Friday, August 13, 2021

The Most Decadent Dinner in Charleston

 For me, food is an experience. I love to eat, but won't eat something that I don't enjoy. After so much time without being able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant, it's a treat to celebrate and come together for a delightful meal. If you happen to be in Charleston, South Carolina like John and I recently were, you must make a reservation to go to Halls. 

When you mention that you're going to take a trip somewhere, people recommend sites of interest, hotels, and other activities, but without any doubt, the first recommendation that everyone had for us was to make a reservation at Halls. 

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We stayed in the Historic District, which is within a comfortable walking distance to the restaurant. We enjoyed good weather during our trip and took a leisurely stroll to and from the restaurant. Upon our arrival, the owner greeted us warmly. As the hostess led us up the beautiful staircase, we enjoyed the piano music and ambiance of the restaurant. The restaurant lends itself beautifully for any special occasion. 

After a celebratory toast, we took our time to explore the menu. Luckily, our server explained the multiple options and answered questions for us. The service is absolutely impeccable, from the person who refills the water, to the server; everyone makes the meal an enjoyable and delicious experience. 

halls chophouse menu charleston south carolina maryland blogger influencer ltktravel.jpg

John decided to try the bone-in filet mignon with truffle butter, while I settled with the smaller grass-fed filet mignon with gorgonzola. At the recommendation of our server, we ordered half portions of the pepper jack creamed corn skilled and the loaded baked potato. The half portions were so generous that we couldn't finish them. I especially enjoyed the corn! The steaks were cooked to perfection and practically melted in our mouths. Without a doubt, it was the best meal that I have had in years. 

Difficult as it may be, try to save a little bit of space for some dessert. After all, dessert isn't for the stomach, it's for the soul. 

maryland blogger influencer ltktravel halls chophouse lilly pulitzer dress charleston

The restaurant makes you feel right at home, but I recommend dressing up for the occasion. I wore a Lilly Pulitzer maxi dress with a matching Lele Sadoughi headband and paired it with some Gucci sandals. Most of the people in the restaurant were dressed in a similar manner. Although the restaurant is not uber formal, you may not feel comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans.

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Much to my surprise, today I received a hand written note of appreciation and thanks for our visit. In this day and age, I appreciate and applaud such a kind gesture. 

halls chophouse review maryland travel influencer ltktravel

Tips for your visit: 
- Make reservations in advance on the restaurant website through Resy
- Come with a good appetite
- Enjoy a drink at the bar before or after your visit

I noticed that the restaurant offers brunch, so on our next trip to Charleston, we're going to plan to go to brunch. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Dresses for the Dog Days of Summer

 Even though I'm swooning over gorgeous jewel tones for fall and eagerly await tartan season, the temperatures dictate another plan. Today marked my first official day back at school and temperatures hit 100 degrees. Working in a large school building where temperatures are difficult to maintain, especially with lots of warm bodies, poses a challenge when it is so hot. 

A maxi dress keeps me cool on the hottest day, but offers versatality with a jean jacket or simple cardigan if the air conditioning works overtime. 

Today as part of our professional development team building, we participated in a scavenger hunt that had us (literally) running from the baseball field, to the press box, to the gym, and a myriad of other places. Being slightly competitive in nature, we completed all of the tasks, but I looked slightly "wilted" and crashed immediately after arriving at my house. 

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I curated a list of some of my favorite maxi and midi dresses to help you enjoy the final dog days of summer in style. Best of all, all of these dresses are on sale right now; and some are quite a steal. 

Gingham dresses always top my list. Timeless in style, you'll reach for these dresses season after season. The pink gingham dress shines with flirty ruffles and a fun slit in the front. The blue gingham dress features a halter style top and semi-ombre type effect with several shades of blue. I love everything about the ruffled wrap dress with the tie detail in the back, too. 

pink gingham ruffle maxi dress tracy reese ruffle maxi staud blue gingham dress

If you're saving most of your clothing budget for fall shopping, don't despair. These options are super friendly on your wallet. The sky blue dress is a steal at only $20 and the other blue dress is an additional 50% off of the regular price right now. 

sky blue shein maxi dress red dress boutique j crew back tie maxi sale dress

How are you keeping cool during the dog days of summer? 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Princess Culture Isn't Toxic: I Could Have Told You That

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Recently Brigham Young University revealed results of a study that show that "Princess Culture" is not toxic. In my opinion, I didn't need a study to know that. What you are about to read is not-scientific, nor is there a study to support my opinions. Rather, it is an example from creative, imaginative lives. 

When I played princess as a child, I was never a "damsel in distress." Putting on a plastic or paper crown instantly made me stand a little bit taller, transforming me into a regal child. I've also seen my own daughters' behavior change instantly when they put on a dress with a swirl. 

Imagination and creative play as a child greatly influences who we become as adults. Our childhood experiences and ability to dream and pretend pervade everything that we write, create, or say. Creative play and imagination is not childish; it is a key component to our success as adults and influences our ability to lead and innovate. 

People who can dream, imagine, and pretend don't put limits on themselves. I was fearless as a child, and remain that way today. Whether it's moving to another country, traveling solo, or simply being unafraid to take on any task that I can imagine. I never hesitate to share an idea and don't shy away from discussions.

People who dream have empathy, understanding, and experiences that are not their own. By imagining myself in other worlds, I could see things from multiple points of view. Even during this pandemic, there were moments when I felt trapped, but then remembered how truly terrifying Anne Frank's time in hiding must have been. My cabin fever or pandemic fatigue pales in comparison. 

In every classic fairy tale, there is a battle between good and evil. Disney princesses faced some pretty scary situations. A stepmother who wants to kill you? Being kidnapped and locked in a tower? Being poisoned by a witch? Yikes! Some of Grimm's fairy tales aren't for the faint of heart, and are actually quite terrifying when seen in the most literal context. Children being eaten by a witch, check. Children being led off of a cliff to their death, check. Someone stealing your first born child, check. But from an early age, I knew that there was good in the world, but I also knew that there was evil, too. It's not all roses. 

I'll never forget a staff development meeting from a few years ago, the curriculum specialist asked us to share our childhood dream profession. As the responses around the room went from firefighter to astronaut to dancer or actress, you could have heard a pin drop when I responded. "I wanted to be First Lady of something." My supervisor repeated the question and said, "You wanted to be what?" 

To which I replied, "First Lady, or Queen, or something along those lines. I would be able to help people and work with children and help the sick and needy, but I'd have an incredible wardrobe while I got to do that."

My dream is somewhat fulfilled, but life is a work in process and imagine never dies. And I'll never be a damsel in distress unless I need a tall person to help me get something down from the top shelf. 

Embrace your inner princess and be strong, no matter how old you are!

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Monday, August 2, 2021

4 Fall Dresses Under $25


maryland influencer fashionafter40 fall dresses under 30 asos sale teacher style

It seems like summer just started, but I'm a sucker for the rich textures and soft fabric of fall clothing. These four fabulous fall dresses transition perfectly to colder temperatures when paired with tights and boots. 

This adorable green spotted print dress features a ruffle bib front and has excellent swing factor. I'm going to pair it with navy tights later this fall. I got a size 2 in this and feel that it fits true to size in the arms and shoulders and generous through the hips. The length is just above the knee, which is perfect for teaching. It's a steal at $25. 

maryland influencer fashionafter40 asos prarie dot and cross smock dress in green

Pictures don't do justice to this broderie front detail sweatshirt dress. The rich cream color is a perfect neutral for fall and winter. The fabric is substantial and does not lose its shape. I ordered an XS in this dress and it is perfect. Right now, this dress is on sale for $24 with an extra 25% off with the code 25LOVE. 

maryland influencer fashionafter40 asos prarie dot and cross smock dress in green

The bold yellow floral embroidery details on the shoulder and cuffs on this long sleeve dress are exquisite. You would mistake the quality of this dress far beyond the $25 price tag. Feel free to size down in this dress, because the fit is generous. The back of the dress has added interest with a keyhole button. 

maryland influencer fashionover40 asos long sleeve smock dress embroidery

Finally, round out the neutral palette in your fall wardrobe with this shirred yoke ruffle dress in beige. Run, don't walk and order this dress now. It's on sale for $16! The frilled trim accentuates the high neck line and the sleeves have just enough puff in them to add interest. The waffle knit fabric feels like you're wearing a blanket. So cozy and soft. The dress fits true to size. 

maryland influencer fashion after 40 teacher style river island shirred yoke ruffle asos

Have you started shopping for fall?

Friday, July 30, 2021

#HHQNYC and visit to Lele Sadoughi Studio

At some point during the pandemic, I encountered a lovely Facebook community for fans of Lele Sadoughi headbands. I've participated in many groups for Lilly Pulitzer, for my neighborhood, and other interests. This group still remains one of the most positive, small communities. One of the fabulous members, Mary, event planner extraordinaire, organized an incredible 3-day VIP event for members in New York City. 

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When I registered for the event, to be honest, I was a bit nervous because I had never met any of the ladies in person the way I had met some Lilly Pulitzer friends at warehouse sales and other local events. But I couldn't have imagined a more kind, welcoming group of ladies. The event far exceeded my expectations and I am eagerly awaiting more events in the future. 

We met in Times Square where we explored the area quickly before enjoying a special edition donut from the flagship Krispy Kreme store, presented in a keepsake box. 

maryland blogger nyc krispy kreme flagship store big apple donut

From there, we continued to explore the city, including some spots I'd never visited. After a photoshoot with a professional photographer, we popped into a carefully curated list of boutiques on the Upper East Side, including Frances Valentine. I'll share more about that in another post, but in the meantime, you can peruse the website for swoon worthy sweaters and embroidered tops and dresses. Click here and take $25 off your first Frances Valentine purchase. 

No NYC trip is complete without a trip to a visit to LadurĂ©e. I treated myself to a stop in the Upper East Side store as well as the Soho location, which features a lovely restaurant and garden area. 

maryland blogger nyc laduree store soho macaron

Other VIP experiences included visits to other boutiques and stores like LoveShackFancy and Stoney Clover Lane where everyone happily welcomed the group. But without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was a visit to the Lele Sadoughi studio. After meeting her dynamic team, we had a special FaceTime with Lele herself.  

We had the unique opportunity to shop at the studio, where we found special editions and items that were never produced. To speak for the camaraderie and good spirit of the group, no one grabbed or hoarded items like other sales I've encountered. Everyone helped each other to find the perfect headbands, earrings, bags, and other accessories. I found many treasures to add to my collection! 

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A million thanks to everyone who participated in this special experience, especially the staff of Lele Sadoughi and Mary, who organized the event. 

lele sadoughi headband fans


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Sale on Sale

Shopbop is one of my favorite places to shop because you can find so many unique brands in one spot. Best of all is that Shopbop regularly puts items on sale that are not on sale at the designer's webpage. 

Right now, they're having a blowout sale with amazing discounts on some things that you can wear now, in the fall, and in any season. You won't have to wait long for your purchases, because Shopbop offers quick 2 day shipping. 

I've curated a little boutique with some top picks from the sale.

What are you shopping for this week?


Monday, July 19, 2021

It's Hydrangea Season

When we moved into our home about 8 years ago, I knew that I wanted to have a front patio full of hydrangeas. The first few years, we didn't have many blooms at all, but every year has gotten better and better. Some years, I'd really focus on special Miracle Gro or something along those lines, but this past year, I didn't do anything to them and they look so beautiful. 

Although my hydrangeas are a mix of blues and pinks, that almost look purple, my favorite hydrangeas are blue. I've compiled my favorite hydrangeas that you can take with you no matter where you go, no matter what the season. 

This terry fleece turtleneck transitions perfectly between seasons and makes an excellent addition to your beach ensemble, especially if you're on the East Coast like me, where some summer nights can be quite chilly. The turtleneck fits true to size and if you've been waiting on this one wondering if a Dudley is worth the price, trust me that you'll quickly become a fan. Personally, I love the shorter Park Slope style on my petite frame. Take $25 off your first purchase with this link.  

maryland blogger dudley stephens park slope turtleneck terry fleect

Since I am a teacher, I tend to choose 17 month planners and agendas that start in August and go through the next year. When I saw this hydrangea planner, I fell in love. Just adding items to my to do list and the calendar will make me happy with this. There's plenty of space to make notes for the week and the agenda even includes adorable stickers. 

Maryland blogger styleafter40 hydrangea planner rifle paper co

If you're like me, you're looking for an eco-friendly way to take water with you wherever your travels lead you. Whether you're drinking water or wine, there's a perfect hydrangea cup for you. Check out this stemless wine glass or 16 ounce canteen

Maryland blogger styleafter40 hydrangea stemless wine glass

Make a bold statement on your most casual day with limited edition hydrangea tennis shoes! Too cute for words. 

hydrangea tennis shoe sneaker
Shop the slide show or the image for even more of my favorite hydrangea picks. If you're planning a wedding, shower, or other social event, be sure to check out Dollar Hydrangea. I ordered from them for a graduation party and was so pleased with the flowers and delivery. 

hydrangea dress sneakers tennis shoes scrunchie


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