Hot or Not ~ fall ’16

** disclaimer** Just my opinions on styles you should snag and trends that have gone stale. As always I recommend only splurging on trends you LOVE, or the ones you know are hanging around for a while. Test the waters with some quality knock off pieces first and gradually work in designer pieces. For example denim- splurge, Sunnies- save. Nordstrom is always a great place for all price ranges!

Button front skirtsHOT

Denim leggings– not.

I’m not taking about the ever popular, super soft, almost real denim jeggings. More those elastic waist pull up denim fakers.

Oversized topsHOT.                                            

Raid your man’s closet!

Sew on patchesHOT.

Especially on those oversized tops.

Denim with fringeHOT.                                                                                                                    

Give me all the fringe!

Cotton maxi skirts– not

Tribal print– not.

Easy on the printed cardis and ponchos people.


Try built in chokers for even more glam look.

Excessive rufflesHOT

Cropped jackets– not.

Cropped jackets cut women off at the worst part on their body. Especially if not worn with something high waisted.

Rounded toe pumps– not


Cropped wide leg pantsHOT

Top knots – not

Now I’m not saying don’t ever put your hair in a top knot, but these days le top knot has become more of a lazy sweatpant style, and overall less chic.

Cheap faux leather – not

I’m all about vegan leather, but make sure you are getting good quality. Nothing is worse that a bomber jacket with cracked leather or glossy film.

Dusty pinkHOT.                                                                                                                          

Threads, shoes, bags, and lips. Just can’t get enough!

Peep toe bootiesHOT

Black blazers– not

Unless you are a business professional this should not be in your wardrobe. And by all means please avoid animal print and blazers.

Cork wedges– not

Bleached ends– not.

Instead go for a more natural sombre (soft ombré) look.

 All photos from Pinterest

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Paris : A travel guide

To celebrate 10 years of marriage Brooks and I mapped out a European adventure to check off some of our bucket list spots. I decided to write our story city by city so that as we revisit cities or our kids start to travel we can all look back and use this guide. Also I’m not saying I’m a pro, but I’m hoping that some of our travels can help you as well! We loved all the areas we visited and feel we planned it very well so that there was a perfect mix of busy and down time. Plus we did the trip way cheaper than if we had used a travel agent. Actually for like 1/3 of the cost!! Making us more likely to return in the near future.  

First up is Paris! I j’adore this city. It was our first stop, and my first time in Europe, so my head was on a swivel. Every building was old and art itself. Every smell so compelling. Every step felt like a dream come true. I couldn’t get over all the beautifully dressed people riding bikes and vespas. My first sight upon arrival was the Arc de Triomphe, absolutely jaw dropping.  Everything is much larger in person, and you just can’t get over the exquisite details! Good thing Paris was an easy direct flight from Chicago, cause I’m already planning a trip back for my 35th birthday, if not sooner.

Be prepared:

  • Buy a couple European outlet adaptors before you travel, or in the airport. Our phones would die so quickly when we were out and about. We were able to charge them at many of the cafes while we shared a snack or a drink.
  • Rent a portable wifi hotspot for the duration of your trip. For less than $10 a day we had constant internet at our finger tips. This allowed us to facetime whenever, check our emails, bank accounts, social media all on a secure network, and use google maps for walking directions. We also used it for gps and pandora in the car!
  • Be prepared for the culture. In Paris there will more than likely be smoking all around you. It was one of the biggest culture shocks from America to France. Everyone there smokes, and they do it EVERYWHERE.
  • Bring your own headphones. I suggest the type that you can share, like each person takes a bud. This is for sharing audio tours.
  • No real need to tip here. They get a bit spoiled by our American culture, but it is not part of theirs. Overtipping is very uneccisary and seen as culturally ignorant. If anything simply round up your bill for exceptional service. 
  • Don’t be surprised if the french people seem rude. Again, part of their culture. By happy hour things will all seem a bit different.


Where to Stay:

We chose to stay in an Airbnb in this city because there were so many options. My criteria was: walking distance to the eiffel tower and a high rise view. I also didn’t want to overpay for lush amenities here since I knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room. There are so many options, so you have to search. And remember some places have a minimum night stay. Here are some of my favs! Here, here, and here

I loved that our flat was a little out of the touristy area. We had dinner the first night on our side of town, and it just may have been my favorite. We sat cozied up between all the french folks on a typical friday night on the town. In Paris all the tables are outdoors and turned towards the road. It’s so chic. Walking up and down the streets full of cafes with everyone laughing and interacting. It just sucks you right in.

Though I loved our choice, next time I think I would stay somewhere on the north side of the Seine in the 2nd arrondissement. Particularly near Notre Dame or the Lourve. This seems to be very central to everything that we wanted to do. We also stumbled upon a really happening area there that we returned to multiple times for socializing, drinks, and dinner.


Where to play

  • Shop the Germain de Pres area. By far my favorite over the famed Champs Elysees.
  • Don’t miss happy hour or Apéro. The french eat differently than us, and pretty much plan their meals around their cigarette breaks. Around 5 pm it’s social hour and the french flock to the bars and cafes for drink and a nibble, which may or may not end up being their dinner. We found a street in the 2nd arrondissement that we loved and returned two nights in a row. We typically didn’t end up eating a real meal till around 9 pm.
  • Skip the Louvre and head to Musee d’Orsay.  I mean if you’ve come all that way and have never seen the Mona Lisa it really would be a shame. Although, she really isn’t anything to write home about. Musee d’Orsay has a lot more of the modern paintings and sculptures.
  • Buy the audio tours. The walking group tours are just time consuming. The audio tours of each museum will only set you back about an extra 7 euro and can be shared between two people with the right kind of headphones.
  • Rent the city bikes! I highly highly recommend this! For less than one euro, yes ONE euro, a day you can rent bikes to hop on and ride from spot to spot. Just make sure you understand the bike and bus lanes or you may find yourself getting cussed out in french! (Brooks just sat back laughing).
  • Take a late night stroll to the Eiffel tower. Grab a couple local beers from a Tobac shop to avoid paying high prices from street vendors near le tower.
  • At the top of every hour at night the tower sparkles for 5 minutes. Don’t miss a chance to see this up close and personal. So so romantic.
  • Stay in a spot with a rooftop balcony. Or sleep with the windows wide open. Take in all the sounds of a Paris night.
  • Macarons from Laduree. Very cliche but very yummy. Just stick to macarons and tea, the rest of the menu is overpriced and mediocre at best.
  • View/take pictures of the Eiffel tower from Trocadero.
  • Picnic in the Luxembourg gardens.


Favorite little details

  • French mustard
  • Street seating at every Cafe
  • Quiche
  • Happy hour
  • Living like a local
  • Cheaper prices on European designers
  • Colored doors and unique buildings

 A moment I never want to forget is on our last evening we were zooming through the city on our bikes like we lived there for months. I watched Brooks navigate us around the now familiar streets or Rues as they call them. We felt so alive and so young at heart. We were just beginning our 2 week journey and had so much ahead to look forward to. Having just met up with a familiar face, our wedding photographer from Fort Wayne, IN our hearts were so full and spirits blessed. I can’t even explain the thrill of this moment in time. But it was so so good.

 Paris truly is the city of love. I could literally feel my heart beating faster with each step I took. I’m so glad we decided to dive head first into the french culture, because ooh la la amour!! Now on to Switzerland….

Aniston is Tutu

When your princess is turning two the party theme options are unlimited. However there was only one that seemed most fitting: a tutu party! Now, being a white and neutral lover I knew I didn’t want the typical all bubble gum pink ballet party, but more a whimsical swan princess party. Having the party at my house really helped me bring this idea to life and I was able to set up slowly over the course of a couple days. I ended up using a lot of things I already owned which was a plus, and things I had bought for her party last year and never used. The borrowed boutique made our tutu dreams come true by renting out most of the girls’ beautiful dresses. And those beautiful treats?! Yeah they tasted as good as they look thanks to my friend Kelly from Sweets n Treats 317. It worked out that all of Aniston’s little friends were able to come and that they love all things girlie too. The girls ate dainty treats, sipped sparkling pink punch, opened wonderful goodie bags from some awesome vendors (will name below), and danced to the songs from Frozen. When it came time to blow out the candles Ani wasn’t quite sure of the fire or the singing. And she didn’t quite understand the concept of presents ha! Who doesn’t love presents?! By gift bag number two she started to realize hey, I might actually want to open these. The party just couldn’t of been any sweeter, and thanks to Karena Demerchant Photography  we will forever have amazing pictures to remember the day!!




The girls LOVED their princess Elsa glitter chapsticks!

Princess Emma and Emily enjoying the party!

2016-08-0417.20.30 I mean does it get any cuter than Miss Selah here?!


2016-08-0417.28.15 Hair clip, peg doll necklace, felt flower headband, bracelets

2016-08-0417.12.09-22016-08-0417.12.34-22016-08-0417.12.25 The ballet music box was such a hit Kara!!



Aniston’s dress and cape. Aniston’s shoes. Aniston’s headpiece. Mandy’s neckalce. Cookies, macarons, and cakes. Aniston is tutu banner. Angel wings. Selah’s tutu. Emily’s swan slippers. Emily’s dress. Emma’s romper. Selah’s dressAll floral headbands. Party hats were DIY. Table cloth was fabric from Hobby Lobby. Bracelets. Dolly necklaces. Party plates. Hair clips. Photographs.

Here is a little photo roll of her actual birthday. We had a small party with the grandparents. 


Fitness and diet

Hey guys! One thing I get asked a lot about is my diet and workout routine. So I’m writing it all out for you to refer back to. Now I have to say I work at it pretty hard. I’m not one of those “it just comes naturally” types. But my routine definitely produces results so it keeps me going. 

My fitness schedule.

Monday- row for 5 min. Arms for 15 min. 3 sets of 10 push ups. Abs for 10 min. Run for 30 min. 

BBG at night. 
Tuesday- strength yoga for 60 min. Run 3 miles.

BBG at night
Wednesday- row for 5 min. Back muscles and triceps for 20 min. Burpees 3 sets of 10. Abs for 5. Run for 30 min. 
Thursday- row for 5 min. Legs (squats, leg press, inner and outer thighs) for 15 min. Abs for 10 min. Run for 30 min.

BBG at night
Friday- sculpt class for 50 min. Run one very fast mile. 
Saturday- BBG and usually a long run outdoors or a bike ride. 

That may seem like a lot, but I mean I’m willing to do anything for an hour break from my kids ha! Plus it works! 


So this is what I try and stick to. No carbs except carbs from fruit or veggies. Lots of protein, eggs, meat, nuts. No sweets except maybe a bite of someone’s. I don’t want to totally make life suck ha! No artificial sweeteners. No soda. And lots and lots of water. Plus on Wednesdays I only drink juices. Protein smoothies and shakes and lots of cold pressed juice which keeps the vitamins and antioxidants more abundant in the fruits and plants. 

So basically I eat a lot of greens and meat. And one key for not cheating is to carry snacks around with me so I’m not tempted. I always have almonds with stuffed in my purse, or I pick up juices when I’m out. I also put fruit in my water and it makes me drink a lot more! 

I hope that helps! And if you have any further questions comment below and I’ll get back at ya. It helps if you have some motivation. I put a photo on my lock screen of my goal fitness level. We also planned a dream trip so that is motivating me. I also rock out to contemporary Christian music and that always makes me run faster and farther. I still have a ways to go, but each week I get so much stronger and I have much more energy. I know I am getting healthier each day! 

If you wanna join me for all juice Wednesday’s follow me on insta @madeoverbymandy and we can encourage each other!! 



Cohen, my forever baby, my firstborn, there is no possible way you can be nine already. I still look at you as my little 4 year old buddy. We did everything together, just you and me. If I would of had snapchat or instagram stories back then I swear you would of looked like the perfect child. Or maybe I just don’t remember the bad. I’m so thankful for the 5 years we had alone because I truly feel that your character was shaped and groomed during that time. So much of how I remember you as a child I still see in you today. Your innocence is a treasure. You shyness so adorable. Your kindness, unmeasurable. I love watching you grow and challenge your self in every new situation. You are such a strong leader and I can’t wait to see the places you will go.

This summer was filled with many family activities and trips. You are so interested in geography and travel. You once asked for a trip to Paris or Scotland for Christmas. We took you to New York and I loved watching your wide eyes wander. Maybe you will live there someday. We went to multiple fairs, swam in lakes and pools, and learned that you can now go up the huge hill by our house on your bike with ease.  I watched you suck up your fear as you kneeboarded  alone and then wakeboarded for the first time. I saw you casually make new friends at the neighboorhood putt putt party and then responsibly tell us you’d be home by 10. That night was a huge first. Mom and dad put the little ones to bed and then sat up in the living room deciding if we should go find you, or trust that you would make it home before dark. Wow what a glimpse into the future!

There are so many times that you seem way too grown up, but then there are those times where you still seem little. You just can’t help but pick on your brother. The scream that you get to come out of him steps on every single one of my nerves. You still want to sleep with a night light and act scared of silly things like bugs and fish.  You haven’t reached the age where you don’t want kisses from mom. I mean of course not in public, but at home you desire the same amount of smooches that your little brother and sister get. One of your most favorite things to do is cuddle up with me or dad and watch a movie. You sit and watch sports with dad and I am shocked at how much you know. This summer you played lacrosse for the first time and 3rd grade baseball, which was a grade up. You did amazing at both, and was even one of the main pitchers on your team. Winning the lacrosse championship and the baseball all-star game was the icing on the cake.img_7407


Now you’re starting 3rd grade. I took you to meet your teacher a few days ago and I watched you interact with her and your classmates. You are really such a cool kid. Liked by adults and kids both. You are so selfless but yet competitive, the perfect combination in my opinion. Cohen I just couldn’t be more proud of you. You work so hard on your school work, and excel in all that you do. Dad and I are amazed at how independently you work on your homework. We hope that you always enjoy learning.

Football season is upon us and once again we get to watch you dominate. You are the man out there. I feel so proud, but also nervous at times. Everyone knows you are so tough, so they double and sometimes triple team you. I am just constantly saying prayers for your safety.


Keeping up with the birthday tradition we took you to the last Pacer’s home game of the season, where it’s fan appreciation night and the team cleans out their lockers and signs autographs. This year both you and Kempton got players signed shoes and other goodies too. Later that week we had a friends party that was of course Pacers themed. Also keeping up with traditions you got sick during your birthday sleepover. It has happened that last two years in a row. You never get sick, and then boom the stomach flu on the day of your party. This time the vomiting happened in the night so poor Joe had to stay and be exposed. Hopefully this tradition does not continue.img_3393

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We love you Cobug, the brown bear, Cooey, Squish, Suki, Co! You bring so much joy and adventure to our lives. I can’t even begin to imagine what my life was like before you, or what it would be like without you. I am so thankful that I am your mommy!



Summer Beauty List



We made it to mid summer! The part where the heat is not so welcoming, but more of a daunting reality. You may be in full on survival mode at this point and honestly the heat isn’t leaving us anytime soon.  But have hope,  just because you are hot and sticky doesn’t mean you have to look a “hot mess”.  I have compiled a list of summer beauty products that will give you that effortless summer glow.


1. Chanel Le Blanc face primer– This product is a double whammy. Not only does this gorgeous primer give your face the perfect amount of natural shimmer or youthful glow, but it protects with spf 40! Now in two shades pink and gold. Use after skincare, and right before tinted moisturizer.

Also don’t skip the Chanel Hydra Beauty flash cream. An instantly hydrating perfecting balm. This on-the-go moisturizer combines Camellia Alba PFA with the hydrating power of shea butter and moringa butter for an immediate smoothing effect. Soft-focus powders and pearly particles visibly diminish the appearance of skin imperfections by creating an even texture with less visible pores. Use before makeup or even as a refresher on top of makeup later in the day.


2.  Rodan & Fields foaming sunless tanner. This stuff is a dream and only $24. No more mixing harsh colored tanners in with your lotion or needing to wear gloves. This foam gives the perfect application every time. After just two uses you will see a nice color change in your skin. Self tanners also protect the skin against sunburn so mix this product in with natural exposure to the sun and your skin will look perfect and stay healthy all summer long.

(There is a slight slight smell associated with this product, but way less than any others I’ve tried and it vanishes fast.  Also I did start to see an orange hue to the skin after multiple applications but one trip to the pool and it was all evened out to the perfect summer tan with no damage to my skin!!!)

Because you shouldn’t use sunless tanning products without exfoliating first try Rodan & Fields micro derm paste. A very unique concept of and oil free paste that gently exfoliates leaving skin silky smooth. Use on dry skin.




3. Tom Ford Soleil Blanc shimmering body oil makes me Oh so Happy! Inspired by remote private islands where summer lasts all year and one day blends seamlessly into the next, Soleil Blanc is an addictive solar floral amber with notes of Cardamom Oil, Bergamot, Benzoin Extract, Coco de Mer, Pistachio. This silky and lightweight oil illuminates the skin with shimmers of gold and platinum leaf. The captivating Soleil Blanc leaves the sultry effect of sunkissed summer skin and tempts the senses with a fragrance of scorching sensuality. A must have!!



4. Giorgio Armani Crema Nuda tinted cream.  At a staggering price of $200 per jar you may be thinking what is all the fuss about. Well let me tell you this award winning product will have you hooked at first touch. Crema Nuda is a premium care complexion perfector with performance power that surpasses both a bb and cc cream, making it a new generation of tinted cream. The multitasking product treats, corrects and blurs the complexion with a formula infused with the reviscentalis resurrection plant, enabling the cream to improve skin radiance and reveal a younger-looking complexion. Don’t take my word for it. Ask for a sample and I guarantee you will be figuring out ways to splurge!



5. Dior glow lip and cheek. The whole line of Dior glow has all the heart eyes from me. These products pair perfectly with sweaty summer skin and their gel like texture is a refreshing extra.  This product is a cheek and lip tint that brings out your own natural radiance with a custom rosy glow. Number six boasts more from the amazing Dior glow line. Try also the nail glow for the perfect pinky effortless nails.




6. A pomade for the lips?! Heck yes. Dior lip glow pomade is an intensive lip care product with a natural, self-adjusting, rosy tint. Pair with the lip glow liner for the perfect defined pink lips. Dior’s original lip glow sticks come in two shades or light rosy and coral. They are sheer chapstick like sticks that enhance your natural lip shade. These are a long time favorite of mine.



7. Anastasia Beverly Hills waterproof dip brow. We all want those perfectly filled in brows, but who wants to worry about ruining them poolside? This creamy, multitasking product glides on skin and hair smoothly to create clean, defined brows. The standout formula works as a brow primer and provides color, sculpture, and shading. With 11 different shades to choose from you are sure to find your perfect match.


8. Dior glow Maximizer. A versatile primer that amplifies skin’s natural radiance for a beautifully luminous effect. Very similar to the Chanel primer only this one does not have an spf, and I use it more as a highlight to the skin on top of foundation. This primer instantly brightens dull complexions, sculpts the face, and amplifies the skin’s natural light for spectacular radiance. Use it alone or mix it with foundation to boost radiance.

Patriotic chic

   I typically don’t like to wear color. I’m usually more of a neutral girl, but around this time in the summer I begin to go all flag crazy. This romper is hands down the perfect getup for your upcoming holiday festivities. I’ve also rounded up some of my favorite kiddie items that if you hurry you can snag before the fourth. 




Vivid and Ash 


Little Kate designs

Wildly co



Pretty by JL

P and the Lion


Piper Finn footwear

Naturally Blonde Beads