lust list {etsy finds}


I literally cannot get enough of Etsy.  It's nice to support small businesses and equally fun to peruse the website ...you never know what you're going to come across next.  Sort of reminds me of a flea market, but a very classy, well organized, online version.  Anyway, here are some of my latest picks.

1//  the prettiest wrapping paper you ever did see
2//  pencils your inner carrie-bradshaw-goes-to-paris needs
3//  these stone drop earrings are the perfect price and color for any season
5//  this hand-painted 18kt gold leaf dish would look beautiful, well, anywhere!
6//  an abstract painting that no, you could not just do yourself


real talk: blog balance

Keeping up with a blog is much like any other goal you'd like to see succeed ...it's a lot of work.  This blog is not where I'd love for it to be in terms of content, but frankly, working in a hospital development office from 9 to 5 (and sometimes much later) isn't the most conducive environment for gaining blog inspiration.  Not to mention, getting home at 5:30, fixing dinner, catching up with Brandon about our day, then having some "me" time, doesn't leave many moments to sit in front of the computer to create original content.  I'm sure many of you can relate.  I can't imagine if I had to throw a baby into this mix (kudos, mommas!).  Or if I wasn't able to hit the gym on my lunch break  ...that extra hour of free time after work is so precious.

In an ideal world, I would run a small business out of my home and really devote myself to blogging.  I'd have time in the day to indulge in inspiring articles and pictorials.  My blog would include outfit photos set in very picturesque locations.  I'd film makeup tutorials and divulge myself a bit more.  I'd really reach out to the blogging community through networking and attending blogging conferences.  I would create my own personal brand and truly thrive in it.

The reality is that there are far more things on my plate than Style Me Swanky.  However, this blog is still a high priority of mine.  I do spend a large portion of my free time keeping you updated, but it doesn't ever seem to be enough for my own satisfaction.  I'm constantly wanting to share more ...to share uniquely ...to share better.  

I struggle with the balance of hobby vs. business in relation to this blog.  Is this a second job or is it just a hobby?  To be honest, I don't really know how to define that.  There's a constant pressure to post every day, but sometimes, when the content is just not there, I don't force it and skip that day.  I  actually probably don't do this as often as I should.  I am learning to manage my expectations and am trying to plant the idea that "quality is greater than quantity" firmly into my brain.

I'm a big list maker, so I've jotted down a few things to help me have a clearer vision of where I want this blog to be.  If you're a blogger, you might find this helpful in developing your own blog and contriving your own goals!

// Be very clear on the content I want to feature.  SMS is a lifestyle blog with posts about fashion, beauty, and home interiors.  There may be a few posts sprinkled in there about other topics, but my content should stay directly within those parameters. 

// Become good friends with bookmarking.  I'm really going to work on taking note of inspiring articles I happen across, beautiful photos to use on the blog, etc.  There are so many times when I see something beautiful and completely bypass it on the blog because I didn't bookmark it anywhere. Maybe I'll keep a running journal of blog ideas because often, writing things down breeds creativity and helps me think of more ideas.

// Be original.  I rely on Pinterest far too much for inspiring photos.  I really want to dig deeper and come up with unique content that isn't already floating everywhere on social media.  On the same regard, I feel like I personally have a lot of great tips and tricks/opinions about beauty and fashion related subjects ...I need to start sharing them.

// Schedule posts further in advance.  Why do I not do this already?  I'm constantly working on Tuesday's post on Monday, Wednesday's post on Tuesday, and so on.  I'm going to work on posts further in advance to reduce the time crunch the day before.  This will also give me an opportunity to evaluate posts before they go up and decide if there is a way to make it better.

// Become more design savvy.  I purchased the Adobe Creative Cloud a few months ago and barely know how to use it.  If I can just learn some basics, that would be a huge help for the formatting of my posts.  There are a ton of free Adobe tutorials out there in blog land... I need to actually pay attention to them.

// Be consistent.  I've decided to create a few columns that will be on repeat.  Look out for a few series like "lust list," where I talk about my weekly obsessions, "wear it," where I post outfit suggestions, "weekly roundup," where I list worthy links, "product spotlight," where I review a specific product, and more posts like this one... "real talk," where I just write from the heart.  All of my posts should fall under the very specific categories that I have listed on the right sidebar.  This should make your reading experience easier as my subjects will be clearly defined.

// Become more present on social media.  Enough said.

So, there are a few goals I've set for myself.  Ultimately, I want to bring you a better blog reading experience and no, it will not happen over night.  I think it's important, as with anything you set your mind to, to revisit your goals and really evaluate your successes and failures.  This blog is a work in progress and, although it sounds corny, you all are what makes it worth it.  So thanks for reading!  (especially this post... phew, it's a long one!)

What actions are you working on to become a better blogger?

(photos via Glitter Guide/Catherine Sheppard)



 I'd say it was a good weekend for the books.  Brandon and I went to Beaufort on Friday night and, after a quick luggage drop off, headed straight to the Waterfront Park for the River Dance.  
 Kitty boy had to come with us because he is on antibiotics twice a day for a UTI (poor fella!).  Luckily, Winston is a great traveler and it's just more fun having him with us.  I hate to leave him home alone overnight! 
 The Dirty Guv'nahs played on Friday night.  I enjoyed the tunes with pinot in hand.
Saturday morning, Brandon and I sat downtown and watched the Water Festival parade.  It's a little parade, but, aside from the boy scouts shooting us with water guns as they passed by, I'd say it was enjoyable.  
After the parade, we hopped on the boat and headed to the sandbar.  This silly photo is actually from two Saturdays ago at the sandbar, but I never shared it and I thought our "serious faces" were funny.  The weather was very gloomy that day, but it was really pretty on Saturday.  I don't have any photos from the boat this past weekend... I rarely pull my phone out while on the water because, with my luck, I'd drop it in the river.  This kind of sums up both Saturdays of Water Fest anyway ...in a very small nutshell.
Saturday night, burned noses and all, we went to the Commodore's ball.  That's my favorite night of festivities because there's always a beach music band and it's fun for all ages.  We dance the majority of the time and are always EXHAUSTED by the end.  It's a great way to end the Water Festival.
This photo was taken by one of the event photographers.  Lots of fun!  The two on my direct right are Brandon's parents, whom you might recognize from our wedding photos!

Hope y'all had equally exciting weekends.  I'm taking the day off to spend with my mom, who is celebrating her birthday today!  We have no set plans, but it will be so nice to spend some time with her.  
Happy Birthday, Mommy Dear! 


weekly roundup

//  Enjoyed reading new mom advice for Kate Middleton (as if she needs it).  I completely agree with Liv Tyler... “When you put a bit more effort into some things—your health, your body, your skin, your hair—the results are wonderful.” 

//  Recently introduced to Aquiesse Candles ...and this scent is my favorite.

//  Well if this is not the best market tote on Earth, I don't know what is.

//  I'm an Adobe Photoshop newbie, so Lark & Linen's post was extremely helpful in learning new ways to edit photos.

//  Dying over this necklace.

//   These scalloped sheets are amazing. Perfect for a little girl's bedroom. Guess Brandon wouldn't go with this look for our bed, huh? Darn.

//  Some of my favorite makeup brushes are 20% off from now until July 29th.  Use code: SBAP20.

This weekend, we are heading to Beaufort for the second weekend of The Water Festival.  We take the boat out to the sandbar during the day and stay out until early evening.  Then, we clean up, grab a quick bite, and head downtown for the evening's festivities.  There is usually a concert/lots of dancing taking place in the Waterfront Park (the park where we got engaged!).  We go to The Water Festival every year and play catch up the following week... all that sunshine, boat time, socializing, and little sleep really gets to you! 


She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not {guest post}

You can find me over at Michaela Noelle Designs today, where I'm guest posting about things I love and don't love.  Click here to check out the post!


talk about a summer treat...


Thanks to everyone who entered the Lulu & Georgia giveaway!  The winner has been chosen...

Congratulations, Elyse Nichol!
Elyse has already been contacted and is on her way to spending her $100 on Lulu & Georgia.

(p.s. Another fun giveaway is coming SOON!)


sales worth shopping

Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale.  There are some crazy good deals going on.  Plus, free shipping and free returns.  Ends 7/25.
Here are my picks:

Piperlime is also having a great sale!  Everything on their site is 20% off with the code "EVERYONE" ...and as always, free shipping/free returns, too.  Ends 7/23.
Here are my picks:

Happy Shopping!


well soled

It's that time of year when I'm realizing all of the summer shoes that I still need, while lusting
over all of the fall shoes that are making their debuts.  Gosh, being a woman is tough.
Anyway, here are some of my favorites.


real talk: imperfections

I'm a real sucker for those corny magazine titles like, "Celebs without makeup!" and "Stars, they're just like us!"  Got to admit, it really is nice to see glamorous celebrities looking like normal people ...and the times when they look downright terrible, well that's always a nice perk.

via - Sorry, Mila! 

On our honeymoon at Jade Mountain, we went into the gift shop and I discovered a book that featured a Sauvage Swimwear photo shoot that took place at the resort.  Among the models were Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr and a few others who now grace the pages of Victoria's Secret catalogues.  

...and a close up.

Had you ever seen Candice's un-photoshopped bum before right now?  I took this photo strictly to show you that even someone like Candice, who naturally is so close to perfect it's scary, has imperfections.  Victoria's Secret and their retouching skills would never let us know that, though.

This article on the powers of Photoshop is genius.  I stole some of the images/explanations she features, which you can see below.

 Brittany Murphy. Skin smoothed over, color corrected, and eyes brightened.
Jessica Alba. Waist made smaller, thighs/hips/knees trimmed, background modified, and wrinkles on clothes erased.
Rachel Weisz. Um...her legs look completely different. And her neck somehow got longer. Hmm.

So there, go on and be imperfect.  We all are... even those we "idolize" in the media.  It's nice to have that reminder every once in a while, right?


Lulu and Georgia Giveaway!

I'm smitten with my new Sweet Lilac Jute Rug from Lulu & Georgia.  Their store has so many amazing prints and textures... it almost makes me sad that I decided upon such a neutral rug!  But, this rug brings a really calm, Coastal, yet classic look to our living room, which is just what it needed.

I am so excited to share with you that the sweet ladies at Lulu & Georgia are giving one of you
$100 to spend on their website!  

This giveaway will close one week from today!  There are MANY ways to enter...


weekend in edisto

Surprise surprise... we had BEAUTIFUL weather at Edisto this past weekend.  Thanks to those of you who recommended Cards Against Humanity ...Apples to Apples never made it out of the box all weekend!
We had such a fun time in full on relax mode.  Makes Monday that much tougher. 

...and yes, the fried shrimp in the bottom photo were just as delicious as they appear.

Hope you all have a great week.  
Make sure to check back tomorrow because I have an exciting giveaway coming your way!



Happy Friday!  Brandon and I are going to Edisto this weekend to stay with two of our best friends at their beach house.  The weather is supposed to be gross, but rain at the beach > rain at our home.  Regardless, it will be so nice to unplug, be around friends, and (most likely) play Apples to Apples all weekend.  

By the way, I've recently decided to join the Tumblr world!  

Happy weekend!


easy updo, explained!

After my honeymoon, a ton of you asked me how I did this updo.
...and I promised I would explain how.

Well, I made a little video on how to do it, but then decided I didn't like the video.  So there's that.  
But thanks to The Everygirl, they explained it for me.  Check out this post on how to do the style you see above... plus many other adorable hairstyles that I'm going to be practicing myself (as best as I can with short hair, anyway). 

styling the bar

Brandon was passed down a bar that was his grandfather's.  I'm in love with it.  It brings a hint of masculinity and charm to our little space.  I styled it with the classics - my favorite bottle of champs, gin & pelligrino, mint julep cups, lemons & some bar tools, a monogrammed guest towel and of course, a book on southern cocktails.  I also love that it has a big drawer and cabinets to store other bar items that aren't so pretty. 

We also have some glassware and mixing tools on a tray that sits atop our buffet server.

Here are some other bars that I've marked for inspiration.  Most are bar carts, but you can turn any dresser or console into a bar as well.  Joss & Main often has amazing bars for sample sale prices.
first three images are my own - other eight images via


when life gives you lemons...

A little over four years ago, I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee and six hours later, the fuel pump went out on it.  So I just sat there, in an empty parking lot at 10:00 at night, staring at my drained savings account, as I waited for a tow truck. 

Over the next four+ years, I became convinced that it was a lemon.  I replaced the fuel pump four times in four years.  Thank goodness for warranties on those suckers, because they ain't cheap!  The car would shut off on me while driving down the interstate or sometimes, in the middle of intersections... it's not picky!  There were constant other problems, too, but nothing quite as serious.  

...but FINALLY! I got a new car! 

Just had to share because I'm a little giddy.
Oh, this is an Acura ILX and if anyone has any bad experiences with them... please don't share! ;)


skincare routine

My skincare routine is always evolving.  My skin type is combination ...oily throughout my t-zone and dry along my jawline, but it changes slightly depending on the time of year.  I received a series of facials during the months leading up to our wedding and my esthetician shared many tips that I've incorporated into my current routine.  It has been a while since I've updated you on the products I'm using and loving, so I figured I'd share!  

To remove makeup, I've been using the same two products for the longest time.  Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser lasts forever because you only need the tiniest bit to slough off all of the makeup on your skin.  It's extremely gentle and soothing.  If there happens to be any mascara or eyeliner left on my face after that, I am religious to my Bioderma Crealine H20.  It's better than any liquid makeup remover I've ever tried.  After work sometimes, the first thing I will do after walking in my door is go straight to my bathroom and put Bioderma on a cotton pad.  I'll just wipe off all of my makeup with that... it leaves my face feeling so fresh until I wash my face before bed hours later.

After removing my makeup, I alternate between three Skinceuticals cleansers.  If my skin is needing a good exfoliation, which I like to do at least once a week, I'll reach for the Micro-Exfoliating Scrub.  It's pretty coarse, but not overly abrasive, which could damage the skin.  In the mornings and evenings, I alternate between the Clarifying Cleanser, which has very light exfoliating particles, and the LHA Cleansing Gel.  Every few days, I'll use the LHA cleanser with my Clarisonic.

One of my sorority sisters from college got me into the Rodan + Fields Redefine regimen, which I'll explain more below.

After cleansing, I always tone my skin.  In the mornings I use Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3, which helps to clear out pores and reduce excess oil.  At night, I use Rodan + Fields Pore Minimizing Toner, which is also pore-refining, but very gentle and soothing.

For my morning moisturizer, I have been alternating between Rodan + Fields Triple Defense Treatment SPF 30 and Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Day Cream SPF 20, which contains retinol and hyaluronic acid.  

At night, I will use prescription Retin-A every few days.  After that, I use Rodan + Fields Overnight Restorative Cream, which combats the dryness I get from the retinol.  It's like a giant splash of water for your face and helps to prevent moisture loss with hyaluronic acid and plenty of antioxidants. 

I rarely stray from my favorite eye cream, Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, which I use morning and night.  It has a pearl-like appearance that really helps to brighten the under eye area.

As for masks, the Rodan + Fields Daily Cleansing Mask is a very gentle way of drawing out impurities in two minutes without stripping the skin.  This can be used as a daily cleanser, but I like to use this mask just when my skin is feeling clogged and aggravated. 

The REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is absolutely life changing.  As for the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque... why NOT own it?  It's under $4 and works like a charm at clearing out pores and making your skin feel ultra-smooth. 

Three sprays that I always keep on hand...
MAC Fix+ for making my skin look hydrated after applying powders.  I also spray this on my face immediately before applying foundation... it helps the product blend better and look more natural.  

Murad Hydrating Toner is great for neutralizing your skin after using a face mask.  It's also a go to for an afternoon pick-me-up.

  Jurlique Lavender Hydrating Mist is used for the same reason, but it's my absolute favorite because my esthetician uses it and it reminds me of the spa ...a nice indulgence!


what to pack {summer vacation}

With the Fourth of July coming up on Thursday, I'm sure many of you will soon be leaving for long weekends away - hopefully spent near the water and with lots of family nearby.  Here are some essentials that you must not forget!

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