We Deserve Summer {Sponsored}

Before I moved to New England, I don’t think I had a distinct summer style because I lived in the South where it was always warm and I didn’t have to switch my wardrobe. However, the more time I spend in New England, the more I appreciate summer clothes. After a long winter, I couldn’t be more relived to slip right back into summer. For me that means slipping back into a classic and simple summer wardrobe filled with stripes and vintage inspired clothing. After four summers in Boston, these two modes are pretty much default for me.

When British-based Joules reached out to me to collaborate*, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to share my summer style. The clothing at Joules is classic and timeless, making it easy to wear every summer. I’m not really one for trends, so when I buy something, I want it to last for years and not just one season.

My Favorite Summer Looks

Navy Blue and White Stripes by Joules| ThoseGraces.com
Indigo Stripe Dress, Navy Stripe Pencil Skirt, Creme Stripe Knitted Sweater

If it’s one thing I’m absolutely addicted to, it’s stripes in summer. I have striped sweaters, skirts and dresses. For me stripes are so easy to wear because they can be dressed up or dressed down. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is stripes on stripes.

1950s Summer Fashion with Joules| ThoseGraces.com
French Navy Bouquet Bikini, Freya Floral Cornfield Dress, Newmeln Cropped Pants

I’ll be honest, I’ve marathoned Mad Men about three times in the past year. I can’t help it, no matter what I do, I always end up looking like Betty Draper or Joan Harris. If you know how to do it right, the 1950s is such a great look for summer.

Joules carries some amazing pieces including shorts, bathing suits and summer dresses. Let me know which one of my summer pieces you liked the best!

*I’ve decided to go back to doing Sponsored Posts. I’ll write about this decision soon. This post is sponsored by Joules, which means I received compensation to write this post. The post was entirely crafted by me and is 100% my opinion. For more information, please visit my site policies.

Goodbye Android, Hello iPhone

Goodbye Android, Hello iPhone | ThoseGraces.com
Ever since my post about breaking up with my iPhone I always wondered if I was the one who was wrong and not Apple. To date, it’s the only post that’s cost me a freelancing gig, with the hiring party saying, “We saw on your blog that you didn’t like iPhone . . . ” I’ve spent the past year defending my hatred, but I finally give up. I surrender and I’m finally going back to iPhone.

I can’t say I missed it that much, rather that my decision to quit Android (for now) was more of an overnight decision where I realized aspects that seemed cool about Android were bothersome. It’s true, you can customize how Android looks, but mine never looked sleek or cool design-wise. It looked very functional in a boring, practical way. I found myself missing the sleek and simple design of iPhone.

And about the size–a lot of salespeople will pitch that the Android has a larger screen size, and that might be true, but I rarely watch videos on my phone. In the past year, I can count maybe 10 times where I watched a video on my 5″ screen. How many times have I tried to fit this huge phone into the pocket of my skinny jeans? Too many times to count. It was not cute. It will never look cute to have half a phone sticking out of your pocket.

What I actually my phone boiled down to four things: Making calls, sending texts, Instagram and Twitter. You don’t need large screens for any of these tasks. And while we’re talking about Instagram, I consistently got annoyed at how many innovative photo editing apps developed for iPhone only. Annnnnoying!

In short, I missed the coolness of iPhone. There is nothing sexy about Android, it’s purely functional like that old pair of underwear that you just can’t bring yourself to throw out. Many may talk up their processors and speed, but nothing looks as good as an iPhone, at least not to me.

Natural’s Not In It: I’m Back and Blonde

Back and Blonde | Those Graces.com

After a two month hiatus from blogging, I’m back! For awhile life was hard and I couldn’t find much joy in my once beloved hobby, but you know what they say. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, which is exactly what happened so I’m back! And BLONDE! So, so blonde. And I love it!

Let’s jump right in talk about the hair. I needed a major change and highlights weren’t going to cut it. I went to see my colorist and friend Andrae at Mirage Hair Design in Natick. When I got there I was on the fence about going really blonde, so Andrae and I debated back and forth about the merits of being really blonde versus just kind of blonde. Once I sat down in the chair, I told Andrae, “I just want to feel like I’m doing a big change.” He jumped in immediately and said, “Let’s go for it, let’s do all blonde.” I was sold!

Going blonde isn’t the most glamorous process. It takes time and you look silly. Which I guess is probably how I felt the the first time I was blonde, except my friends did it, which definitely was not a salon experience. I can tell you right now that if you want to go from brunette to blonde, do it at a salon unless your best friend is also a colorist. Just trust me on this.

The whole process took about two hours, which seemed short to me. I swear when I was blonde before and I would go for highlights, it took four hours. Needless to say, Andrae is amazing at what he does and I’m sure that’s why the process was quick and painless. No really, it didn’t hurt at all. I even have such a sensitive scalp that I tear up when people brush my hair. This was the fourth or fifth time Andrae did my hair. He’s done everything on me from ombre to brunette to blonde and it always turns out amazing.

I’m glad I took the leap to go back to blonde. I’m under no delusions that it will be easy to maintain, but I’ll tell you what, it sure does look great.

You can (and should!) follow Andrae on Twitter and Instagram. He’s hilarious, genuine and gives great advice along with doing amazing hair.

Going on Hiatus

I hate to become one of those bloggers who writes primarily about blogging, but I guess that’s happening right now. I wanted to write this post to let you all know that I’m going to be going on a hiatus from Those Graces for an undetermined period of time.

In the past blogging was one of my only hobbies because I didn’t have a creative outlet in my work. Now that I’m working for myself, I have a huge sense of fulfillment from being able to get to do the work I want to do when I want to do it, kind of like I did with blogging.

I’ve begun to reflect upon the desire for more privacy. It’s true that bloggers choose what they put out there, and I’ve made a conscious decision to share less online. At some point, I became uncomfortable with strangers knowing my thoughts and feelings on subjects. Being open can be so fulfilling, but it can also feel like I’m giving away pieces of myself without knowing what will happen. Just to clarify, only good things have come from this blog, but I’m at the point where I want to turn inward.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself, I’ve been able to open up with friends and be myself fully, which was something that was hard in the past. Sad to say, but now that I have more of a support system in my life, I feel less of a need to blog. Blogging was always a way to share my thoughts and interests that I didn’t share with people around me. I’m happy to share more now have an amazing group of friends.

I’m not sure where this hiatus will go. I could see starting over on another blog or coming back to this one. I’m honestly not sure. It feels kind of sad to admit that this might be the end of the road, but I’m not really sure yet. I just wanted to share this so you all weren’t thinking, “Where did Courtney go? Is she coming back?”

In the mean time, I’m still addicted to Twitter and Instagram so those are probably the best places to find me for now.

Until next time, xo.

Going Ad Free and Other Blogger Reflections

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about life as a blogger. I started writing online about 15 years ago and complained about homework, babysitting and boys. Somehow I made friends with amazing people who I’m still close with today. Some of them I’ve met, others I haven’t. Some have given me the best advice ever. And I met them all though blogging. But somehow blogging changed for me along the way and not necessarily for good, which is why I’ve decided to go ad free on Those Graces.

When I started Those Graces in 2010, I had no clue I could earn money blogging. I didn’t know that companies would send products or that I would be featured in a national newspaper. Most of all, I had no clue that people would want to read my blog. I started Those Graces for the same reason I started blogging in 1999: Because I wanted to connect with people.

I got lost along the way when I set my mind on becoming a full-time blogger. I started thinking strategically and from a marketing perspective. When I realized the full-time blogging thing wasn’t for me, I knew I needed refocus and move away from worrying about every single post. I didn’t want to worry about pageviews and visitor stat day after day.And after all, the main reason why these numbers is for advertising.

I realized when I stopped caring about advertisers, I stopped caring about numbers and started caring about my writing more. This is ultimately why I decided to go ad free.

I’ll still be accepting products for review, but know that 90% of what gets sent almost never makes it to the light of day on my blog. I am never obligated to post about these products and future product review posts will be clearly labeled as such There will be no affiliate links. I want to share things I love whether readers want to buy it or not.

I don’t feel pressure to do this and readers have never complained. It’s a personal choice that works best for me moving forward in my blog life, which is turning out to be forever evolving.