My Summer Checklist, 2012

{At the Kanrocksas concert in 2011 with Ashley.}

Happy summer! This past Memorial Day weekend was a wonderful respite. It consisted of golf, barbeques, summer brews, the pool, mai tais and sunburns. (That last part was actually not so wonderful. Ouch!)

Now that summer has officially started, I’ve decided to make a summer checklist. Nothing too hardcore, just a couple of fun activities and accomplishments I would like to enjoy this year. Here it is:

1. Burn a mixed cd with songs that remind me of this summer.
2. Find the perfect tropical maxi dress to wear in Hawaii this July.
3. Go to an outdoor concert. (Buzz Beach Ball, here I come!)
4. Concoct a signature summer drink. (I’m thinking about something with cilantro, sparkling water and rum.)
5. Host a barbeque with all my friends.
6. Finish a DIY project (any DIY project!) from my Pinterest board Makeable.
7. Visit a local winery with the hubbie.
8. Ride my bike along a trail and/or around the KU campus.
9. Have a picnic.
10. Watch a summer blockbuster in theaters. There are so many to choose from, including The Avengers, Snow White & The Huntsman, and The Dark Knight Returns.

What’s on your summer checklist? Anything fun and fabulous you want to do this year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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My Style: The Effortless Chambray Shirt

Everywhere I look this spring, I see chambray. Chambray, chambray, chambray. But I’m not complaining. I absolutely love this trend. It’s a casual, girl-next-door look that makes me think of Joey from Dawson’s Creek or Felicity from Felicity. (I never actually watched either of those shows, but both those characters seem like girls who would wear a lot of chambray, right?) With this new-found love of chambray I immediately set out to find the perfect chambray piece. Originally, I found this light-washed chambray shirt from JCrew and started  my regular shopping obsessions: visiting the shirt online at least three times a day and staring at it adoringly. But then I remembered that JCrew is crazy overpriced,  so I found a much more affordable—and equally adorable—lookalike from American Eagle. Once I found it online, I knew I had to get my hands on it for this spring and summer. (I’m greedy like that.)

This chambray shirt makes any look seem effortless. This past weekend, I paired it with my white shorts and beige wedges, and set off to have brunch with a girlfriend. (Who says you can’t wear white before Memorial Day! Not this girl.) But the best thing about this shirt is its versatility. I can rock out by matching it with bold green jeans, dress it up with funky leopard print kitten wedges and a feminine black skirt, or keep it relaxed with black skinny jeans. Either way, I am excited to add this timeless piece to my wardrobe.

Chambray Shirt: American Eagle
Shorts: Maurices
Belt: Target
Purse: Steve Madden
Shoes: ELLE, Kohls
Bracelet: Forever 21
Necklace: Charlotte Russe
Earrings: Premier Designs
Sunglasses: Target

What is your must-have piece for spring? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I’m Reading: March to April, 2012

Well, I didn’t do so well with my reading list this month. It may have had to do with the fact that we had an extra issue to ship to the printer at work this past month, and re-reading the same article over and over again, only to come home and read more just didn’t appeal to me. (Whereas watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and New Girl did.) So here’s what I was able to accomplish in March and April: a romance, a repeat read, a tale of magic and intrigue, and a light chick lit. Maybe you’ll find something that appeals to you below. Enjoy!

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. This is the highly anticipated fourth installment of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. It features Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, two characters from books previous who stole every scene they were in together. We all knew that they would eventually fall in love, and it was really fun to see how they found their happily ever after. Plus, (SPOILER!) this book finally reveals the identity of Lady Whistledown! The only bummer is that Whistledown’s gossip column also makes its final appearance in the book. This witty rag served as a Greek chorus to the series, setting this romance series apart from the rest. It will be interesting to read the remaining novels without Whistledown’s society observations bookmarking the start of each chapter. 4 STARS

The Hunger Games. There’s really not much to say about this book. You either know what it is about or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’ve either been living under a rock or purposefully ignoring it because it didn’t sound interesting to you. This is my second time reading The Hunger Games—the first, which kept me mesmerized the entire time, was back in 2010. I decided to reread this book in anticipation of the movie (so that I could tear the movie apart in comparison to the book the way that super nerds do. Super nerds unite!). There was no change in my star rating from the first time I read it. It still kept me entranced. I was even able to pay attention to details that went unnoticed before, now knowing what would happen at the turn of the next page. 5 STARS

The Night Circus. Debut author Erin Morgenstern really wanted this book to be something special. You can tell that she means to capture forbidden love, black magic and childhood dreams brought to life. But there was something missing: a captivating story. The plot is thinly veiled: two young magicians in training are raised to compete in a battle set in a night circus. However, the “battle” comprises of the magicians creating beauty within a string of black and white tents with their special skills. And when the two young magicians fall in love they must choose between love and this boring “battle.” All the elements were there, but without a captivating story (and characters, I might add) the reader (at least this reader) is left searching. Sure, this book is filled with a lot of beautiful prose and descriptions of worlds that only Morgenstern could have dreamed up, but what is a beautiful world without an interesting story (and character) to enjoy it with? 2 1/2 STARS

Good in Bed. As a light piece of chick lit, this book hit a lot of hot button issues. Namely, weight. Cannie’s ex-b0yfriend has taken a job as a columnist for a woman’s magazine (think Cosmopolitan) and writes an article titled “Loving a Larger Woman.” Yes. Cannie is a plus-sized woman. And this book is about her journey to self-confidence after being completely embarassed by her ex-boyfriends’ published writings. She withstands a lot of pitfalls along the way, but ultimately finds happiness. However, the thing that bothered me the most about this book was the main character. Cannie is supposed to be this strong, independent woman. And I know this because we are constantly told that she is. However, all Cannie ever seemed to do was bitch and whine about her looks and past mistakes. After awhile, it really started to get on my nerves. She had moments of clarity, but they were overshadowed by her more periodic moments of self-doubt. If only the woman we were told Cannie was, was actually the woman Cannie was. 3 1/2 STARS

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I’m Craving: Tropical Maxi Dresses

This summer is looking up! The husband and I are going to satisfy our wanderlust by flying to Hawaii in July, and we are staying at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law.

Even though I’m making a list of everything I want to do (relax on the beach and go hiking are definitely making the list), I can’t help but start mentally shopping for the trip. The item at the top of my list? A tropical maxi dress. I used to have one, but it was sacrificed to the hotel gods at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Meaning it had “disappeared” when I called the hotel to tell them that I accidentally left it behind. Sure. It just “got up and walked away.”)

So here are some tropical maxi dresses I’m currently craving. Help me choose one for my island-bound luggage!

1. Sunset Maxi Dress by Nasty Gal, $158. This one’s pretty basic, but it sure looks comfy.

2. Island Print Maxi Dress by Forever 21, $24.80. I love the strapless cut of this dress partnered with a bright, bold print.

3. Flock Of Birds Dress by Free People, $198. I sure have expensive taste, as this is one of my favorites of the finds. I love the color and the asymmetrically placed bold print of a bird in flight.

4. Colorblock Maxi Dress by Target, $27.99. This is one of the more affordable of my finds. I love the color blocking and the lightweight feel of the fabric.

5. As A Matter Of Refract Dress by Mod Cloth, $84.99. Bold is the way to go with this rainbow-inspired gown.

6 Multicolored Dress by H&M, $24.95. H&M combines bold colors with loud patterns, and I adore it.

7. Ikat Maxi Dress by Ella Moss, $188. Again, I’m loving the bright colors and bold print. (Are you seeing a trend yet?)

8. Tegan Ombre Halter Dress by Nordstrom, $216. This is a little different from my other finds. The color is not so bright. In fact, the subtle ombre hue allows the design of the dress to make the statement.

9. Aija Maxi Dress by Anthropologie, $158. My pricey preferences continue, as this is my second favorite find. Can I get this half off, please? … Pretty please?

What about you? Any exciting plans for the summer? What are your travel fashion cravings? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Snapshots from the 2012 Warrior Dash | Kansas City, Missouri

While many of you may have found yourself sipping margaritas, scrounging down enchiladas and partying until all hours of the night this Cinco de Mayo, I found myself muddy and worn out.

This past Saturday was the exciting and exhausting Warrior Dash. As I mentioned earlier on my blog, I am working on staying in shape during 2012, so I signed up to participate in this ferocious running series. And boy was I nervous. A 3-mile run? Obstacles along the way? Fire? And worse, a mud pit? I had every reason to be nervous.

But I stuck it out. I trained (as best I could) and quelled my fear of getting dirty (also as best I could). Turns out, I didn’t mind the mud all that much. A 3-mile run filled with cargo nets, ponds, tires, ropes and ladders kind of take the fear out of you—all you want to do near the end is finish the damn thing. So here’s a photo diary of my experience, thanks to my wonderful husband who carried around one of those ancient disposable cameras, taking action shots of me as a “fierce warrior.” (Yes, evidently they still make disposable cameras!)

Next year? Perhaps I’ll try and finish it in a timely fashion. (1:04—not bad for someone who didn’t even know if she could do it.) Enjoy!

{A.J. insisted that we slide down the mud path for a big finish. I think he just wanted to get me as muddy as possible. Oh well. It made for a really cute picture.}

{Chris and Sarah were awarded their medals for being feirce warriors!}

{Team DeBacker, right before the race.}

{Climbing up the walls weren’t the hard part. It was the climbing back down them that freaked me out.}

{Jumping through the tires like a pro … kind of … }

{Going up the incline with all my strength.}

{Ahh! I’m coming at you!}

How was your weekend? Did you participate in the 2012 Warrior Dash? If not, have you participated in any fun running series like it? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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My Style: Tribal, Tribal, Tribal

Some days the easiest outfit in spring is a blouse and a breezy skirt. Because it was the middle of the work week and the temperatures were said to rise steadily throughout the day, Wednesday called for an easy outfit. I threw on my favorite skirt with a pair of my favorite heels and felt ready to face the day.

I really dig this skirt. It was a surprising fashion find a couple years back. I went to Target looking for something else entirely and wound up discovering this skirt. I love both the tribal print and the shape. The print packs an understated punch of flair to my wardrobe. Plus, it can beat the Kansas heat at an appropriate length for an office setting.

I matched it with this blouse from Forever 21. It’s too short in the front to tuck it into the skirt, so I decided to throw on a camisole underneath it and tied a knot with it in the front. Then I threw on my “tribal heels,” a bunch of accessories and a brave face. It was time to head into the office and ship another special edition of the magazine I work for to the printer. And whenever our ship date is near, I tend to panic. But I believe in our team! So let’s make magic happen!

Blouse: Forever 21
Camisole: Old Navy
Skirt: Target
Belt: Target
Shoes: Madden Girl
Bracelet: Forever 21
Necklaces: H&M and Forever 21
Earrings: Premier Designs
Clutch: Elliot Lucca, from Piperlime

What about you? What is one of your favorite spring pieces? A breezy skirt? A lightweight blouse? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I’m Inspired By: Instagram

Instagram finally launched on the Android platform, and I am a convert. Some people aren’t ecstatic that Android users have joined the Instagram community, inadvertently destroying its exclusivity, but I am excited to finally be a part of the club. Android users unite!

For any of you not familiar with this awesome app, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Instagram holds the record for being the fastest app to reach 1 million users. (It now has more than 30 million!) In 2011, Apple named it the app of the year.

Basically, if your favorite thing about Facebook is sharing photos, Instagram is the app for you. Snap a shot of anything—your brunch, your puppy, your new shoes, spring flowers, family fun, adorable kiddos, etc.—run that photo through one of Instagram’s filters (there are more than a dozen), and share it with your Instagram followers. Like Facebook, you can tag people, like photos, and post comments. You can also find your friends on Instagram by connecting with your Facebook and/or Twitter account.

I love checking in on my friends (and some of my favorite bloggers and celebrity personalities) right from my phone. And whereas Facebook is typically dominated by pictures of friends hanging out at at bars, parties or sporting events, Instagram allows you to glimpse into the everyday. It’s inspiring to see what my friends are up to on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some of my most recent Instagram posts. Be sure to follow me!

What about you? Are you on Instagram yet? Let me know! I’d love to follow you.

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