• fashion,  lifestyle,  Travel

    Lady in Red: Desert Fashion Photography

    Lauren Ashley Photography arizona

    What are you most looking forward to this spring? Me – sunshine, warm weather (or just warmer, because, Chicago) and DRESSES! Like this gorgeous dress that I may have stolen from my glamazon girlfriend’s closet (hi, Tiff!) for a desert shoot at Salt River in Coon Bluff, Arizona. She’s like 4” taller and the dress is way too long for me, but look how it moves! Like a dream. Speaking of dreams, I’m already daydreaming about Spring Break with the kids, and have booked tickets back to Florida to visit the grandparents! After having visited Florida once already in December, my friends are starting to joke that I’m becoming a snow bird! 😉

    You know the Instagram vs. reality jokes? I love how this desert shoot turned out. Everything looks so peaceful and idyllic, right? But let me clue you in on a little behind the scenes. There were three of us – me, Lauren A. (my photographer), and Lauren U. (Lauren A’s bestie who I was also going to shoot). Because of the multiple outfits between the three of us, and because we were shooting at sunset and running out of light FAST, I said F*ck it – and ended up shooting both Laurens in my bra and underwear between wardrobe changes. Lauren A. swore someone from all the way on the ground beneath us whistled. Check out Part 1 of my desert shoot here!

    Tell me in the comments – what fun travel plans do you have upcoming, and more importantly, do they include warm weather?

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  • beauty

    Get Baby Soft Skin with Olay Winter Skin Challenge

    This post is sponsored by Procter & Gamble. All opinions are mine alone.

    Olay Moisture Ribbon Plus

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Olay. The opinions and text are all mine.

    In Chicago, we joke that there are only two seasons: construction and winter. Kidding, but not really! For at least six months out of the year, when we face bitter cold and freezing winds from the lake effect, soft, supple skin is at a premium and we up our beauty game any way we can. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Olay to join the Winter Skin Challenge – just use Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus once for softer and more moisturized skin that feels and looks great!

    Who else wants supple, baby soft skin?

    With winter around the corner, I’ve been prepping my skin to brace for the dryness with Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus. Unlike any other body wash on the market, this one is formulated with a deep conditioning formula that includes Shea butter as the signature moisturizing ingredient, and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth as soon as you leave the shower. Best of all, it’s non-greasy and absorbs well into your skin!

    Oh honey, honey

    After I took my shower using Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus for the first time, I came out of the bathroom and told my husband, “That was a successful shower.” He said he didn’t know that there were “unsuccessful showers” (he’s hilarious, haha), and I explained that this was a hair mask/shave/loofah bath sponge type of experiential shower which sadly doesn’t happen every night.

    The body wash comes in Lavender and Manuka Honey scents – but I’m partial to the honey because it just goes so well with the holidays, don’t ya think?

    I’ve been an Olay girl for the better part of my adult life, since I saw my mom using Olay skincare products daily when I was a child. (She has great looking skin, by the way!) Now there’s an indulgent way for me to incorporate Olay into my shower routine this winter which leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated all season long!

    Won’t you join me in the Olay Winter Skin Challenge? All it takes is one use to start beating dull winter skin! You can get these exact products I’m using here.

    Olay Moisture Ribbon Plus

    olay moisture ribbon plus

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    olay moisture ribbon plus

  • fashion,  holiday

    Sharing the Gift of Timeless Love with Michael Hill Jewelers

    This post is sponsored by Michael Hill Jewelers. All opinions are mine alone.

    jewelry ideas under $100

    Last month I partnered with Michael Hill Jewelers to showcase my journey of love and a how a beautiful pair of halo stud earrings from Michael Hill represents just that. ‘Tis the season, and I’m partnering once again with Michael Hill Jewelers to help spread the joy of meaningful giving to our loved ones.

    My mom and I have a complicated relationship. I wish I could say she is like those warm and fuzzy tv moms like Mandy Moore’s character on This is Us, or Family Ties’ beloved Elyse Keaton. But my mother, well, she’s more like the Vietnamese version of Ray Barone’s mom, and drives me mental. Ya feel me? I was (am) always the black sheep in the family, fiercely independent and frequently admonished for rebelling. I try my best to remember that my mom grew up in a different culture, and that her harsh persona and extreme nagging are par for the course for her generation and upbringing. We recently finished watching the The Vietnam War documentary film by Ken Burns. It gave me a renewed sense of pride and love for my parents for their sacrifices to bring me and my brother to America when fleeing the Fall of Saigon in the 1970s. (You can read more on the blog about my family’s perseverance to seek freedom.)

    This Christmas, I decided to choose a timeless piece of jewelry to give my mom – to honor the unconditional sacrifices a mother makes for her children, time and time again. Jewelry is a luxury for my mom, so she never shops for it herself (not even costume jewelry), even though we all know moms deserve something pretty now and then.

    With this in mind, I headed over to Michael Hill Jewelers at Oakbrook Center, in search of the perfect piece that would serve as an expression of my eternal gratitude. Michael Hill Jewelers is one of the few jewelry retailers to have an in-house team of master craftsmen, so this makes any gift from here even more meaningful! After studying the dazzling displays, I finally chose this vintage style pendant with luxe cubic zirconia in sterling silver that fits the bill. It has a classic design of a 10-point flower encircling the center cubic zirconia to ensure she will sparkle at every angle – perfect for those special occasions.

    For her everyday style, I chose a modern sterling silver stud earring set featuring a circle design. It’s a simple piece my mom can wear every day without pomp or circumstance, but still looks put together. I can’t wait to see the look on my mom’s face when she opens her gifts on Christmas morning. In what ways do you gift love back to others? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

    jewelry ideas under $100

    jewelry ideas under $100jewelry ideas under $100jewelry ideas under $100jewelry ideas under $100

    michael hill necklace

  • beauty

    Making Beauty Easier, More Accessible with Groupon BeautyNow

    This post has been sponsored by Groupon; all opinions are entirely my own.


    Laying on a beach somewhere. Trying on all the clothes in the dressing room during an epic shopping spree. Reading a stack of magazines and sipping my morning coffee hot, without having to nuke it in the microwave. Basically, all the quiet things I dream of doing, sans kids.

    But, as I usually don’t have that much solo time away from my three kids, I’ll just satisfy my need to treat myself with small luxuries, like a quick mani/pedi, now made more convenient and hassle-free with the new Groupon BeautyNow booking service! Available exclusively in the Chicago metro area, Groupon BeautyNow allows you to seamlessly book your beauty services and nab discounted appointments during select times at top salons and spas in Chicagoland – so great, right? It’s a busy mom’s best kept secret! (Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter an awesome giveaway for salon and spa services for an entire year!)

    groupon beautynow

    I was excited to try out Groupon BeautyNow so I booked a nail service directly on the Groupon app for Red Door Salon and Spa in Chicago, and after a client shoot I had in the city last week, enjoyed a little solo R&R time getting pampered. Everything from the super easy booking process via Groupon BeautyNow, to the delightfully warm eucalyptus neck pillow they offered me at Red Door Spa, was a mom’s day out worth repeating.

    A little about the BeautyNow booking process:

    Appointments can be booked via iPhone or Android. If you’re based in Chicago, download the Groupon app and select “Salon & Spa Booking” at the top to start booking! If you have the Groupon app on your phone, click here to go straight to the experience.

    Groupon BeautyNow is simple and streamlined, and you can choose from an extensive menu of beauty services at your favorite Chicago area salon. This means no more personal phone calls to the salon or wait time to request an appointment while the scheduler checks their system, because I was able to do everything from my smartphone! My kids may have been hanging onto my legs while I was booking away on my phone’s keyboard, but that’s a-ok because BeautyNow does all the heavy lifting and works to confirm your appointment ASAP, so you don’t have to!

    groupon beautynow

    After I got my nails did (check out the gorgeous mani design my stylist gave me!), I didn’t even need to pull out my wallet – because there is no upfront payment when you use the Groupon BeautyNow service, you simply are automatically charged on your credit card (linked to your Groupon account) after your appointment for the service and gratuity that you pre-selected.

    Everything about Groupon BeautyNow is so easy and convenient to use, it may just become a weekly “thing” for me to check out all the salons on their list… 😉 If you’re in the Chicago area and are curious to try BeautyNow, use promo code MTF10 so you can receive $10 off your services.

    p.s. Make sure you ask for “no chip” nails if you’re always on the go – take it from me, moms need no chip! And if you need a festive nail inspiration for all your holiday shindigs coming up, try mixing it up with one or two statement glitter nails on each hand like I did!

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    elizabeth arden red door salon deerfield Illinois

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