Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Dress Holiday Festive in Florida





J.Crew Sleeveless Sweater  /  American Eagle Denim (similar)  /  Jeffrey Campbell (similar, mine are sold out)  /  Necklace (loving this one)  /  similar Crossbody (5 colors under $40!) /  NYX Lip Color  


Hello Friends and Happy Tuesday!  I will keep this short and sweet yet again but today's post is dedicated to all of you who are living (or traveling) in warmer weathers this holiday season.  I must say it is a new experience all together for me to see how Christmas is celebrated here.  Palm trees covered in lights, people going to the beach on Thanksgiving Day-- it is absolutely not what this northern transplant is accustomed to!  None the less I am trying so hard to be open minded and soak up all the new experiences coming my way.  

I absolutely love wearing sleeveless sweaters here.  It is the most practical way to wear a sweater :)  These red Jeffrey Campbell sandals come in super handy this time of year.  Nothing says Christmas more than red!  Add some bling and a red lip and you are all set for a laid back holiday look!   You can easily add non-distressed jeans or even faux leather leggings for night since this is more of a tunic style sweater.  Skirts are another great option for warmer temperatures here as well.   

Oh and p.s. my new camera came in the mail yesterday!   I can't wait to play around with all the settings, bluetooth and shutter options.  With Drew being gone, this girl needs to be able to take pictures via her phone from a tripod.  I didn't have that option with our gifted camera so it was time for a technology upgrade.   Here is what I order via Costco: Nikon D3400.  We ordered it when it was $300 off so I feel we got a great deal!  

I hope you have a great Tuesday and that you got tons of shopping done this past weekend!






Saturday, November 26, 2016

Holiday Pajama Must Haves Under $50





TARGET PAJAMA SET / FUZZY SOCKS / MUG (similar) / POTTERY BARN THROW /  POTTERY BARN CREAM PILLOW (sold out, similar) /  similar FA LA LA LA Pillow / TARGET PLAID PILLOW (this years version) / TARGET MERRY CHRISTMAS PILLOW (this season)

Hello Friends!   I wanted to do a post dedicated solely to Christmas PJ's because in years past I have waited to get mine and then all the good ones are sold out!  So take a look and if something speaks to you, just get it!   Also, there is no denying that this time of year is my absolute favorite.  I love going all out with decorations and festive attire.   The next few weeks a lot of my posts will be dedicated to holiday looks.   If you follow me on snapchat (@rachsomp) then you might have heard me mention that we aren't getting a tree at our house this season.  A piece of me is dying but ultimately it makes the most sense for us this year.  Drew leaves for Greece and will be gone for two weeks, gets back and then we basically pack up and head to PA for a few weeks.  I am a real tree kind of girl and know that ours would surely die in our absence.   I think I am making up for it by buying all these Christmas pajamas and throw pillows instead!  hehe.  

Here are a few of my favorites that I have come across this year: 



(p.s. all prices were under $50 at the time of this posting)







Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Black Friday Shopping Tips



Some of my favorite memories with my mom are waking up at 5am and heading out to the malls together.  It started when I began to have an opinion on all my clothes and she no longer would shop for me without my consent (yep, typical female teenager right there).  Those times of course were a little different.  No smart phones or online shopping, just good old fashion bargain hunting!   I still will venture out for the fun of it and for the past 2 seasons I worked in retail so I was living.   I figured I would compile a list of tips for you all in case you still have trouble navigating through all the black Friday murky waters.  

p.s. some of my favorite store current sales and outfit details will be at the bottom of this post!


Tip #1
Wear comfy clothes and layers  
It is not the time to be a total fashionista.  You will be battling tons of crowds and likely walking miles, so keep it comfy but put together.  It's a good thing that athleisure is in right now.  Throw on your workout pants, some sneakers and something cute on top.  If you are shopping outside at outlets you will need to keep warm.  If you get a little too warm throw your layers in one of your shopping bags and keep it moving! 



Tip #2
Wear a cross body bag
 It is the safest way to keep your personal items closest to you and it allows you to be hands free when trying to search for all your bargain presents

Tip # 3
Have a Game Plan
This sounds simple but often goes to the way side in all the black Friday frenzy.  Know where you are going, map out a plan and try your best to stick to it!  You want to be efficient and in and out as quickly as you can.



Tip #4
Go with a Buddy
I don't recommend going solo nor do I recommend going with too many people.  You will need to help one another (one stands in the long line while the other one shops for what they need) but too many people on your trip can cause chaos.  Organizing just one or two friends or family members is easier than a large group full of opinions.  

Tip #5
Use Technology
There's an app for that.  Literally!  Download a black Friday app that will tell you all the sales going on.  You can browse your favorite stores and have the app send you store alerts.  It can track the nearest store to you and bring up that stores specific webpage.  I'm using Black Friday FM.  Also think about bringing a portable battery charger.   There is nothing worse then your phone dying when you need it to contact friends and look up store promos! 

Tip #6 
Shop Early
Many people aren't as motivated so find out when the local mall or outlet opens and go!  Depending on where you are going crowds can be a little less in the early morning hours.  Plus nothing is picked through and most door busters end by or before noon!

Tips #7-11

I could go on and on about what to do... bring tylenol in case you get a headache, be nice because the retail workers are honestly trying their best, smile and be patient, always store bags in a trunk so no one can see what you have and ask for boxes because they won't have them in a few weeks! 



BEANIE: (last season) $15 option LEGGINGS: Zella (similar) VEST: Old Navy also love this J.Crew Factory  SNEAKERS: Adidas Superstar (size down) TOP: (sold at via CS Gems)  SUNNIES: Ray-Ban WATCH:  Michael Kors CROSSBODY: (old style) similar here


Also most stores are already running great discounts and deals, here are a few of my favorites right now:

J.Crew 40% off in store and online
J.Crew Factory 50-60% off Everything! Online only right now
Express 50% off almost everything
Nordstrom  Designer Sale & tons of new sale items posted
The Loft 50% off everything online only
The Limited 60% off everything
Francesca's 30% off everything
Michael Kors up to 30% off full price, lots of sale items
Macy's 20% off everything plus extra 10% on select departments
Pottery barn 30% off holiday
West Elm up to 30% off
Target Check doorbusters, sale has already begun

Happy Shopping and Stay tuned for more holiday gift guides!

SHOP THE POST

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

20 Dresses to Wear to a Holiday Party


I recently had a request to put together some holiday party outfit ideas.  I am really thankful for the suggestion because I completely forgot that I too have a party I need to attend on December 15th and I haven't even thought about what to wear until this post.  A majority of the dresses below are cocktail, a few are on the casual side but I am a firm believer that the right accessories can make any dress, "dressier"  


1) LuLu's    2) Adrianna Papell    3) Chelsea 28  (2 colors)    4) 1. State

1) Lulu's   (2 colors)    2) Eliza J (4 colors)    3) The Limited    4) Fire

1) Charles Henry (4 colors)    2) Lulu's (2 colors)    3) J.Crew Factory    4) The Loft

1) Bardot (2 colors)   2) Wayf    3) Dee Elle    4) J.Crew Factory

1) Jump Apparel    2) The Loft    3) Nordstrom Rack (2 colors)    4) Nordstrom Rack (3 colors)

You might have noticed a trend with my selections.  Off the shoulder, cold shoulder and velvet are so in for this season.  Lace is always a staple look and this time of year I love darker greens, navy, burgundy and of course black!  Metallics are fun as well but I tend to save the full on sequins dress for New Years and not the company holiday party.  

A Few Styling Tips:

Wearing Black:  I love adding metallics and fun jewelry to give my black dresses some personality  (don't let your black dress be boring)

Wearing Stockings:  I would refrain from wearing anything too thick with a cocktail dress.  Sheer black pantyhose are always best or anything else thats still sheer with design can enhance the look of your overall outfit.  (its okay to go with bare legs too!

Open Toe Shoes:  If you live in colder climates you can absolutely still wear open toe shoes (unless you are wearing stockings) Try something suede or velvet to go with the season.  

Undergarments:  They should never been seen no matter what!  I do have a smaller bust so I can get away with a lot of thing when it comes to the bra department.  Most of the strapless dresses above can be worn with a strapless bra.  Anything that dips too low or is backless try wearing a Nu Bra also make sure you have on seamless panties! 

Accessories:  Your clutch/bag do not have to match your shoes,  try not to take a large handbag to an evening event,  big statement earrings and a statement necklace is overpowering try to choose one or the other

Hair & Makeup:  red lips look great this time of year, just make sure it is cohesive with your look and not fighting against it,  no need for full on up do's you can keep it simple with some curls and a little teasing, a full coverage foundation at night is always recommended,  light lip & smokey eye, darker lip color and lighter eye make up is always a good rule to follow if you aren't sure what to do

A few places that I love to shop for jewelry are BAUBLEBARCharming Charlie & Francesca's   

Also a few show options that I am loving right now here:

If you find yourself stuck on what to wear or how to wear it, always feel free to reach out to me!  Good luck on your holiday party outfit search if you are like me and haven't bought a single thing yet!   Also a great suggestions is to always check out RENT THE RUNWAY
I have a fabulous rest of the day!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The BEST Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe EVER!


Hello Friends and Happy Happy Monday!  Today's post is dedicated to all of you pumpkin lovers out there.  If you are anything like me, you love any recipe that involves pumpkin this time of year.  I thought I would do something different and bring you a recipe post.  I will be 100% honest and admit that I do not love to cook, however I am a baker.  There is something therapeutic about baking for me and cheesecake is one of my favorite things to make.  Cheesecake is something that requires a heavy amount of time and you do need to bake it at least a day before you intend to serve it.  It always tastes best when chilled overnight and each step below is important in the baking and chilling process so don't try to cut corners :)  I promise if you make the time to bake this, you will not be disappointed... it is AH-MAZ-ING!  

We had an early Thanksgiving this past weekend with Drew's parents who flew in from Philadelphia to be with us. I know I said I don't like to cook but I do make a few exceptions around the holidays.  I enjoyed cooking and baking for them and included some pictures from our weekend below.  Our menu consisted of Turkey, a family recipe of Stuffing that I'll share if you ask ;), Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole (on pinterest) Sweet Potato Mash (also on pinterest and so easy!) cresent rolls and Cran Apple Relish (also a family recipe that I'll share)   If you have any questions about anything, you know to comment below or email me :)







Serving: 12 Slices  Prep Time: 20 minutes  Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes  Rest Time: 1.5 hours 
Refrigerator Time:  8+ hours

Ingredients 

12 TBS Butter (unsalted, melted)
2 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 3/4 cups Sugar
Salt 
2 lbs Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup Sour Cream
15 once can Pure Pumpkin 
6 large eggs (lightly beaten, room temperature)
1 TBS Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 TSP Ground Cinnamon
1 TSP Ground Ginger
1/4 TSP Ground Cloves
Whipped Cream 
1 cup of Chopped Pecans 

Bakeware
1 Spring form 10 inch Pan
Roaster Pan 


Baking Instructions
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center
2) Coat the 10 inch spring form with butter or baking spray
3) Mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup of sugar with a pinch of salt in a bowl
4)  Press the the crumb mixture evenly on the bottom of spring form and up the sides of pan 
(doesn't have to be to the top of the pan)
5) Bake 15-20 minutes until crust is a golden brown
6) After the pan is cooled, wrap the outside with aluminum foil
7) Place wrapped spring form pan in the middle of the roaster
8) In a medium pot, boil water
9) As the water is boiling,  cream the cream cheese with a mixer
10) Add the rest of the sugar (2 1/2 cups) and beat until smooth
11) Whip in the sour cream
12)  Add in the pumpkin, eggs, spices, a pinch of salt and vanilla extract
13)  Pour wet mixture into the spring form pan (making sure pan is cooled)
14)  Take the boiling water and slowly pour it into the roaster, water should come about half way up the spring form pan
15) Carefully place the roaster pan into the oven (don't pull out the rack in over because the roaster is too heavy and will tip it
16)  Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, outside will be set and the inside slightly loose
17)  Turn off the oven and LEAVE THE CHEESECAKE INSIDE with the oven door slightly open to release heat, resting inside for 1 hour
18) Remove the the cheesecake spring form pan from the roaster and let rest on a cooling rack for 1 hour (do not remove the cheesecake from the spring form pan)
19) Place the cheesecake pan inside the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, covered with foil or saran wrap ( overnight is best)
20)  Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator within 30 minutes of serving
21)  Unlock and remove the spring form ring
22) Decorate or use as much whipped cream as desired to each slice of cheesecake
23)  Top each slice as desired with the chopped, candied pecans
24) ENJOY! 


Optional Step: Candied Pecans
**You can simply chop and toast the pecans before serving 

1 egg (egg white only)
1 cup of pecans
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees 
2) Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet
3)  In a bowl, coat the pecans with the egg whites
4)  In a separate bowl, mix the brown and granulated sugar
5) Take the coated pecans and coat with the dry mixer
6) Spread the pecans evening on the baking sheet
7) place sheet in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes
8)  remove the sheet from the oven and allow the pecans to cool completely
9) chop the pecans and use as garnish for your cheesecake slices

*Shop my post below*















Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Months Later: What I've Learned About Blogging

Hello Friends and a very Happy Friday!  Today marks 3 months since I hit "publish" on my very first post to this little blog of mine.  If you have followed me for a while now then you know this blog was the missing piece for me.  I have long been wanting a place to showcase my outfits, talk more indepthly about style and provide information on the clothes I wear and buy.   I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my blogging journey thus far, the things I have learned and whether or not this is what I had expected it to be.  But before I dig into all of that I want to take a moment to say thank you.   To those of you reading this, you have likely been following me all along.  For the texts, emails, comments, likes, loves, shares and messages over these past 3 months, I sincerely can not put into words what that all means to me.  

With that being said, here is the realist I have been so far since I started my journey on August 17th...



Blogging is Hard
I thought the "hard" part of blogging would be learning how to make a blog.  After all, that was the hurdle that kept me from doing this years ago.  I didn't know how or where to start.  It turns out starting was actually the easy part.  Following youtube tutorials, creating domains, templates, coding, all of that was no problem.  What I didn't fully understand was how much work goes into getting ready, figuring out outfits, finding time to shoot when my "photographer" is barely home, editing pictures, finding my exact items or similar ones to link, what the heck to write each post and creating good content.  Let's throw in the Facebook page, the Instagram account, the Twitter feed, Snapchat and Youtube channel.  Prepping for videos, shooting and editing takes more time than I had ever anticipated.  This doesn't even take into consideration all the engagement that needs to take place in order for any of this to be successful.  The key piece that most people do not realize when it comes to blogging is you have to be active with your audience.  Posting is simply not good enough and people don't just find you, you have to go out and find them.  (truly this is the hardest part for me, but I am getting better!)  

Self Doubt
 "Are people liking this? Are they clicking through?"
"Why did this post perform better than this one? Should I try something new?"
"They liked the tutorial so let's do more!  Oh wait no one liked the other 3 I made. Were they bad?!"
"Let me edit this photo. (20 minutes later) Perfect! I think this will look great on my IG account.  Ok, maybe not"
"Why am I even doing this"
"OMG my ankles look awful in this picture" 

The list goes on and on but I thought you would at least get a chuckle at all the things that go through my head on a daily basis :)  

The Haters
Yup, this one is real and essentially the worst to try and overcome.  For every 1 person that loves your posts there are 2 more who don't.  I have found out quickly who is genuinely happy for me, who tries to be and who thinks this is all quite dumb.  I still find it hard to tell people when I first meet them that I have a style blog because of the stigma that comes with it.  The perception that it's a silly hobby and full of vanity.  That I am simply a bored stay at home wife.  While I would love to say I don't care what the haters have to say, I am still human and find myself with hurt feelings from time to time.  

Perception/Comparing
Each day I post pretty pictures with a cute smile on my face, a happy dog, a cute quote or something light, breezy and fun.  I am constantly seeing what others in this arena are doing and I can't help but compare myself to them.  It's really hard to focus and stay in your own lane.  Everything they do just looks so perfect but sometimes I just want to post the normal, the real and the natural.  However, in this "business" you simply can't always do that.   There is a certain perception you have to maintain in the clothing, fashion and beauty industry.    BUT let me please go on the record and say that it's not always rainbows and sunshine.  And that 90% of those pictures you see are edited, even all of mine!  I have bad days.  Lots of them.  My life is not perfect and it's pretty far from it.  I deal with all the emotions and struggles of married life, being 1100 miles away from my family, missing the place I called home for the past 6 years, missing "my kids" and my cheer gym, being resentful, being bitter and being unsatisfied with certain aspects of my life.   I am human.  I make mistakes.  I cry.  I whine.  I complain.  #icanbecrazy 
Again, don't let Sandy Toes & Stilettos fool you, 70% of the time I am a hot freaking mess!! :)))

THE GOOD
I am blessed beyond belief and some days I don't think I deserve half of what I have.  
I am healthy.  I have a husband who would move mountains for me and shows me so much love each day.  I have a beautiful home and live in a picture perfect setting.  I have dogs that cuddle me, family that loves me and so many friends who complete me.  I am beyond grateful for the fact that I  was able to take the time over the past 5 months to slow down and channel my energy into something new and exciting.   

This blog has made me a better version of myself.  I am stronger, wiser and more "me" because of it.  

I found the most amazing "job" recently that would not have happened had I not taken this little leap 3 months ago.  I am on a career path that I have been wanting to be on for years but was too set in my ways to make it happen.  

I am helping empower woman, even if it is one outfit at a time.  I am making a difference and that alone is the reason I keep going.  That alone outweighs all the bad (and all the haters!) All of those likes, loves, comments, emails and messages do not go unnoticed.  They are the fuel that keep me energized and inspired to keep going!

Last but not least, I have fun doing this.  Sure it's a lot of work and it's stressful but that's only because I care about it and I want it to succeed.  


Feel free to send me a message, comment below or shoot me an email.  I know there are a lot of silent followers out there, but I promise I love hearing from all of you!   
Thank you for letting me get so personal today and I promise it's back to the rainbow and sunshine posts  on Monday!  
p.s. I hope you enjoy my outtake photos.  I thought it would be fun to show you what I'm actually like when I am out shooting with Drew.  There's No editing to these images and they are a 100% accurate depiction of my crazy <3
(why was I not told that my shirt was see through and my bra was showing everywhere?!?!)