Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe

Making granola is so cozy. I like to have a vinyl playing while I make it.  It’s fun to skip about the kitchen to some music, ya know?

Granola is so simple and quick to make, yet it makes my kitchen smell like I’ve been slaving away all day. It’s the perfect snack. I don’t know why, it just makes me happy!

My five ingredient granola is a reader favorite. You can check out the recipe here.

NATURALLY, I had to develop a fall granola recipe to up the coziness factor. This idea was born many months ago in the heat of summer, when I was daydreaming of fall. Oh fall, you are a darling and I’m so glad you’re almost here.

This pumpkin spice granola is basically everything you adore about granola and fall, all baked into crispy morsels of golden perfection.

With maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, festive spices, and juicy dried cranberries, this granola makes a thoughtful gift or a happy snack.

Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 and a 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 4 TBS of pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 5 TBS of dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning. At the 15 minute mark, add the pepitas.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Add dried cranberries once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

Ordinarily, I add a pinch of salt to granola.  However, the pepitas are salted, so I do not add any additional salt to this recipe.

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I wish you could smell how deliciously fragrant this granola is! With a splash of almond milk, you’ve got yourself a healthy breakfast. All you need is a hot cuppa pumpkin coffee.

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Our First House!

I remember when I was younger, I used to wonder, “How will I know what God’s will is for me?” I have since discovered that God shows His will for me through His peace.  I always try to pray that He will steer my heart towards what He wants for me. And He has done just that, time and time again. With His peace.

I had peace when I met Billy. Peace when we got married. Peace when we found our first apartment. And our second. Peace when we went to our new church. And now peace as we found our first home!

We didn’t put an age or a year on it.  We knew we wanted a home one day, but we weren’t in a rush. We weren’t trying to keep up with anyone.  Rather, we knew God would give us His peace when it was time. And He did.

A few months ago, we started the whole mortgage process.  Not the fun part. haha. We looked at so many home listings. Went to an open house here and there, but nothing gave us that peace, ya know?

When I saw the listing for our now home, I was intrigued.  What’s funny is, the pictures were awful. You couldn’t really tell what the house even looked like. The lighting was bad. Paint colors were gross. Usually, I would keep on looking when I saw such a listing.  But for some reason, I could see potential.  I could see that the yard was large, the ceilings were high, a pool, a beautiful neighborhood, and great location–close to Billy’s job and close to my sister and brother in law.

I kept the listing at the top of my mental list. Then, when the list price dropped, I was like, “Woah! We gotta see it.” Billy was on board, and we viewed the house that weekend.

So. Beautiful. We could see past the popcorn ceilings and stained carpet. The house was in good condition, with so much potential.  It was so bright and airy.  WE FELT THE PEACE. haha. We both knew without saying a word to each other.

That weekend, we put in an offer, and it was accepted. And now, we are officially homeowners.

The day before our closing, we were at church and our pastor was talking about how the only thing we have is what God has given us.  It’s all His.  All for His glory.  Billy and I looked at each other and he squeezed my hand. What a beautiful reminder right before our house closing.

So yes, we legally are homeowners. But more literally, we’re just using what God has blessed us with.  We are really praying that God will show us practical ways to use our home for Him.

We can’t take an ounce of credit for this new chapter. God truly is in all the details.


Before we move in, we are doing some DIY renovations.

  1. Remove popcorn ceiling.
  2. Retexture ceilings
  3. Remove tile and carpet.
  4. Paint all the walls.
  5. Put down waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring.

It’s been such an exciting process.  In just two weeks, the popcorn ceilings are gone and have been retextured.  The tile is gone and Billy has ripped up all the carpet. We are so thankful to family and friends for helping us tackle this project!

We’ve taken lots of before pictures, process pictures, and soon–after pictures. Can’t wait to take ya’ll along for this ride. Lots of blog content is in the works!

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Reading Lately

My! It’s been a minute since I’ve written to you all. Life has been very busy, but very blessed! After a hectic couple of months, Billy and I are homeowners! And that is ALL GOD! Can’t take an ounce of credit for that. He is in all the details. There will more to come on all that soon…

Amidst the crazy, I’ve been reading a lot lately. It’s become a favorite source of entertainment! So, I thought I’d share the past few books I’ve read. I’m thinking of making this a regular series on the blog, once I’ve read some more books. It’s fun to share one’s literary love, isn’t it?

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With its witty banter, beautiful development of the characters, and sweet romance, you must read this classic. Not going to lie–pictured Kiera Knightly the whole time. I recommend you read it while listening to the movie soundtrack! It makes it a complete experience.

2. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

This book read like a movie, which is always so fun. I first saw the Hallmark movie and loved it, so Billy bought me the book for my birthday! It’s set in the Charleston area of South Carolina, which was fun, since I’ve been there. This novel focuses on complicated family relationships, with some romance thrown in! Highly recommend.

3. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I read this book the week I waited for my next novel to arrive. It’s an easy read that could change your life! Dave Ramsey teaches you why you don’t need credit cards, how to budget, pay off debt, and live with financial peace! Spend, save, and GIVE! You NEED to read this book! And then message me so we can talk about how awesome it is.

4. Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

My Mom got me this cook book for my birthday, and let me tell you: it doesn’t disappoint! Anything Joanna Gaines touches is a delight, just saying. We’ve dabbled in a few recipes already. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is insanely good. What I like about this cookbook, is all the recipes are good olé classics. Recipes you can make over and over again. Like “Fluffiest Pancakes.” Um, YES.


Currently Reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

I’m just about halfway through this book, and love it so far! Very witty and humorous. Oh and the Netflix movie is a must watch. I’ll let you know more in the next “Reading Lately” blog post!

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Meekness is not Weakness

“You’re too sensitive.”

Words I’ve heard my whole life and believed. Words I’ve let steer my view of sensitivity as a flaw. A disadvantage.

Yet, God has been teaching me—not only is it not a flaw to be sensitive, it is a gift. It is not a weakness, it is an opportunity.

For the sensitive person, words are very impactful.  Either refreshingly encouraging or devestatingly hurtful.  I used to think the power of words over me was a negative trait.  Recently, however, God has revealed just the opposite to me.  I read the book of James a couple times in the past month.  One of the overarching themes is…words. Yup. Taming the tongue (See James 3).  The Bible has a lot to say about it. Words are a big deal to God. And so, it’s okay if words are a big deal to me.  Because what we say is so important.

Proverbs 15:4“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Woah! Words are LIFE-GIVING.

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Words are a big deal. When I look on sensitivity and meekness as a flaw, I am demeaning the power of words.  But the Bible repeatedly tells us words can satisfy and refresh, or words can wound and destroy.

Being sensitive allows one to feel and to feel deeply. Showing emotions is a sign of strength and courage. Sensitivity allows the simple things to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Really, sensitivity goes hand in hand with empathy, gentleness, and meekness.

For years, I’ve apologized for being sensitive.

Not anymore!

God has shown me how I can use my sensitivity to give people the encouragement that I thrive on. To care deeply for others’ trials and feelings. To channel that into the need to pray. To understand how people feel. To rejoice with them. To mourn with them. To appreciate all the details around me.

God has also revealed to me that since words are so impactful to me, that I should be all the more careful with what I say to others.  Sensitivity is something we can use to be sensitive to others.

Billy Graham once said in a devotional of mine, “Meekness is not weakness.”

A biblical definition of meekness is “strength under control.”

In other words, God’s strength imparted to us to feel, be kind and humble, loyal and honorable.

If you are meek and sensitive, stop apologizing for this beautiful gift God has given to you!

Sensitivity and meekness do not mean you let people run you down. It is exhibiting strength under control. Kindly and honorably standing up for yourself and what is right.

Here is an impactful quote by A. W. Tozer:

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.  Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.  He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life.  He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels.  In himself, nothing; in God, everything.  That is his motto.

So friends, meekness is not weakness. Sensitivity is not a flaw. God is our strength and these are our gifts. Thankful the Lord has given me new perspective and invigorating encouragement!

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Summertime Pizza Recipe

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“What’s for dinner?”

“Pizza!”

Always music to my ears growing up. But let’s be honest, pizza for dinner still puts a pep in my step.  I suppose that’s the “youthfulness” in me. There’s just something about homemade pizza. It’s so much fun to make and to get the whole family involved.

Today I want to share with you my summertime pizza recipe.

But first, I want to share how I get my crust crisped to perfection. I shared this method with someone once, and they were so excited! I remember them saying, “This is a game changer! I’ve always struggled with soggy pizza! I’m learning how to make pizza from a real Italian!” Haha.


The Secret to Crispy Pizza:

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Pizza dough prepped for the oven!

I purchase my pizza dough from the bakery at my grocery store.  When you’re ready to start cookin’, let the dough rest outside of the fridge for a little while.  This will help the dough become more pliable. Roll the dough out or stretch it with your hands until it is the size and thickness of your preference. Brush it with olive oil and season it with oregano.  Take a fork and prick a few holes in the dough to prevent huge bubbles in the dough. Then, put the dough in the oven WITHOUT any toppings.  This is when you want to fully cook the dough and get it nice and golden. If you’re using a pizza pan with holes in the bottom you can leave it on the pan.  But, if you’re using a cookie sheet, you’ll want to shimmy the crust off the pan halfway through the cook time (this allows the bottom of the crust to brown).  Cook time will depend on your dough and the thickness, as well as your preference. Once your crust is crispy and fully cooked (should take 15 to 20 minutes), put your toppings on your pizza. Once the pizza is topped and ready to go, put back in the oven for ONLY 3 minutes.  This is simply to melt the cheese and heat the toppings through.

Using the above method will keep your pizza toppings from losing their freshness and crisp, and will prevent a soggy pizza crust!


So now for the summertime pizza recipe! This recipe has become a staple in the Brown Abode! Billy and I made it for our family the other night, and they’re already asking for us to make it again.

I created this recipe to be a light pizza that is perfect for warm summer evenings by the pool.  With peaches, fresh sweet basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, it’s very gourmet and feels very southern.  Soul food for sure!

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Summertime Pizza Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Dough
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Shredded Italian Cheese
  • 1 Peach, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salami, sliced into thin pieces
  • Fresh Basil
  • 2 TB Balsamic Vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven according to the directions of your chosen pizza dough.
  2. Brush with olive oil, season with oregano, and prick with a fork.
  3. Cook dough until golden and crispy. The crust should be fully cooked. Babysit the dough to prevent overcooking.
  4. Add cheese, peaches, and salami.
  5. Put back into the oven and bake for 3 minutes.
  6. In a small skillet, simmer balsamic vinegar til it thickens and forms a glaze. Set aside. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  7. When the pizza is done, top with fresh basil and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

http://www.theyouthful.me


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Get in the kitchen this summer. Have some family or friends over, have a record spinning, and blow them away with this tasty pizza that looks straight out of a restaurant. If you make this recipe, comment below! I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it!

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Happy Summer in a Happy Dress

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Shop: DRESS


Oh, Summer. You’ve never been my favorite season. Fall is a tough one to compete with. But I will say, this is my favorite summer yet. It is off to such a beautiful, joyous start. And honestly I’m starting to fall in love with this season!

Bright. Flourishing. Evening storms. The most marvelous sunsets that look good enough to eat. Pool days that make me feel like a kid again. Peaches and watermelon. That feeling when you leave the grocery and thaw out in the Florida humidity.

Summer, you’re so sweet and I like you.

Recently, I celebrated my 25th birthday! It was a day of much needed joy and family.  It started with a few surprises, brunch at a favorite restaurant, pool time with the fam, and ended with homemade pizza (recipe coming soon!).

The past few birthdays, Billy gets me a “birthday dress” and I absolutely adore this one!

I seriously enjoy a dress that feels like a nightgown. You feel?  The pattern on this cream dress is so rich and colorful! Its so comfortable, yet makes an eye-catching statement.  Loving mid-length dresses lately with buttons down the front. A summertime staple I’ll be wearing year after year.

This summer, I want to encourage you to read more books, spend more time outside, and hug your loved ones a little tighter.  Bask in the summer joy that rises with each morning.

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Have Faith in Yourself?

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I was scrolling mindlessly through Instagram (is there any other way?), when I saw a quote that caught my eye:

“Have faith in yourself.”

This way of thinking has been thrown in my face since my Disney Channel-watching days. “Believe in yourself.” Such a humanistic, prideful approach to life.

It’s really quite simple: Anything I have accomplished, is because God did it through me. The air in our lungs, our legs to walk, our hands to touch, our voice to speak, our brains to think: it’s all because of Him. Everything is by His Grace.

Have faith in myself? You mean, me? This sinner? This weak, emotional wreck? I’m so glad I don’t have to have faith in my fickle little self. I have a God who already has my future all written out. I have a God that loves me more than any human could, and who wants the absolute best for me. I have a God who created the entire universe!

So when you’re facing a challenge of any kind–think of it this way:

I can be strong, because God is strengthening me.

I can be brave, because God is with me and will help me.

I can do this, because God is for me.

I will get through this, because God is in control.

Refocus. Less me, more God. It’s such a freeing feeling knowing, I don’t have to have it all planned out. Because, God already does.

I AM NOT IN CONTROL. God is. And “it is well with my soul.”

Things going awesome? That’s because of God, not you. He empowered you to accomplish what you’ve done. All blessings flow from Him.

Things rough right now? That’s because God is refining you, drawing Him closer to you, and strengthening your faith in Him. These trials prevent us from “believing in ourselves” when things go awesome again.

So no more of this, “have faith in yo-self” crapola. Shift your thinking to God. All because of Him. All Glory to Him. Make Him the center of each step you take. Don’t let Him be an after thought, just when you need help getting out of your mess.

“Have faith in God.”

Friendship, Forgiveness, + Faith

I’m sitting out on my balcony this very moment, admiring God’s creation. The tranquil water. Trees laced with morning dew. White flowers blooming atop the lily pads. Birds delighting in the sunshine. (I’m just going to ignore the wasp that is uncomfortably close. Haha.) I see all this goodness God has created. A divine reminder that He is powerful, in control, and sovereign. Nature is my favorite form of worship.

Life has been full of lessons lately. The process of learning has been painful, but the wealth of perspective I have taken with me is valuable. It makes the hard roads traversed so very worth it.

I always enjoy hearing what people are learning in their journey, so I figured I’d share my latest life lessons, in hopes of inspiring you all.

Here’s what I’ve been learning about friendship.

  • A true friend uplifts and encourages.
  • A true friend is honest and convicting.
  • A true friend shows kindness and love.
  • A true friend respects and admires your differences.
  • A true friend is a joy.
  • A true friendship is edifying.
  • A true friendship is built on mutual love and respect.

Here’s the thing–no one is perfect. We will all fail at the above list at times. (And that’s where grace comes in.) But our heart should strive to be these things for our friends. When we do fail, it is the perfect opportunity to humble ourselves and make it right. In fact, it is these situations of failing and humbling ourselves that makes friendships grow stronger. Deeper.

Love and respect is a vital ingredient in a fruitful friendship. We often hear of respecting our elders or our parents, but little is talked about in regards to respecting our equals. A friendship built on love and respect will be able to weather difficult times.

Conflict will happen. Perhaps you will be confronted by a friend when they are hurt. Our first instinct is to be defensive. That is natural. But it is all about, how do we let it play out after that? Take James 1:19 for example:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

How can we respond in a peace-loving way? How can we empathize with our friends? How can we love them through their love language?

Sometimes, people lack concern for how they’ve hurt you. Sometimes, despite your efforts to bring understanding, they simply don’t want to. That is out of your control. You can’t make people respond kindly. And in such cases, you can’t allow yourself to be mistreated.

Here’s what you can do: forgive.

A couple weeks ago, our pastor was preaching from Matthew 18. One of his statements really stood out to me. He said,

Reconciliation and forgiveness are two different things.

Woah. Never thought of it that way. But so true. Here are reconciliation and forgiveness defined:

Reconciliation: the restoration of friendly relations

Forgiveness: canceling a debt; to let go of anger or resentment

Forgiveness is freeing. It untangles you from the bondage of hurt. It is a deliberate choice. Sometimes we have to simply let go. We should always try to reconcile, but if it is not wanted mutually, all you can do is forgive and move forward. Take the situation as a bounty of lessons and perspective.

Then, move forward in faith. Pray. Be in the Word. Something I’ve been astounded by lately is how personally God shows His love to us. He keeps showing up in my life in big ways lately. God-hug after God-hug. Gentle reminders He is there. That He cares for my weary heart. Comfort in every hour.

In summary, let’s strive to be women who encourage other women. Let’s be peacemakers. Let’s forgive and bask in the freedom and joy that comes from the Lord. Let’s look to Jesus as the ultimate friend. Let’s build all our relationships on love and respect. Let’s ooze warmth and kindness. Let’s radiate light to everyone we encounter. Let’s be contagiously joyful! Let’s be obvious for Jesus! Let’s keep trying, even when we fail. Praise the Lord we serve a God who never will!

Love, light, and joy to you all,

How to Take + Edit iPhone Photos

I’d say there are two questions I get asked most frequently in this blogosphere: “What kind of dog do you have?” and “Are you a photographer? What camera do you use?”

First of all, she’s a red standard poodle. haha.

Secondly, I am not a professional photographer. I certainly do appreciate many of you thinking so! Lol. I do, however, enjoy photography immensely as an art form and hobby! I’m constantly growing and learning in this arena, and I’m thankful to have a very camera savvy husband.

Let me break this down: All the pictures of me are taken by my husband.  Most of these pictures are taken with a DSLR camera, although some are an iPhone. All the pictures you see of food, decor, flat-lays, etc. were taken by me with my iPhone. Crazy right? The iPhone is an incredible piece of technology.

My iPhone isn’t new.  In fact, it’s an iPhone 6 and still takes fantastic pictures.  (Although, some of the other features aren’t working so great…Sometimes it won’t let me take/make calls! lol.) Eventually I’ll update my phone, but for now I’m working with what I’ve got!

I thought I’d share my (amateur) tips for taking and editing, beautiful, print-worthy photographs.  I’m going to break it down into three categories: Lighting, Framing, and Editing.  Okay, let’s get this photography party started!

Lighting

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This is everything.  If you take a picture in a dimly lit room, expect your picture to look fuzzy and washed out.  Natural light is the key to crisp, perfectly lit, divinely beautiful photos.  However, try to avoid harsh sunlight.  When taking a photo indoors, open all your blinds/curtains and choose a time of day in which sunlight is pouring in.  When taking a flat-lay, take it next to a window or glass door to insure the very best capturing of details.  With natural light, you don’t need flash. Flash will blow out images and cast harsh shadows. Because of this, taking pictures during the day is when your iPhone will best capture the image.

So basically, take your photos during the day, next to a window or outside. Boom.

Framing

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When I frame pictures, I often like to off-center the focal point of my photograph.  This gives negative space.  Negative space is a lovely way to let your picture breathe.  It allows for an airy image that draws the eye to the focal point, without distractions.  Try to keep a simple background.  This will help the subject pop.

Lines are very important.  If there is a vertical or horizontal line in your picture ( like a building or a sidewalk), try to keep these lines from slanting in the image.  This can also be corrected in editing, but I try to take the picture as straight as possible.

Editing

Without editing, your iPhone pictures will look mediocre. The key to editing, is to try to make the picture look how it did in real life.  When you take a picture, it’ll look less vivid, less rich, than it did in real life.  That’s where editing comes in.  Editing also gives your photos an art-like quality.  This is the fun part.

I use an app called VSCO to edit all my iPhone pictures.  For our DSLR photos, we use Light Room.  But today, I’m talking about VSCO.

You need this app.  There is just something about VSCO filters that gives photos such an editorial look.  It creates beautiful depth and richness.

I typically brighten my pictures a tad, add some contrast, and a little grain.  (Grain is used to give your photos a film-like appearance and has a vintage vibe.  If that’s not your thing, skip this.) Editing all boils down to what you want your style to be! Do you like bright and crisp? Muted and moody? Cold or warm? That is for you to decide.

Once you decide on a filter and editing style, don’t change it! Use the same filter EVERY TIME you post a picture.  This allows your feed and photography to look consistent, fluid, and cohesive.  This is the key to an eye-catching gallery.

Here are some before and after editing examples! They greatly showcase the importance of editing!


I hope you all enjoyed this post! It was fun to share my growing knowledge.  What a delightful way to freeze time and encapsulate every day art.

P.s. Don’t forget to get those gorgeous pictures off of your phone, and onto paper! I always use Artifact Uprising to print my pictures.

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The Black Coffee Date Dress

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It’s been a minute since I’ve done a fashion post, but I adore this black dress so much, it inspired me to get back at it!

This dress says “coffee date”. Whether catching up with a dear friend, or day dreaming at a cafe with your love, this dress just seems right. A cappuccino just seems like the most fitting accessory, doesn’t it? ☕️

Something I’ve been focusing on the last year and a half when it comes to fashion is—do I like it or do I love it? If you simply like it, the chances are great it will tire you in 6 months, and will end up taking valuable space in your closet.  I carefully select clothing items that I love! Those pieces that I just can’t wait to wear.  Closet staples that are classic and comfortable.  Sure to stand the test of time.

This black dress is a new closet staple of mine.  Its elegant, simple, and so comfortable. It’s cool and breezy, which is perfect for the humid Florida days that are soon to commence.  It’s stretchy and basically feels like you’re wearing a giant t-shirt. Not mad about it.

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Also, I gotta tell you–I am a sucker for buttons down the front of anything.  I just think it gives such a subtle detail, and a touch of class.

I appreciate versatile clothing pieces, and this one is just that.  You can easily dress this up with some wedges and dressy earrings.  Or you can keep things casual like I have pictured here.  The darling coffee date dress.

It makes me happy to know that I can wear this dress in the fall too! Some loafers and a long cardigan will cozy this dress up.  Worth every penny!

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Well, before I begin making dinner, I must mention that straw purse I’m holding! It’s a cute little vintage find and was only $12 at a local vintage market.  I was smitten when I laid eyes on it. I wonder what adventures it’s been on? 😉

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