Saturday, December 31, 2016

California Christmas

Happy New Year from California! I realize I haven't blogged in a few weeks (whoops!), but now I am on vacation for the holidays so I thought I would share a few quick recent pics. I flew out to California to spend the holidays with my family and we have been exploring around the area the past few days. It has been sunny here with a slight chill, although infinitely warmer than New York, allowing me to get away with lighter jackets and dresses than I am used to this time of year!

We trekked out to Picchetti winery for a wine tasting at one of the oldest wineries in the state and then had a picnic lunch overlooking the nearby reservoir. I wore this pretty snake print boho dress in shades of pink and purple layered with my cozy pink cardigan for an extra bit of warmth. Tights and booties were necessary, but so were sunglasses! These round lenses are actually a dream to wear since they don't impede my line of vision, but they're also super cute in a retro-glam sort of way. The sunshine felt warm and invigorating but it was definitely nice to have a cozy layer sitting beside the breezy reservoir for lunch.

On the way back from the winery we stopped at the Stanford University Cantor art museum for a quick stroll through a few of their exhibits before closing time. The contemporary section was filled with brightly colored canvasses, which always draw my eye!

Dress: Anthropologie. Cardigan: Ruche (available in beige). Bag: Rebecca Minkoff. Sunglasses: Anthropologie.

Artwork by Dashiell Manley, an "Elegy for whatever" piece.

xoxo, CC

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

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The Holiday Gift Guide is here!
... or should I call it a wishlist.... lol the problem with creating a gift guide is I end up finding a hundred things that I want! Everything I have selected here is under $100, and most of these items are even under $30 so they make great gifts without breaking the bank!

The first group is for the the fashionable lady on your list. Classics like a plaid scarf and color block sweater will please almost any stylish lady you're shopping for, while more unique pieces like this Mara Hoffman lip color set and pom pom sneakers fit a bolder style. A beaded clutch and sassy passport cover are great picks for the chic traveller, or any gal that loves a little sparkle!

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Fun accessories are always good options to compliment a bigger gift, or stuff in stockings. From a hand painted tote bag, or sparkly earbuds, to an adorable set of hair ties, or a marbled back up battery pack there are options here for everyone on your list at every price point! Why not have some fun with it? I personally love to put together gift goodie bags from time to time, filling a gift box with tons of little treasures like these. 

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Whether you need a gift for the hostess of the best annual Christmas party or you're shopping for someone who loves to decorate her home, there are so many irresistible options out there! I rounded up these adorable pieces that caught my eye -- like an $18 mini waffle maker in pastel shades, a set of hand shaped book ends, stemless champagne glasses, and a whimsical recipe binder. A thoughtful but inexpensive gift is all you need to be the hostess's new favorite guest, guaranteeing you an invite to every party and holiday!

I hope this was a helpful collection to inspire your holiday shopping as you continue to check items off the list! Which of these gift options are you adding to your own wishlist now? I know I wouldn't be disappointed to find any of these gorgeous goodies under my tree :)

xoxo, CC

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Two Best Apps for A Beautiful Instagram

Instagram is the "it" social platform these days, especially for bloggers and influencers since it is wonderfully engaging, easy to use, and easy to gain followers and extend your social reach. Even if you just use it for fun, it's always nice to have a thoughtful, curated feed of photos that really pop! In the past year I myself have come to rely heavily on Instagram as an extension of my blog and a way to gain exposure. There are several other apps and tools which I have have found super helpful in creating the best visually engaging Instagram feed, and I wanted to share my two favorites with you!

UNUM: I have come to rely heavily on this app, and it's hard to remember life without it! UNUM is an extremely helpful app for organizing the photos you plan on posting to your Instagram and seeing how they will all look together before you post them. It is super useful for maintaining a color scheme and making sure you are spacing out your outfit shots vs. close ups, food, and scenery shots. I love that I can plan my posts ahead of time and play around with where I want each photo to go and what order they look best in. You can also edit your photos right in the app, have captions ready to go with each image, and even see stats on which hashtags are getting the most results, and what times of day your posts get the most interaction. The only downside is that this app is for iPhone only (sorry everyone else!!). 

Lightroom: Can you believe the mobile app is totally free to download on your phone?! How amazing is that. I have wanted to download Lightroom onto my computer for ages, but the application is fairly expensive, so I was thrilled when I found out the iPhone app is free! It is extremely helpful with editing photos for my Instagram page -- in particular I love that you can adjust each color in a photo individually. I had previously become frustrated when I wanted to to saturate certain colors in a photo without saturating all of them (for instance saturate the foreground outfit colors but not the leafy green background!), and Lightroom enables this! After using several basic photo editing apps, Lightroom is a dream with the features it offers. It has become my go-to for editing color in my images, and I sometimes will even send photos from my computer over to my phone so I can edit the colors!

Now you know my secrets! Between UNUM and Lightroom I feel like I have been able to massively upgrade the quality of my Instagram photos and feed. Of course, taking good pics is an essential foundation to creating an visually appealing page (and I can't say that all my pics are perfect, but I give it a shot!), but having some helping hands in the process certainly can't hurt!
I also recently started using a follower-tracking app which shows you which of your followers are not following you back, who has unfollowed you, etc. and this info is super helpful if you are trying to boost your following and understand follow patterns. Between these few apps I feel like I have a much better approach to creating a beautiful Instagram feed with photos that represent my life and the things I love!

Check out my Insta @charlotteclaraxo!

What are your favorite apps? I'd love to hear in the comments!

xoxo, CC