Monday, July 28, 2014

Traveling the World: Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain

I am very excited to share travel stories with you today!  We recently returned from an unforgettable ten day trip to Spain with an amazing group of friends.  Our trip was split into two cities: Pamplona and Barcelona.  Many people think of Barcelona as a Spanish vacation destination, but you may be asking why Pamplona?  Within our group of 19 travelers, a good portion had the Encierro, or Running of the Bulls, on their bucket lists.  The Encierro is held for eight consecutive days in early July in Pamplona, Navarro, Spain as part of the San Fermin Festival.  Its origin dates back to the 14th century, when townspeople had to move bulls from corrals into bullrings for the traditional bullfights and young men decided to run alongside the bulls and make it a competition.  If you read Ernest Hemingway's 1920s novel, "The Sun Also Rises" in school, you learned a bit about Pamplona during the San Fermin festival!  Pamplona embraces Hemingway and his grandson has attended the festival for the last four years.  I read that approximately 600,000 people descend on Pamplona during the festival to either run or take part in the festivities--the town was definitely crowded.  This first photo is the best shot I took from our balcony during day one of the Encierro, please read on for more photos and details about this incredible adventure.

 Our group met up in Barcelona on July 4th, gathering for dinner and a night out before heading to Pamplona together Saturday afternoon.  We arrived in Pamplona Saturday evening, July 5th, excited for Sunday's opening ceremony.  Thousands of people pack in the town square wearing their uniform of white tops, white bottoms, red sashes, and red scarves.  The chupinazo (a rocket) is set off at noon to officially mark the start of the festival, and everyone gets soaked spraying each other with sangria.  The energy was amazing!

The entire day feels like one big, sticky party in Pamplona.  We were all advised to bring cheap white clothing in multiples that could be thrown away, and that was the best advice.  If you didn't bring enough white shirts and pants, there were plenty of shops stocked with inexpensive white clothing for a fresh change of clothes.  Here are a couple of photos showing the aftermath of the opening ceremony with our sangria-splattered clothes.

Sunday became an all-day party before the first bull run Monday morning.  The bull runs start at 8am, but runners need to head to the prime starting location around 6am.  The police create a barrier inside of the fence that becomes the starting line of the race, and runners pack in tightly together to be closer to the starting line, and further from the bulls' corral down the hill.  The first day, five members of our group ran and the rest decided to wait until Tuesday.  I had no desire to run on any day, and opted to watch the first bull run from a fifth floor balcony instead (there were seven of us who chose to watch the first run from the balcony).  The photo below is from about 6:30am, and you can see there are quite a few runners but it isn't packed yet.

As the morning went on, people started to pack in tightly behind the police barrier that served as the starting line.  The Encierro is one of the few free things left in life: there is no entry fee, you just have to show up at the right time and stay within the rules (no backpacks, no cameras, etc).

I was starting to get worried for the runners, thinking that they were packed in too tight and would surely cause a pileup, but then maybe 5 minutes before 8:00am the police backed away and allowed the runners to start heading toward the stadium, choose their spots along the route, and thin out.

At promptly 8:00am, a rocket is fired and the bulls are chased out of their corral into the route.  We could hear the bells on the bulls, and then see them quickly run by.  What a thrill to watch!

The 850 meter race only lasted 2 minutes and 25 seconds from the time the bulls were released until they reached the stadium.  It was over so quickly!  The large bulls run through the stadium and out the other side, but smaller bulls are allowed into the ring afterward to interact with the runners.  Many runners want to run up and slap the bulls, or get as close as they can without getting chased and possibly gored by the bulls' horns.  Check out photos below that my friends took from the stadium on Monday and Tuesday.

Photo credit: Allison Naman

Photo credit: James Narramore

 Photo Credit: Payal Patel

Fortunately, no one in our group was injured and everyone had an exhilarating run.  With a little bit of research, everyone learned the safest places to start the run, as well as how to navigate and that definitely paid off.  Below is our Tuesday group of runners--all smiles afterward!

I hope you enjoyed my narrative of the San Fermin festival and the Encierro.  It was a truly memorable experience, and I'm so glad we had a large group to make the trip that much more fun.  I know that there are people very much against the Running of the Bulls and the bullfights, and I personally opted to not watch a bullfight, but I can appreciate the history, culture, and artistic skill behind these traditions.  After our three days in Pamplona, we returned to Barcelona for the remainder of our trip.  Please stay tuned for more posts detailing our time in Barcelona.  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great week!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tres Chic Fashion Thursday

Hi everyone!  Today I am thrilled to be cohosting Agi Mayer's Tres-Chic Fashion Thursday.  Agi owns Vodka Infused Lemonade, a blog about fashion, motherhood, and life.  Vodka Infused Lemonade is one of my favorite blogs to follow because of Agi's engaging and truthful writing style. Please read on, visit Agi's blog if you haven't already, and link up if you desire.  I also hope you find at least one new blogger in the linkup who inspires you!

Tres-Chic Fashion Thursday Link Up

It’s that time of the week for my link up. Thank you to all 125 of you fabulous ladies that linked up last week!!! :) Not just a great turnout, but the best turnout yet. Thank you guys so much for all your support!!!!!!!!! I love it!!!!! If you are interested in co-hosting please email me at If you’ve already co-hosted and would like to again, don’t hesitate to email me.

This week’s fabulous co-hosts are:

Amber from Avec Amber

Avec Amber


Angele from The European Malteser

The European Malteser

Here are my favourite looks from last week:

Rachel from Rachel the Hat

Rachel the HatNiki from Glossy Blonde

Glossy BlondeIris from Love, Iris

Love, Iris


1. Must be a new post, or fairly recent one. Please link the post not the blog.

2. Please follow me via Facebook, Bloglovin, Pinterest or Twitter.

3. Please follow Amber from Avec Amber via Bloglovin & Angele from The European Malteser via Bloglovin.

4. Please stop by the other blogs and say hi. The idea is to get to know other bloggers .

5. Please link back to my blog or post this button on your blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Essential: One-Pocket Tee

Every gal needs the perfect lightweight tee for their summer wardrobe, and this version from Conversation Pieces Boutique is super-soft, has just the right amount of stretch, and a very affordable pricetag.  The cut is just a little bit loose, with a longer hem in the back for a flattering fit.  I chose the mint version first, but now that I've worn mine for a couple of days I'm going to order at least one more of the six available colors.  For today's outfit, I styled my mint one-pocket tee with white shorts, mint and gold jewelry, cognac sandals, and my cognac bucket bag for a casual happy hour look.  I can also see dressing this tee up with a pencil skirt and heels for the office, or transitioning to fall with a leather jacket, skinny jeans, and boots.

Tee c/o Conversation Pieces: "Perfectly Imperfect One-Pocket Shabby Tee" in mint #2, $21 here
Bracelet c/o Conversation Pieces: "Take A Leaf Out of Nature's Style Book Bracelet" in icy mint, $16 here
Shorts: J Crew Factory (no longer available online), similar "3" Chino Short" in white, $39.50 (40% off through 7/22 with code SALEFUN) at J Crew here
Necklace: "Aqua Tiffany Collar," (waitlist), similar "Acid Feather Curb Collar," $52 at Baublebar here
Bracelets: J Crew (old), similar Ralph Lauren "3 Set Bangle" in gold, $32 at Bloomingdale's here
Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs "Henry" in gold, $250 at Nordstrom here
Bag: Banana Republic (no longer available online), similar "Women's Faux Leather Tasseled Bucket Bag" in mocha brown, $32.94 at Old Navy here
Sandals: DV by Dolce Vita (old), similar DV by Dolce Vita "Fana" in cognac leather, $24.26-$60 (depending on size) at Amazon here

Once you find the perfect summer tee, there is nothing wrong with adding multiples to your closet!  The "Perfectly Imperfect One-Pocket Shabby Tee" is available in six colors online at Conversation Pieces Boutique.  In addition to mint, check out my three favorite shades below:

Left: Navy, $21 here
Middle: Strawberry, $21 here
Right: Silver Grey, $21 here

How would you style a one-pocket tee this summer?  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great week!

Financial compensation was not received for this post. Products were provided free of charge from Conversation Pieces Boutique, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Horse Print Fit and Flare Dress

Hello and happy almost-Friday!  If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know that I recently returned from an unforgettable ten day vacation in Spain!  We were part of a large group of friends who traveled to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls, then enjoyed five days in Barcelona .  In addition, six of us took the train up to Girona for the amazing opportunity to eat at El Celler de Can Roca, the #2 ranked restaurant in the world.  I cannot wait to share each of these parts of our trip with you here very soon--after I sort through the thousands of photos from our group.  Today, however, I want to share a new favorite dress that I picked up at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale last month.  I was fortunate to grow up with horses, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with this black and white horse print French Connection dress while browsing the Half-Yearly Sale online.  The subtle graphic print is perfect (I love that you can't tell what the print is until you get close), and the fit and flare shape is always so flattering.  There are still a few sizes left online at 40% off--be sure to check out the link below.  For today's outfit, I added red suede pumps, a red belt, and red lipstick for a nice pop of color.  White, black, and red are always a good combo in my book and this outfit is perfect for a day at the office, a dinner date, and more.

Dress: French Connection "Horse Print Stretch Cotton Fit & Flare Dress" in white, $106.80 (40% off!) at Nordstrom here
Pumps: Halogen via Nordstrom (no longer available online), similar Halogen "Lila Studded Bow Pointy Toe Pump" in red, $99.95 at Nordstrom here 
Belt: old, similar "Lipstick Closure Adjustable Belt" in tibetan red, $29.90 at Express here
Clutch: Koret New York (no longer available), check out the new Koret New York "Ori Clutch" in black, $358 at Shopbop here
Watch: old, similar two-tone Anne Klein "Crystal Bezel Ceramic Link Bracelet Watch" in white/silver, $99.90 (33% off for cardholders!) at Nordstrom here

Whimsical printed dresses are a perfect way to personalize your look and show your love for your favorite animal, flower, sport, and more.  There are so many great options out there, and easy to find with boutique sites like Modcloth.  Check out my picks for animal themed printed fit and flare dresses below:

Left: "Good as Goldfish Dress," $112.99 at Modcloth here 
Middle: Halogen "Belted Cap Sleeve Pleat Dress" (available in petite!) in black-teal peacock print (also available in four other colors), $78.90 (early access for cardholders!) at Nordstrom here 
Right: "Skater Dress in Animal Origami Print (you must see the print up close!)," $47.64 at Asos here 

  What is your favorite type of whimsical print?  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Linking up with Agi over at Vodka Infused Lemonade and  Tara over at Mix & Match Fashion!

Mix & Match Fashion

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bucket Bag

So many of my favorite bloggers are carrying bucket bags lately, and I am loving the return of this handbag trend.  You already know I love my bohemian looks, and bucket bags have that wonderful carefree feel when casually thrown over the shoulder.  They are also practical, roomy, and a great choice for a traveling fashionista like myself.  After keeping this Banana Republic cognac version on my wishlist this spring, I finally pulled the trigger a few weeks ago when BR threw out a 40% off no exclusions code on Twitter.  I'm very happy with the soft leather and the size: it's big enough to hold all of the essentials and my little Canon G16 camera when I travel, but not large enough to weigh down with too many items.  For today's outfit, I chose a simple neutral palette and paired this bucket bag with a peplum top, shorts, gold jewelry, and super comfy low-heeled sandals.  I added just a bit of color with this Sonia Kashuk for Target lipstick in very berry, something I don't do often but I really like the effect!

 Bag: "Dalia Bucket Bag"  in cognac, see available colors online, $90.99 (on sale!) at Banana Republic here  
Top: Alice + Olivia via Nordstrom Rack, similar "Peplum Top" in natural white, $20 at H&M here
Shorts: Banana Republic Factory, check out the "Factory Pleated Short" in ivory (also available in melon and black), $24.50 at J Crew Factory here
Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs "Henry" in gold, $250 at Nieman Marcus here
Sandals: Charles David "Gisele Sandal" in cognac (also available in black) $69.95 at DSW here
Lipstick: "Sonia Kashuk Satin Luxe Lip Color SPF 16," $9.99 at Target here

As much as every blogger would love to get her hands on the Mansur Gavriel or updated Louis Vuitton bucket bags this year, the truth is that isn't practical for the majority of us for a trendy item.  The great thing about handbag trends, though, is that there are always wallet-friendly options available.  Check out my picks for bucket bags under $50 below:

Left: "Fringed Drawstring Bucket Bag" in black, $49.90 at Express here
Middle: "Faux-Leather Tassled Bucket Bag" in mocha brown (also available in white and navy), $32.94 at Old Navy here
Right: "Pebbled Bucket Bag" in red (also available in black), $39.99 at Mango here

If you have a higher budget this season, check out these luxe bucket bags with price tags between $150 and $200:

Left: Marc by Marc Jacobs "Too Hot to Handle Mini Drawstring Bag" in black, $198 at Shopbop here, also available in tracker tan and turkish tile here 
Middle: "The Dylan Bucket Bag" in burnished caramel, $178 at Madewell here 
Right: Foley + Corinna "Convertible Sling Drawstring Bucket Bag" in black, $145 at Nieman Marcus Last Call here 

 How would you style a bucket bag this summer?  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday week!
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