Monday, March 28, 2022

This Golden State

 This Golden State is the first book that I have read by Marit Weisenberg, and now I want to read every single one of her books – that’s how much I loved this book. Young Adult books are such a guilty pleasure of mine; they are always easy to read, have a well-developed story line, and there is always a lot under the surface. I 100% percent purchased this book because the cover is just so beautiful with an equal beautiful story hidden behind the opening. 

This Golden State centers around the Winslow family who lives their lives based on five vital rules:

1.     No one can know your real name

2.    Don’t stay in one place too long

3.    If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.

4.    Keeping out family together is everything

5.    We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t


Poppy and her younger sister don’t know exactly why or what their family has been running from their entire life, but they are very aware of the consequences if they were to ever be found out. With each passing year Poppy’s desire for friends and a future for herself grows stronger and stronger, and with her eighteenth birthday quickly approaching Poppy starts to question what the plan is for her as an individual. 


Their most recent move to California starts to expose cracks and clues into who Poppy’s parents are and what they are running from. More determined than ever, Poppy takes a at home, mail-in DNA test. Just when Poppy starts to thrive in her new math classes and has even meet a special someone who turn into her boyfriend, the results of the test bring her back down to earth and her reality. 


Through the DNA test Poppy is able to uncover her parents’ true identities, but unfortunately realizes a little too late that the DNA test has undone decades of the carful work her family has done to conceal their true identities. Poppy wants to keep her family safe, but also wants to find her own place in the world, and works towards a solution that will hopefully make everyone happy.


This is one of those books that is so hard to put down. Cannot recommend “This Golden State” enough!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Link I'm Loving

 I feel like the entire month of March has gone by so fast, which is a welcome pace from last month… I honestly felt like February was never going to end. Now, spring is in the air, the hint of warmer days on the horizon, and Easter is just around the corner. This week was honestly really nice though. I feel like people are starting to come out of their winter hibernation. Walks, lunches outside, and time with friends and family for the foreseeable future. I just love how every corner of life seems to be rustling with renewed energy this time of year!

One// The Adam Project

This movie wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was so good and it was so fun seeing Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo back together in a movie! Definitely recommend!!


Two// Sarah Flint Sandals 

I am so excited to pack away my winter shoes till the fall and break out some of my favorite summer sandals {block sandals pictured above}. Sarah Flint is hands down one of my most favorite shoe company. All of her shoes are so beautiful designed, and her sandal selection are perfect for any summer occasion. Use my discount code: SARAHFLINT-BALAURENAID at checkout to receive $50 off your first pair of Sarah Flint shoes~ 


Three// And Just Like That Season 2

I felt like the end of season 1 was kind of wrapped up, but at the same time it left everyone wondering about all the main characters’ new possible relationships and futures. I was beyond thrilled to learn that is going to be a Season 2 of And Just Like That. Even though it was almost 2 decades since the last episode of the original Sex and the City the chemistry between the actors was still there and it was just a fun and entertaining show to watch.  


Four// Mi Golondrina Mila Rosas Lilay Nieve Dress

This dress is amazing! The pink fabric and the hand embroidered flowers are just incredible. I feel like this dress is a little bit of an occasion dress because of the silk material, but at the same time I feel like it is a piece that can be dressed up or down, and it is such a timeless piece. 


Five// Chicken Divan

Any chicken casserole is just the ultimate comfort food, in my opinion. It has been a few years since I have had Chicken Divan, but after seeing this Southern Living recipe, a Chicken Divan casserole is most definitely in my near future. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Dresses Under $100

 This time of year is my favorite; the flowers are starting to make their day debut, the days are slightly longer, and the perfect days were all you need is a light sweater at night {yes, April 25th is almost here… if you know, you know}. Plus, I always love the fashion that comes with the change of each season. I always love sweaters, boots, blazer, coats, scarves, tights, skirts, and all the layering that comes with the colder months, but by February, I am ready for a change all around. 

I love waking up, not having to put too much effort into an outfit, and just be able to throw on a dress. Of course, when the start of fall rolls around I will be talking about how excited I am for sweater and a cozy fire, but for now here are a few of my current favorite dresses all under $100!

English Factory Contrast Stitch Babydoll Dress// English Factory is one of my favorite go-to brands. Their dresses are always super flattering, run true to size, and a quality pieces. I love the classic white of this one with the navy pipping to give it that little extra something

Anthropologie Jump-High Cut-Out Dress// The color of this dress is just beautiful and the design and fit definitely make it look like a dress that is over $100! 

Levi’s Tanner Scrunchie Dress// I feel like Levi’s is one of those brands that has just been around forever, and for good reason. The gingham print on this dress is just perfect for the late spring and early summer season!

Pomander Place Periwinkle Stella Dress// I love every single dress I own that is a Pomander Place dress! This is another great brand whose dresses are always beautifully designed, great quality, and are always marked at a reasonable price. I love the color of this particular one and the puff sleeves!

WAYF Canossa Tiered Shirt Dress// Is there ever such a thing as too many white dresses?! Love the tiered detailing on this one and the classic look it lends.

J. Crew Broken-in Jersey Tired Dress// This dress runs slightly large so size down. I feel like this is just a great basic dress to have and super versatile. 

Z Supply Guava Atlas Midi Dress// I feel like this dress is just asking to go on a vacation with you. I love the flow of the material and the shade of pink is just perfection!

V-Back Cover-Up Maxi Dress// I love chic, oversize dresses on a warm day, and this one checks all the boxes!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

 A couple summers ago I read Chanel Cleeton’s “When We Left Cuba” and “Next Year in Havana” and completely loved both books. When I discovered on Audible that there was a third book in the series I was completely thrilled, and “The Most Beautiful Girl In Cuba” did not disappoint! 

All three of Chanel Cleeton’s books do a beautiful job a painting a picture of different time periods, setting, dynamics, family turmoil, and she always does such a wonderful job of developing her characters. I’m not sure of the exact order of this book series, but I think the first book is “When We Left Cuba”, then “Next Year in Havana”, and finally “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba”, in case you would like to read these books in a certain order.


In “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba” Cleeton intertwines the story of three notable women during the Spanish-America War and the Cuban fight for freedom. Grace, an aspiring journalist finds herself living in New York City with her aunt during the Gilded Age. She is caught between a newspaper rivalry but decides to be a report for the Journal. 


Meanwhile, In Havana, eighteen-year-old Evangelina is unjustly imprisoned by the Spanish. An American reporter learns of her plight and features Evangelina’s story along with her photo in a newspaper and is later deemed ‘the most beautiful girl in Cuba’. Her image and story soon become a rallying symbol for America intervention for Cuba’s fight for independence. 


The third important character in this story is Mariana Perez. A courier secretly working for the Cuban resistance, and aids in their attempt to free Evangelina. 


The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba” is a beautifully told story and seamlessly ties the lives of three different women together. Highly recommend!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Spring Florals

 Love Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines, but I am beyond thrilled that the spring season is here! Let’s face facts, if the winter wasn’t jammed packed with back-to-back holidays the winter would be a very, very, very long season… I think it is safe to say that we are all in need of some sun, a little warm weather, and life filled with a few fresh blooms!

I know florals are not always everyone’s taste but being a 30 something with the inner taste of a 70 something when it comes to some things, and florals is most definitely one of those things. Wallpaper, shoes, dresses… basically if something has a floral print, I will probably love it. Florals just bring a piece of happiness, light, and color to everything, and I love how beautiful floral designs can be. There are so many beautiful florals items this year that I just couldn’t resist sharing a few of my favorites!

Yumi Kim Tinsley Dress// Florals and Blues – sign me up please! How dreamy is this dress?! And the delicate tie straps really pull the whole design of the dress together

Loeffler Randall Camellia Pleated Bow Heels with Ankle Strap// How beautiful are these shoes! I love the Loeffler Randall trend that is currently happening. These pumps are just so perfect for a spring/summer wedding or event!

Williams-Sonoma Floral Meadow Wreath Dinner Plates// Is there ever such a thing as too many dishes? I like to think the answer would be a firm ‘no’, These plates are just so beautiful and the design is so whimsical and cheerful

Tuckernuck Petite Poppy Royal Shirt Dress// I have this particular style dress in a few other prints, and I strongly suggest sizing down, definitely runs big, but so comfortable! 

Lele Sadoughi Pearl and Crystal Slim Knotted Headband// It honestly took me a little while to get on the Lele Sadoughi headband train and I am so glad I did! They are so comfortable to wear and just a fun piece to add to any outfit that need a little something extra

One Kings Lane 13” Peonyin Glass Vase, Faux// I wish Peonies bloomed year round; they are without a doubt my most favorite flower. They always look so stunning in a room and this faux arrangement is 100% worth the investment

Spiritual Gangster Sg Intent High Waisted Biker Shorts// Walking, Yoga, and the elliptical is basically all the working out I can tolerate, and I actually do enjoy those three things, but in my book, if you’re working out, why not look cute? These shorts are so perfect for those yoga sessions and you can even purchase the matching bra!

June Capiz Floral Flush Mount// You would definitely have to have the right room to put this light fixture in, but I think it is just so unique and stunning!

J. Crew Long-Sleeve Cotton Poplin Pajama Set in Strawberry Floral// These have to be some of the cutest pajamas for the spring season. I just love the crisp white background and the bright print

Saint Maddox Square Neck One-Piece Swimsuit// Every year I say I am going to purchase a one-piece, but this might be the year I actually do… this swimsuit is just dreamy with its floral print set against a soft background

Friday, March 18, 2022

Run Rose Run

 It has been at least a decade since I have read and James Patterson book, and obviously when I found out that he had co-authored a book with Dolly Parton, I was counting down the days till Run Rose Run was released. I am such a fan of Dolly Parton, I feel like you just can’t help but love her, especially if you are from Nashville. I feel like she is always contributing to her community and society in such a positive way, plus her songs are just iconic. I honestly have so many friends who have named their dogs either after Dolly herself or one of her songs, and in the South, I feel like that says a lot about a person if someone names a dog in their honor. 

James Patterson books used to be my go-to books when I was in college; they are always entertaining, I loved how he had shorter chapters, so it made it easy to read a few other things at the same time, and I love how he always has a plot twist in store. Run Rose Run did not disappoint and was definitely on par with his other books. I love how Patterson and Dolly were able to seamlessly weave a story together while still maintaining their own unique voices.


A head-strong and determined AnnieLee Keyes makes her way to Nashville, like so many, to pursue her dream becoming a Country Music singer. On her first night in town she meets, Ethan, who will become one of her greatest allies on the way to the top, and even introduces her to a country music icon who takes AnnieLee Keyes under her wing. 


With her natural talent, determination, a little help from a few new friends AnnieLee Keyes quickly turns into a country music singer on the rise. However, AnnieLee Keyes has a few skeletons hiding in her closet, and finds that no matter how hard you try to outrun your past it can catch up with you. 


Highly recommend this book! It is full of dynamic and entertaining characters, twist and turns, a little bit of humor, suspense, and love to tie everything together. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Cherries Dessert

 I honestly don’t know exactly where this recipe came from, my family has made it for Christmas and any holiday that involves the color red for forever. It could either be a recipe my grandmother made up, got from a friend, or it could be from Southern Living or another magazine; so, if it’s not an original recipe, please let me know and I will give the proper credit to whomever it is owed. But, this recipe is so delicious and easy I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you all. It’s serious addicting and so versatile; you can serve for a dinner dessert, holiday dessert, or even use it in lieu of a coffee cake to have with your morning cup of joe!


Graham Crackers


Chopped Pecans

1 Stick of Butter

1 8oz block of cream cheese


Powder Sugar

1 8oz container of Cool Whip

1 can of Cherry Pie filling



Step 1: 

Place one pack of Graham Crackers (there should be 3 packs of crackers in each standard graham cracker box} in food processor. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and grind together in food processor until Graham crackers are of a sand like substance.


Step 2: 

Add ¾ cup chopped pecans and 1 stick of melted butter to graham cracker mixture. 


Step 3:

Butter a 9x13 Pyrex and evenly distribute the graham cracker crust and press into Pyrex. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 


Step 4: 

Using a hand mixer, mix 1 8oz block of cream cheese, 3 Tbs of milk, and 1 cup of powder sugar together until everything is well blended and creamy 


Step 5:

After the crust has cooled spread the cream cheese mixture over crust, using a spatula to evenly coat the crust


Step 6:

Evenly spread 1 cup of chopped pecans over cream cheese 


Step 7:

Using a spatula, evenly spread 1 8oz container of cool whip over pecan layer. Finally, spread 1 can of cherry pie filling over top of cool whip


Step 8:

Let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2022

My Favorite Grace Kelly Movies

 Most little girls want to be a Disney princess, but when I was a child, I wanted to be Grace Kelly when I grew up. Even at a young age, I thought she was beautiful, and her clothes were just amazing. Her whole story seemed like a fairy tale come to life {although, now that I’m older, I understand that her life wasn’t as easy as it was portrayed}. I remember watching old movies with mom and grandmother that had Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple, and even a few Katherine Hepburn and Monroe movies, but the Grace Kelly ones always held my attention a little more than the others. 

You know someone is a style icon when people are still trying to channel elements of their fashion pieces over half a decade later. I would 100% wear the swimsuit Grace Kelly wears in High Society today, along with all her other clothing. Some of the pieces are just literally wearable art. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite Grace Kelly movies with you all, and the fashion in them is amazing!

Rear Window

This is hands down one of my most favorite movies of all time. I just love how Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart are able to bounce off of each other. It always amazes that this movie basically takes place in a single apartment with the added view of another apartment building, and yet, it still leaves you on the edge of your seat


To Catch A Thief

Another Hitchcock movie for the win. A retired jewel thief sets out to prove his innocence after being suspected of going back to his old ways. Also, love the car scene in this movie! 


High Society

The clothes in this movie are just stunning! And if memory serves me correctly, I believe this is one of the last movies Grace Kelly ever did. Grace Kelly plays the part of an heiress who much choose between three suitors. To round everything out, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Louis Armstrong are part of this casting! 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Matchmaker

 For the past year of so I have just been doing a monthly book roundup instead of full book reviews but thought I would go back to do a true book review in addition to the monthly roundup. I know that people are always looking for a good book recommendation, and I feel like it is always nicer to give a book a little bit more attention than just a paragraph. 

I recently read The Matchmaker, by Elin Hilderbrand, and perusal it was absolutely delightful. While we are the topic of Matchmaker… does anyone know of one? Preferably along the lines of a Rose Weissman type matchmaker {joking, but also kind of not joking} … The main character of The Matchmaker, Dabney Kimball, has a very colorful and true insight to the wrong and right matches of the world, which makes things interesting at times, but to her credit, she has made 42 successful matches over the course of her life!


Aside from her matchmaking abilities Dabney is the heart center of Nantucket. She is loved by most, if not everybody, takes pride in her family, her town, her job, and her personal life. She is married to John Beech {aka Box}, and they have a daughter who was adopted by Box upon their marriage, but her actual father is Dabney’s high school and college sweetheart who took Dabney’s heart halfway across the world to Asia for twenty-seven years. 


Dabney’s life is fairly calm until one day when she receives an email from Clendenin Hughes, the love of her life, to let her know he will be returning to Nantucket after close to three decades away. On top of this new Dabney learns that her daughter is most definitely engaged to the wrong man for her. 


Needless to say, Dabney’s life takes an interesting turn, forces her to make some decisions, live up to her past, and reveal a few secrets she has been keeping. 


The Matchmaker is the perfect book to read over spring break. It will have you cheering, laughing, and crying all the way through. Highly recommend! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Life Through Rose Colored Glasses

 Is anyone else absolutely amazed by the events that have taken place over the span of two years… Sometimes I honestly wish I could transport myself back to 2019 or early 2020 and just enjoy the semblance of normalcy and calm in the world. One thing positive that has come out of current events is that it has unified people and I have absolutely loved seeing the different ways people have come up with to help. I particularly love the idea of booking an Airbnb over in the Ukraine to get money directly to those who need it in a quick fashion. 

Even in the hardest of times I always think it is best to view life through the most positive lens while still maintaining a realistic view. In other words, viewing the world through rose colored glasses. So in the spirit of a rose colored, but realistic view point, and since spring is just around the corner, I have rounded up a few of my favorite rose colored things!

LoveShackFancy Idra Dress// So in love with the many layers of ruffles on this dress. How could anyone have a bad day or night in this dress

Larroude The Erin Clutch// I honestly feel like this clutch can be used all year around. The pink and white gingham would brighten up any drab winter day and look beautiful with your favorite summer dress!

Estelle Colored Decanter In Blush Pink// I am so smittened with Estelle colored glasses; all of their products are just stunning! This has to be one of the most attractive decanters I have seen, plus, it’s pink!

Mi Golondrina Valeria Rosa Claro Gingham// The top of Mi Golondrina’s smocked dresses run a little smaller than their normal dress, so I would definitely recommend sizing up one size. This dress is definitely a splurge, but they are just perfect for the summertime


Stuart Weitzman Goldie Crystal Jelly Sandals// How cute are these for the beach or a day spent by the pool? I just love the blush pink color and the pearl and rhinestone details

Celeste 12x20 Velvet Lumbar Pillow// This shade of blush is such a neutral – I honestly feel like it could be used against any shade of furniture. 

Dream Room via randigarrett design// How beautiful are all the pink details in this room?!

Krewe Earhart Blinker Sunglasses// The side details on these glasses are just so fun and they are wonderful those extra sunny days ahead

Lilly Pulitzer Deva Ruffle Sweatshirt// This would be the perfect shirt to wear on a cool summer night. I love the ruffle detail and the shade of pink is just so iconic for Lilly

Velvet Louise Curtains// These curtains would be so fabulous in a home office or a child’s room. Plus, the weight of them adds a bit of a luxury element

Thursday, March 3, 2022

February Reading List

I really cannot believe we are already in the month of March, but I am so looking forward to longer and warmer days, plus I just love all the spring blooms that paint a pastel landscape. I have never been able to figure out why February is the shortest month of the year, but it always feels like the longest month… I love the winter and all the holidays that come with it, but I think by February the cold weather and shorter are a little wearing… There are a few pluses to the month of February, one of which is that it is a great month to stay in on those cold nights and read a really good book! 

One// 11.22.63, by Stephen King

Over the past few years, I have heard so many positive things about 11.22.63, and finally decided to give it a go. In full transparency, I am not a big fan of Stephen King’s better-known movies {i.e. It, Pet Sematary, Misery, etc.}, they are just too much for me, so I was a little reluctant to read this book, but I am so glad I did. I love how King took his main characters not only back in time to stop the JFK assassination, but that he took Jack back far enough to create a completely new life and give the reader a sense of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I will say, for those of you who have watched the Netflix series, the book is actually a lot more tame. 


Two// Once Upon A Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was {and still is} one of my favorite books growing up. I love how Callahan was able to weave one of C.S. Lewis’ most well-known books into her storyline. I will say that this book did take me a little while to get though because one aspect of the story was just inevitable. This truly is a story that pulls at the heart string and may draw a tear or two. 


Margaret, a seventeen-year-old student of mathematics and physics at Oxford University, makes the trip home to visit her brother every weekend. Her eight-year-old brother asks Megs if Narnia is real; logical tells her no, but after reading the book herself she starts to feel like it might be an actual place. At the request of George her brother, she sets out to find the answer, and on her journey encounters Mr. Lewis. 


Three// The Wish, by Nicholas Sparks

It has been a good decade since I have read a book by Nicholas Sparks, and this one did not disappoint. This book takes you on such an emotional journey and is written in a why where you feel you have become invested in the lives of the characters. 


Renowned travel photographer, Maggie, splits her time between New York, where she is part-owner of a successful gallery and travel the world to photography remote locations. This Christmas is slightly different for Maggie… she finds herself coming to grips with a medical diagnosis and not really being able to leave the city for the holidays. Over the holidays she forms a unique relationship with her newest employee at the gallery and tells him the story of her life when she was 16 years old. 


Four// The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles

I know that a lot of people have compared Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow to The Lincoln Highway, so, keep in mind I have not read A Gentleman in Moscow yet… I honestly thought this was such a well-done book. I listened to this one on Audible and each character is bought to life in such a unique way and really adds to the experience of the story. The storyline and character development is well built and developed. 


It’s 1954 and Emmet has just been released from a work camp. He and his 9 year old brother, Billy, plan to make a fresh start I California, but their plans are thrown off course when Wolly and Duchess, two escapes from the camp, show up at Emmet and Billy’s house, sending them on a winding adventure to NYC before the two brothers are finally able to make their was to the West Coast