Love where you Live

When Charles and I got married, we were living in a house that he purchased when he was 21 years old. It was a cozy, wonderful little house where we had fantastic memories, but everything other than a few decorations that I had brought from my old apartment belonged to Charles. We knew we wouldn’t live in that little house off Grand for more than a few more years, so one random day, just for fun, we started looking at some houses for sale in Fort Smith {just to get an idea of what we might want} – and we found the perfect house. Charles said it had “potential” which typically scares me {he loves a good project; he is his father’s son}. Was it everything we wanted in a house? No. Was it a great location and an even better price? Yes!

We decided to just go “look” at the house to see if we would like it. Even though it was years before we had planned to buy our first home together, we ended up deciding “we’ll just throw a really low offer out there that we doubt they’ll accept and see what happens.” We never in our wildest dreams thought that they would actually accept it. So there we were, buying a house, not having a set budget, just on a whim, years before we planned.

Looking back, that was a really rash decision, and probably not the most mature thing to do. But in the end, it all worked out. The only thing was, we didn’t have any leftover money to purchase new furniture or decor for the new house, it was all of the items leftover from the old house, so we ended up having a lot of “empty space” in the new house. We slowly started trying to fill up some of the empty space by buying some cheaper items that we could afford at the time to fill some of the void, but it was never anything we actually liked. There was no consistency, no theme, and it drove me insane!

We have lived in our first co-purchased home together now for almost 4 years. We have put in all new appliances, knocked out walls to open up our space, added a dining room, replaced fans and light fixtures, added a shop in the back, planted flower beds, etc. but we have just now started to give the house a much needed interior design makeover, primarily focusing on the living room area to start. Let me tell you a bit about what we have done:

Ø  Charles redid the hideous orange tiles around the fire place with rock, and added a granite hearth and a mantle {this was done a few years ago, but still, it was an update}

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Ø  We removed the two larger “conversation chairs” from the corner of the room by the window and moved them into guest bedrooms. They took up a lot of space, and we didn’t even realize it until we moved them!

Ø  We added the blanket ladder {can you insert squeals of joy into a blog post?}

Ø  We replaced the LARGE area rug {pause, we bought this area rug from a coworker right before we moved for $50 and it was a HUGE rug. Fit perfectly in the room, but it was never the color scheme or anything we wanted}. We replaced this rug with a real cowhide rug {insert praise hands here} from ecowhides.com and for an amazing price. It is a Brazilian cowhide and we looked and MANY rugs before deciding on this one.

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Ø  We replaced our $300 sectional that we bought right before moving. I got to choose the couch I wanted from Hank’s {the most beautiful saddleback leather couch with power recliners on the ends and a USB port…swoon} and Charles got to choose the chairs he wanted. He ended up choosing two red recliners from La-z-Boy. Growing up, Charles parents {as well as his Aunt Donna and Uncle Richard} had a set of recliners. One was his dad’s, one was his mom’s, and they always sat in “their” recliners. Charles decided he wanted “his” recliner. He sits in it every day {I spend most of my time on the couch, because it’s wonderful in every way..} And can we TALK about those STUDS? The studded detail on the edge of the couch just sealed the deal for me, and it’s what I’ve been getting most of the compliments on!

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Ø  We had Charles’ brother make us our dream farmhouse coffee table. Y’all, I have wanted this coffee table for longer than I can remember. When I envision what a coffee table should look like, this is EXACTLY what I picture in my head, to a t. I fought tooth and nail to get this coffee table built for me, I was very patient during the process impatient while waiting for my dream coffee table to be sitting in my living room. The thing was, without the coffee table, the giant cowhide rug looked incredibly out of place in our living room. It looked like we were trying to mix western with vintage industrial, and it was. not. working. I knew that once the rustic coffee table with a few industrial looking metal baskets was complete, that it would tie the room together, I just needed to see it. The coffee table is {almost} completely finished, and BOY OH BOY, it’s better than I could have envisioned. Even Charles, who was a bit of a skeptic about what I had in mind at first, cannot get over how amazing it looks. Now, all I need to complete the room is for a smaller scale and slightly taller version on this coffee table to be made for a “tv stand” to hide some cords around the TV. I added in a few baskets from Target to make the farmhouse table look a bit more “industrial modern” and I’m quite thrilled with how it tied it all together.

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We aren’t completely finished with our living room, but it’s coming along swimmingly, and I’m extremely happy with the progress we’ve made thus far. I’m anxious to get my hands on a few other rooms in the house at some point in the future, and I can’t wait to decorate our new living room for the holidays!

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Ignore those pesky cords, I just need to get the console table built and then we will be FINISHED with this room

Now if anyone has any tips on how to get your husband to keep his dirty socks off the living room floor, please comment below. I may just have to let this one slide and learn that the second I wake up, I should walk over to his recliner and pick the socks and shoes off the floor and put them where they belong..I don’t think this is a battle women will EVER win.

I can’t wait for the holidays, so I can show you how we will decorate our new space for the season!

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You’re doing the best that you can

Let’s get one thing straight – rainy mornings are not meant for being at work by 6am. Rainy mornings are for cuddling in a blanket with a cup of coffee and your pup. Sadly that option was not made available to me this morning, and Cholla followed me around all morning. I know she was just thinking “come back to bed, come snuggle with me, be my thunder buddy.” If wishing made it so..

So first, I’m going to have to toot my own horn for a second. I still can’t believe I found the time to get the blanket ladder post up! I’m impressed with myself. Even though I had all of the photos taken, I still had to edit them, write the content, and post the content to the blog. And that takes time! Time that I was in short supply of, no less.

Last week was one of “those” weeks. The weeks that the to do lists are as long as your arm. The weeks that you feel like no matter how much you accomplish, you still have barely made a dent in all you have scheduled yourself to do. You’re exhausted, you’re a tad cranky, and you’re constantly thinking to yourself “should I just scrap the whole list and go home for a nap?” Don’t lie. You’ve all been there. It’s the “I have so much to accomplish that I’m not going to accomplish anything” mindset. Let’s just say that thought was a constant one on my mind last week.

I like to think that whenever I’m having a week {or a day, etc} that I have a myriad of commitments and things to do, I can actually get more done than if I had a free week with nothing to do. I budget my time more wisely and feel in more of a “go getter” mindset. So last week, I got things DONE. I marked off almost everything on my honey do list…with just enough time to spare. I was still rushing around the house on Friday afternoon frantically trying to get things done before company arrived for a wedding that Charles and I were involved in, and I finished everything with about ten minutes to spare. It was a success of epic proportion.

Even though the outcome of the week was that I accomplished most of what I set myself out to do, I still had a rough week. Have you ever had one of those days where you have scheduled yourself so thin, and planned your day so tightly compacted? Those days that if everything goes as planned {HA, like when does THAT ever happen} you’ll be able to just barely get everything done? I planned myself a few of those last week. But here’s the thing – those are the days that your shoe will break, that your gas light will come on, that your alteration lady will not accept cards and the ATM machine is broken, or that you’ll run out of laundry detergent or trash bags, thus sending your whole carefully timed plan to spiral out the window. You’ll inevitably have to bump something off of your list.

My question to you all is simple: HOW do you faithful readers fit 30 days of work into a 24 hour day? I know it’s impossible. But how do you people do it? Until yesterday morning, I hadn’t realized just how very tired I’ve been lately. Waking up early is getting a lot harder than it used to be. I feel like for every thing I accomplish, I’m failing at something else. I want to be a better wife to my husband, I want to be able to have a perfectly clean house, I want to be completely present at work, I want to be at the hospital with mom more, but I can’t be in 5 places at once, and even when I try, I’m not being the best version of myself.

I saw a quote come across my Pinterest that said “Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best that you can.” This has really resonated with me. I think what matters the most and says the most about me is the fact that even though I’ve been knocked down more times than I can count this year, I’m not letting it knock me down, I’m still waking up, going to work, and trying to keep my “new normal” in as much of a routine as possible.

Thankfully I don’t have a whole heck of a lot going on this week, because I can’t wait for you to see my next post, featuring my new living room setup! I’m aiming to have that post up before I head to the lake on Friday afternoon, so stay tuned.

The moral of the story here is that you have to experience the weeks where you’re spread incredibly thin to be able to appreciate the weeks where your plate is less full {and I fully intend to appreciate this week. There may be multiple mid-afternoon naps, a lot of binge watching Netflix, and bubble baths galore!} Enjoy the fall weather this week.

I’ll leave you with a sneak peek of the wedding I was in this weekend.. {photo credit, N.M. Franklin Photography}

Spring Cleaning + a DIY!

I don’t really know how I feel about Sundays. I really like that I get to be at home..sipping coffee, working around the house, & watching Netflix, but then there’s that impending moment where you realize “I don’t get to sleep in tomorrow!” and “It’s going to be 5 more days before I get this bliss again.” I’m currently caught between the two emotions, but I’m more on the happy side. The sun is shining, it’s beautiful outside, my sweet sweet nephew is coming over this afternoon, and the handsome husband is coming home in a few hours from the lake. And a happy Sunday to you!

I stayed home this weekend while Charles went to the lake for a few different reasons. First, I had a hair appointment on Friday afternoon that I was NOT going to miss. Second, our house needed a good cleaning + we needed groceries, etc. The plan for me was get my hair done on Friday afternoon, meet some girlfriends for dinner, and then Saturday morning, wake up and start re-organizing the kitchen, scrubbing everything, cleaning windows, cleaning the clutter in the guest bedrooms, wash the sheets and all the laundry, etc. I had lofty goals and I was in the right mindset to accomplish them. It’s so much easier to get things accomplished when your husband is out of town. I know you feel the same way.

This plan was on track until I woke up at 3 am on Saturday with what I believe to be food poisoning. It. Was. Miserable. I didn’t sleep, I had a headache, I was sick to my stomach..you name it, i had it. PLUS it was dreary and cold outside which didn’t help matters. Luckily I managed to get out of bed for short periods at a time in the morning, and was able to get all of the laundry done / sheets washed. I even managed to go later in the morning and stop by the local farmers market for some nice flowers before picking up some soup for myself. And look at these vintage taper candle sticks that I found for .99 cents at a thrift store? I was SO pleased. Luckily, we live in a day and age with Walmart to go groceries, so I even ordered my groceries from bed and all I had to go was pick them up. DIdn’t even have to get out of my car, & I went in my pjs. Luxury!

I did manage to finish all of the dishes, most of the dusting, washed the insides of all of the windows, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. I even felt well enough last night to go sing at church and go to dinner with my parents. I woke up this morning feeling SO refreshed and ready to go {I know..why couldn’t i have just felt this well and motivated yesterday?}

I want to share a quick DIY with you for something that helps me when I’m cleaning, and I hope it will help you, too! It’s DIY Toilet Bombs! There are literally the easiest things you’ll ever make, and they work SO well. I use these when I’m cleaning the toilets and it greatly extends the amount of time I need to go before I have to scrub the toilet again. It’s a busy time of year, one where you’re having BBQ’s, cookouts, bonfires, friends over, etc, so what better DIY is there to help with the increased bathroom traffic? I actually use these as garbage disposal cleaners as well. They are all natural, reduce odor, and clean + prevent dirt. Here’s how to make your own!

Here’s the cast of characters:

  • 1 + 1/3 cup baking soda {reduces odors, keeps clean}
  • 1/2 cup citric acid  {all natural! This is found in the fruits that we eat and causes the “fizzy” sensation of the bath bombs. It can be a pain to find..I found it by the mason jars in Wal-mart, but it took me three stores to find some!}
  • Essential oils of your choice  {I used a mixture of grapefruit, lemongrass, and lavender!}
  • Spray bottle of water  
  • Some sort of ice tray / silicone mold   

First you start making the bombs by mixing together the baking soda and the citric acid in a bowl. Mix well!

Next, take your spray bottle of water and add in your essential oils. You don’t need to add three, I only did because I love the way these smell. You really only need one! Don’t be stingy with the drops! You need between 30-50 drops of oil total. Shake well in the spray bottle of water! {added bonus, you’ll end up with leftover water + essential oil mixture..I recommend using this as a pillow spray to help you relax at night! I use this mixture on my pillow and can instantly feel myself relax and fade away into a fast and peaceful sleep!}

Next, spritz the citric acid + baking soda mix with the water {I used a small bottle and spritzed about 10 times at once.} IMPORTANT: make sure you don’t spritz more than this at one time, or else the citric acid will all fizz up and won’t work with the toilet bomb. Mix up well, and then repeat the spritzing and mix again. You’ll end up doing this for about five minutes. You know you’re done when your mixture has the consistency of wet sand.

You should be able to take a handful of the mixture, squeeze it in your hand, and have it stick together like below. That’s how you’ll know you are ready to go.

Once it’s reached this consistency, you’ll begin placing the mixture in your ice cube trays or silicone baking molds. I searched HIGH AND LOW in Target for some cute silicone ice molds {pineapples, hearts, ANYTHING} but all I could find were these regular ice trays. But get creative!! This can be SO fun. Make sure to FIRMLY pat them down in the trays, and don’t fill the trays too full, because this mixture will rise. Let sit in the trays for about 6 hours or less if they are hardened, and then remove.

Toss a “cube” into your toilet and let the fizzing begin! I swear you will fall in love with this DIY, you’re cleaning routine will thank me!

We interrupt this blog to bring you PUPPIES

Don’t worry – we will be back shortly to resume our #LiveLocalFS segment, but you know when get something so new and exciting, you just can’t contain it {and have to share it with everyone?!} This is one of those times.

Let me introduce you Cholla, Milli, & Hobbs new best friend: {drumroll, please…}

Introducing KAI KRATES!

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the “box of the month” clubs, I mean they pretty much have them in every genre imaginable: wine of the month {mm…wifey likes}, cheese of the month club {yep, I can come to terms with this..}, razor of the month clubs..you name it, you can get random varieties of it each month. Well Kai Krates is an affordable dog toy & treat of the month club. Let me first start by saying that Charles & I have been anxious to try a dog box for months now {if you’re a dog owner, you know that dog toys and dog treats? They’re not cheap y’all!} but they have seemed so expensive that it wasn’t worth it. Luckily, I was introduced to Kai Krates, which is an affordable option. Not only do they completely crush the competitors in terms of price, but you can get your dog boxes in different sizes, dependent on your furry friends size – and the prices fluctuate depending {check out their website here to look at their 3 different pricing levels!}

Not only does Kai Krates provide affordable treats and toys for your best friends {yeah, I don’t have kids, my dogs are my life, leave me alone}, but they also provide treats that are tested and GOOD for your dogs – and you’ll always get 4-5 toys and treats each month.

Okay..now for the story time {the true testament to the box}

I received my box in the mail on Monday evening of last week, and I was in the middle of packing / showering / getting my life in order to be in Houston for almost a week, and I knew I wanted to blog the dogs with their Kai Krate, so I didn’t want to open the box at that time. I set it on the kitchen counter, slapped on a hair mask and a face mask, and got to packing. While packing, I kept hearing our big dog, Milli, whimpering and trying to knock something off of the counter. I rushed into the kitchen to find that she was wanting the contents of our Kai Krate box – she could smell the treats even inside the packaging! I felt so guilty, but I had to place the Kai Krate in a high location in order to hide it from the girls {and our sweet puppy visitor, my in laws dog Hobbs!}

Yesterday, I decided it was time to give them their Kai Krate and reward them for being good puppies while we were gone, so I got the Kai Krate down and placed it on the counter {again..bad idea}. I started fiddling with my camera, and the whimpering from the girls started again. When I finally busted open the contents of the Kai Krate, these dogs flipped, they were jumping, hiding the toys from each other, calling dibs, sneaking around, giving each other sad puppy “share with me” eyes, and just pretty overall excited. I had such a relaxing lonely afternoon since the pups were so interested in their toys, I hardly saw them.

Since my precious fur children loved their Kai Krate so much, I wanted to help you all get your very own subscription! As a special treat, Kai Krates & I have partnered to do just that!

Use the code “rightupouralley” on the Kai Krates site {once again, found here!} to get 10% off your Krates! 

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The after-vacation hangover

Happy Wednesday, my friends, and I hope you had as wonderful of a Fourth of July holiday as I did! Am I the only one who comes back from long weekends and is completely & utterly exhausted? I can’t even get back into a normal schedule until the next week. I’m serious! It goes a little something like this {feel free to chime in if any of this sounds familiar..}

Upon returning home, you start unpacking your bags and get the dirty clothes into the laundry {you know what they say about a sunday well spent..} You begin to make your grocery list..nahh, who needs groceries on a Sunday when you just got back into town? You’ll just swing by the grocery store tomorrow after work!You decide that it’s already after 12pm and laundry and cleaning are much easier when you’re in pajamas..and since you aren’t going to the grocery store anymore, pajamas and no bra are the perfect combination! The hair goes up into a bun. You unpack your makeup bag, throw your clothes into the washer, hang up the clothes you totally-intended-to-but-never actually wore,  and then you sit down o the couch. A couch has never felt SO GOOD…and you have shows to catch up on! You decide to watch at least one episode before changing over the laundry. Well two..crap, three…aaaand here comes the nap. You wake up groggily to your husband and your dogs snoring beside you, so you decide to stay put {I mean..you wouldn’t want to wake them, would you? That would be selfish.} Your husband finally wakes up and is STARVING. Crap, you didn’t go to the store. Take out it is! 7pm? Wow you’re beat, now it’s time to lay in bed, I mean after all you have to work in the morning and you’re not on your normal time schedule. You wake up the next morning, angry at the world and your alarm clock, and you slowly get ready. You go and try to find something to wear and — AH CRAP..you forgot to put that load of laundry in the dryer..now you have to rewash! You end up going to work looking like a slob, and it’s the longest work day ever. You really just need to go home and take a nap, you’re so worn out! I mean you worked hard. You take a small nap and – oh crap, you were supposed to grocery shop. Well it’s too late now, you’ll just do it tomorrow. TAKE OUT FOR THE WIN! You’ll get your act together tomorrow, you promise. Repeat for the rest. of. the. week.

Welcome to my week after fourth of july. I won’t lie to you, this is usually how my life goes after any weekend trip or any holiday. This week? No exception. I mean well, honest I do, but LIFE, you guys, LIFE. After this long week, i’m ready for a fun filled weekend. My nephew Liam is having his first birthday party, and I cannot wait to see all of the cute little kiddies running around!

This weekend also brings in an event that I am SO stinking excited for — ALES FOR TRAILS! Now you probably know that I’m from a semi-small town in Arkansas, and we don’t have a whole lot of things that go on in this town that our patrons get excited about – not necessarily for lack of events planned, but often times for lack of community involvement! I am hoping that the tides will turn soon, and who can stay home when such a FUN event is going on this weekend at our riverfront park? This park is right by the river, has a nice stage, walking trails, party rooms, pretty much everything you need. My friends Griffin and Casey are hosting this event, Ales for Trails, in order to raise money and awareness for more trails in our great city. Live music, a beer tasting tent, food trucks…who could resist? For more information on this event, check them out here!

In honor of the event, I thought I would take some fun pictures from the Riverfront Park here in Fort Smith. in the most easy breezy dress a girl could own!

Dress: Suite One         Shoes: Shoe Carnival         Shades: Suite One

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Sundays are for snuggles..

Is it just me, or does anyone else out there get “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson stuck in you head when you think of lazy, cozy sundays? I feel like the two go hand in hand.

No matter what kind of bottomless list of to-do’s my husband and I have to accomplish, somehow when Sundays roll around, staying at home and lounging around in comfy clothes cuddling on the couch with Cholla and Milli {who always, I repeat, always have to squeeze in between us like toddlers..}, and watching a movie {or a golf tournament…} seem to take precedence on our sundays.

This Sunday is no exception. Even with our never ending list of things we probably absolutely should be doing, we still felt that Pho Vietnam and movie watching on the couch will trump our chores today. I know that they say “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content,” and don’t get my wrong, I know there’s validity to that statement, but in our world, Saturday’s are for adventures and Sunday’s are for snuggles. 

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When I lounge, I love a few tried – and – true things: A messy bun, a cozy sweater, and some sort of ripped denim. This sweater is from a local boutique with the sweetest owners {that are also sisters!}. It’s called Indie {how perfect is that name for a boutique? As a special treat for all of you – they just announced today that they will be launching their online store very soon! Go enter your email address here and be the first to know when they go live!} I pair this sweater with a variety of pieces in my closet – jeans, maxi skirts and even over floral dresses for a unique twist. I still kick myself for not buying the grey version of this top when I had the chance. My ripped denim is my absolute favorite pair. You guessed it, they’re from Suite One and they are the brand JustBlack {like I could make it through the day without wearing at least something from Suite One…}

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I also have a love for rings. Rings are kind of my kryptonite – they’re my favorite accessory bar none. The two gold rings are from Suite One and I am wearing one as a regular ring and one as a midi ring. The midi ring by my wedding ring is also from Suite One. The final ring I’m wearing is from Old Navy {find it here!}.

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I love drinking coffee throughout the day on Sundays. I’m not really sure why, but I just love cuddling up under a nice blanket and sipping on a hot cup of coffee. I switch up my mugs often – I’m kind of a coffee mug addict. The mug I used in this picture is from Target {this one here!} and I’m loving the funky flair it has. I originally bought a few of these to use in place of copper mugs when I drink my moscow mules, but the cup is versatile and can be used for hot or cold beverages.

What are some of your favorite things to do on a Sunday? If you want to stay in bed all day, I hereby give you permission {you can thank my by hitting the follow button… }

Don’t forget to check out my instagram to stay in touch – link is in the sidebar!

And we’re off

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With many sleepless nights and countless cups of coffee behind me, I’m STOKED to finally bring to you all Right Up Our Alley – A fashion and lifestyle blog by ME {Michele Alley!} When you have a last name like Alley, you sort of, kind of, are required to use it anyway you can.

To kickoff this party, I want to tell you a bit about myself {don’t worry, this won’t be an every-blog-post-occurence {trust me, this is not that kind of blog}.

My name is Michele Alley. I live in a small town in Arkansas with my husband Charles and our two overly adorable dobermans, Cholla and Milli. My husband and I both has 8 to 5 jobs, but we are very much work-to-live and not live-to-work kind of people. We enjoy being together, living life slowly, and enjoying every minute. I’ve always had a love of writing things down – you’ll never rarely catch me using my cell phone for notes or grocery lists – I’m a pad and paper kind of girl, and blogging has always been something that’s excited me.

As far as my style goes, I wish I could tell you what you’ll expect to see from this blog. My style varies – you’ll catch me in things that are on the more edgy, funkier end {such as below}, or you might catch me in something very minimalistic, such as blue jeans and a cozy sweater. My fashion varies based on my mood – I usually dress the way I’m feeling…I guess that explains why I can never pick my outfits out in advance. I break a ton of “rules” of fashion {mainly because I don’t know all of the rules..and who doesn’t love to break a good rule}. I’m a religious offender of the hairband on your wrist faux pas {sorry mom, you taught me better!} My nails are bare a good deal of the time, although I’m trying to get better at this one. My closet is basically work-to-play fashion, if I can’t find some way to transition a piece from work to play, I have a serious mental tug-o-war situation going on before I make the purchase. I’m truly bringing you things that are “Right up Our Alley.”

It took me a long time to find my style and stop purchasing things just because everyone else was! Feeling confident never came easy for me, but the game is changing. I hope you stick around on this blog, I hope you share with your friends, and I hope you find the fashion that is right up your own alley.

With that out of the way, let me bringing you my first outfit! You’ll probably get sick of me talking about my FAVORITE place to shop {Suite One Boutique in Fort Smith, AR – check them out here!} This entire outfit was from Suite One Boutique – and you can find in store or on their website.

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ShoesQupid – lace up and peep toe, and for UNDER $50! Insane. Jeans – JustBlack – inexpensive and they feel like pajamas. And the fit? Nothing better than the fit. V-Neck tank – Lush – comfiest thing you’ll put on, guaranteed. I have them in four colors, and they also come in regular v-neck tees. Bralette – not sure on the brand, but from Suite One as well, for only $20! It’s criss-crossed, which adds such an edgy and interesting touch to anything you wear it with.

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Check the blog out on instagram – rightupouralley – and stay tuned for a fun giveaway! {Oh, and if you want to click the follow button to the side here, I wouldn’t hate it!}