Starfish & Stripes for the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July weekend, friends! 

I don't know about you but I can hardly believe that the Fourth is already upon us. The Fourth of July is the pinnacle of summer, even though it takes place just a few weeks into the official summer. School has been out for around a month and by the first week of August we start our tax-free back to school shopping, so the Fourth is truly the height of the season and the biggest and best summer celebration. Fireworks, good food, plus family and friends--it's the perfect recipe for a good time as we spread cheer over the little nation that could's independence from Great Britain.  

Since the Fourth has definitely snuck up on me, I haven't solidified my family plans for the weekend, but I know it will include fireworks, something yummy to eat, and watching my neighborhood's golf cart parade because I just know that Iris will love waving at all those people and all of the puppies that I suspect will be riding along for the chance to feel the wind in their ears. 

No matter where the weekend takes you, I've got the perfect summer-weight dress to toss on, and you can shop the looks below right  HERE. I spotted this cotton sundress on a recent email from Ann Taylor that advertised its Bermuda Edit, and the beautiful blue cabana stripes instantly caught my eye. I think by now y'all know I have a pretty big thing for stripes and the color blue... plus, the whole cabana chic look has really stuck with me since my visit to The Greenbrier. Dorothy Draper, the famous designer who upfitted the historic hotel would love these stripes. She'd even pair the dress with a bold flower print tote. 

Upon seeing the Bermuda Edit email, I immediately added the dress to my online cart, but I noticed that it had a price tag of $139. Not a major fortune, but not what I'd like to pay for a cotton dress these days. (Has anyone else noticed that the going rate for a quality day dress is teetering around $100? Thank goodness for Ross/Marshalls, Ann Taylor Factory, and Style Encore for big sales and beautiful dresses!) At this point, I'm wise enough to the retail game to know that you should almost NEVER pay full price for anything. If you are patient, a sale will happen! Sure enough, another email followed with a 50% off discount code AND free shipping. Now we're talking! I ordered the dress, which comes in petite and regular sizes 00-16, and watched for the mailman like a little kid waiting for Santa. 

Fun fact: Before I ordered the dress, I noticed that the Bermuda email showed the dress with a shirt collar, but online the dress does not have any such collar. Ann Taylor might wanna check the Bermuda triangle for it... ;)  Nonetheless, I thought the neckline would be flattering and that the wrap styling would definitely be figure-friendly.  

Sure enough, the dress arrived and gave me all the summer feels. I love the stretch cotton of the dress and how lightweight it is, even with a lining, making it perfect for a southern summer. The stripes line up really nicely down the seams which is always the sign of a well made garment. 

Because I hadn't banked on the neckline being so low on the dress, I layered a cami underneath for a little more coverage. Reviews online, which were not there when I ordered the dress, have all reported the same finding: it's a little low cut and if you have an ample bosom, you'll likely want to cami it up or dare to bare. One reviewer said that she sized up to give herself a little extra coverage. (Personally, I am hoping that I will shed a little more baby weight from my chest. Pre-baby, my bust was the FIRST place I lost weight. Now, with only 7 pounds to go to get back to my starting weight, pounds seem to be coming off from every place BUT my chest. Anyone else experience this? I know some ladies might love this problem, which I respect, but I really miss my now packed away box of smaller bras.) 

One of the ways I styled the cabana striped dress was with a cute twisted coral pink necklace that I found at Charming Charlie. It's a really cheerful pop of color and compliments the blue so nicely since it is of a similar intensity. Since I was about ten years old, my three favorite colors have been coral, aqua, and periwinkle. These three shades flatter all skintones and hair colors, something I learned when I worked in a bridal salon, and to me they are beachy without being too loud or soft. I pulled this color triumvirate together here with a beautiful watercolor scarf that I got on sale at LOFT for just $8.99 during a big sale weekend. Now it's priced at $14.99 but is an extra 50% off using code SPARKLER. Having seen how beautiful and large the scarf is, I can vouch for it being worth $15 but go right ahead and get it for $7.50. Major steal!  
This shot below is a happy accident. I was looking down to give my eyes a break from the sun, and the end of the scarf slipped out of my fingers in the prettiest flutter, which my bestie Tonya caught on camera. I only wish I was smiling, but I was concentrating pretty hard on how I wanted to incorporate this starfish into the shot. This was not how I intended to use it but I think it's a fun picture that really shows my favorite colors well. ;) Thanks for indulging me, kind friends. 


I told Tonya that I would love to try to catch a fluttery pic of this scarf, if the breeze was cooperative, and we got the shot. Look how beautiful the design is on this scarf! I later paired it up with a simple red dress and it made the colors really come alive. You can also use it as a sarong or top so you'll get a lot of bang for your $7.50. I may even attempt to relive my youth by hanging it on a wall somewhere like I did in college.  

Another beauty shot of the scarf! Ahhhhh, I'm totally having an "I'm on vacation in my mind" moment. A moment that suggests that I have no cares whatsoever and that my tote is filled with sunscreen and a kindle loaded with beach reads instead of IRL being packed with baby wipes and spilled Altoids thanks to Iris learning how to open the tin in the time it took me to pull my dress over my head.   

The monogram tote above (which smells curiously minty now!) is my favorite summer purse from Thirty-One. It comes in two sizes, and I chose the smaller since the larger version is ideal for a beach bag and I needed an everyday bag. Currently, the beach bag size is still available, and you can shop it  here with the fabulous Melissa Burns who will show you countless monogram options without ever getting impatient with your indecision. (Thanks girl for hanging with me while I mulled over what color embroidery to choose as if it was a matter of life or death.) 

I love the shoes that I'm wearing here. They're new and were on sale 50% off. They are incredibly comfy and will go with everything you wear all summer since the band across the toes has shades of nude, silver, and gold. And this may come as a surprise to you, but I'm not a shoe-aholic. I rarely buy shoes and wear the ones I have until they literally fall apart. So when I buy shoes, I either get them on clearance or invest in a decent pair (I paid $64 for these) because I know I will more than get my money's worth. It's time to retire my old faves, a pair of Gianni Bini turtle bejeweled flats that I got on clearance for $20 like four summers ago. I've repainted the teal beads of the turtle shell with OPI nail polish a few times and the bottoms look pretty gross, but I have a hard time letting go! Alas, the thong finally broke the last time I wore them, signaling that it was time to treat myself to a nice new summer sandal. These are going to probably be around until Iris starts middle school.   

Here I've styled the cabana stripe dress with my favorite red coral necklace for a patriotic seafarer feel and added my white scalloped (get it?) clutch from Tartan Lane. To snag these items for yourself, check out the contact details at the end of this post. And in case you ever wondered how far away Key West is from Myrtle Beach, the sign out front of  The Wildflower will tell you. This shop is filled with whimsical treasures that bring the beach vibe to any space. It's a must-see when you make a day trip to Main Street North Myrtle Beach. Speaking of Main Street, don't even make me remind you how to die for good  Melt is. Because you know I will. Right  here. Did I mention that last time I went I sampled their lavender ice cream? It's like a day spa for your mouth. Praise the Lord for craft ice cream! 

Oooh ok, back to The Wildflower. It's where you will also find the beautiful Wildflower wall seen below, that is a total blogger's paradise. You kind of have to have your picture taken there. I said on an earlier IG post that I'd be pretty content to stand in front of it all summer long. You see it's my three favorite colors just amped up :) 

I love the that dress looks a lot like Draper James blue. That's Reese Witherspoon's clothing brand if you aren't familiar. It's above my price point so I am always looking for similar styles at more affordable prices. I'm dedicated to the every-woman's budget! However, if Draper James ever wants to do a blog collab with me, you will forgive me if I fangirl about how amazing the really expensive clothes are, right? I could never say no to Reese!

I hope wherever the Fourth of July takes you that you are surrounded by greats: people, food, outfits, and fun, all the while likely hearing Katy Perry's "Firework" a few times too many. ;) 

If you have questions about any of the items in the post, comment or email me at  

Outfit details:

Shop the dress, shoes, and accessories  HERE
Shop the red coral necklace  HERE
Shop the scalloped monogram clutch  HERE. Available in white, gold, green, and red. $18 plain or $25 with monogram. 

Summer Lovin' with Rainbow Embroidery

I already love margaritas pretty truly, madly, deeply. My feelings for avocados verge on fatal attraction. And this summer, I've taken up with a new Latin Lover: Mexican embroidery. 

Whether it's red on white, white on blue, or my favorite of all, rainbow colored embroidery, I just can't get enough of this beautiful trend. Mexican embroidery is festive and vibrant, which makes for an aesthetic that is fiesta-ready and perfect for summer vacations and soirees. Part folksy and part funky, delicate Latin-inspired embroidery is rooted in ancient cultures as both an art form and a way of providing for a family. I read that some designs are based on the dreams and aspirations of the wearer, meaning this embroidery is like a primitive Pinterest board or an early-model slogan tee. ;) 

Stitch Fix, J Crew, Old Navy, and LOFT are all in on the embroidery action at the moment, but it's this top from  Tartan Lane that I'm obsessed with this summer. I mean, it's The Catch to land, given its triple-threat credentials: 1-vibrant rainbow embroidery, 2-crisp blue cabana stripes, and 3-the ability to morph into a beach cover up. It truly was love at first sight with this shirt and I couldn't get it out of my head. (Infatuation, sigh!!)

From the moment I knew this top was on its way to my house, I couldn't stop thinking about it, picturing all the places my shirt and I would go this summer. My head was swimming with ways to style it because with ROY G BIV embroidery, this shirt can be worn with endless color combos. Pick your favorite shade to pop: lemon, papaya, neon pink, kelly green, or cobalt.

The day that my embroidered top and I became Facebook official, I wore it to hang out with my best friend Tonya on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach for the express purpose of documenting mine and shirt's new status as "joined at the hip" because pics or it didn't happen, right? :) It was also so that Tonya and I could catch up since best friend time is so so SO important for your sanity when you're living the monosyllabic-convo life of animal sounds with a toddler. (Moo, whoooo, mow, arf, quack, tweet, roar, repeat) 

Shirt and I headed over to Melt where we split a waffle cone piled high with Scotty's Vacation (because we both like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain), while our third wheel Tonya had Pomegranate sorbet with Oreos.    

Here's Tonya. BFF Extraordinaire, bride-to-be, holistic health educator, and new blogger. She was stoked to snag a vegan ice cream at Melt. You can check out her blog  here. She's also the woman behind the camera for many of my outfit posts. 

Things got pretty hot and heavy at Melt, and true to Melt's name, my ice cream pooled in the presence of my muy caliente new shirt. Bright side? My sprinkles match my sleeves! 

One of the many things I love about this shirt is the embroidery detail around the cuff. No bracelets needed! This shirt looks a lot more luxe than its price tag ($42 regularly and it was on special for $36 when it came into my life). It is reminiscent of Mi Golondrina pieces, as a my friend Nancy pointed out, which retail between $175-$725. This top is far more down to earth and wallet-friendly for this SAHM. 

Other reasons to love this top include its versatility. The colorful style can be worn by maiden, mother, or mee-maw with no question of age appropriateness. A younger gal might wear it over a bikini, mini dress, or paired with a spaghetti strap tank and frayed short-shorts, while a more seasoned-somebody could slip it over a maillot (tank suit in plainer speak), or pair it up like I did with a tee and white capris for a casual outfit. 

I'm actually looking forward to wearing this as a cover-up over my future royal or yellow swimsuit, when I find the right one. I'm looking for a high-waisted two piece or a classic tank as an alternate for when my ruffled gingham suit is drying. This top is the perfect length to conceal the important bits that a swimsuit showcases. For a longer length, consider sizing up or hang to dry. 

If you're smuggling a baby bump this summer (for the record, I am not), this top's forgiving cut will provide comfort, style, and lots of distracting colors up near your face to keep eyes away from your midsection.  

The embroidery in this top plays so well with other festive summer trends like pom-poms and tassels. Above I'm wearing it with a really cool three-tiered tassel necklace from Me & Mommy Boutique, (just $22) and I popped the pink of the embroidery with my Tons of Funds clutch available  here which is such a great vacation bag since it comes with its own crossbody strap and organizing pockets and slots for your must-haves. The Tons of Funds bag is also large enough to hold your phone and car keys, provided you don't have a teenagers collection of key fobs. Another great crossbody bag with this shirt is this  sunny yellow one. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't share with you just how pleased I am with my purchase of these sunglasses from Charming Charlie. They are on sale 2 for $15, and little did I know what a big part of my summer look these would be. The little dash of white and glimmering goldtone add a sleek touch to every outfit. Check out the styles available here. 

I'd love to see this shirt styled with some of the season's statement earrings like Charming Charlie's Austin or Shimmy Tassel or these cool ones from Bauble Bar and these from Anthro. 

Above I grabbed the green in the shirt by pairing it with my new crossbody from Style Encore, the best resale shop around. This vivid green bag was just $10, and I got it for free when I traded in some of my gently-worn clothes for cash. 

Lastly, I really love the style vibes this shirt gives off. It's got chameleon-capabilities to be a little bit boho, farmstand fresh, globally-minded, or Palm Beach chic, depending on how you style it. 

I have a feeling this beautiful shirt will be one I reach for all summer long and one that I will get excited about unpacking each spring. What began as a fling just might turn into a love for the ages. 


To shop this shirt, message Jackie at Tartan Lane

Sizes S/M, M/L, XL/2XL

Local pickup free
Domestic Shipping $3

Melt in your mouth: A review of Main Street's newest ice cream shop

Nothing punctuates a summer day quite like a towering tall ice cream cone. If you live in the balmy south like I do, ice cream can be the perfect ending to days nearly all year long. I'm a January baby, and I've seen plenty of 75-degree birthdays that have been celebrated with putt-putt golf and ice cream! 

As the sandwich board sign suggests outside of Melt, the cutest little ice cream spot on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach, ice cream is always a good idea, and I wholeheartedly second that sentiment. Even with my minor lactose-intolerance, I never miss the chance to enjoy ice cream because some things are just plain worth the pain. Childbirth, eyebrow waxing, staying up late on a school night to finish your Netflix binge, and ice cream. 

Lately I've been binge watching Melt's Instagram feed, completely enchanted by the unique flavor combinations that they have been posting. For a few weeks now I have been prodding hubby about making time for a family field trip to Melt since he has been there two or three times already. Josh works with one half of the couple that owns the adorable shop, so he got a sneak peek last month and attended Melt's recent ribbon-cutting. It is high time that I get in on this ice cream action! Since our weekend days slipped away from us yet again this past weekend, we committed to making a Monday evening jaunt for ice cream. No two ways about it, ice cream is absolutely an acceptable dinner, really an acceptable meal, any time of the day. Who's with me? 

In these early days of summer, finding parking behind Melt was easy peasy, and we also noted that there is the option of ample public parking just a few doors down. Melt is right beside Duffy Street Seafood Shack so if you prefer to have dinner before your ice cream, you'll get everything you need within arm's reach on Main Street. The scent of fried seafood was pretty enticing when we got out of the car, and my head was filled with visions of Po Boys, crab cake sandwiches, and hush puppies. BUT that seafood fantasy went right out of my head the second we opened the door to Melt. That quintessential ice cream shop smell of freshly made waffle cones wrapped around me like a big hug. You know the scent, right? The one that smells like vanilla and cinnamon with possibly a hint of nutmeg? Mmmmmm. I just might start using waffle cone batter as perfume. 

With my nose fully leaned in to the Melt experience, I took a moment to soak up the feel of the space. If you like pretty places as much as I do, then you'll really love the interior of the shop. How to describe it? Hmmm...  Well, if Joanna Gaines and Martha Stewart were summer camp roommates and that summer camp took place inside an ice cream shop, then Melt is exactly how their bunk would be decorated. Martha's signature soothing shade of blue is both on the walls and the ceiling, which is a gorgeous touch, and Joanna's clean-lines sensibility is evidenced throughout by way of white subway tiles with soft gray grout, industrial lighting, and even touches of farmhouse-style decor. Melt is a pretty spot to be sure. 

There's that blue ceiling. More ceilings need to be painted in my opinion. :) 

Melt offers a mix of homemade ice cream and Hershey's flavors so the kiddos can enjoy their favorite neon yellow playdoh or moose tracks while you indulge in one of Melt's gourmet crafted recipes like Honey Lavender (SWOON), Lemon Chiffon, Blueberry Swirl, or the one I went with, Orange Blossom, made with real orange blossom extract. The Melt team loves to turn out unique and unexpected flavors that you may not find elsewhere to create a top-notch ice cream experience.  

Ashley and Brandon Causey are the owners of Melt, and they are really excited by the positive response to their hard work that has been a couple of years in the making already. I'm less surprised than they are because it's pretty obvious that they put heart, soul, and elbow grease into creating a solid product in a cheerful and inviting spot, complete with cafe lights over the patio and a sleek ipad-based register system. While we were sitting outside eating our ice cream, we overheard a young lady walking by tell her friend that "it's amazing how good their ice cream is." That is literally the word on the street, friends. :) 

The white subway tile and industrial and can lights give off a really bright, clean creamery vibe. It feels like you're in someone's exceptionally tidy and beautiful kitchen. I nearly asked if I could pull up a stool and make some waffle cones while I was there. You just feel good being at Melt. It's simple, crisp, and it smells SO good, which I may have mentioned... :)    

Melt's tag line is available on t-shirts in cute colors. (Ahh, that coral!) This is basically the recipe for a perfect summer! 

Here's my waffle cone filled with Melt's homemade Orange Blossom ice cream that tastes gourmet but not at all pretentious. The ribbons of orange were bright in both color and taste and weren't tart. I confess that I added sprinkles for the thrill of a pop of color. :) I lovvvve color, which isn't news to you. I also love the wooden spoons (they are splinter-free!). Every detail at Melt fits in with the clean, charming vibe.  

See how fab colored sprinkles are with Melt's pool blue patio walls and my summery red top? Color lover's delight! 

Here's the view from Main Street. Melt is very close to Ocean Drive, just three or so units from the end of the street. I expect lines to snake down the sidewalk all summer long. This has already happened during the busy weekends and I feel sure it will become a weekday event as well. :)  

Check out Melt on Instagram @cravemelt and see what flavors they are concocting on the daily. I think this might be dangerous for me since I live not far away from Melt and am home all day with a toddler. It doesn't take much to convince me to go on an ice cream field trip. Melt will easily become a once a week treat for me and Iris!  

Be sure to let me know what flavor you tried when you go to Melt. I personally can't wait to go back to try more flavors and make an afternoon of popping into the shops on Main Street. There are amusement rides, a park one street over, plenty of thrift and specialty shops to explore, and the beach just a few paces away.  

Keep Palm and Summer On

Just a quick post today to share with you how much I am loving these summer finds! It feels really good when you make some great shopping decisions because we have all had purchases that we've regretted. I hate wasting money on items that were impulse buys or that I thought I would get more wear out of than I really did. No buyer's remorse here, hurray! These items won't let you down and are so versatile! You'll find that they will carry you straight through to Labor Day. 

Follow my lead: palm printed dress, the carry-with-everything striped clutch, bold (and comfy!) red wedges, a popping statement necklace, and sleek sunnies. 

I haven't loved the midi length until I met this dress. While other midi looks made me feel squatty, this one makes me feel really sleek! It comes in petite and regular. Mine is an 8 petite for reference. In the mirror pic below I am wearing a 6 petite but sized up for extra room in the bust which helped to reduce the underarm pudge.

There are currently cardigans in navy, green, and a navy/white embroidered palm pattern that coordinate well with this dress. You never know when summer air conditioning will have you thinking it's mid-December.

Breastfeeding mamas (myself included) will enjoy how convenient this dress is for nursing--just untie the top! You can't wear a regular bra with it but my strapless bra is a total dream. Here's the link to the strapless bra that I got for the season, and it's been great under dresses and off the shoulder looks. It comes with straps that convert a few ways so I have been rotating it in as a regular bra because I really like the support of the four eye hooks and how the wide band smooths all my back fluff.


Here are a couple of dressing room pics as well so you can see the full length of the dress. Again, this is the petite and I am 5'2" wearing a flat sandal.

This dress can really be styled very casually with a big straw bag and flip flops or be paired with heels/wedges and statement earrings for a summer wedding, rehearsal dinner, cruise, or other dressy occasion. I intend to wear it to church too with a cardigan. See similar looks including shoes, clutches and statement necklaces by clicking the link below. For this exact dress, call Melissa at 843.839.9099 at Ann Taylor Factory and she can ship to you. She can include a coordinating cardigan too so you can get that green to match just right if you're OCD about color.


Also, if you are specifically interested in the coral necklace in the first picture, contact Candace at Downtown Divas by calling 252.482.0144.

Here are a few other ways that I styled this dress. Most people might call it a day with a palm dress and stick to simple white accessories which looks really beautiful, especially for summer. You know that I love to add more layers of color and pattern so I just couldn't help myself! Hopefully these pairing will inspire you. 

A basket style clutch really gives this dress a natural vibe and a peachy-pink (or yellow) pop at the neck is unexpected. 

I love how the creamy coral branch necklace pops against the dark background of the dress. These muted leopard peep toe wedges give an old Hollywood feel to the look and add another layer of visual interest.

Hot pink plays so well off the green and blues of the dress! I added a beaded necklace that I found at a resale shop for $5 and my favorite Thirty-One clutch (comes with a crossbody strap too) found  HERE. The clutch comes in cherry red and a beautiful cork with gold metallic accents that would really make this look very summer chic.

This is a "vintage" bolero shrug. Vintage in that I've had it for over 12 years now. It came from LOFT and it is such a great length for accenting your narrowest part. It hits above the waist, and the cap sleeve creates such balance of the shoulders and hips which makes your middle look smaller by comparison, even if it isn't a true hourglass on its own.

Summer Florals for the Family

Recently I visited Old Navy at Tanger Outlets. I almost never make it in there because of the crowds, but this visit I stopped in and I am so glad that I did! I found this adorable dress on sale for just $17. It's sure to be my go-to summer throw on for easy, breezy, one-piece dressing. It is PERFECT for playing tourist anywhere, even at the local waterpark. Also, this will age me tremendously but I just love that this print reminds me of the shirt that Leonardo DiCaprio wore in Romeo and Juliet. If you remember that movie, and more specifically that shirt, then you are my new best friend.  

Now I've got Leo and my lost youth on the brain. Must refocus... Where was I? Ah, ok, so there are SO many adorable and sunny florals for misses, petite, plus, maternity, and the kids right now, and I am always amazed at how good the sales are. Moms know that when you're dressing an entire family, budget becomes a real issue. And if you are dressing everyone for fun family pictures, then value-priced style is super helpful! 

If you've got a vacation coming up or just need some fun updates to your summer wardrobe, check out my favorite florals from Old Navy by clicking the link below. 

Style note: The print of the dress above is available in a scarf online. The dress is an Outlet Exclusive so if you don't have an outlet near you and would like one shipped to you, it is $5 shipping. To order, call 843-449-1432 and speak with Holly or another manager. It comes in the orangey-red floral and this blue floral. Mine is size medium.  

Here are a few other ways that I styled the look.