High Five for Friday

We made it to Friday! Hope yours is going well. Let me tell you about the sparkle in this past week. Here is my top five:

1. I saw a bald eagle when my family was out for a walk, and even though we live near a nature preserve, it is only the second bald eagle I have ever seen. Nothing inspires me like nature, especially seeing a symbol of freedom flying across the sky.

2. I discovered a new book that I adore. My Brilliant Friend was a hit in Italian first, and then it was translated to English. Elena Ferrante is a wonderful storyteller. She doesn’t hold back when she describes the childhood of the two main characters, Elena and Lila, and she portrays a female friendship between those two characters that has a ton of complexity and competition. I know this book is part of a trilogy, so I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know these two characters. One of my other favorite books is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and I was thinking about how the female friendship between Anne and Diana is so pure and supportive, in contrast with the ups and downs between Elena and Lila. Seriously, if you like to read, pick up this book ASAP! It is captivating and holds nothing back when it describes the girls’ adolescence.

3. I took my son to the indoor jumping gym in my county this week, with trampolines, foam boxes to tumble in, hula hoops, and parachute time at the end of the session. When everyone walked into the rec center, a woman said, “Hi Carson!” to my son. Considering that I’m a full time mom, I know most people who recognize my son, so I was surprised. I asked her how she knows Carson. Ends up she’s his Sunday School teacher at a new church we’ve been attending. I thought that was so neat. We talked most of the time that our kids played, and I got to know my son’s Sunday School teacher! That was a highlight of my week.

4. My husband and I have been following Mad Men since the beginning, so we spent a lot of this week talking and thinking about the series finale that was on Sunday. We will miss the show! I was so glad that Peggy found love, finally, and that it wasn’t with Pete or Don because she could do better than both of them. I felt like I was saying goodbye to characters that I knew well, so it was bittersweet. I liked the 1970s ending of the show, and I hope some of that inspiration resurges and stays in current culture and fashion awhile because it’s fun — disco music, jumpsuits, paisley print, fringe, and the boho look. My husband and I were also talking about how we would like to see a Mad Men spin off that would focus on Peggy and Joan in the 1970s and early1980s. Please pass that idea on to Matthew Weiner if you know him (lol).

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5. My summer pedi! I’m wearing a bright, summery blue polish, a temporary henna “love” tattoo, and sandals from Ocean Minded. I’m still in my PJ’s — so an outfit post is out of the question! My husband and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary this weekend; I thought the “love” temporary tattoo was good for that!

xoxo

Happy Friday!

Teresa

Linking up with 5 on Friday, Friday Favorites, and these three:


That Friday Blog Hop

Meeting the World’s First Plus Size Supermodel

Today I got to say “hi” to Emme, the world’s first plus size supermodel, at Macy’s in Columbia, Maryland, after a plus size fashion show. As you can see in the photo, she is much taller than me!

Emme & Me

I met Emme, the world’s first plus size supermodel, at a fashion show on May 16.

Emme is such a beauty and a role model for body positivity. The show featured fashion-forward Macy’s ensembles that were inspiring. I want to make you feel like you were there, so I’m going to post a photo slideshow of my view seated near the runway. First, though, I want to mention that I’m wearing a Macy’s top, since this special day was made possible by Macy’s, and also give an extra shout out to Haiku Bags for the purse I carried that day, which was gifted to me (click here for my review of Haiku Bags).

Without further ado, I present to you a fashion show hosted by Emme . . . *cue the dance music.*

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After the fashion show, my family took a little side trip to Annapolis to show my son all the boats. It was a wonderful day!

xoxo Teresa

P.S. If you were at the fashion show or are in any of the photos, leave me a comment if you’d like me to email one of the photos to you!

Linking up with Top of the World Style, Mahogany Closet, Whitney Nic James, Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me, and Rhea Et Cetera.

Three Outfits, One Awesome Haiku Bag

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Scarf from Maurice’s, Bermuda Shorts from Target, Black T-shirt and Black Wedge Sandals with my Haiku Bag

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Dress by Lucie Lu (lucielu.com), Payless Shoes, Belt, Lisa Leonard Mama Necklace (lisaleonardonline.com), and my new Haiku Bag

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Beautiful Beaded Maxi Dress from DressBarn (my Mother’s Day gift!), Handmade Beaded Bracelet with Beads from the Czech Republic, Vera Bradley Flip Flops, and my Haiku Bag

Seattle-based Haiku Bags sent me a great purse this week. Its style is Jaunt, and the color is Mirage. It’s rare that I would say something looks even prettier in person than it does online, but I definitely will say that about this bag. The saturated teal green color is so striking, and the purse has perfect blue accents on the front zippers and stitching.

My mom joked, “Did it come with cash inside?” No, mom. That’s not the point. :-p

Still, I feel great about carrying this bag because — besides the fact that it is so pretty — it is made out of recycled materials, so it is vegan and environmentally friendly. The company describes its purses as “clean and minimal in appearance, yet brimming with thoughtful features,” and I would say the Jaunt bag definitely fits that description.

DSCN2421The fabric feels very strong, like it will stand up to a lot, which is good. The material that Haiku Bags are made of is called CyclePET, a durable polyester created from recycled plastic bottles. CyclePET uses half the energy as fabrics made with virgin petroleum, and the company’s dyes are non-toxic.

In  the spirit of the company’s name, the bag comes with its own Haiku poem: Running around town
Let’s meet for a glass of wine
Laugh sip we unwind.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be carrying this bag a lot over the summer!

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Something neat — this bag is actually one of the colors I chose for my wedding. My bridesmaids wore this color, and they carried red tulips and white calla lilies. My husband and I will be celebrating our five year anniversary this coming Friday, so this color brought back some nostalgia for me!

To see more Haiku Bags, visit www.haikubags.com.

P.S. Here is a closer peek at the Vera Bradley flip flops from the third outfit.

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Thank you so much for reading! xoxo

Teresa

Welcome to the Bistro

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Here’s an outfit I wore out to a bistro with my family last weekend. The top, from Macy’s, is a beautiful purple, black, and white French-inspired print that I really love. I paired it with a vintage black cameo necklace, a vintage pearl bracelet, skinny jeans, and my favorite black wedge shoes. I just bought the top last month, and it looks pretty under a blazer too.

Anyway, now that I’m wearing my bistro outfit, come on in and have a virtual cup of coffee there with me! I want to tell you about something that made me feel great last week. I won an essay contest at my university, and the prize was a $250 donation to any charity I picked. I chose the local backpack program in my community that sends home food with school children who might not have much to eat over the weekend. The $250 will provide food for a year for one student. How great is that?!?!

The contest essay prompt involved thoughts about community service and the book I Am Malala, about the young woman who defied the Taliban to attend school. The book was my university’s common reading selection for this year.

Anyway, I thought I would share my essay here. I hope it gives you a little inspiration.

Small Actions that Matter

I listened to a recording of I Am Malala as I drove to Shepherd last semester, and I was continually inspired by the young woman’s thoughts on education and her philosophy about how reaching out to even a few people can facilitate change. Malala Yousafzai writes, “If I can help one or two children and another family supports one or two, then between us we can help them all” as she reflects upon the poor children living nearby in a garbage dump (88). Before listening to Yousafzai’s story, I already donated and did some community service for the poor occasionally—focusing on health and hunger initiatives—but I began to think more globally afterward. I felt a connection, as a woman, to women in other countries and wanted to begin helping them on a small scale as well.

When I became a mother in my early thirties, while working on my master’s degree at Shepherd, my world view became less self-focused. I started to think more about future generations and how everyone is connected. As a society, we are only as strong as our weakest members. My views on the poor and the cycle of poverty have continued to be informed throughout my courses in the M.A.T. program, especially when I was assigned to read The Other Wes Moore, an excellent true story about two African-American boys who both grew up in the same neighborhood in Baltimore and shared the same name—except one boy became highly educated and successful, while the other ended up dealing drugs and getting incarcerated. Both boys had the same neighborhood influences and a similar childhood education. The story made me think about how much influence I will have as a teacher; I can encourage students to set big goals and let them know I believe in them. I Am Malala also focuses on the importance of education. As a future educator, I look at teaching as both a career and a great service to the community, especially when it comes to helping young people rise above influences that might hold them back in life.

When our nation experienced its recession, my eyes were opened about how easily a person can fall upon hard times and how a weak link in a person’s life—whether education, economy, health, or otherwise—makes the cycle of poverty such a hard cycle to break. My heart has begun to empathize with the poor more than ever because I realized everyone is fallible, and economic lifestyles are more fragile than we may realize. I am at Shepherd because I understand that earning my M.A.T. will benefit me, as well as my community.

In the meantime, to help people locally, I have donated many possessions to a closet program for the poor. I wanted to donate to a collection for the Berkeley County Backpack Program for local hungry children last year, but as a full time mom, I did not have much money. I decided to go to my change jar and found about $50 in coins, which I figured would help several children. Amazingly, a week later, as my mom was cleaning out my old childhood bedroom, she found a forgotten change jar of mine, and it had about the same amount of money in it that I had just donated. I have found that when I give in faith, God always watches out for me and continues to provide opportunities for more giving. Giving is contagious. When I gave birth to my son, many people gave me baby gear. A friend also gave me maternity clothes to borrow. In turn, I have wanted to keep giving as generously as I am able. I also formed a team for the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia in Culpepper, Virginia, last year because I had preeclampsia during my pregnancy and could have died; I want education and research to go forward for other women who may also be touched by preeclampsia during pregnancy.

After reading I Am Malala, I took the idea of helping a few children to a global level by sewing twelve dresses for young orphan girls in other countries. Without clothing, these girls are considered “fair game” to be raped. I hope I prevented twelve girls from that fate. I also hope they feel loved because someone cared enough to sew a dress. Looking at the big picture, twelve dresses are not many, but those dresses matter for the girls who are wearing them.

I hope this essay gets you brainstorming some small actions that might make a difference in your community–whether local or global.

Thank you for reading!

xoxo Teresa

Curvy Gal Inspirations

I love Melissa McCarthy’s style in Mike & Molly.

Adele always looks amazing.

Beautiful!

I am the mom of a toddler, so I do not always go out into the world looking fantastic (wink, wink, let’s be real) — but I do get excited about beautiful clothes and the creativity of designers. When I saw the UK-based Slink magazine at my local bookstore recently, I gladly slapped down the $10 because I knew the articles and photos would be nourishing and inspiring. Seeing women with your body type being celebrated really does matter.

Anyway, one part of the magazine that I really love is the style profile of everyday women. The Q&A format made me think: how would I answer? So, I’m answering a few here in my own little space of the blogosphere :)

Where are your favorite places to shop? Maurice’s (www.maurices.com), eShakti (www.eShakti.com), Target

Do you have a style icon/ who? I love the polished look of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, along with the creative quirkiness and retro choices of Zooey Deschanel. For curvy, I’m a big fan of Melissa McCarthy’s conservative, yet pretty look on Mike and Molly that includes beautiful colors and patterns, and I think the singer Adele looks spectacular all the time.

What’s your biggest fashion faux par? It takes me awhile to come around to certain trends, even the good ones, because I am stubborn and want to make sure I’m not wasting my money. I’m more classic than fashion-forward, but if something immediately strikes me as beautiful, I will buy it.

What’s your biggest fashion memory? My first fashion memory is being allowed to dress myself at a young age and constantly mixing crazy prints and colors because I didn’t know any better. I asked my mom how she had the courage to let me dress that way, and she said, “It’s what you wanted to wear!”

Most expensive buy & was it worth it? My wedding dress. I won’t say how much! Yes, it was worth it.

Do you pay attention to fashion shows and seasons trends or write your own rules? I pay some attention, but I prefer to use a small amount of trends along with classic pieces that I know look great. I watch Project Runway obsessively because I love seeing the creativity behind the designs! I would love to see more plus size designers on the show.

Describe your style in five words. Classic. Creative accents. Beautiful colors.

If you were to give us one piece of fashion advice, what would it be? Be comfortable, but still classy.

Hope you are having a great week!

Teresa C.

My Beautiful Cushie B Kimono (and a link-up!)

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I first read about cushie b in the Canadian plus size fashion magazine Dare, and I was immediately impressed by the beautiful designs.

Cushie b surprised me with a beautiful blue, black and cream silk chiffon kimono last week, and I wore it all day on Sunday. The morning was chilly, and I didn’t want to freeze off my cushie tushie so I paired it with a black blazer first, and later in the day, I showed off the kimono itself.

I’ve never owned a 100% silk chiffon garment before, but I’ve heard the designers on Project Runway talk about the fabric a lot. Anyway, how could a gal not feel thankful on a Sunday when she’s wearing a beautiful kimono? Thank you, cushie b!

My favorite part of wearing the kimono was how it moved in the breeze and how it looked when the sunlight shone on it. It was also very comfortable.

Here is a link to the Blue Abstract Floral Print Silk Chiffon Kimono that I am wearing.

The 100% silk chiffon kimono, made in America, has an extended shoulder and tie front, and it is banded in black silk shantung. It is beautifully constructed with elegant French seams and banding, along with a clean finish on the inside. I’m wearing a 1X.

My styling inspiration was a little art deco because I remembered a character wearing a silk kimono that was the “bee’s knees” in a flapper book that I read awhile ago. My blazer is a petite plus size by Kasper, sold at Macy’s.

I think it’s fun to learn a little about a company when I feature the clothes, so here is a link to the company’s story. Here’s a photo of the founder.

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Blogger Rachel at Garay Treasures is also wearing cushie b on her site today. Here’s how she’s styling her blanket cardigan.

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Besides sharing my kimono photos with you, today I also have the honor of co-hosting the “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me” link up. Thank you so much, Rachel of Garay Treasures, for this opportunity!

Meet your Host: Rachel of Garay Treasures blog

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Rachel is a former full time preschool special education teacher turned full time stay-at-home mom of four children with a passion for substitute teaching and blogging at Garay Treasures on the side. Garay Treasures is a fashion and lifestyle blog with some added posts on faith and everyday treasures. Rachel loves drinking several cups of coffee a day (hot or iced), blogging, and reading and playing with her children. You can follow Rachel by bloglovin, or by subscribing to e-mail through her blog here.

Meet your guest co-host Teresa (me!) of Mama Muse Me blog.

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I used to be a newspaper reporter in Winchester, Virginia, and later a promotional writer before becoming a full time mom. I started blogging for fun at Mama Muse Me, focusing on plus size fashion, creativity, faith, and motherhood. I also wrote a children’s book, Sweet Sallie’s Squirrel Scarf Factory, that is on Amazon for $1.99 in Kindle version. You can follow me by subscribing to receive e-mails from my blog or through bloglovin.

To see the five bloggers who inspired Rachel last week, click on each name: Cynthia, Jessica, Kishina, Samantha, and Susan.

Now it is your turn. Just follow the link up rules below:

1. Please link up recent posts and include the link up button or post this URL link back on your blog. The posts can be about fashion, DIY projects, recipes, inspiration, tips, etc.

2. Please follow your host Rachel of Garay Treasures either by Bloglovin, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter or all. Follow your co-host, Teresa (me!), by entering your email on this blog or clicking the follow button.

3. Stop by and check out the other bloggers who have linked up and be inspired.

4. Rachel will feature 5 bloggers and their posts for her next “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me” link-up.

5. Have fun! Comment below if you have any questions! Thanks for linking up! (The link goes live at 7 a.m. EST on April 28).

Click on the frog button (directly below) to link up!

It would be great if you linked Rachel’s button to your post.

Garay Treasures
Thank you for reading! Happy Tuesday!
xoxo Teresa

Savoring Life

I recently had the chance to read Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are, by Shauna Niequist. Today’s post is a review of that book, followed by my go-to recipe for BBQ chicken.

Savor, published last month by Zondervan, is intended as part devotional and part cookbook. As a person who enjoys cooking, reading, and spiritual life, I like how the author explores those topics in her writing. I adored her previous book of faith essays and recipes, Bread and Wine, so I was excited to set my eyes on her latest e-book. She combined faith, honesty, and her love of food beautifully in Bread and Wine, a book filled with high-quality writing and design. Inside the new e-book, I found many thoughts that Niequist had already shared in her essays in Bread and Wine, except presented in a form that provided a quick thought for the day. As I read, the short devotionals brought my memory back to many of the essays I loved in her previous book. Niequist’s observations are heart-felt and spirit-inspired.

If you are truly strapped for time, the single Bible verse format and quick thought of the day will probably be a great way to start your morning. If you’ve never had a devotional time before, this book would ease you into that, and you would feel like you’re having breakfast with a friend. For people who study the Bible in-depth and seek to learn more, this book would need to be combined with other scripture readings or studies, but Savor gives you the flexibility to do that since the devotions are fairly short. As for the recipes, those were excellent—as always! If you have never read a book by Niequist, I would recommend that you start with Bread and Wine instead of Savor, unless you are hoping to find a quick devotional. I definitely recommend that you seek out her writing if you love to cook.

Speaking of cooking, I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes here. This is Teresa’s Go-To BBQ Chicken Recipe. If you’ve never made homemade BBQ sauce, it is not hard to do! This sauce has a depth of flavor that I have not tasted in premixed BBQ sauces. My recipe is a variation of the Baked Chicken BBQ recipe in Delicious Amish Recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good, a skinny little book of awesome, easy recipes. My recipe is very close to the original one, with a few personal tweaks.

Teresa’s Go-To BBQ Chicken

  • Several boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • pinches of salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • pinch of onion powder

Preheat the oven to 350. Meanwhile, in a saucepan on the stovetop, combine all the ingredients except the chicken. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Put the raw chicken in a glass baking dish or oven safe casserole dish, and then spoon the sauce over the chicken, and turn the chicken so that both sides are coated with the sauce. Add 1/3 c. water to the dish, and then put in the oven. Bake for two hours total, basting (spooning the sauce over the top of the chicken) about every half hour. The basting will make your chicken moist and yummy rather than dry. Toward the end of the cooking, some of the sauce starts to thicken and almost caramelize. Delicious!

What is your go-to recipe? Have you ever read any of Shauna Niequist’s books? 

Have a great week!

Teresa

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the e-book from Book Look Bloggers in return for my honest review.

A Model of Perseverance

This week, my favorite Christian writer, Holley Gerth, is asking readers to link up blog posts about someone whose perseverance is inspiring.

For me, one woman immediately came to mind: Mama Maggie Gobran.

She was raised in a wealthy family in Egypt, worked in marketing and as a college professor, dressed well, and had what most people would consider to be a beautiful, successful life. This accomplished, educated, happily married woman was already admired — yet, in her thirties, she felt a pull to bring hope to the poor people who collected garbage and sorted it for survival in the slums of Cairo.

She gave up everything. Sold her jewels. Left her job.

She started Montessori-style preschools so that the children, who had little access to education and little knowledge of their own heritage as Coptic Christians, could begin to dream. Without education, these children could not dare to think beyond their current situations of sexual abuse, hunger, pain, and illiteracy. She made sure families had food to eat as well.

She gave of herself to both Muslims, the majority, and Coptic Christians, the minority. She ministered to the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.

To me, it is fascinating and beautiful to picture someone whose love and calling goes so deep that she would be willing to leave her comfortable life and to give herself completely to others. Christ spoke of his heart for the poor, and Mama Maggie’s life is such an example of the service, love, and hope that Christians are called to bring the world.

I am a mom in a small house, by United States standards — far away, and yet, so deeply inspired. I am giving of myself to those I love in smaller ways, but I think of Mama Maggie often as I go about my day.

She had to persevere because the government hurdles did not make helping the poor and starting schools easy. She had to persevere as others looked at her like she was crazy. She even had to persevere when a motorcyclist tried to steal her briefcase holding the architectural plans for one of her projects. She held on tightly to the briefcase and ended up hospitalized for a short time –- but the vision went forward.

She was criticized for giving up her jewels and starting to dress all in white –- a white head covering, skirt, and t-shirt. The sentiment was: who do you think you are? People thought she was dressing too much like a nun even though she was not one. She wanted to detract attention from herself as she represented the poor. No matter what you do –- even the most beautiful, selfless actions –- will still draw criticism. Mama Maggie just kept doing what she was called to do.

In Egyptian society, where it is not uncommon to eat supper and socialize at 11 p.m., Mama Maggie started standing out because she went to bed early so that she could wake up and pray at 3 a.m.

Today, she is in her sixties and still doing her ministry through Stephen’s Children, the organization that she founded. She’s the picture of perseverance. Click here to watch a video of this woman in white, bringing hope where it is needed most. http://www.mamamaggiebook.com/


I first learned about Mama Maggie when I had the opportunity to review a book about her: Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt’s Garbage Slums by Marty Makary and Ellen Vaughn. All of the information from my blog post, above, was learned while reading this book. The following is my honest review of her book for Book Look Bloggers.

This book gives a detailed portrait of Egyptian society and its complexities that I had never heard before. Religion plays such a huge role in the society that someone’s religion is literally printed on the person’s identification card, and a child’s religious heritage, whether Muslim or Coptic Christian, is intended to be part of the child’s education. Knowledge of the society helps the reader comprehend how many sacrifices and challenges Mama Maggie truly faced as she began to minister to the poor people living in the garbage slums of her country. Seeing the photos inside the book also adds a lot to the reader’s understanding of Mama Maggie. When I first saw the book cover, I was immediately drawn to the woman in white — a white head covering and t-shirt. I decided to read the book because I was hoping to learn more about a female Christian role model I had never heard about before, and I definitely was touched and inspired by her life.

 

 

 

Have a wonderful week!

Teresa

Loving My New IGIGI Dress

Review of IGIGI’s Alison Plus Size Maxi Dress in Turquoise Dream

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First of all, this dress feels wonderful. The fabric is high quality and looks expensive. It’s also incredibly soft, and the bottom part of the dress is lined so that it drapes beautifully. It flowed as I walked.

The color palate is my favorite – pops of turquoise, blue, and green on white, with subtle gray shadows. This was my Easter dress, and I also picture wearing it for a fancy supper at the beach or to a classy outdoor concert.

It will easily go from spring to summer events.

Above all, I feel fabulous wearing it. Thank you so much, IGIGI, for giving me the opportunity to review this dress.

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Now for specifics: as a short gal at 5’2, I had the option of wearing high heels or hemming it. If you are a few inches taller than me, the length should be fine even in flats. For a great fit, your chest measurement is probably the most important consideration when you pick a size for the Alison maxi dresses.

To style it, I wore electric blue suede sandals that give the dress a Grecian vibe, along with a pale green, white, and gold necklace from Maurice’s that has a vintage feel. I also wore a blue sapphire ring, as well as a white bracelet from Macy’s and a blue Fossil clutch wallet.

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By the way, IGIGI has wonderful business practices that can make you feel very good about wearing an IGIGI dress. Read about the IGIGI vision here.

I highly recommend this beautiful maxi dress from IGIGI. It is my favorite dress in my closet right now!

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What did you wear for Easter?

xoxo Teresa

 

 

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My Favorite Spring Outfit

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This is my go-to outfit! Blue is one of my favorite colors, and the stripes make me feel a little French and nautical at the same time. I am very comfy in this, so it’s great for a mom on the go.

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Shirt: Target, Sweater: Sears, Jeans: Debs, Shoes & Necklace: Maurice’s

I also went about three shades lighter on my hair last week, which is fun for spring. My local JCPenney has a $50 cut and color special right now, so that’s where I went.

Ta-da! What’s your go-to spring outfit?

xoxo Teresa


Shopping My Closet

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