Our Florida 30A Vacay

Feb. in Missouri during a snow storm is when I booked our Florida vacation. Typically when we go to the beach, we go the all inclusive route; however, this year with Covid and an aging dog, we decided we wanted to stay stateside and take our pups. When I asked friends on social media what beach to go to within a days driving distance, overwhelmingly the answer was to go to any of the beaches on 30A.

I used VRBO to book, and even months in advance, I couldn’t find a dog friendly place to stay with 6 nights available in that area. So, we ended up staying 3 nights in a condo in Seagrove with an ocean view and 3 nights in a house in Panama City Beach about 5 blocks from the ocean and 5 miles from 30A. The condo view was beautiful. It was newly renovated and included a pool and hot tub~which we enjoyed every day after coming back from the beach. While we loved the condo, the house in Panama City Beach was a nice change because we had a fenced back yard for the pups to enjoy. They were located about 20 minutes away from each other.

The Beach: We arrived at the beach after a tropical storm, so the first few days, the ocean was stirred up and rough–red flags were flying. By day three, the water started to settle, and I then understood why people had said it was so beautiful. The white sand and tropical blue combination is gorgeous. However, the beach on 30A was very crowded. Our typical beach routine is waking up and going to the beach early, and then enjoying the pool and hot tub in the afternoon. At this beach, you need to get there early if you want to get a good spot. There were way more people on the beach than I am used to (once again, we usually go to all inclusive vacation beaches). To be honest, we actually enjoyed the Panama City beach more than the one on 30A. It was less crowded and just had a more laid back and relaxing vibe.

My husband lived in Miami as a kid, and he had told me multiple times he prefers Florida’s Atlantic Coast to the gulf because the Atlantic is the ocean, and the gulf is “like a big lake.” However, because of the tropical storm a few days earlier, the ocean had some nice waves for us to have fun enjoying. By our final day there, it was much calmer, and I better understood his lake analogy. We spent 2 to 3 hours at the beach each day. Having beach chairs, a cooler, and beach blankets were a must. (The condo where we stayed supplied chairs and a cooler, and the house supplied a wagon to haul things to the beach.) Some people had elabortate tents and umbrellas. If we weren’t the sun lovers that we are or if we had wanted to stay longer at the beach, some shade would have been necessary. The Florida sun is hot!

The Eats: When I am on vacation, I don’t like having to make reservations for restaurants because I don’t want to have to be anywhere at a certain time. I want to be able to simply go with the flow and do things when we feel like it. Most restaurants required reservations (way in advance), so we ended up choosing where we ate by recommendations combined with where we could just show up. When we first arrived, we went to Publix and stocked up on some breakfast foods and snacks. We made coffee and brunch in the condo and house each morning, and then went out for dinner each night.

The first night we ate at Havana Beach Bar & Grill in The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach. The Rosemary Beach area has a very European vibe with multiple restaurants and shops, and is definitely worth checking out! At the restaurant, we had a short 20 minute wait at the bar before being seated. We had hushpuppies for an appetizer, and Jonathan ordered the burger (which was huge and delicious–according to him), and I had a salad and some of the best french onion soup ever.

Multiple people recommended Goatfeathers, so that is where we ended up going night two. There are a few different locations including a market in Seagrove beach; however, we decided to go to the actual restaurant in Santa Rosa. We got there early (5:00 p.m.) and were immediately seated. It was happy hour, so we both enjoyed a delicious Bloody Mary and Boiled shrimp appetizers on special. I had surf-n-turf (the grilled shrimp were delicious and the steak was very good) and J had Fish-n-chips. This is a very casual, laid back, family friendly restaurant.

We love sushi, so night three we ended up at Shaka Sushi & Noodle Bar. It is located right off 30A and has indoor and outdoor seating. It was hot and humid when we arrived, so we decided to enjoy our meal at the sushi bar. To say the sushi was good is an understatement. It was some of the best sushi we’ve had in a very long time. J ordered The Chef’s Choice & I had the Jaws Roll (very unique, rice-less roll) and Endless Summer. I’d highly recommend both of these rolls! Seriously, we liked this place so much, we decided to return the next night for dinner again. This time we sat in the outdoor area, and besides the amazing food once again, it almost felt like we were at a different restaurant.

While at Shaka, we asked our server what restaurants in the area she recommended as I always appreciate local recommendations, and she said Le Crema in Rosemary Beach and Chanticleer in Grayton. We had already eaten at the Rose Mary Beach area, and we just aren’t huge Tapas fans, so we ended up going to Chanticleer. It didn’t disappoint. All the food there is made fresh, and it was delicious. We both had Bloody Mary’s again this night. They were unique, almost creamy, and we liked them, but they were definitely different than a typical Bloody Mary. We both also split the house salad and had burgers. I opted for brussel sprouts as my side, and J got grits. So good!

The Activites: Going to the beach, pool, and restaurants were our main activities. We did spend some time driving around and simply exploring the area. There are some beautiful houses and flowers and architecture to look at, but watch out for pedestrians and folks on bikes: they are everywhere and will walk out right in front of you! We always buy the Starbucks “Been There Series” mugs when on vacation, so one day we went for an afternoon coffee at the Starbucks in Seacrest. We also had a coffee one afternoon while exploring Rosemary Beach at a local coffee shop called Amavida Coffee Roasters. There was live music at The Hub 30a one night, so we hung out there for a while. When we went to Panama City Beach, we also explored the Pier Park area. I’m sure there are plenty of other activites to enjoy, but we were only there 5 days and truly, when we are on vacation, we like to go slow and rest rather than have a schedule packed full of activities.

All in all, it was a great vacation and definitely an area of the U.S. I’d recommend exploring, if you have the chance!

A Message of Hope

Years ago, I listened to a podcast with author and researcher, Brene’ Brown, and she described the importance of experiencing disappointments in life in order to learn and know hope.  She was specifically talking about parents who swoop in to guard their children from every disappointment in life, and how those same kids are missing out on the important life skill of learning about hope. She describes hope as a cognitive process more than a feeling. This idea and the relationship between disappointment and hope has stuck with me.

Most of us would probably agree that the year 2020 was filled with disappointment. For some, much more disappointment than others. And, with that, 2020 became a year for kids and adults alike to learn more about hope.

I was recently able to get the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, and this most definitely has me very hopeful: Hopeful for a life moving forward that allows for eating with friends at restaurants, large family gatherings, concerts, hugs, handshakes, smiles eventually not covered by masks, large and crowded yoga classes with our mats only a few inches apart…I could go on and on and on.

I also hope we never forget. I hope we are a little closer to truly understanding how precious and fragile this life is. I hope we remember human connection is a necessity like the air we breathe, and we should treat all humans kindly, justly, and respectfully. I hope we never forget how truly allowing ourselves to experience the highs and the lows is an important part of being human and healing. I hope we learned how to be more compassionate with ourselves and how to extend that compassion to others. I hope we learned the importance of relaxation and true rest. Along with that, I hope we do not go back to busy but instead place high value on experiencing the simple pleasures of life rather than rushing through it to try and fill it up.

As a recovering Type A personality who can lean towards being a bit controlling (thank goodness for Yoga!), this quote always makes me smile. It could easily be the 2020 motto. Relax. Nothing is under control.  And yet, as we continue to journey through this life, we can remember that we can always choose to invite hope to stay. 

What are you hopeful for? 

The Women Who Wear Them

This past week was a big one for women in the United States. While I hope and pray in my lifetime I will see a woman President, until that time, I’m celebrating the fact I’m now getting to see a woman Vice President. I am celebrating that all the little girls in the United States are getting to see one and because of that, they might be empowered to become that future woman President I hope to see one day.

Photo from https://rb.gy/x7mhfq featuring Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, & Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman

It took our country over 230 years to elect a female Vice President. Over. Two. Hundred. And. Thirty. Years. It took us 100 years after finally getting the right to vote in this country as a women to elect a woman VP. One. Hundred. Years. This week I remembered what hope and promise felt like again. My body was so deeply moved the tears flowed freely while Kamala Harris was being sworn in. All four of the smart, courageous, diverse, and beautiful women leaders above give me hope…hope for a future where all little girls know they can lead.

*I created this Women Rule apple music playlist a while back, and I found myself listening to it over and over again this past week. Enjoy! https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/women-rule/pl.u-e98llD5hzWxA98

Child of the 80s & 90s: Popculture Reflections & Playlist

I was a child of the 80s and 90s, and you can see from the photo above I had the shoulder pads and big hair to prove it! I’ve been rather nostalgic lately remembering what were seemingly simpler times: The days of the Swatch watch, after school specials, phones with cords, passing notes in class to communicate with friends, a caboodle to store make-up, trapper keepers to stay organized for school, boomboxes and walkmans to listen to music…

I remember all the time and effort it took to create a mixed tape of songs from different albums, and while I appreciate so much about that era, I do love how easy it is now to create a playlist of music I love. So, in honor of the 80s and 90s, I created a child of the 80s and 90s playlist of songs I loved from that time. The music in the 80s and 90s was the best, too, huh? You can check out the full playlist here: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/leslies-child-of-the-80s-and-90s-playlist/pl.u-aZb0gB6tPVBdgx


Saying Goodbye to 2020 with a Burning Bowl Ceremony

I’m not yet to the point where I feel like 2020 has been a great favor; however, it does feel like it has been a year of shaking the nonsense out, huh? And, while I don’t believe all of the nonsense is gone just yet, 2020 has, at minimum, brought a lot of it to light. It’s provided an opportunity to re-evaluate what is truly important and of value in life. We were definitely given much to work with this year, weren’t we?–and some much more than others.

I have never been one to celebrate the New Year by going out or partying. To be honest, most years I am not awake at midnight because I highly value my sleep, and I want to feel good on New Year’s Day. With that being said, I appreciate that the New Year gives us an opportunity to be reminded of the fact that we can have a fresh start and can always begin again.

Contrary to how much of the west has portrayed the practice of yoga as only physical, it is actually a deeply spiritual practice with an emphasis on philosophy and self-inquiry. I want to share a New Year’s Burning Bowl Ritual I use with my yoga classes on the last yoga practice of the year that you could try (regardless of if you practice physical yoga or not) if you are looking for something new and different to do this year. It could be especially helpful if you feel like you have a lot you are carrying with you from 2020 that you’d like to let go of.

First, be intentional about taking some time to reflect on 2020. Light a candle, get a cup of tea, blanket, notepad or journal, and pen. Create an environment that is grounding and soothing for you. Maybe play some relaxing music. Remember, as you reflect, you can use tools such as grounding, orienting yourself to the room (by looking around at things), and deep breathing to help you stay present in your body in order to avoid any feelings of overwhelm. I also recommend after you complete the burning bowl ceremony, that you somehow physically move the energy out of your body as well: perhaps a dance party in your living room, some yoga, stretching, or taking a walk. If it feels safe and comfortable for you, perhaps even invite your family to join in on this ritual with you.

In your journal, respond to the following prompts:

What has 2020 taken from you?

What has 2020 given to you?

What did you learn about yourself?

What did you learn about life and the world we live in?

What do you want to remember about this unique year and take with you into the future?

After responding to the prompts above, get a separate piece of paper (that you will burn) and answer these questions with courageous honesty. Let. It. All. Out.

In order to honor your highest Self, what beliefs, thought patterns, and/or energy do you want to release? What behaviors do you want to change or let go of?

Take some time to write, and when you think you are finished, keep going: Allow your stream of consciousness to speak on the pages.

Once you have finished writing, go outside with it, a lighter, and either use a small fire pit (if you have one) or a bowl that is safe to burn in. Bless all that you wrote and acknowledge that it has in some way served you, and acknowledge that you NO LONGER NEED ANY OF IT: That you are committed to moving forward free. You can even state the following out loud:

“I release all thoughts, beliefs, energy, and behaviors that no longer serve me to make room for the abundant blessings that are ready to grace my life. And so it it.”

Then, light your writing on fire and watch it burn. Watch it and sense the fire of transformation happening within you.

And so it is.

Holiday Movies & Peaceful Holiday Playlist

Watching at least a few holiday movies each year has been a tradition for us. This year, with being home so often, we will probably end up watching more holiday movies than ever. I am not someone who usually enjoys watching the same movie more than once, so if I do, the movie is one I really love. love actually tops my list of all-time favorite movies-not just favorite holiday movies. It is one I can watch over and over again. The clever way the stories of the characters are intertwined, and the overall message of this movie always gives me hope. love actually is all around.

Closely following love actually on my favorites list is the Holiday. (Yes, I am a sucker for feel good, romance movies). And, who wouldn’t want to imagine spending the holidays in a Hollywood mansion or picture-perfect English cottage while also finding love? This is another one I can watch over and over and over again.

This year we watched The Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2 for the first time and enjoyed them both. I usually don’t love highly animated or fantasy type movies, but the fact that this one has people mixed with the animated magic of Christmas worked for me. As a believer, I highly enjoyed the heartfelt & comical Christmas ride.

Speaking of comical, you can’t have a favorite Christmas movie list without this one, can you? National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is another one we watch almost every year, and it always elicits laugh out loud moments for us both . How can you not love Clark Griswold and his zest for the Christmas holiday?

What holiday movies make your list?

In addition to movies, we’ve been listening to a lot of holiday music as well. A few weeks ago, I shared my Joyful Holiday playlist. This week I have my Peaceful Holiday playlist to share. I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic lately, and so I included a few Christmas church songs I grew up singing and listening to as well as a variety of other Christmas songs that leave me feeling grounded and peaceful. If you have Apple Music, you can access the playlist here. https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/leslies-peaceful-holiday-playlist/pl.u-d2b0MmXTMB0RWJ If you don’t use Apple Music, I listed the songs and artists below:

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Enya

White Christmas by Sarah McLachlan

Oh Light (Feat. Gungor & All Sons and Daughters) by The Liturgists

I Heard the Bells by The Brilliance

Gabriel’s Message by Sting

Come Thou Fount by Audrey Assad

Silent Night by Sarah McLachlan

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Jim Brickman

What Child Is This by The Piano Guys

Away in a Manger by Carrie Underwood

In the Bleak Mid-winter by SnowGlow

Christmas Time Is Here by Stephan Moccio

A Gaelic Blessing: Meditaiton by John Rutter

Mary Did You Know? by David Archuleta

Ave Maria by Celine Dion

Lullaby by William Byrd

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane–Jess Gillam

The Lord Bless You and Keep You: Meditation by John Rutter

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Stephan Moccio

The Twelve Days of Christmas by SnowGlow

Sacred Night by Secret Garden and Cathrine Iversen

A Child Is Born by Beegie Adair

Gloria in Excelsis Deo by Gregorian

My Favorite Things by Mary J. Blige

The First Noel by George Carlaw

Silver Bells by Michal Buble

Hallelujah by Pentaonix

The Christmas Song by Mel Torme & Robert Wells-Charlotte Church

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem/Oh Holy Night by Carolyn Barela

Child In a Manger by Gregorian

Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring by Christmas Gregorian

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by George Carlaw

O Holy Night by Glee Cast

Light to the World by Lauren Daigle

May your Christmas holiday be filled with good movies, music, peace & love. The holidays may be different this year, but the magic of Christmas always exists.

Yoga for Spaciousness & Clearing


Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there


until the song

that is yours alone to sing

falls into your open cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself to this world,

so worthy of rescue.

~Martha Postelthwaite

Yoga for Spaciousness & Clearing with Leslie Kersha

Puppyhood: What you Need to Know

Briar Bear, goldendoodle, 11 weeks old

When I hear that someone is getting a new puppy, my response is always the same: “Puppyhood is hard, but they are so very worth it.” I cannot imagine having a home without the love & energy pups bring to it. With the upcoming holidays and people being at home, I realize many are considering getting a puppy, so I wanted to share my insight about puppyhood here. We have raised three dogs–two from the very young puppy stage and one from the age of one year old. When I say puppyhood is hard, I mean it: There is potty training, constant nipping, getting up in the middle of the night to let them out, crate training, exercising, socializing, hearing a lot of whining and barking, and things being torn up. Beyond that, they are a big financial investment: food and puppy insurance (I use Healthy Paws) and medications and vet visits and grooming adds up. My first words of wisdom before getting a puppy is to make sure you and your family are ready for the time, energy, and money that raising a puppy takes. It is a BIG and long commitment. Do your research. Make sure you are finding the right fit for your family. If you are SURE you are ready for the commitment and have decided to get a new puppy, here are my thoughts to share with you.

Ziggy, cock-a-poo, 9 weeks old

We got our first puppy, Ziggy, in 2006. He was a cock-a-poo. I had always loved cocker spaniels and also wanted a smart and hypoallergenic dog, so a cock-a-poo it was. We were told Ziggy would be 18-23 lbs full grown. He ended up being 45 lbs–and he wasn’t over weight, he was just a big dog for his litter. Be prepared for your dog to be a different size than you might have thought! When we got Ziggy, we knew very little about raising a puppy. We took him to puppy kindergarten to learn about training and to help socialize him; however, he was an energetic pup. I kept asking people when puppyhood was over and would get answers from 1 to 3 years old. For Ziggy, it wasn’t until around 3 years that he started to calm down. At less than year one, we decided Ziggy needed a friend to get some of his energy out. We were lucky enough to find the perfect companion pup in Olivia Sue from a local rescue. Olivia was around one year old when we got her, and they were instant friends. Since Olivia is a rescue, we are not sure exactly what kind of dog she is but we believe she is part schnauzer and poodle. She has been the absolute easiest and sweetest pup ever. Getting her at one year old verses a few months old made a huge difference. If the timing is right and everything aligns, I highly recommend the consideration of a rescue pup. Ziggy most definitely needed Oliva’s companionship. He lived a life full of zest. He was a bit spastic, but he was incredibly loyal and loving. We absolutely adored that dog. He ended up getting congestive heart failure, and when his quality of life took a turn for the worse, we had to make the incredibly difficult decision to put him down at age 11 in 2017. Olivia, thankfully, is still with us today.

Ziggy & Olivia Sue loved to snuggle while going for rides.

Quickly after putting Ziggy down, we knew we wanted another companion dog for Olivia. We like having two pups. I had grown to love poodle mixes, but we didn’t want one that would remind us of Ziggy. He was one of a kind. I wanted a dog that was a different color and different breed. Jonathan wanted a goldendoodle. So, that is what we chose. I researched the different kinds of goldendoodles, and we decided we wanted a medium sized, F1B, apricot goldendoodle. F1B means that the dog is 3/4 poodle and 1/4 golden retriever–these pups are less likely to shed because they have more poodle in them. I did a lot of research finding the right dog at the right time from a reputable breeder that I trusted.I found exactly what we were looking for in Briar, who was born on my late Grandmother’s Birthday (it was a sign), located in a neighboring state more than 6 hours away. We got Briar over spring break and made a short vacation out of picking him up. We drove half way there and stayed in a cabin the night before his gotcha day. We also wanted to introduce Briar and Olivia on neutral territory, so that worked out well. If you have to drive to pick up your puppy, make sure to have either a sack, bowl, and puppy pads for the trip. We were driving through the curvy and hilly mountains in Arkansas on our way home, and Briar got car sick multiple times, so I was thankful we had brought the puppy pads.

Briar’s Gotcha Day: March 28, 2017

You will need to be prepared to bring your puppy home. It will be important to have all the essentials: puppy food, toys (the kong filled with peanut butter, pumpkin, and treats became an essential favorite), a blanket, and a small crate. In my opinion, crate training is a must. It helps with potty training and insures that your puppy is safe when you are not around. None of my pups have ever loved their crates as I hear some dogs do; however, I still believe it’s important to use a crate at first. In addition, we’ve stayed at places when traveling with our pups that required they were in crates when we left them there. I was glad that they were used to the crate already. Now that they are older, we no longer use the crate, but at first, it is a must. You will need to slowly introduce the crate to your puppy. My go-to training resource with Briar has been Zak George YouTube videos. Training you puppy takes a lot of time, energy, and patience, but it very important! Zak George has SO many helpful training videos. I’ve watched and learned from almost all of them. Here is one on introducing your puppy to the crate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hesi8WxLWVE I also highly recommend getting a Snuggle Puppy for your new pup to help him with sleeping through the night in the crate: https://rb.gy/lhuzyr Briar transitioned well to sleeping through the night in his crate with his snuggle puppy.

Briar’s coming home crate, blanket, & toys.

Potty training is a full time job. Taking them outside hourly and positive reinforcement is key. Our first pup, Ziggy, caught on to potty training in less than a month. Briar took over three months. Just when I thought he would never get it, he finally (thank God) did! Watching the Zak George videos on potty training helped tremendously. We decided to bell train Briar. And, once again, he ignored the bell for months, and we had started to give up even using it, and then one day, out of no where he rang the bell. To this day, he lets us know he wants to go outside by ringing the bell by the back door: https://rb.gy/pzvrvj Beyond potty training, probably the most challenging time of puppyhood is the constant biting and nipping phase. Wearing the puppy out with play and having plenty of toys around to stuff in their mouths when they start nipping is essential. All you can do during this phase is BE PATIENT. Keep redirecting, and remember: It won’t last forever.

Briar after getting groomed

The photo above is Briar after he got groomed. Introducing grooming to your puppy early is important. It is also important to know what kind of grooming your puppy will require. While Briar doesn’t shed, he does require brushing and grooming regularly. He also needs exercise regularly. For us, having a fenced back yard with pups is a must. Being able to let them out into the back yard to go to the bathroom, explore, run, and play is a life-saver. We went a month with him as a new puppy and no fenced back yard, and it was pretty miserable. Once we got the fence put in, it also seemed to allow Briar and Olivia to bond more because she could run away from the annoying new little puppy (she was quick), and they would eventually learn to play together with the spaciousness of the back yard. It took a few months for Briar and Olivia to fully bond. She actually didn’t care for him at all for about a month, which was worrisome at the time, but eventually they became great friends.

Briar giving me loves

Keep in mind: tiny puppies grow into dogs~another reason training is a must. Briar was projected to be 25-35 lbs full grown. He is close to 50 lbs full grown. Once again, be prepared for your dog to be a different size than projected. He is an absolute big love-bug. Briar dropped out of puppy kindergarten because honestly, I had already done so much training with him prior to going (thank you Zak George) he, and we, were very bored at the group training sessions. We ended up hiring a trainer to work with him for a few sessions one on one. He also attended puppy daycare one day a week for his first year of life in order to socialize and release some extra puppy energy.

Olivia & Briar hanging out together

As you can tell, raising a puppy is a big commitment in time, energy, and money. If you have any questions about puppyhood or my recommendations and insight, don’t hesitate to comment below. I’m happy to share! Puppyhood requires great patience. It is a life decision that should not be made lightly. However, the love, companionship, and energy dogs bring into a home, in my opinion, is absolutely, without a doubt, worth it!


While I believe we should live our lives with authenticity and never aim to be any sort of copy, in the realm of perfumery, Maison Margiela’s Replica fragrances have proven that Replicas can be absolutely divine! I love fragrance. Once again, I always try to create sensory experiences in my life that help me be mindful and beautiful smells–whether from candles or cooking or nature or perfume–make me feel alive. The truth is: I don’t really wear perfume for others. I wear it for me. During the pandemic, while at home all the time, I find moments of joy choosing different fragrances to wear throughout the long days. Really, I LOVE a good perfume. And, different seasons call for different smells. Today, I am sharing my favorites from the French luxury fashion house, Maison Margiela. Maison Margiela’s Replica fragrances are “reproductions of familiar scents and moments of varying locations and periods.” We all know that the power of scent is strong and can carry us through time and evoke important memories and experiences. This line of fragrances does just that. The following scents are all ones I would recommend you check out, and depending on your fragrance preferences, there is definitely at least one for everyone that would make a perfect gift for a loved one (or for yourself) during this upcoming holiday season!

Jazz Club

Jazz Club is the first fragrance from this line I purchased, and it was the beginning of my love affair. You should know I often find myself drawn to what would be considered male or unisex fragrances. The smoky, sexy, leathery scents are some of my favorite~especially during the colder months. This one is all of that: Smoky, sexy, & leathery with a spicy, boozy flair to it as well! According to frantica.com the top notes are pink pepper, lemon, and neroli; middle notes are rum, clary sage, and vetiver oil; base notes are tobacco leaf, vanilla bean, and styrax. Sephora.com says, “this perfume brims with sweet notes of opened cigar boxes, old leather bar stools, and fine aged liquor.” I would agree. If you are missing going to Jazz Clubs during the pandemic, pick up this perfume and it will immediately transport you. https://rb.gy/00cobh

By the Fireplace

By the Fireplace is another slightly smokey unisex scent, but imagine the sweet smell of roasting marshmallows while you sit by the crackling fireplace with your loved ones & that is the replica experience of this scent. Top notes are pink pepper, orange blossoms, & cloves; middle notes are chestnut, guaiac wood & juniper; base notes are vanilla, peru balsam and cashmeran. Sephora.com says, “the comfort of wood crackling in the fireplace while snow falls outside is evoked…” and I would agree. There is a definite sweetness to this one, though, that balances out the smoky, woodiness, and makes me crave s’mores. https://rb.gy/iazty1

Beach Walk

If you want a total change of pace from the two perfumes above, Beach Walk just might be your choice. This one replicates all the smells of the beach~salty, aquatic air, and light citrus & florals. The perfume opens with bergamot & lemon, and develops with pink pepper, ylang ylang, coconut milk, musk, and heliotrope. Sephora.com says, “the scent of salt air, the perfume of sunscreen, the glow of sunkissed skin…Replica Beach Walk Women’s fragrance evokes the memory of endless summer days…” While there is a definite sunscreen smell to this perfume (which I actually appreciate), if Bobbi Brown’s iconic Beach perfume is way too much for your nose (think Coppertone sunscreen), this one is a much lighter, more florally option. It is truly beautiful and the next best thing to a beach vacay.

Music Festival

Music Festival is another unisex fragrance that one might say is much more like the real thing than the fyre music festival was. This one is a replica of Woodstock, 1969. While it may not be for everyone, on the right spring or summer day, when I want to smell an earthy, yet sweet forest party scent lingering around my body, I love reaching for it. Top notes are violet leaf, red apple, & cannibis ; middle notes are patchouli, incense & tobacco; base notes are cypress, leather, & cedar. The Maison Margiela website says this about the fragrance, “recall a hypnotic daydream, lulled by the musics vibrations.” We may not be going to music festivals anytime soon, so in the meantime, check out this fragrance. https://rb.gy/j5xlkn

Under the Lemon Trees

My collection of these fragrances was started many, many years ago. My most recent purchase from the line was at the start of the lockdown for the pandemic this past spring. I do not consider myself a fan of scents with a lot of citrus; however, I received a sample of Under the Lemon Trees and was oddly drawn to it. It was obvious that life as I knew it was shifting greatly, and somehow, this very different scent than my normal go-to felt comforting. Top notes are lime, petitgrain, & cardamom; middle notes are coriander, mate, & green tea; and bottom notes are cedar, rock rose, and white musk. Sephora.com describes this one as evoking “la dolce vita with the signature scent of the Southern Italian countryside.” Through all the worry, disappointment, and sadness as a result of the pandemic, there is something about this perfume that is a comforting reminder to me that through it all life is still so very sweet .

At the Barber’s

Replica At the Barber’s is not a scent I wear~as a big fan of unisex fragrances and as someone who will even wear some fragrances that are marketed towards men, this is not one of those. I bought this scent for my husband for Christmas a few years ago. I generally pick out all of J’s scents, and this one was different than anything else he had. The only way I can describe this scent is the smell of a sexy man~a clean shaven, freshly groomed, sexy man. Top notes are bitter orange, basil, & black pepper; middle notes lavender, geranium, & rosemary; base notes are tonka bean, leather, moss, and white musk. If you are looking for a Christmas gift for the man in your life, check this one out. It is yummy! https://rb.gy/aeiumm

This wraps up my Maison Margiela Replica collection. I own a lot of perfumes and all of these are ones I reach for often. While these scents are not cheap, in this case, you definitely get what you pay for. The bottles are large and the longevity and sillage are top notch. I do not like paying for perfumes that I cannot smell shortly after applying them. Out of all the scents, I would say Under the Lemon Tree is the only one that I find I have to reapply during the day to continue smelling it. Other Replica scents I have smelled and chosen not to purchase are Lipstick On (takes me right back to playing in my great grandmother’s powder room and the smell of her lipstick), Coffee Break (thought I would love this one, but I actually wanted to smell more of a coffee scent) & Whispers in the Library (this one is on my wish list).

So, live authentically but if you’re in the market for a good perfume, don’t hesitate to check out Maison Margiela Replica.

***All the lists of notes for the fragrances came from Frantica.com. This is a favorite website of mine to check out when looking for fragrance reviews.***

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post, but I wish I were!***

Favorite Fall Nail Colors & the Perfect At-Home Mani

Fall colors in the midwest are beautiful and make fall one of my favorite seasons. Those who know me know I also love colors on my finger nails, and I enjoy specific colors with each season. I have been giving myself at-home manis for many, many years. I started painting my nails in middle school. In high school, which was the mid-90s, I would even do at home acrylic nails with a french manicure. To me, painting my nails is a meditative experience. I choose a color that sparks joy. I sit down, breath deeply, pay attention, and slowly paint each nail with a base coat, two coats of my color of choice, and a top coat. This process also requires me to sit and relax for at least 20-30 minutes after painting them in order for them to thoroughly dry. While this might seem like a lot of time to some, it is way faster than actually going into a nail salon to get them done and a great deal cheaper, as well!

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite fall nail color go-tos. These should still be available in stores; however, I often use ebay or Amazon if I’m having trouble finding a nail color I’m looking for.

Essie Angora Cardi

Essie Angora Cardi is a beautiful dusty rose mauve. I love this color, and I love the name. Nothing like wrapping up in a warm, soft cardigan during crisp, cool fall weather. This color has been a long time favorite of mine. I find it is universally flattering and have gifted it to others as well. It will transition nicely into the winter and would make a great stocking stuffer!

wet-n-wild Bite the Bullet

Wet-n-Wild Bite the Bullet is a beautiful gray lilac shade. I often think of lilacs as more of a spring or summer color; however, this has just enough gray in it that I tend to reach for it in the fall. It is one I have received compliments on as well.

OPI Linger Over Coffee

Lingering over coffee is another one of my favorite fall activities. Sitting outside with my husband on cool fall mornings with our fire pit burning and a hot cup of coffee in my hand definitely sparks joy. OPI’s Linger Over Coffee is what I would consider the perfect shade of brown. It has just enough pinky mauve in it that it looks rich and pretty rather than dirty or muddy. It is a newer polish of mine, but I am sure I will be using it for years to come!

Essie Off Tropic

This one is perhaps a little unconventional for fall, but there is something about the richness to the shade of green that makes it a fall go-to for me. Essie Off Tropic is beautiful. Green shades on nails can be tricky, but in my opinion, this one works!

Essie School of Hard Rocks

If you like a green nail color with a little more gray and blue to it, Essie School of Hard Rocks is the perfect fall teal. The oily look to my nails in this photo is my favorite nail drying drops which I cannot go without, OPI Drip Dry Drops: https://www.ulta.com/drip-dry-lacquer-drying-drops?productId=xlsImpprod5180213

And, sometimes when I can’t decide on one color, I decide I don’t have to and use them all! This fall mani includes the pinkie finger shade, Essie Topless & Barefoot (this is a must-have nude); ring finger shade, Essie Lady Like; middle finger, Essie Chinchilly; Pointer finger; Essie Cocktail Bling; and thumb color, Essie Maximillian Strass-her. Who says we need to limit ourselves to just one color at a time?

While I obviously really like Essie polishes, my other two favorite nail polish brands are OPI and Zoya. Zoya’s 3 in 1 nail polish remover, Remover+, is hands down, THE BEST. I do not use anything else. https://rb.gy/cobgtm

Throughout the years, I have used a variety of base coats, and although I don’t have a favorite, I do believe they are necessary for the length of the manicure and to help keep your nail beds from yellowing. If you have a favorite base coat, please share. I would love to know! My favorite top coat is Duri’s Rejuvecote1: https://cutt.ly/7ggHUbO It’s not a traditional topcoat, but it helps my polish last while also strengthening my nails. This was recommended to me years ago by my friend, Lisa, and I haven’t strayed from using it since! I put this on after two coats of my polish color and then drip on the OPI Drip Dry Drops. The following day I do another coat of the Duri Rejuvecote1 and the drip dry drops again, and my mani will usually last anywhere from 4-7 days. This is plenty of time for me as I enjoy changing my polish colors regularly.

As for the shape of my nails, you can see I vary from short and square to long and oval. As we transition into the winter months I love a short and square look with a rich, dark wintery nail polish color. However, I don’t want to talk about winter just yet~that post will come at a later time. Let’s enjoy fall. During this time of little activity and a lot of staying at home, I’m appreciating the simple pleasures in life even more than I ever have before. Fall is breathtakingly beautiful. Looking down at a freshly painted manicure with a fall color I love is a simple pleasure that sparks joy.

***This post is not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above; however, I wish it were. 🙂