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Confession: I love to shop. I don't look at shopping as my therapy. It's more of a passion or hobby (if you want to call it that). I fall in love with different designers. Figure out different ways to wear fabulous pieces. I'm quite careful when I shop - trying to stay away from impulse buys or items that I know will only be around for one season. I try to fill my closet with fabulous staple pieces, and of course, killer style.

When COVID19 hit the US a few weeks ago, my family decided that we were going to stay home and stay safe. The world seemed to be changing at an alarming rate all around us - and one major change that is affecting a good portion of us is our economy. My shopping quickly came to a standstill, and I haven't really purchased anything for myself since the beginning of March (other than a couple pieces of loungewear from Target and a new baseball cap). Surprising as it may sound, I'm not angry or bitter about my my shopping halt. Sure it was hard watching all those awesome sales pass me by... and can I just say, Nordstrom 10 Points Days are like MY FAVORITE!!! But seriously, I have a world of fabulous pieces sitting right inside my closet. And guess what - I know you do too :)

In today's blog, I want to share 5 ways I like to rock my Black Faux Leather Spanx leggings. I know just about every single person reading this has a pair of black leggings. They may not be Spanx, but for these looks, any plain black legging will do.

A quick note about my Spanx (linked here): First of all, I own 7 pairs of the Faux Leather leggings... some of which are YEARS old. You may be saying to your self - wait, why do I only see 4 pairs of leggings in the photo? Well... that is because I own two pairs of most of these colors. They are that good. AND, if taken care of, these babies will last a very VERY long time.

How I care for my Spanx:

1. Turn them inside out

2. Wash on cold with Dreft detergent (linked here)

3. Hang to dry

4. Wear and Repeat

Number 1: T-shirt and Cardi

First, take any t-shirt - mine happens to be a fun graphic Tee. Throw on a cute cardigan and a pair of trendy white sneakers, and you have a trendy cool casual outfit perfect for running errands, road trips, or just looking cute around the house. I wear this look more times then I want to admit. I think it's because it goes well with every season. Try this look with a plain Tee, flannel shirt, zip up hoodie, or throw on a pair of sandals. Just check out your closet and you'll be surprised as to how many variations you can come up with for this outfit.

Number 2: White Button-down and Sweater

This next look is so perfect for the office, church, or whenever you want to look polished while still feeling comfy. First, I threw on a white button-down dress shirt. Mine is a longer cut, so it skims the bottom of my booty. I put on a short sleeve sweater over that and threw on a cute pair of loafers. I also added a fun pearl statement necklace to dress up my look and make it a little more feminine. Classy, cute, and totally on trend. Again, play around with different button-down shirts. Maybe you have a fun color or pattern... and then layer it up!

Number 3: A Sassy LBD

I actually wore an outfit very similar to this 10 years ago to a New Year's Eve party. 10 YEARS AGO!!! Talk about classic timeless pieces you need in your closet. For this look, I took a cute sassy LBD, threw on a pair of killer heels, and added a fun belt bag. Again - this is to just get you started. Try a fun statement belt with your dress. Add a pop of color with your shoes or handbag. This look is trendy and sassy - perfect for date night, house parties (if you have to remove your shoes at the door, you won't feel so bare), and even happy hour. I live in Minnesota, so anytime I can throw a cute pair of leggings on under a dress, I'm all for it. I don't like being cold :)

Number 4: Cute Sweater and Boots

For your next look, grab a cute flirty sweater... mine hits right at my waist. I threw on a pair of casual hiking boots - I chose black because they blend with my leggings, giving the illusion my legs are longer then they actually are. Ha! Lastly, I added a cute cross body bag which ties my whole outfit together. Wear this out with the girls, shopping, or book club. Again - trendy, polished, and comfy. You gotta love a good pair of leggings!

Number 5: Tank and Denim

My final look is perfect for running errands, bringing the kids to the park, or grabbing coffee with the girls. I threw on a cute tank - mine happens to be Lululemon. To make this a little less 'workouty' (is that even a word??), I layered my tank with a lace bralette. Don't worry about grabbing a workout top for this look - this outfit is your athleisure look. It's meant to be comfortable and practical. Throw on a pair of cute trendy tennies and a denim jacket and you're out the door. Easy... breezy... done.

Hopefully one or more of these looks inspired you to go shop your own closet. Ways to style black leggings are limitless... I only scratched the surface. AND, if you don't own a pair of Spanx leggings, I recommend putting them on your 'gotta have it' list. They will quickly become a staple piece in your wardrobe!

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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Life right now feels unpredictable, unsettling, and downright scary. COVID19 seems to be everywhere. You can't turn on the TV without seeing media updates, talkshows being hosted in personal living rooms, or benefit shows with our favorite celebrities sending love directly from their homes. Sometimes it feels hard to turn off the chatter and focus on what really matters - taking care of your family, turning to God for much needed support, and just practicing self care.

In today's blog, I want to share 5 things me and my family are doing during this COVID19 lockdown. My family has been home for about 3 weeks, and we have AT LEAST another 4 weeks to go. I'm sure my '5 things' will shift into other items as we move forward, but for now, I hope you find a little inspiration for you and your family.

Number 1: Build a Fort

When COVID19 became a reality in Minnesota and school was cancelled, my 13-year-old and 10-year-old built the 'world's biggest fort' in our basement and vowed to sleep in it every night until this Corona Virus is over. My kids have always built forts, and I encourage it. I feel it brings out creativity and keeps kids young. Usually our forts last around 3 or 4 days, and my kids move on with other interests. Not this time. Spencer and Brady call their fort the Corona Quarantine Fort. Every night around 10:00 (our schedule is so off these days!) they retreat to their fort with snacks and their Nintendo Switches and sleep the night snuggled up in their castle made of sheets. The friendship these brothers share melts my heart and makes me so grateful for this prolonged family time we get to experience.

If you don't have the room or the tote tables to make the 'world's biggest fort' (LOL), here's another super fun option my boys have been doing for years. It's a duvet cover fort!

YOU WILL NEED: 1 twin or full size duvet cover, 1 (pretty powerful) fan, and a handful of clothespins.

1. Lay out your duvet cover and button/zip it up 2/3 of the way.

2. Position your fan in the opening, making sure your cord reaches an outlet

3. Fasten the opening tightly around your fan head. You'll be entering the fort alongside the fan, so attach the duvet cover so that it stays put. Use clothes pins, duct tape, ... whatever you like.

4. Turn on the fan and your fort is ready for occupants!

Number 2: Frozen Veggies???

Yes. You read that right. Frozen Veggies! We are not a frozen vegetable family at all. Nothing against them... I just never buy them. I have always gone to the grocery store multiple times during the week, buying fresh fruits and veggies for dinners and snacks. When this whole COVID19 scare happened, I found myself buying frozen vegetables to feed my family because I wanted to avoid going to the grocery store as much as I could. My two go-tos have been broccoli and brussel sprouts. To prepare them, I throw the frozen veggies in a stoneware 9x13 casserole. My favorite bakeware is Le Creuset (linked here). I love the way it conducts heat. It bakes evenly and my food always comes out delicious. Next, I toss my veggies with a little extra virgin olive oil, and pop them in my oven at 375 degrees. I let these babies roast for a good 45 minutes or more, stirring every so often. When they are browned and just a little crispy, they are finished - and so good! Almost as good as fresh :) SO... I'll be keeping a backup supply of frozen vegetables in my freezer from now on.

Number 3: Fast Track

This game was introduced to me a couple months ago, and our family immediately fell in love with it. It's super easy to play and seems to hold the attention of everyone playing. The cool thing about Fast Track is that you can alter the board depending on the number of people playing. The game plays very similar to the game Trouble, except there are added rules of play like excelling ahead on the fast track and moving backwards. My favorite thing about this game - it's hand made! Love that!! I found mine at Woogies Dezignz (linked here)... so go and support those small shops!

Number 4: Getting Creative

A friend of mine decided to start a #COVID19CRAFTS Challenge while we are safe (not stuck) at home. IG @sydwolf put together 6 weeks of themed crafts as a fun way to stay busy and stay connected. So far we've only completed week 1, and I had so much fun doing it. It kept my mind off the media and COVID19, focusing my efforts on being creative and giving myself a little self care. Doing art is such a great way to meditate, focus on the positive, and just give yourself a much needed mental break from the world around you.

Number 5: Try a New Hobby

Staying at home 24-7 has given me more time... and I wanted to do SOMETHING with my extra time. For now anyway, that 'something' is TIKTOK. I've always make video montages of our family trips and events and posted them on Facebook to share with family and friends. When my kids taught me about TIKTOK, I was so intrigued. OK. I'm not super skilled at it. I'm not one to bust out dance moves or lip sync into a camera... but I've had a blast trying to make creative video clips to share - and BONUS! My kids don't think I'm half bad! Ha!! So, if you have a TIKTOK account, look me up. You'll find my TIKTOK @small_town_me. Hopefully you'll be a little entertained :)

I realize these things are not super heavy. They may not seem life-moving. But they move me. These days, it's the little things that keep me happy, motivated, and moving forward. So, whether its a walk with your significant other (another one of my favorite things to do during this time) or building a fort wth your kids, just stay busy. Stay positive. And stay home.

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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Leopard print is so on trend right now. And, if you treat it like a neutral, it's so versatile and easy to wear. In today's post, I'd like to share five different ways to rock a leopard print blazer. These outfit ideas only scratch the surface of the countless ways you can style a statement blazer. I invite you to use this post as your inspiration to create a new look.

LOOK 1: black shorts with a graphic top

For my first look, I paired my leopard blazer with black shorts and a short sleeve graphic sweater. I kept my entire base black for a clean, polished look. The flower graphic and leopard print really pops - think about Dolce & Gabbana... they are known for leopard and flowers. Throw on a pair of dressy sandals and a black bag, and you're all set for a fun casual date night, drinks with the girls, or even book club.

LOOK 2: lace bralette and leather pants

This next look is perfect for date night. Throw on a pretty black lace bralette or cami with a pair of black leather pants and button up your blazer for a sexy sophisticated look. Killer heels and a black clutch finish off my ensemble. Keeping your entire base black, try changing this outfit up with a bright heel or fun clutch. How cute and unpredictable would fluorescent pumps be! Remember - your leopard blazer is like a neutral. Don't be afraid of the print. Lastly, I layered on some chains for a little added sparkle.

LOOK 3: dress and booties

Wear this look to the office, church, brunch, a shower, and more. Paired with a simple black dress, you will look classy and sophisticated. I decided to belt my dress for an added pop. Throw on a cute pair of black booties and black handbag, and you're ready to go. Just like my last look - if you keep your base black, try adding a pop of color to your booties or handbag. Likewise, throw on a colored dress - red, pink, blue... whatever, and pair with your black booties and handbag for a classy cool look that's totally on trend. Another idea - wear everything in one monochromatic color and toss on your leopard blazer. Fabulous.

LOOK 4: turtleneck and pants

For this look, I wore a black turtleneck with black ankle cut pants for my base. Remembering my leopard blazer is acting like a neutral, I added a pop of color with my shoes and handbag. Look at how busy my bag is... and it totally works. Don't be afraid of adding a fun artistic graphic to your outfit. I also threw on a fun chain belt to break up my black base. The white pearls coordinate with my handbag, tying my entire outfit together. Wear this to the office or a fun night out. Again, the look is classy, cool, and on trend. You can't go wrong.

LOOK 5: T-shirt and cutoffs

For my final look, I threw on a white graphic tee, cutoffs, and a pair of white sneakers. I added a black belt for a more polished look. Grab a cute backpack, and you have a casual cool outfit perfect for daytime errands, eating out with the kids, or whatever life throws at you.

During this #stayhome quarantine we're all living in, take some time and explore your closet for new ways to style those statement pieces you already own. Whether it's a plaid blazer or floral jacket, these styling ideas can help you find that perfect outfit. I bet you'll be surprised as to what you come up with. Happy styling!!!

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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