I’ve been trying to figure out how I can share more about the small things on my blog. I’m looking for ways to encourage myself to write a little more, even when I don’t want to sit down and write something “significant.” Some of that writing has come through updating and republishing posts with new information lately. When I posted currently posts previously, I really struggled because many of the prompts I was answering were fairly mundane for me and I didn’t have a lot to say.
I’m trying really hard to find the right balance in this space. I really need a hobby and a creative outlet to balance my day job, so please bear with me while I figure out what I want to share here!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Florence and Tuscany for Our 10th anniversary
Our 10th anniversary trip will be here before I know it. We will be staying at the St Regis Florence and the Monastero di Cortona, one of our favorite hotels in Tuscany. Instead of going somewhere new, we decided to create a trip focused on some of our favorite memories together. We’re going to visit some of the restaurants in Florence and Cortona that have made our travels so very sweet, as well as look for some new experiences to make our trip special.
We will be taking anniversary photos with Cristano again. I’m nervous about that because I haven’t been feeling my best, but Tom and I haven’t taken any photos since 2017 though, so we want to do it. We thought about taking my wedding dress for anniversary photos, but it doesn’t look like that’s a realistic plan.
Most Recently Read:
The Last Masterpiece by Laura Morelli – I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley. I devoured it in 24 hours because I couldn’t put it down.
This is one of the book releases that I am most excited about from this year. The Last Masterpiece is set primarily in Europe during World War II, and it follows two women through their journeys across Italy to protect Italian art treasures from being shipped to Germany. Both women are involved in the preservation of art, in some capacity, however, the origins and motivations of their work are different.
Many stories have been told about the Monuments Men who helped recover many European masterpieces, I’ve heard very little about the women who helped with these endeavors. While this is historical fiction, much of the book is rooted in facts that are well-researched.
Much of the book is set in Florence in familiar piazzas and squares, though you’ll start your journey further south with Josie as she makes her way to Florence. If you’ve been in Florence or Tuscany, you can picture the places that Morelli describes. If you haven’t been to Italy yet, the book provides hauntingly beautiful descriptions that will evoke your emotions when you cross the thresholds of the places that hold these masterpieces. Indeed, it may also help explain why some churches feel like they are “missing something” when you visit.
I appreciate that you can see one of Morelli’s main characters, Eva, wrestle with the cognitive dissonance with what she has been tasked to do and why and what she is seeing play out before her eyes. Too often, I think we gloss over the effects of misinformation, disinformation, and the very human reality of trying to discern what is right. This book does a tremendous job of requiring the main characters to live “in the grey” and determine what is real.
Morelli is a master of contrasting the lives of two people and seamlessly switching between times and locations. The Last Masterpiece is no exception. While the juxtaposition between Eva and Josie’s experiences could not be more different, this is a beautifully woven tale of how how and why we are able to appreciate so many of Italy’s treasures today.
You’ll find some characters from one of Morelli’s previous books, The Stolen Lady, which I also enjoyed.
What I’m Wearing:
I feel like I’ve been wanting to talk about the work + travel clothes I purchased in March for quite awhile… but it’s also been 100+ degrees for who knows how many days, so maybe let’s not talk about that right now. I can’t even think about fall clothes. Even this summer when I’ve had to wear blazers and more professional clothes, it’s been impossible to stay cool. So, with the summer sales starting to heat up, maybe you can grab some of my summer favorites on sale!
My Oscar de La Renta Summer Uniform
I started my Oscar de la Renta shorts era last summer, and it is continuing. I grabbed these black and white tweed shorts from Yoox and live in them on the weekends. I have a set of Kate Spade flutter sleeve blouses that are (at least) 10 years old and pair nicely with the different OdL shorts I’ve purchased. (You can still find these on Poshmark or eBay!) It feels like its become my summer uniform.
Also, I know several people are obsessed with my light blue shorts suit, and I found it in green on Yoox, if you’re still looking for a summer suit. I get a lot of wear out of it front spring until fall.
Super Surprise: Sarah Flint Block Heels
At the beginning of summer, I bought a couple of things for our 3-week trip to Normandy and Paris. One of the things I bought (after MUCH consideration) were the Sarah Flint block heel sandals. Honestly, I never thought I would be a block heel girl. As a former pageant girl, I learned to navigate the world in 4″ stilletto heels. I tried the 30 and the 60 in sand and the gold. Ultimately, I though the 60 block heel in gold would be a little more fun for the summer. And, it was. I loved wearing these shoes out to dinner. It was easy to navigate the cobblestones of Honfleur and the steps up and down the Paris metro in the block heel. I didn’t end up with any blisters, and I felt more put together. The arch support is great. I wore these one time before we left for Europe – and it was a 18-hour work day. My feet didn’t bother me at all.
I will admit that I was skeptical about the Sarah Flint hype on instagram, but these shoes work well for me. I love them so much that I’m thinking about buying another pair in sand for our anniversary photos. We’ll see. It depends on what I decide to wear.
Trish McEvoy Make-Up Planner
Before my birthday trip last December, I went to NorthPark to look for new make up. I’ve been using Le Mer skin care and foundation for more than 12 years. The new foundation formula didn’t seem to be working well for me, so I wanted to chat with them about other options. They weren’t interested, but I connected with Gilda, and she called in one of the Trish McEvoy make up artists to give me a complete makeover. I have used Trish in the past, and I knew my skin could tolerate it. (My skin is very sensitive!)
Rick went through my skincare routine and we had an honest conversation about what I would and would not use on a regular basis. I walked out with a new make-up planner with colors that are customized to me, as well as a few skincare changes. What I loved most, however, is that Rick took the time to make sure I knew how to recreate the look at home. He also gave me the confidence to realize that I don’t need *a lot* of makeup to feel more confident. Goodbye full coverage foundation!
We scheduled a follow up for a month later just to ensure that I liked the products. He had me bring in all my make up and brushes and showed me how the things I already had could work with the products I bought. During our follow up, Rick asked if I would be the master class model for the spring color preview. That ended up being really fun. Who doesn’t love playing with makeup without any pressure? I updated some of the things in my planner for spring and summer, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been using everything.
Nine months later, my skin looks a lot better and I get a lot more compliments on my makeup. I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my skills, which has made me a little more adventurous with my make-up. I took my mom to the fall preview event at Neiman Marcus NorthPark this weekend; I’m excited for some fall glamor!
The other thing that I really love is how compact the make-up planner is; it’s perfect for work or personal travel. It’s way easier to pack that single cube than manage a lot of separate pieces. You can easily replace one thing you run out of, instead of buying things you don’t need. I also love that there are curated sets if you want to change your look but don’t have time for a full consultation.
Lilly Pulitzer Halter Dress
In anticipation for the summer heat wave in France, I purchased one sundress for the summer. I used to wear Lilly quite a bit, but I hadn’t been excited about any of their dresses in quite awhile. This halter dress changed my mind. First, the firework print. Perfect for me? Perfect for Bastille Day? I’ll try it. Second, the light cotton material? Perfect for a hot Dallas summer or a balmy French evening. Third, it’s downright comfortable and it has pockets. Count me in all day every day. It was the perfect dress for dining al fresco during the Paris heat wave. Maybe it’s time to pull the vintage Lilly Pulitzer out of my closet! (At what point do clothes become vintage…?)
Dream Summer Dress Wish List
It’s been awhile since I did a dress wish list or packing list post. I feel like my style is constantly evolving and changing these days. I blame the weather for most of it, but I’m also realizing that my body is changing, too. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to see what’s out there. I’m still an avid Shopstyle sale alert setter, and I spend quite a bit of time scouring second-hand sites, too.
I would kill to have the blue Jenny Packham gown for our anniversary photos and dinner. It’s exactly what I’m looking for sunset photos in Tuscany: flowy, colorful, and a bit dramatic. (There’s also a light pink version on sale, as well as a red one without the crystal belt!) The Oscar de la Renta cotton maxi dress seems perfect for the ridiculous summer temperatures we’ve been having. I love the different neckline on the La DoubleJ green midi dress. Emilia Wickstead is always a favorite, and this blue striped dress just seems fun for summer. And, I always romanticize having the perfect white dress for summer – I love the details of the bordelaise lace on this one. I bought a similar dress in summer 2007, and it carried me through so many hot summer adventures. I’d love to find another one.
We have moved our wine collection to Classic Wine Storage with the intention of keeping it safe from the extreme temperatures. One of the benefits of this is that it’s always stored at the perfect temperature, and we have to be intentional about what we bring home to enjoy.
Most recently, we brought home two of our favorite red wines from Umbria: a Bocale rosso and a Cimate rosso. Both are lighter varietal than each winery’s Montefalco Sagrantino. Of the two, I enjoyed the the Bocale rosso a little bit more. I think I will always be stuck on the Cimate Macchieto, the “Super Umbrian.”
Since my mom was over yesterday, we opened a bottle of white wine from Alsace. We opened the 2018 gewürztraminer from Anne de K. It was pretty sweet with some tropical notes but very refreshing on a hot summer day.
If you want to follow along on our wine journey, you can find me on Vivino. We are not wine experts, but we do love keep tracking of everything we try and enjoy. Most of our wine collection consists of bottles where we have been able to visit the winemaker or experience a tasting at the winery. We focus on wines that are local to the are we visiting, though occasionally we will pick up something completely new to us. We have port from Porto. Cider from Normandy. Alsatian wines from the Route du Vin. Italian wines from different regions from Italy.
This is a new idea for me. I’ve decided to share some of the most recent photos I’ve edited. I hope it will encourage me to edit photos a bit more AND write a lot more. I was doing pretty well in June and July, but the August exhaustion is real. It’s so important to follow inspiration when you find it, rather than just push it though.
I’ll start with something easy, as I’ve already updated my tips for spending Christmas in Venice. My most recently edited photos include a couple of photos of the Piazza San Marco at Christmas in 2022. We’re already discussing returning again, as Venice is one of Tom’s favorite cities. It’s absolutely magical at Christmastime, too.
I’ll also round out this post of a sneak peek of what I’m working on finishing – the Honfleur leg of our Normandy trip. It seems a bit too strange to end a post in the heat of summer with Christmas photos, though admittedly, it does remind me that there will be cooler days ahead!