2016 or bust!

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Is there a better way to welcome in 2016 than with a huge, fun, new announcement on one’s blog??? Okay, so I *could* think of some – like an island vacation, a life’s supply of coffee, finding perfect vintage….but I digress.

If you receive my newsletter (which you really should), then you will already know to head HERE (AKA CHICSTRIPES.COM!!!) for a peek at my brand new website/blog. Now you may be thinking, wait, didn’t I just launch SPStyle not that long ago. Yes I sure did, but it wasn’t really reflective of my style, you guys as my readers, or my goals. Plus I still had the blog, so it was just too much web for one girl. (It’s still active btw, as is this blog until I figure out some behind the scenes fun tech related things that I need to do.)

There are tons of things in store for the new site that include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Ethical fashion – Is ethical fashion still fashionable? Is it affordable? Who sells it? How do I find out?? So many questions and I’ll be tackling them in the coming months.
  • Sustainable fashion  I’m still thrifting and here’s where it fits, along with lots of other thoughts around living a sustainable life.
  • Form + functionSo I got into rock climbing, hiking, camping this past year. Basically all things no fashion forward person does right? WRONG. I’m here to show you how outdoor wear can work, and work well, while still keeping your fashion cred in check.
  • The occasional post for men. I get more questions from men about fashion than one would think – the hows, whys, whens, and wheres. Keep an eye out for yourself or maybe forward to the guy in your life.
  • Travel guidesholy *** am I excited about this one. This past year I took a freelance job writing outdoor guides for an online magazine and it was a blast! I love explaining the ins and outs of traveling, the hot spots, and all the what not and I’m looking forward to sharing those (and amazzzing photos) with you all. #outdoororbust #optoutside
  • Newsletter only info!heck yea,  you subscribers are great and you will get stuff no one else will get. Not sure what that will be yet, but just stay signed up, k? (see – this is why you should sign up).

As always, I’m still figuring some of this out as I go, but there’s no better time than the present, or launching a site and then HAVING to figure it out. So thanks for coming on this ride here at chicstripes.wordpress.com and I hope to see you at CHICSTRIPES.COM (can you tell I’m excited about the .com? There’s a story there. Head to Facebook to find out…and heck, you might as well like that page while you’re at it. ;) ).

XX,

Sydney

 

Travel: Island Bound

396057_267773546670205_956020043_nView of Trunk Bay, one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world


Three years ago, our family jetted off for a week to St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was one of the most beautiful islands I have ever been to – so peaceful and carefree. We have talked about that trip ever since and today we are headed back – this time for a three day stint in St. Thomas (just us “kids”: myself, husband and my siblings) and then we are meeting up with my mom and aunt and uncle for a week in St. John.
377716_268384079942485_1391076345_n The sugar mill plantation, Annaberg. We will be able to hike to this from our house!

Our first trip we stayed in a gorgeous house on Rendezvous Bay, near the town of Cruz Bay where the ferries port. Since we are making a return trip to the island, we wanted to experience something different and are staying on the south side of the island, on Lameshur Bay in a beautiful house with its own private sand beach, access to the bay for easy snorkeling and near by hiking trails that go to an ancient sugar mill, pictured above.

418668_267637536683806_838073599_nSO many lizards!

Suffice it to say, we are very much looking forward to this trip! I love the wildlife on the island, which is mostly a huge national park. Fishing is prohibited in most areas and the lizards come out in droves each morning.

544558_268383616609198_2046633711_nThe GORGEOUS Leinster Bay and my three siblings

We have plans to snorkel in blue water that is like none other and if good fortune prevails, we will be trying our hand at some deep water soloing (you think we would go a trip without rock climbing??).

549062_267637676683792_376972813_nIsland life is colorful (and full of one rum smoothie after another).

I had a pina colada for the first time in my life on the last trip and will be indulging in the rum fueled ones this go round. I have a few posts planned for the blog while we are gone, but to stay up to date on our adventures, follow @chicstripes for fashion related things (think: chacos and island wear), @genesisclothingcompany for thrifting, shop buying and sister shenanigans, and @sydneypbasslester for island life, landscapes and lots of family selfies. Peace!

Life: Colorado Recap and Giveaway Winner

DSC_1193{The hike around Dead Horse Point. The blue in these lakes is a natural phenomena from salt.}

You guys, Colorado was absolutely amazing. I never get tired of traveling to new places and visiting ones I love. This trip, we hit the ground running, and we were off to Utah within an hour of our plane landing. Our destination: Indian Creek, one of the world’s best places to crack climb.

DSC_1204{The desert view contrasted so beautifully with the colorful flowers and blue skies}

DSC_1339{Newspaper Rock – a site full of ancient Petroglyphs}

DSC_1517{My first real crack climbing experience. Here I am climbing the route: Wavy Gravy, named for the literal wave formation you can see in the rock. So hard – to climb these, you stick your hands and feet into the cracks and use your limbs as leverage to work up.}

Our climbing experience was nothing less than awesome, challenging, curse-word inducing and fun. We climbed everything from slab rock on Wall Street right outside of Moab to cracks in Indian Creek to a desert tower (the Southsix Shooter) near our campsite.

DSC_1583{Our rack of trad climbing gear and taped up hands, an attempt to save ourselves from cuts and bruises. It worked, somewhat}

DSC_1586{The approaches to each of our climbs was nothing short of an adventure itself. They often involved a lot of hiking, steep climbs and loose rock. More often than not, our belaying areas didn’t feel altogether safe. Here I am belaying while seated and decked out in my crack climbing gloves.}

 DSC_1693{This view of the lakes and six shooter towers (one of which we climbed) against this crack, Scarface, was on the cover of Climbing Magazine. Here, my brother tackles the crack.}

DSC_1737{Canyonlands – a most magical place full of jutting rocks.}

DSC_1929{A carin overlooking the view from the Southsix Shooter desert tower climb. Carins serve as natural trail markers in the outdoors.}

This was easily the most terrifying event of my life so far. To get to the climb we started on a 4W drive back road, hiked a flat terrain, hiked up a semi-steep loose terrain, and then scrambled up a very steep and very loose terrain. When we arrived at the top, the wind was howling and you could see dark clouds and rain looming for miles. Virtually every member of our crew doubted we would even be able to climb. See, the thing about climbing this particular type of rock, sandstone, is that it just doesn’t do so hot in the rain. As in, your gear can come out and the rock can erode away under your fingertips. It also involves three pitches, which means the leader climbs and sets your gear in the cracks, the second person climbs and removes the gear as you go (I was the second climber here). Then you meet up and start the next round of climbing. Multi-pitches are used when one rope length isn’t long enough to get you to the top. When we finally summited the tower, we were on an area about 5×5 feet and it was both exhilarating and slightly scary to have a clear 360 view from some 6,000 miles up. But we could also see those rain clouds coming in FAST and felt the wind pick up with strong gusts every so often. While we were locked in to our anchors, a fall of about 10-15 feet could certainly happen. We waited out the storm as long as possible and then in the middle of the downpour we figured we should rappel down and get the heck off this quickly soaking rock.

DSC_2006{Andrew as we were finishing our down-hike from the Southsix Shooter climb and the stark contrast in the quickly changing weather out there is apparent.}

DSC_2414{If you look closely, you can see three figures at the top of that rock on the right. That would be Brent and his friends Justin Mike. This was in Mill Creek Canyon, our rest day/cliff jumping/hike spot}

DSC_2706{Doing my first chimney climb in the South Platte region}

Andrew and I have definitely left a part of ourselves in Colorado and the west. We have discovered a love of mountains, the open sky and the adventurous and friendly vibe of the people we have met. I know there will be future trips in store, but for now, you can probably find us at Manchester Wall and making weekend trips to Virginia and West Virginia climbing spots. Oh, I’m also on the hunt for petite and stylish outdoor gear (naturally!), so if you know of any brands, send them my way!


GIVEAWAY WINNER – LIZ THOMSON!

Thank you for all your entries into my giveaway for dedicated readers. A huge thank you to Lather and Elements Beauty Shop for providing the item.

My Sisters – #MyNajaPick

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“It started with a belief that lingerie should be about the woman who wears it…
…and that it should make her feel good about herself.”

I dismiss most PR pitches that I receive with a polite, thank you, but no thank you email. But when Naja reached out with their #MyNajaPick campaign that celebrates strong females that have made an impact in your life, I knew I wanted to participate. I became aware of Naja through their appearance on Shark Tank and loved their seriously beautiful and elegant designs. Several of the styles, colors and patterns remind me of old world vintage looks which is totally up my alley. And I also love Shark Tank; my husband and I have made it our Saturday morning ritual to watch the previous night’s episode each week. So Naja already had two things going for them when they sent their cold blogger pitch email. Like a lot of PR pitches I receive, it was simply a request to share their story by choosing women from your own life that inspired you. No money. No compensation.

“We did away with fake wind blowing into models’ hair and created a brand that could connect with smart, courageous, and sexy women.”

But I loved what Naja does with their brand – crafting lingerie that is for the woman wearing it. It was a chance to share about a brand that I genuinely liked while also spreading the word about their own entrepreneurship program.

“When you educate a woman, everything changes.”

Through a partnership with the Golondrinas Foundation in Columbia and their Underwear for Hope initiative, a percentage of Naja sales goes to supporting an entrepreneurial program for women, which gives jobs to and teaches marketable skills to single mothers living in Columbia. Every bra you purchase through Naja comes with a lingerie wash bag. Each of these bags are made by the women employed through Underwear for Hope.

My sisters are my Naja nomination – they are both strong, beautiful women who have been through their share of hardships but have come out on top. I wish that I could live as spontaneously and as carefree as they do sometimes. They are full of laughter, are insightful, caring, sensitive, funny. There are five and ten years between my sisters and I, but you would never tell (well, hopefully you can tell I am the more mature older sister). I can’t imagine life without my sisters.


And because this is a fashion blog, I will leave you with my favorite bras from the Naja collection. Please check out their beautiful designs and feel good that not only are you supporting a small business owner in the U.S., but that you are supporting female entrepreneurs abroad.

Najapick

Images and quotes via Naja

1. Valentina Bustier

2. Adriana Bralette 

3. Sparrow Isabel Bra


I am in Colorado traveling, rock climbing, adventuring and doing all things fun until June 3. I will respond to comments and questions as I am able. Style/fashion related snaps will be posted to Chic Stripes social media accounts as usual, but most travel pictures will be here. Please follow if you like!

Life: #LestersGoWestPartTwo

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 A bike friendly building in the middle of downtown Denver that includes a ramp to easily take your bike up and down the stairs.


Last October, my husband and I took a trip to Colorado to visit my brother. We had an absolute blast rock climbing for the first time, hiking an 18 mile route to a hot spring at 14,000 feet elevation, camping in a national park, riding B Bikes around the city and trying great Colorado brews. As you read this, we are on a plane, westward bound again; this time for a two week visit that will feature more rock climbing, camping and hikes. But we will also be spending more time in the city, working from Denver and exploring. We are looking forward to such a lengthy trip as a way to get to know the city. I will be posting most of our adventures and updates here, but, as always, fashion relevant ones will be featured on my normal blog accounts. I have also worked really hard (seriously) scheduling blog posts for you all during the weeks that we are gone. There are a few special ones, so I hope you enjoy those in addition to the outfit photos.


 BONUS: GIVEAWAY WITH ELEMENTS BEAUTY SHOP AND LATHER

2015-05-18 Elements Giveaway 2

For all of my regular blog readers I have a fun surprise for you! Lather sentElements Beauty Shop a few full size bottles of their amazing products and Elements gave one to me to give to one of you. I think all my posts raving about Lather turned me into their Lather ambassador. But I am not complaining because I seriously love my Lather products. Soooo, up for giveaway is thisLather Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub (so that’s a mouthful). To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me about your go-to, favorite beauty product. I will randomly choose one winner when I return, so this giveaway is open between 5/20-6/3! I won’t be publicizing this giveaway openly. It truly is a “THANK YOU” to all who read my posts.

Interested in the other Lather products I own and love? See them all below!

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All photos via Elements Beauty Shop

 
Left to right, top to bottom:

#1-4 are my current morning routine and #4-7 are my current nighttime routine.

1. Ultra Mild Face Wash – I alternate between this and my St. Ives (or secretly my husband’s Jack Black face buff. The peppermint smells so good!). It has such a light clean feeling to it. I received a full size bottle of this from my first month’s work with Elements.

2. Toning Eye Gel with Vitamin K – I use this before lotion. It is supposed to help de-puff puffy eyes. The jury is still out on if it’s helping, but I like the routine. I purchased this after trying the sample.

3. Advanced Blemish Control Serum – If you order anything, please order this. Seriously. It will be the best $30 you ever spent. This serum is the best out of any I’ve tried and it will stop blemishes in their tracks. I am still working off my sample I received from Elements.

4. Ultra Light Face Lotion – I use this daily; love it! It seems like a relatively small bottle, but I have had mine since March and I should have another 2-3 months left. I received a full size bottle of this from my first month’s work with Elements.

5. Licorice Root Eye Treatment – I use this at night as a restorative cream for under my eyes. Again, jury’s still out, I don’t use it as religiously as I should, but I like it. I purchased this after trying the sample.

6. Sweet Almond Face Moisturizer – I purchased this at the last Element’s event because I wanted a heavier cream to use at night. A little goes a long way and I love putting this on before bed.

7. Lip Conditioning Balm – This was recommended in my last Element’s beauty post and I snagged it at the event as well. I have noticed that my lips aren’t as as dry as usual (this could also because it’s been so darn hot here lately), but I’m still tempted to bite at them or pull loose skin. I put this on every night and have recently started using in the morning as well. Having and using this is a good motivator to NOT bite at my lips or to stop myself when I start because I don’t want to waste my time, effort or money on products if I am going to just self-destruct them.

If you are interested in trying any of these products, you can use the code CHICSTRIPES10 to get 10% off your first online order. Don’t forget if you order online, you can stock up on loyalty points and get $5 credit for every review you write.

I am an #ElementsBeautyBlogger and often work with Elements to provide sponsored content. Jeanie and Sherry are not paying me or gifting me anything to share this with you; there were no conditions to link to them or to tell you about my other products. As I told Jeanie, I love being able to partner with brands that I believe in and offer quality products to my readers. So a huge THANK YOU to them for allowing me to host this giveaway and for believing in blogger creativity and artistic control. ;) 

Life Lately & Updates

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Hosting the Thrifting Twitter Chat with YMSSSS while eating lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Georgetown

Blogging/styling projects have been going strong, if not as steady as I want them to. It can be hard building a business when you have several other businesses/jobs that you do/need and I have to remind myself that it’s okay to take and build a business slowly. I do not believe in taking on debt to build a dream. This may fly in the face of what ever other entrepreneur out there is doing and while I can be envious of them living the dream they want NOW, I would rather take my time getting there if it means doing it debt free. We have lived with debt (albeit small, less than $5K credit card debt and the typical home, student loan debt) and it’s not fun and I have no desire to be there. So I get a blogging/styling job, I buy another clothing rack. I get a job, I buy a printer, etc. Maybe it’s not ideal and I have to continue to remind myself not to compare to others, but it will come in time. In the mean time, I just deliver the most amazing services and am a dream to work with.

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Cute outfits that don’t make it to blog shooting. Because you know, life. And it’s cold.

That said, actual blogging has been slow lately. I am working on making some updates and layout changes to the blog, updating social media handles and overall having things a little more streamlined and getting this blog to look a little better. The blogging landscape has changed so much since I started this in 2009 and it can be crazy trying to keep up (Grit and Glamour has some great posts on this topic (looks like she’s doing updates now too! so check back later)). I’m in the market for a new camera and have a purchase date of late April (see – there’s where that no debt thing comes in), so until then, I haven’t been shooting a whole lot of things for the blog because I don’t want my projects to be sub par. That said, I am working on some fun posts and collaboration projects with Elements Beauty Supply (first here) and a few outfit photos will be scattered here in there. To stay up to date, make sure you are following on Twitter and Insta since that’s where the magic happens.

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The most beautiful sunset over NYC

We have also been doing our fair share of experiencing life. My husband is going back to school and taking a few night classes (I’m beyond proud of him and he’s doing amazing!). We hit the rock climbing gym when we can and I climb with a climbing partner on nights he is in class. We traveled to New York to surprise my best friend for her birthday. That drive is hell on earth, but when will we ever get to do that again? In the 18 years of us being friends, we have only lived within driving distance three times. So we easily agreed and packed it up one weekend for a very cold, fun weekend. We started Serial (so very interesting but ultimately disappointing) and are now hooked on pod casts. I’m reading a lot (The Divergent trilogy – super quick read, pretty interesting) and placing a lot of online orders like getting a few of these fun swim suits to try on for our trip to St. John this summer, finally getting this coconut milk for my morning coffee (it is JUST coconut milk, NO guar gum), and getting into a few beauty products like this and this. All of these things were blogger influenced and I’m excited to try them. I’m totally into online shopping now since ordering things for a client. Just click, buy and then keep or return. Better watch those return policies/fees though! I have some Sole Society shoes headed my way thanks to their exchange only policy. I have also been doing a lot of yoga lately. It is my work out of choice now since my Colorado knee injury. I love these YouTubers: Yoga with Adriene who is down to earth and really puts forth a “Find what feels good” approach to yoga which I appreciated as a yoga new comer. I found Fightmaster Yoga a few days ago and love her. She is much more advanced than Yoga with Adriene (at least in the youtube videos) and tends to do things very fast or do poses I haven’t learned yet, but I love the challenge of these. If you need even more inspiration, here are two of my favorite insta yogis: Superhuman Yogi and Fit Queen Irene. I  mean, can you even imagine doing what they do? It’s crazy I tell you! But I also really love them because they remind their followers constantly that yoga is a journey and they started out not even being able to stretch all the way to the ground. So there ya go, midweek inspiration and life updates.

Christmas Memories

christmascollageChristmas traditions from 2009-2013: family portraits, starting a musical band, participating in Stop Hunger Now, going through Christmas ornament where my sister and brother look oh so adorable, sibling time.

Christmas memories are some of my favorites. As a child, we had so many traditions  that we loved (our mom buying us those footie PJs that we would wear as we drove around to see Christmas lights, driving to Tennessee every year to visit extended family). I don’t think we ever thought they would change, but as life happened, the traditions changed. Holding on to tradition is important, but what has remained constant through the traditions are family. It no longer matters where we gather for Christmas, who is able to gather, or what we do. The most important thing is to just be together. My family loves nothing more than to sit around and drink cup after cup of coffee, talking, laughing until we are crying. We play silly games (Apples to Apples!) and go on walks. We dress up the dogs in costumes and my sisters post them to Facebook. We watch home videos for hours on end. In short, our tradition is being together and I couldn’t ask for a better one. The blog will be silent between now and the first full week of the New Year. I’m sure there will be posts on Twitter and Instagram (since that is my photo diary of sorts) and I hope you will take time to carry on traditions, make new memories and just be with your friends and family.

Thanks for reading in 2014, here’s to a great 2015!

Sydney