HIGH FIVE FOR FRIDAY

1. mike and i had a great holiday weekend together. i miss that guy.
2. mike hadn't been to the beach in quite a few years, so we decided to go to Hilton Head one day to enjoy the sun and it was perfect.
3. the best way to cope with my guy leaving? pizza, red wine, and brownies.
4. i recently re-discovered the advent of the "side part" and have been doing it all week. it's fun to change up my hair every once in awhile.
5. the boys are loving the sun in the mornings. it shines right by my desk, so they nap while i do my typical morning computer work.

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

new to H54F and want to know more about the link up? go HERE.

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WHAT'S BLACK, WHITE AND TO DIE FOR?





my pencil skirt -- that's the answer to the riddle.

i found this skirt at the outlet mall while on vacation last weekend and it just screamed "buy me!" i don't know about you, but i'm not one to disobey the orders of a work of art that can also double as a pencil skirt.

plus, it's black and white so it can be worn in any season. i already have big dreams for this baby come winter time. i'm thinking tights and booties and a nice chunky sweater will suit her just right.

also, my new jewels from J Crew are just my favorite. i'm not much of a necklace girl - i'm actually kind of boring when it comes to jewelry. i tend to wear studs, a couple of my favorite rings, and my watch + a bracelet or two. i've wanted to be that girl that wears the statement necklace with a collared blouse...and now i am. and i like it. it just adds a fun pop and helps me style all my collared blouses a new way. you know how i am about mixing things up. if you don't, i'm kind of terrible. i'm a repeater when it comes to everything -- food, clothes, hairstyles. you name it, i probably do the same thing over and over again until i just can't stand it anymore. and then never do it again. that's normal, right?

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top: H&M (similar)
skirt: Ann Taylor (similar)
necklace: J Crew Factory
bangle: Kate Spade Outlet
wedges: Target
lipstick: Maybelline Vivids in Vibrant Mandarin 

HAIR PRODUCTS I'M LOVING LATELY

most of you probably know by now that Kate is my sister, which means that my hair encountered highlights for the first time when i was about 12 years old. add 11 more years of highlights, heat damage, and way too many split ends, and my poor hair needs all the help it can get.

side note: whenever Kate does my hair, i refuse to let her cut more than about 1 millimeter off the ends. why? because she once scarred me by chopping way too much hair off of my head, leaving me nearly bald (okay, that's a slight exaggeration. but, it gave you a scary picture in your mind, right?). from then on, girlfriend is lucky she even is allowed to take shears near my precious, dead, scraggly, split ends.

back to the important stuff, i like to change up the products that i use on my hair and try new things. so, these three are what i'm loving right now. i'm hoping that Split Remedy helps to at least maintain the sad state of my ends, not allowing them to get worse.

another side note: you're probably thinking, why don't you just cut off your split ends and start with fresh ones? thanks for asking, here's why: 1) it took about 7 years (no lie) to get my hair to the length that it is now - every single long hair on my head is absolute gold to me, and 2) my damaged ends basically start at my chin. i'm serious. so, yeah, i'd have to cut off all my hair, which we know isn't going to happen (see reason 1).

that dry shampoo has worked wonders on my hair. not only is it great for day 2 or day 3 hair to minimize the look of oily hair and add a little life, but it's also great for adding some grit and texture to give your hair some more volume on the day that you wash. i spray some at my roots every time i style my hair - it slows down the process of my hair getting oily and helps me to make my head look like it has more than 12 strands of hair coming out of it.

lastly, the layer lift is a good volumizer that i've been using instead of Aquage lately. i realized that Aquage was making my hair get oily faster (i couldn't go past day 2), so i started using something different and it's made a great difference.

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TRESemme Split Remedy
TRESemme FreshStart
Redken Layer Lift 

HOMEMADE FACE WASH

i've recently discovered the goodness that is coconut oil. if you haven't tried it before, you should. there are so many great ways to use it, and not just for cooking (for many uses, just google "uses of coconut oil").

i came across a lot of websites that said mixing equal parts coconut oil and baking soda makes a great face wash. so, i tried it. turns out, all those genius people that said that were right. i've been using it to wash my face for about a week now, and i love the way my skin looks and feels! it's brighter, clearer, and softer.

all you have to do it wet your face, wash your face with the mixture, rinse (it will feel soft and oily because of the coconut oil), and pat dry. for a little added moisture, rub a bit of coconut oil between your fingers and apply it all over your face. warning: it takes about 17.5 hours for the stuff to soak in. okay, not that long. but it feels like forever. so, beware.

THE GLORY OF A MAXI SKIRT





i've said it before and i'm sure i'll say it again - maxi skirts are the cat's pajamas. i'd say roughly 90% of the male population would disagree (i personally know way too many guys that hate maxi skirts. it's weird.), but i'm all about them. they're comfortable, stylish, and so versatile.

i've kind of been banned from wearing them around my boyfriend (he hates them). although, let's be honest, i'm going to wear a maxi skirt if i feel like wearing a maxi skirt. he doesn't know it yet (actually, yeah he does), but he has pretty much no say over what i wear and what looks good. because, well, i think i'm a more reliable source than he is. so, there's that.

either way, i'd wear a maxi skirt everyday of my life if i owned more than two. i just love them.

are you team maxi skirt or team anti-maxi skirt?

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top: Gap
skirt: Target
sandals: Target
necklace: Kate Spade Outlet

GIVEAWAY: DATEVITATION

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you can use  code LAUREN10 for $10 off your purchase in May or June.  which means you can get your loved one a one-of-a-kind gift for Father’s day starting at just $10!  the order cut-off date for guaranteed delivery by Father’s Day is June 6 so make sure to get your order in before then!

use the giveaway tool below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

HIGH FIVE FOR FRIDAY

1. i'm spending memorial day weekend in this beautiful cottage with my family in south carolina. doesn't get much better than that.
2. the humidity down here is killllling my hair game, hence straight hair and ponytails. but, i'm kind of okay with it. low maintenance + vacation = happiness.
3. i'm going to crave this froyo when i leave, for sure.
4. my cats never cease to surprise me with their cuteness. i mean, really?
5. my mom and i discovered that J Crew Factory is having a 50% off sale yesterday, so...i bought some stuff. i mean, i felt like it would have been wrong to walk out of the store without taking advantage of it.

i'm spending the memorial day weekend in SC with my family and couldn't be happier about it! my sister and brother-in-law arrived last night and my dad, brother, and man get here this afternoon! have a great weekend!

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

new here and want to know more about the High Five for Friday link-up? go HERE.

A LOVE LETTER

to my beeb:

happy six month anniversary! it's hard to believe that it's already been half a year since we were sitting on my couch, in the wee hours of the day after thanksgiving, talking about what "we were".

you've made me laugh more over the past six months than i ever thought possible. you're kind and thoughtful and patient. i see so much good in you and so many characteristics that i wish i possessed. i also happen to think you're pretty hot.

thank you for loving me the way that you do and for always making me feel beautiful. i really can't thank God enough for you and for our story.

here's to many more months together!

xoxo

OF THE SHOE VARIETY



i found these shoes at Old Navy the other day and instantly knew that they needed to belong to me. that rarely happens to me with shoes. handbags? yes. shoes? almost never. i'm just not much of a shoe girl. i tend to wear the same flats or sandals for weeks at a time and pretty much all of my shoes are neutral so that i can do that.

but, i'm trying to add a little variety in the shoe department, and these shoes were a good first step. i debated (for a solid 15 minutes in the store) between navy and these neutral ones, eventually choosing the neutral because i wear black quite a bit and wanted to be able to wear these shoes.

i like that they can be dressed up or down and they're unlike anything in my closet currently. so, yeah. that's pretty much all.
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top: Francesca's
jeans: Loft
shoes: Old Navy (not sold online)
bangles: similar

ON BEING A (SPRINT) TRIATHLETE

this past weekend, my mom and i participated in a women's sprint triathlon here in Raleigh. it consisted of a 225 yard swim, 9 mile bike, and 2 mile run. we signed up last fall and spent the last several months training, which paid off. although, if i do another tri in the future, i'll definitely spend more time on my bike. and maybe even invest in a road bike.

the bike part was definitely the hardest. the race was hosted at a local YMCA, which means that the bike route was through a nearby neighborhood, full of potholes and hills. and when i say hills, i mean mountains. i'm talking gears in 1:1, nearly going backwards i was going so slow, internally chanting "left, right, left, right". it was tough. but there were tons of people along the route cheering us on and motivating us to keep going! god bless those people.

before the race, i set personal goals for each event. for the swim, i didn't want to stop at all or have to take any breaks. for the bike, i didn't want to get off my bike at any point. for the run, i wanted to run the whole thing, once i got my legs back after being on the bike. and guess what? i accomplished all of my goals! it helped to have a little personal competition going on, if you will.

before the race! all marked up. mind you, there are still traces of it on my arms and legs and it's now Tuesday. and i've showered, i promise.

a little pre-race stretching lesson, courtesy of my brother-in-law
everyone had what their age would be at the end of this year written on the back of their legs. i'd be lying if i didn't use that as a little inspiration during each event. oh, there's a 70 year old beating me on this bike ride? yeah, i can do this. 
soaking wet (just after my swim) and ready to ride!
and we're off! 
my mom was a beast on the bike ride - she beat me by just a little over a minute.
i cannot describe to you what sweet relief it was to see the finish line of that bike ride. 

what you think you're looking at is legs. you're wrong. you're looking at jell-o. 
finished! 

i loved being able to see my mom cross the finish line, too!
post race, waiting to get our photo taken. i downed a bottle of water in less than 25 seconds.
i'm so glad that we did it. although, i'd be lying if i said i didn't wish for thunder a couple times that morning (which would have canceled the race). i really felt to accomplished and proud of myself for finishing it. i did the whole thing in 1:23:20, and my mom was just 3 minutes behind me. although i didn't come in first place - shocking, i know - i did better than i expected in each event, which is all i could ask for! 

one thing i really loved about this race was that it was an all-women's race and everyone was so encouraging. even when women would pass me on their bikes, they'd be encouraging me to keep going and not give up! women of all ages, shapes, and sizes participated and i truly was inspired but what i witnessed. 

one thing i didn't expect? that i would enjoy it enough to want to do another one in the future. 

p.s. if you live in or near north carolina, i strongly recommend ramblin' rose events

MY IDEA OF MAKING MONEY




so, the other day, i went to the mall to return something. you know, "make money". that's what my mom always says when she returns things. she feels like she's made money that day. so, i'm going with it.

anyway, i somehow ended up in the J Crew sale section picking out colored skinny cropped pants to try on. next thing i know, i'm having to tell myself not to buy these pants that i didn't even know i wanted until i was in the dressing room. i gave myself a little pep talk about being responsible and saving money for important things. somehow, that argument actually made sense to me, so i left the mall having made a bit of money instead of spending any.

one thing i can almost guarantee: that argument will definitely lose sometime in the near future. probably while i'm at Target. and definitely while i'm deciding whether or not to buy something i absolutely don't need, but totally want.

i'm such a girl sometimes.

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top: Old Navy -- very old (similar)
pants: H&M (similar)
shoes: Converse
necklace: Anthropologie (similar)

High Five for Friday

1. i've recently discovered that i can actually wear my hair in a high ponytail,  so i've been doing it a lot. maybe too much.
2. honestly, who wouldn't be relaxed with all of that goodness? there's nothing better than a hot bath after a long day.
3. these two. i can't tell you how much i just love them. they're so darn precious together.
4. one of my favorite things about summer is drinking iced coffee from starbucks. so good.
5. i found this cat shirt at Forever 21 and knew i had to own it. oh, and it's less than $9? um, yes.

other exciting things: my mom gets into town later this afternoon and we're participating in a mini triathlon this weekend. wish us luck!

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

new to H54F and want to know what it's all about? click HERE.

One Sweater, Two Seasons

i'm a firm believer in loading your wardrobe with versatile pieces. i have dresses that can go from summer to winter, sweaters that are worn year-round, and pants that can keep me warm on a chilly spring day. when Jia of Jia Collection contacted me to see if i would be interested in styling one of her gorgeous items, i couldn't resist. she's an incredibly talented designer with an eye for style. she sent me the Colette Pullover Sweater. the best part? it's reversible.

when i first tried it on, i knew it could be one of those convertible pieces that can easily transition from season to season.








if you went to check out her site, you know by now that her items are not cheap, by any means. although it's impossible for me to fathom spending more than $20 on a sweater, i would definitely consider investing in one of her items. Jia's products are of incredibly high quality, and are items that you can keep in your closet for 10+ years.

if this sweater catches your eye and you feel like splurging, Jia is offering a special code for Lauren Elizabeth readers to get 25% off. just use code LAUREN25 when checking out.

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shorts: Old Navy
pants: H&M (similar)
flats: J Crew (similar)
heels: Old Navy (in-stores only)
earrings: Francesca's (similar)

DIY gallery wall


i've always loved gallery walls. i love how easily they can fill up a space, and that they're usually made up of different things. i tend to get bored easily with my decor around my apartment, so something like a gallery wall is good for me. it adds some good variety, which means that i don't get bored with it two weeks later.

this gallery wall is particularly great because most of it was DIY'd, and the rest of it was stuff that i already had laying around. the 3 canvases (dots, stripes, and xoxo) and the "eat cake for breakfast" framed one were made by me. i just bought some simple things at the craft store and Target and let my creative hands go to work. the "xoxo" and "eat cake for breakfast" are made with stickers that i found at Target. the dots one is made from scrapbook paper and a round paper punch. and the striped one is made from a roll of thin paper - you could also use ribbon.

i love that there's no right or wrong way to do a gallery wall. just do what you like and arrange it how you like. you really can't go wrong. and i love being able to look up from my computer and be inspired!

Just in Biscuit Heaven Over Here

guys, these biscuits will solve all of your problems. trust me.

i was in a baking mood on Saturday, so i decided to try Paula Deen's recipe for homemade biscuits and, my goodness,  it was the best idea i had all weekend. aside from watching three movies on Saturday, too. let's just say, i really relaxed this weekend and it was really nice.

anyway, these biscuits are the bomb. and they'd be really good if you added blueberries to them. or really anything, for that matter. and they're really easy. and consist of all pantry ingredients.

are you convinced that you need to make them yet? you should be.

now go make some biscuits.

A New Standard




i officially have a new standard for my tops - they must be reversible. well, okay, not all of them. but seriously, it's pretty nice when they are. i got this super cute top sent to me from The Chic Orchid and i'm in love. the color is beautiful and i'm mildly obsessed with the fact that i can wear it two ways - and they're both super cute. i'm a sucker for bows, too, so that's just the cherry on top of an already great piece of clothing.

i love that this top can be dressed up or dressed down. i could pair it with a great pencil skirt, some black skinnies, or shorts (like i did here). and, i got to wear my new Old Navy heels, so that was a bonus.

if you're interested in this top, head over to The Chic Orchid to get your own!




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top: c/o The Chic Orchid
shorts: Old Navy
heels: Old Navy (in-store only)