday sales. I mean who has time to go through all 200 of those emails and find the best deals?! Well, apparently I do, ha!

I've rounded up a HUGE list of sales going on today! Happy shopping y'all!!

Amazon: Cyber deals are here! Head over to Amazon to see what's on sale! Save $40 on Amazon Echo

Ann Taylor: 50% off everything + FREE shipping with code CYBER50

Anthropologie: 20% off full price items + FREE shipping on orders over $150 with code STACKS and an extra 30% off sale items

Banana Republic: 50% off absolutely everything (discount applied at checkout)

Brooks Brothers: Save an additional 10% online + FREE shipping on all orders!

Daniel Wellington: 15% off your purchase with code PRIMP15 + complimentary watch strap with watch purchase

Draper James: their biggest sale EVER!! Buy more, save more! See graphic below!

Emily Ley: Up to 50% off everything!

Express: 50% off everything + FREE shipping

GiGi New York: buy more, save more (see graphic below for official deals)

Goodnight Macaroon: 40% off store wide with code CYBER40

Hayneedle: Up to 60% off sitewide

H&M: Buy more, save more! See graphic below for details!

J.Crew: 40% off your purchase + FREE shipping with code MONDAY

J.Crew Factory: 60% off everything (prices as marked) + an extra 40% off clearance with code HAPPYSALE

Kate Spade: 30% off your purchase with code WIRED

Kendra Scott: 20% off everything with code SALE20

LOFT: 50% off everything + FREE shipping with code CYBERMONDAY

Macys: TONS of sales! Extra 20% off + FREE shipping on orders $25+ with code CYBER

Madewell: 25% off your entire purchase with code CYBERMONDAY

Marleylilly: FREE earrings with any $50+ purchase with code ML3925

Minted: 20% off everything with code CM2016

Moon and Lola: 30% off your entire purchase with code MERRY30

Nordstrom: Extra 20% off select sale items

Rent the Runway: 30% off all rentals with code CM2016

Shopbop: Use code GOBIG16 to get up to 25% off, with buy more save more!

Talbots: 50% off ONE item + 40% off the rest of your purchase (discount applied at checkout)

Target: 15% off just about everything + major discounts on select items

Tory Burch: 30% off sitewide + FREE shipping with $250+ purchases. Use code THANKS

Tuckernuck: Buy more, save more! See graphic below!

Vera Bradley: 50% off ALL sale items

Waiting on Martha: 30% off EVERYTHING with code CYBERMONDAY

Williams-Sonoma: Buy more, save more! See graphic below!