June Favorites + Looking Ahead

[insert same ole spiel about how I can't believe yet another month has come and gone]

No but really. How is it already July?! 2016 is more than HALF WAY OVER. AH! Only bright side to this is we're inching closer and closer to football season, and I for one am not mad about it. 

Bringing you the June recap today, and ending the week tomorrow with my second edition of The Weekender + a new outfit post. Whoop whoop!

Enjoy :)

Personal - June Recap

June kicked off the summer with a bang! Literally. I headed out to Marine Base Quantico for Marine Day.

I had the opportunity to see what a day in the life of a marine was like. Everything from shooting machine guns, to eating a real meal the marines have at the base and overseas. The meat mac and cheese was actually pretty good! You do have to cook your own food through this hot pocket thing that when water is added, it starts boiling and cooking your food in this plastic bag. It's very interesting and something I never knew was even possible.

Marine Day was a work goal of mine, and something I had wanted to attend since arriving to DC. It was an honor to spend the day with some of the country's finest, and I'm so thankful for the sacrifice they have all made. As I witnessed that day, there's a lot we're all unaware of that these marines and any member of the armed services go through to serve our country. So very, very thankful. 

A few days later I jetted off to Key West for a girls getaway with Jenn. More on that in a moment!

I also tried yoga for the first time with Laura and Lauren at City Center with CorePower Yoga. And you know what? I loved it! I may be hooked. While it's slower pace than I normally like for working out, it was a much needed hour of calm and relaxation. And a mini ab workout as well, ha!

After our morning yoga session, Fig & Olive hosted us for a brunch at their City Center DC location. Y'all. This restaurant is gorgeous. We literally could have sat there for hours just chatting away. The chairs are like couches, with pillows and so comfortable. Makes you never want to leave, ha!

Blogging - June Recap

Blogging wise, June was mostly spent offline. I kicked off the month in Key West for a media trip with my blogger bestie Jenn. There's still plenty of recaps coming y'alls way, but if you missed the first few... here's how we traveled down to the keys, where we stayed, and more about our second night out on the town.

I know that posts haven't been consistent. And instead of apologizing again, I'm just going to say... life happens. Well, summer really. I have found myself at times, actually quite often this past month, just enjoying what I was doing and not rushing home to finish a post. Isn't that the whole point? I keep going back and forth with feeling guilty. For not giving y'all new and exciting content vs. not worrying about putting a post together and being spontaneous with plans.

And that's how it's going to be this summer. The warm, gorgeous weather months only happen for a minimal time each year. So I want to spend those small few weeks outside and not cooped up around a computer. I hope y'all understand :) And you know what. You should be doing the same thing too!

Favorite June Posts

June Goals Recap
  1. Entertain more // I hosted quite a few Bachelorette Monday viewing parties this month! I also helped throw a baby shower for one of my coworkers. So I think I can check this off as a completion!!
  2. Finish a book // not surprising, but this didn't happen. BUT, I did start a new one. Make that the 11th book on my nightstand to be started, yet not finished. 
  3. More outfit posts // sorry y'all, definitely didn't happen. A combination of life, humidity with the camera lens and just not enough new pieces to share. 
  4. Download Photoshop and learn how to use it // once again, didn't happen. Dang, I'm bad at making goals and sticking to them. 
  5. Cook more // THIS, I did!! I was finally home enough nights to actually cook dinner. I made homemade spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and fried okra, shrimp pasta and a few other things. Hoping to grill out a ton this weekend too!

Personal - What's coming up for July

I'm really excited for this month! It's the last month full month as a 25 year old for me. So crazy to say that. I'm not one for wishing away the years, but I'm eager to leave 25 in the dust. This past year has had its ups and downs. The common theme has been a lot of learning, transition and acceptance. As I get older, I know life's challenges will only get harder. But I know the lessons I've learned this past year will help make those a little easier to get through and understand.

So to ring in 26 and send 25 a-packin', I'm going to really make the most of the next 31 days. Starting with this weekend. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Not just for the hot dogs, cold brews and poolside views. I love America. And I love celebrating her birthday in the nation's capital. So celebrate is what we will do! Be sure to follow the fun over on snapchat (kroyster815). 

I have a few birthday dinners and happy hours for friends coming up, a goodbye celebration for one of my blog friends Cathy (so sad to see her leave DC!!), and a friend dinner at the new RPM Italian. That's Giuliana and Bill Rancic's restaurant! Welcome to DC RPM Italian!!

Finally, I hope to end the month with a fun weekend getaway somewhere. Details are still being worked out, but fingers crossed it all pans out! 

Blogging - What's coming up for July 

Like I mentioned above, blogging will be at a slower pace next month. I'll post as often as I can, but I'm not going to worry about rushing a post or blogging to just blog. I hope to enjoy the month of July, share quality content when I can, and get back into our regular program in August. Hope y'all will stick with me :)

With that said, there's always new and exciting photos and content over on Instagram and Twitter

July Goals
  1.  There's only one goal this month! To spend as much time outdoors, enjoying the heat of the summer and feel of the water. Vitamin D is such a mood lifter, so I plan to get as much of it as I can in July! 
Have a great Thursday and last day of June y'all!!


Summer Haircare + a few Beauty Faves

Happy Monday loves! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

I've been wanting to put together a post for y'all on my summer haircare. I've received a lot of questions from y'all about how I take care of my hair in the summer. Between the sea salt from the ocean, chlorine from the pool, harsh rays, suntan lotion, sweat, etc., being outside in the summer can really take a toll on your hair.

Most of you know, but I get my hair highlighted. So I do have bleach in it. Something else I have to consider when it comes to taking care of my hair, and which products I use.

For me, less is more. I know there are a lot of fabulous products out there. I always love trying out new items. BUT, that doesn't mean you have to use all of them at once. I try to be consistent with my hair products, and when I find something new I like... it's out with the old and in with the new!

Since a lot of thought goes into which products I use, I was excited to learn about a new and customizable haircare routine from Function of Beauty.

Everyone's hair is different. Different colors, different lengths, different thickness. So, why should we all use the SAME shampoo and conditioner? Function of Beauty allows you to customize both your shampoo + conditioner. Everything from the ingredients, to the color and scent. It's a short survey online to determine YOUR "function of beauty."

Your profile is made up of a few questions. What is your hair type? What goals are you seeking with your haircare? i.e. do you want to work on adding hydration? Or do you want to focus on deep conditioning? You can select as many as you want! Then, you can choose the color of your shampoo and the fragrance.

So for me, I chose to work on hydration, color protection, soothing my scalp (I have dry skin!), and deep conditioning. My fragrance? Grapefruit hibiscus! It smells amazing y'all!

Function of Beauty then takes the personalization from the inside of the bottle, to the outside. It's all about YOU and YOUR hair! How cool is that?!

So this summer it was super important that I show some love to my hair, and really focus on ridding the harsh summer affects. That's when Function of Beauty came in. I can really focus on what my hair and scalp needs! Learn more + create your own set, here!

Prior to trying out Function of Beauty, I had already made the switch to TRESemmé.

I know Tresemme has been around for awhile, but it wasn't till I met with their team at Fashion Week this past February that I really decided to give their products a try. I've been using their shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair, and really love it as well.

While haircare starts with the basics, what you use in the shower, it doesn't stop there. It's also about protecting it.

I started using the TRESemmé Heat Tamer Spray about two months ago. And y'all, I'm obsessed. Not only does it smell FREAKING AWESOME (I may spray a little more than the bottle calls for, ha!), but it really has made a difference.

I spray it on after showering, and before I dry my hair. You can also use it on dry hair too. Basically it helps protect my hair from the heat of drying it and rolling it. Since using this stuff, my curls have really held up better in the summer humidity.

I also use the Batiste Dry Shampoo on my second (sometimes third) day hair.

I've heard many amazing things about this dry shampoo, so I decided to make the switch. My old dry shampoo was really drying out my scalp. Like majorly. But the Batiste dry shampoo hasn't done that yet. It's also super inexpensive!

After drying + rolling (see my hair tutorial here) my hair, I then have to lock the curls in before heading out into the heat and humidity.

My go to hairspray for years has been Aussie Instant Freeze Hair Spray. Once I started using it, I've never looked back. It works so well for my hair, and holds the curls through almost any condition. I spray a good coat of this stuff over my curls once they're pinned back, and then finish off with Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield.

I never really understood why people used this humidity shield, till summer came. Now, I never go outside without it. It makes the biggest difference. It really helps keep my curls intact and protects them from the heat.

Shop all of the above haircare products here:

Before y'all go, I did want to share a few other beauty products I'm loving this summer!

St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion // while I love a good lotion with a tint in it, I can't use tanning lotion everyday. So for my everyday, post shower moisturization my go to is the St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion. It's silky smooth and doesn't leave a sticky residue like some lotions do.

Bliss Instant Energizing Foaming Mask // I was introduced to this foaming mask at the most recent Bluemercury store opening, and I love it. It disperses like a gel, but when you put it on your face and mix with water, it foams! Kinda cool. You leave on your face for about five minutes and then rinse off. It really leaves your skin smooth and so refreshed!

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser // y'all, I'm obsessed with this stuff. It's another Bluemercury find! It may be my newest beauty obsession. Best part is, it's only $15! I use it as my face cleanser and to remove makeup. It has a cucumber type smell, and a little really goes a long way. I have super sensitive skin, and this stuff gently cleanses my skin without the harsh additives in some face washes.

Darphin Hydraskin Light Cream Gel // yep, you guessed it... another Bluemercury fave! It replaces my old moisturizing cream, day and night. I put it on after I wash my face at night, and in the morning when I get out of the shower. Since using it, I've really noticed the redness in my skin has toned down. Mostly after washing my face. It isn't nearly as red or blotchy!

Do y'all use any of these products? What are your experiences? Is there something else I should be trying that you love too? Let me know in the comments below!


Wine O-clock Somewhere

My trip to Key West wasn't all about fun in the sun. There were several indoor activities Jenn and I wanted to try. Both of which happened to be housed under the same hotel.

Prior to our trip we were invited to visit La Concha Hotel and Spa to try out two of their top amenities... Wine-O Store and Bar and Top Spa. You didn't have to ask us twice. I'll share more details about our fun girls spa day next week, but first I wanted to talk about our Wine-O experience + share what I wore for our second night on the town.

We were scheduled to visit Wine-O Friday evening. What was funny, was that on Thursday night Jenn and I walked right past the restaurant and lounge, and both stated how cool the place looked inside. Not even taking a second to realize we'd be dining there the following evening. Too funny.

We pulled up to the La Concha Hotel and Spa, but you can enter Wine-O from their Duval Street entrance. The entire front of the bar is glass windows, which allows the inside decor to peak your interest as you walk by. From the library wall of wines, to the bright red couches, it's hard not to be curious and walk inside.

When we walked in, the host greeted us and showed us to one of their two bar fronts. To make the most of our visit, we decided to do a few wine flights and split several of their appetizers.

What did Jenn and I start with? The rosé flight of course, ha! It's summer after all.

With each flight you receive three tastings. We tried the Miraval first, which may sound familiar. That is the wine produced by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie! The Miraval was my favorite, but I loved the other two as well.

Along with our rosé flight, we did a tasting of their charcuterie platter, grilled shrimp and caprese.

I can honestly say. The grilled shrimp was some of the best I've ever had. Extremely fresh, and the char was perfection. The charcuterie board was also a hit between us both. They brought out a massive display of meats, cheeses and fruit. Jenn got the caprese and said it was delicious as well. Between the three of these "small" plates, we were easily stuffed by the end of the night.

We had time for another flight, so of course we moved on to Pinot Noir. Both of our faves. Honestly, all three tasted very similar to me. You can't really go wrong with a good glass of Pinot Noir. I love wine, so it may have just been that I was eager to drink each one, rather than understand the various notes each one was chosen for. My fault for sure, ha!

Jenn and I sat for awhile at the bar front and just enjoyed the wine, food and atmosphere. Both of us being bloggers though, we of course had to snap a few outfit photos with the bar decor. I loved the library-esk wine wall and ladder. Such a unique feature!

Palm Print Romper: LOFT (now $39.50 + restocked!!) | Wedges: Nordstrom
Clutch: Vera Bradley (c/o) old - similar | Necklace: Julie Vos Coin Pendent (c/o)

Another gem of Wine-O, that most people are unaware of, is that it has a "secret bathroom."

When you arrive you'll notice a cutout to your right of the wine wall. There's a hidden button in the bookcase, that when pressed allows you to push on the cutout in the wall. Suddenly, out pops a door that leads you to the "secret bathroom," along with a side entrance into the La Concha Hotel. How neat is that?!

If you're traveling to Key West anytime soon, I highly recommend making a reservation at Wine-O. The food alone is worth the stop. It'd make a fun start to your girls night out on Duval, or a romantic dinner for two if you're visiting with a special someone.

Thank you to La Concha Hotel and Spa for hosting Jenn and I at Wine-O. While our evening was provided on behalf of the hotel, all photos and opinions are my own. Hope you enjoy your Wine-O experience as much as Jenn and I did! 


The Inn at Key West

Yesterday I talked about how we traveled from Washington, D.C. to Key West. There are several ways of getting to The Florida Keys, but in my opinion it's worth the drive from Miami. To continue off the first trip recap, I wanted to share with you all about where we stayed during our five day visit to the Keys.

Let me preface by saying this:

Key West in general has a pretty relaxed and chill vibe. You're not going to find a ton of five star resorts or hotels that put a strong emphasis on indoor luxury. Why is that? Because being in the Keys is all about enjoying what the outdoors has to offer. Key West is where you go to spend your vacation on the water, touring around town and bar hopping along Duval Street (think Bourbon Street of the Keys). Most restaurants are entirely outdoors. A lot of the bars have open air concepts, and the hotels are known for their pool areas or man made ocean front access.

Speaking of pool areas, the inn Jenn and I stayed at is known for their pool and outdoor bar. We asked many locals, and they all said "head to The Inn at Key West."

The Inn at Key West can be found just off the main highway upon entering the island. It's across the street from the ocean, so some of the rooms offer an ocean front view. But Jenn and I opted for a pool view. We had a small balcony with a table and chairs so that we could look out into the pool and bar area.

We heard a lot about the pool at The Inn at Key West. And boy, it sure didn't disappoint.

It's freaking awesome y'all! A massive pool area with palm trees lining the entire outdoor space. Rows of lounge chairs and cabanas, with the sand at your feet. And a gorgeous water fall and two large palm trees that encompass the pool. The area also has a large bar with food and drink specials. They also had an area off to the side where you can find breakfast each morning. And yes, that is a rooster roaming around!

When we first arrived to The Inn at Key West, we were given two complimentary punch cocktails to be used poolside. They were delicious. Also the red sangria was fabulous. And I loved the chicken nachos + steamed shrimp. Notice a pattern here? Jenn and I did a lot of eating, and uhhh drink tasting!

Jenn and I spent our first afternoon in Key West by the pool. We grabbed a few lounge chairs and jumped in with our complimentary cocktails.

While we were relaxing in the pool, we happened to see something out of the ordinary. Iguanas!!! Four of them. Apparently they are free to roam around the pool area, as well as roosters and chickens.

Jenn even got to feed the iguanas at one point. At first I was pretty nervous being around them, but the staff at the resort say they're so used to humans and will not bother you.

The outdoor space is absolutely worth the stay at The Inn at Key West!!

I will note that the hotel is about two miles away from most of the water sports and Duval Street, where the majority of the bars and restaurants are located. We did have to drive or taxi to most of our activities and nights on the town. Thankfully the front desk staff were very helpful when it came to calling us a taxi, and parking was very accessible (although not very cheap). I want to note this because if you're looking for a property that's closer to the action and requires less driving/taxi rides, keep that in mind when booking your hotel stay. Otherwise, you can also visit the pool and bar area at The Inn even if you're not a guest!

But, if your ideal vacation is sitting poolside with a delicious cocktail, excellent service from the bar staff, and comfortable cabana seating... then The Inn at Key West is for you!

Thank you to The Inn at Key West for hosting Jenn and I during our stay. 
All photos, except for the in room photo, and opinions are my own.


"Let's Get It Poppin', I'm In Miami Trick"

A week ago today I was traveling home from one of the best vacations in years.

Key West has been at the top of my "must travel bucket list" for years. It remained on the list for quite some time, simply because it seemed like an impossibly difficult place to get to. Most people don't realize, but Key West is a good four hours south of Miami.

Thankfully my blogger bestie and partner in crime, Jenn, agreed to tackle this travel endeavor and prove it can be an easy weekend getaway. Once committed to the trip, we quickly started planning and doing our research on getting to the Southernmost Point.

Everyone we seemed to ask had the same thing to say. "Drive. Don't fly into Key West." Mostly because direct flights into Key West will leave your wallet empty before you even arrive, but the main reason was because the views along the drive are well worth saving those extra Benjamins.

One of Jenn and I's main goals for this trip was to stick to a budget. While we ultimately blew right past that, we still made a conscious effort to save money where we could. Traveling to The Florida Keys was our first hurdle. We decided to fly into Miami and make the four hour trek by car. Convertible style. Why the heck not?! Might as well arrive to the islands in style. When in Rome, right?

Our flights were direct via American Airlines into Miami. How much did it cost? $180 roundtrip. No joke! It helped that we flew out on the first flight Thursday morning, and returned on the last flight Monday night. If you can, be flexible with travel dates in order to get the best deal.

We rented a car online ahead of time via Kayak and Budget Rentals. When we arrived to Miami, we took a short tram ride over to the car rental hub. There was no wait, and we walked right up to receive our car. One piece of advice. Take whatever price you're quoted in advance for the car... and double it. Florida unfortunately has a lot of hidden fees. Between costs for adding additional drivers, pre-purchasing fuel, and the SunPass daily toll fees, extra charges can add up pretty quickly. Jenn and I weren't prepared for this, but we still ultimately traveled cheaper than flying into Key West. And, we weren't going to let this speed bump get us down. We were "in Miami trick!"

We headed out to our rental car, only to find our version of a Transformer... Bumblebee!! Jenn and I just died laughing. Everyone was going to see us coming from a mile away.

After thirty minutes of figuring out how to take the top down, attempting to fit two very large suitcases into the tiniest trunk ever, and then figure out how to turn the SunPass on, we were on our way!

The drive from Miami to Key West is pretty easy. After a short reroute, we quickly turned onto a highway that literally ended with us arriving to our resort. Zero turns or detours. That's my kind of directions!

The first hour or so of the drive is pretty blah. Not much to see. Not many places to stop. But once you hit Key Largo, the scenery instantly transforms, making you double check that you didn't enter a new country. Because yes, you're now in paradise. Ocean, for as far as the eye can see. Every shade of blue you can imagine. I mean, THIS is what everyone was talking about. THIS was the reason everyone said the drive was well worth it. THIS was the point we turned up the music and jammed out, because life was definitely good today.

Another suggestion for our journey down from Miami, was to stop for lunch at The Beach Cafe at Morada Bay in Islamorada. This was actually a local's suggestion... so, you're welcome for this hidden gem. The Beach Cafe is literally right off the highway. You'd totally miss it if you didn't know it was there. Once you park your car, walk past a few palm trees and pineapple bushes (is that what they're called?!), you instantly see the most gorgeous setting. A large beach front with colorful tables, chairs and umbrellas. And a super cool gift shop housed in an Airstream. The view alone was worth the stop.

Jenn and I enjoyed lunch basically to ourselves. We arrived right when it opened. I had the crab cakes, and Jenn had the tuna tataki. Both were fabulous. The Beach Cafe really kicked off our weekend in the best way possible. If you're making the drive down to Key West, I highly recommend timing out your trip to stop here for lunch or at their sister restaurant next door for dinner, Pierre's.

After a quick lunch pitstop, it was back on the road. It's about another hour or so to Key West from this point. We were heading to our hotel, The Inn at Key West. We literally stumbled right into it off the highway. I'll be sharing a recap of our hotel stay on the blog tomorrow. So stay tuned for that, and TONS of more Key West travel recaps coming your way this week + next!


The Weekender, Vol. 1

Happy Friday friends! I know it has been a week or so since my last post, and I appreciate everyone bearing with me in my absence. I decided to enjoy my vacation to Key West, and then take the few days post trip to get caught up on what I missed.

To get back into the swing of things, I wanted to end this week with some link love. You may notice it has a new name and format. I've been meaning to start this new style for awhile now. I feel like a lot of bloggers do a "link love" post each week, and I also felt my Friday Link Love posts were filled with a little TOO much love. If that's even possible?! So I wanted to condense these week-enders. It's about quality, not quantity. I also felt they were just random bullet points of clothing and accessories, with no real meaning behind them.

In an effort to keep it real with y'all and abide by "less is more," I created The Weekender.

The Weekender will consist of "the highlight" of my week + "the low-light" (get it, lol). I encourage y'all to share yours too in the comments. These posts will also include 10 curated links of things I'm loving around the web, things to know, shop links, etc. Whatever is most pertinent that week!

Sound good? From now on these will be a lot shorter, but I wanted to give y'all a little background on why I'm switching up the format. Hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!

Highlight of the week: Although I came back to a full inbox and busy week, I have been on a vacation high all week. I feel refreshed, and excited for the summer. I have a lot of fun things coming up this weekend, so I know this high is only going to keep going. Isn't that the best feeling?!

Low-light of the week: The con of this week was definitely getting back into the swing of things post vacay. I went from sitting by the beach with an ocean view, to waking up to the sounds of the construction site across from my apartment building. I also came back to hundreds of emails + a three page to-do list. Anyone else have this issue after a long getaway?!

I do want to end this week's post with a simple note about the recent events in Orlando. I don't want to focus on the political aspect or details, but simply say that I'm heartbroken over all the events that have occurred in that wonderful city this past week. Many innocent people have lost their lives, and their families and friends and communities will be affected for weeks and years to come. I hope everyone keeps those affected + the first responders in their thoughts and prayers, and that we pray senseless acts like these will end. Whatever change needs to be made, however you see it being made, we all can agree no life is worth a disagreement in beliefs!!


Summer Linen

Top: old, Nordstrom (similar) | Skirt: LOFT | Wedges: Nordstrom | Clutch: Vera Bradley (c/o)
Sunnies: Karen Walker | Lip Stick: NARS Golshan | Watch: Michael Kors
Photos by Nicole of A Dash of Gold

Summers in DC can get hot. Very hot. I thought by moving north I'd escape the harsh humidity of the South, but sadly DC is no better. If not worse. So when it comes to my summertime wardrobe, I try to stick to light fabrics and dark pieces. Why? Because light fabrics breath easier + dark pieces won't show the ramifications of sweltering humidity. I.E. sweat. So I love pairing a thin black tank with skirts and white pants, as well as in this case... a linen skirt. Y'all, I'm obsessed with this skirt. It's light weight, the fit is perfect + it has on trend tassel detail. It's summer perfection. You can easily dress this skirt up like I did here, dress it down with flats or pair with work appropriate top + cardi. The opportunities to style it are endless.