What She Wore: Warm Coat!

Winter has come way too soon in Georgia!  As a born and raised southern gal, I have had to educate myself about how to dress and stay warm.  Sadly, leggings from Target with a Columbia fleece is not enough to stay warm with these low temps.  

img_1380For so many years, I felt like I needed to buy a warm coat but they are expensive.  Plus, it doesn’t get cold in Georgia that much (haha). I kept coming up with reasons to not pull the trigger on a coat investment.  BUT, a trip to Alaska in October 2016 finally made me do it. The daily highs were scheduled to be in the upper 20s with lows in the teens.  I wasn’t going to Alaska to sit in a house or ride in a car.  I was there to be outside and experience all of it’s beauty.  Time for a real winter coat!

(Photo Cred: Jackie Padilla)img_0087

At first, I thought it was just going to be a bit of a waste, just a heavy coat for the Alaska trip.  But afterwards, I am SO glad I bought that coat it actually keeps me warm in Georgia too. I thought that everyone was just cold when the temps dropped, that was just a part of cold weather.  Well, it made being outside miserable because I couldn’t stay out there for long periods of time. Needless to say, my “Alaska coat” was life altering in Georgia too!

My basics of buying a coat for warmth:

  1. This seems obvious but the trick is buying a coat that is actually warm.  News flash- cute coats from Target, Macy’s and Old Navy are not warm. They are cute and maybe warmer than not wearing a coat- but most are made to be cute- not functional (aka keep you warm).  
  2. When trying on coats, take note of the arm lengths.  There isn’t much use in wearing a coat with short arms if you want to be warm.  Buy something with sleeves that are long enough for your body and preferably have a fitted wrist cover.  This will prevent cold wind/air from going up your sleeves. For me, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and pea coats from Old Navy are short on the sleeves.  
  3. Consider buying a coat that is longer than your waist- mid thigh is better but knee length is best.  Yes, a coat keeps your upper body warm but also covering your backside and legs helps a lot with warmth too.  This usually costs a bit more but is so worth it.
  4. Purchase your coat from an outdoor company.  I like REI because they sell multiple brands of outdoor clothing- Including their own line (which can save a few bucks).
  5. Buy something with a hood.  This is so helpful to pull over a hat to help keep you even warmer.  It is also great for staying dry in case you get caught in unexpected rain or snow.
  6. Zippers are key- they bundle you up tight.  I like the ones with two zippers- especially when sitting down in fitted, knee length jackets.  Buttons over zippers are nice too for even more security (and a great back up in case of a zipper 911).
  7. img_0086Keep in mind of your use for the coat- generally, you will be wearing it outdoors.  If you are in lots of snow- you should consider something water proof or resistant. If you are going to travel with it, consider something that packs well.  
  8. Sizing is really important and different brands fit differently, so when trying on, don’t just wear a t-shirt, have on a couple of layers to be sure the fit is good all the time.
  9. Lots of expensive brands have low end jackets that are popular and “cool” but aren’t that warm (looking at you Patagonia and Marmot).  REI has tells you what the coat is best for in its description.

Remember that a good jacket is a fantastic, long term investment.  I bought so many lower end, “fashion” jackets that I probably spent WAY MORE than what I should have spent buying a decent jacket.  If you find a good jacket, you will wear it every year and be so glad that you bought it when you did!

Stay warm!


More info: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/insulated-outerwear.html

Christmas in the City: NYC

I just got back from a wonderful, whirl wind of a trip to visit the very festive, NYC!  This was a bucket list trip for me and it did not disappoint!

Some of our trip was expected but many stops were a surprise and blew all of my expectations out of the water (looking at you window displays and Theatre of Dreams!).  Keep reading to find out my top five festive spots!

5. St. Cloud Roof Top Barimg_3298

Located on the 17th floor of the Knickerbocker, this roof top location is an astounding bird’s eye view of Times Square!  The roof is draped in lights and trees but thats all a shadow of the bright lights of Times Square. As an added perk, the New Year’s ball is up on display which is a fun sight to see.  Definitely a great spot to grab a drink!





4. Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

I am guessing this is probably the biggest tourist destination during December in NYC.  Well, it did not disappoint! That thing is HUGE. Plus, it stays lit all day, so no matter when you go, you can see it in its glory.  Be sure to walk around the entire block though because there are other beautiful sights to see!



3. Bergdorf Goodman’s Window Displays

For those of you that don’t know, window displays in NYC are a big deal.  They originally were used to showcase new clothing to potential shoppers but now have been transformed into pieces of art and a major source of free, holiday entertainment.  Each store has a different theme and experience so if you’ve seen one, you definitely have not seen them all!

Bergdorf’s was my favorite!  The giant window displays were packed with decor.  These were some of my favorites:


Here is a great guide to all of the NYC window displays this year: https://www.tripsavvy.com/holiday-windows-at-nyc-department-stores-1612956



2. Bryant Park Christmas Market

I was blown away by the offerings in this festive location.  Ice skate, grab a beer, shop, or enjoy lots of sweets in this Christmas market.  I can personally recommend the chocolate croissants and old fashioned donuts but the champagne, duck fat fries, s’mores waffles, and cookie dough all looked fantastic!



1. Saks Fifth Avenue:  “Theatre of Dreams”IMG_3398

I did not know that this existed so I had zero expectations but it was SO fantastic!  The front (several stories) of the store are decorated with lights that are in sync with Christmas music.  It gave me goosebumps to see something so festive, in a major city, and to realize that it has been going on for almost 100 years!


(the show starts at 7 minutes 🙂

What are you favorite Christmas spots in NYC?

love, brooke

Nashville Newbie on Broadway

Somehow, I made it 33 years without a visit to Nashville. (*I did attend a high school conference at the Opryland Hotel but this does not count.)

I knew there was a lot of live music in Nashville but I didn’t know there was a LOT of live music. At 10:45am, I was walking down Broadway and heard an extremely loud band playing in Nudie’s. No other bars had live music playing and it was especially exciting to hear as the weekend was quickly approaching. I was dressed in running shorts/shoes and I hesitated to enter, but I’m so glad I did. A five piece band was blaring tunes while folks cracked cold ones at the bar, kids danced and I swayed to the rock n roll.

Wait, it’s not even 11am, and I paid zero dollars to enter a bar with great live music. This is some kind of heaven. My first thought is, “we need to move here.” Followed by, “we need to retire here.” Then, “where can I go in Atlanta for live music before lunch time with my son?!” I was hooked and couldn’t wait to come back later that day after a lunch commitment.

Here is how it works (from what I can tell):

1. Bands play for tips at most of the bars on Broadway. They split the tips evenly among themselves.

2. They play their asses off to entertain and make as much in tips as possible. They don’t take breaks and often loop songs together to prevent lulls (aka giving people an opportunity to leave).

3. Twenty bucks buys you a song of your choice. Most bands have a huge playlist and many have phones/iPads strapped to their mics for lyrics when needed.

4. If you don’t like a song or band, then move along. We managed to hit ten bars in a 3 hour period.

5. If you like a band, tip them. I was in amazement of performers musical talent AND ability to also entertain.

6. Most bars play today’s country, but a few- especially Layla’s and Robert’s- play “authentic country”- think Merle Haggard. These are the best places to see a steel guitar at work.

7. Go early. The talent was great at 11am and got better throughout the day. The bars started getting crazy crowded around 10pm- think drunks and lots of body heat.

8. Wear whatever the heck you want. Everyone else does. Cut offs, flip flops, cowboy boots, jeans and dresses are everywhere. Don’t dress to impress. Dress for dancing your butt off and being sweaty.

9. It seemed that most bands played 4 hour sets. When they are done, they try to get the next band set up as quickly as possible so the bar doesn’t empty in search of other good music.

10. We only paid cover ($5) at one place- a dueling piano bar. There, your song choice and cash tip get lined up in order of amount paid. Want to hear something quickly? Ante up $20 or more and your request usually jumps to the top of the queue.

11. Bachelorette parties are everywhere. And they all have matching t-shirts or tank tops. Keep your distance.

12. The people watching is amazing. I’ll leave it at that.

That’s what I learned as a Nashville Newbie on Broadway. Can’t wait to go back!

Back to School Jitters

I’m going back to school starting tonight and I’m slightly terrified. I’m enrolled for the “Essentials of Creative Writing” course at Emory University. I mean Emory… that place seems so serious and legit. What am I doing? I haven’t been in college in over ten years and I barely remember taking a freshman English class. I guess that’s why I need this CE class… to brush up on writing fundamentals and use the correct tenses and an overall refresher on how to write. Yes, I know it will be good for me. Try something new, get out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, yada yada yada… BUT I’m still nervous.

Some questions:

1.  What should I wear?!?  When I was in college I wore free t-shirts and skirts from Sam’s club. Is this still good attire for a college classroom?! Most of what I have worn recently is a free t-shirt with running shorts covered in paint from DIY projects. Is that ok?! If I wear a dress, will it look like I’m trying too hard?? What do I own that screams “writer” to make me look legit.

2. How many people will be in the class?!  Will it be like me and three other more serious people who spend their days doing nothing but writing? Or will there be 100 of us in a theatre style lecture? Will I be the youngest or way too old?

3. Will I have to share my writing with others?!  Let’s be honest, this is truly the most terrifying question. I’m no where near ready to share my writing with people I’m not already friends with on Facebook! Will they make fun of me?  

4. What should I bring!?  I’m bringing a notebook and pen but should I bring my laptop?! Spoiler- my laptop battery sucks and has to be plugged in to even work. What if the classroom is out of the dark ages and doesn’t have outlets near the chairs? Ok, I’m not taking the computer. And on another note, how do I have such a crappy computer when I’m married to a man who owns five of his own?! I digress…

5. Will we have homework?! If so, what will it be? Will we have to share it with the teacher?! Can you FAIL a continuing ed course?!

6.  What am I forgetting to be worried about?!  

Well, I am all out of ?!? Fingers crossed I can pull this off. TBD.

Update:  I went with the Kmart skirt and PRR t-shirt.  I decided to stick with what I know.  And yes, this is my back to school pic.  😜

laugh, brooke

Ode to My Bean Boots

In the beginning, I was so hesitant to buy them.  They are definitely a financial commitment but every time I got ready to go on a trip that threatened rain, I would get frustrated by my shoe options.  I wanted a pair of truly waterproof shoes (many of my “rain” boots had sprung leaks after long term wear.  I wanted something that could go with jeans or with leggings.  I wanted something that would last and I finally was at the point that I didn’t care what I spent to make this dream come true.

My mom has a pair of waterproof LL bean rain shoes that she has had for over 30 years and it was a good reminder that they last a long time.  I knew if her LL bean investment was still paying off, then it was ok for me to pull the trigger too.  So, after years of wishing/wanting a solid pair of waterproof boots, I decided to make the financial jump to bean boot ownership.

I celebrated a year of boot ownership a couple weeks ago and thought it would be fun to remember all the fun that we have had together over the last year!

Ireland- September 2016

FullSizeRender (22)I bought the boots right before this trip because I knew it was going to rain a lot… as it does in Ireland.  I was nervous pulling the trigger so close to a trip and taking up valuable luggage real estate for shoes that I had never worn before.  Thankfully, the shoes did their job and kept my feet warm and dry.  It was POURING down rain on football game day (Boston College vs Georgia Tech).  We had to hike through Trinity College to wait in line to catch a shuttle to the stadium, then march to the stadium… all in soaking wet conditions.  FullSizeRender (23)We were prepared to continue to be soaked DURING the game.  (Mind you we had JB with us too) and I almost cried when we got in the stadium and we learned that our seats were covered and we were dry!  The game was incredible and drinking cold Irish cider while watching college football is also a pretty nice thing too!


Alaska- October 2016

FullSizeRender (21)

My sister, Jackie, and her husband moved to Anchorage in September.  I decided that I REALLY wanted to visit them BEFORE the snow set in for the winter… so with about 5 weeks notice, I booked a flight to go visit them.  Well, I didn’t quite beat the snow as it snowed the day that I arrived, but thankfully it did not snow more while I was there.  So, I got to experience seeing snow but not a lot of driving/maneuvering through it.

7927289F-F5AA-4C07-B69B-173F61B2A535Of course, this was the first time the bean boots got to meet snow.  I prepared for this by buying boot liners and wore thick wool socks (thankfully I bought a half size up so they would fit) and my feet stayed warm the whole time.  That is pretty impressive considering the temps were between 8-28 degrees during the my visit.  The boots got to watch the sunset over Denali, hike along the Turn Again south of Anchorage, and visit a rescued moose.  The boots also got to wear Yaks which were awesome in preventing me from busting my butt on icy conditions.  (The boot soles are rubber and can be slippery/dangerous on wet/icy conditions).

6723EF59-0795-4849-963A-25E83F8C97F2 (1)Denver- December 2016

We flew to Denver for a friend’s wedding and of course the boots had to come.  The temps were moderate- but I knew they would keep my feet dry and I could walk miles in them with no problem.


The Women’s March- January 2017IMG_0275

These boots were made for walking… and that’s just what they did.  The morning started out as a monsoon and mud EVERYwhere.  It ended with 60,000 people calmly walking through the great streets of Atlanta to support women’s health, refugees, education, and numerous other causes… while the sun was brightly shining.  Hearing John Lewis speak in front of the Civil and Human Rights museum was pretty powerful as well.  Here is my post for more on this special event.

Manitou Springs- April 2017

The boots were perfect for this trip!  We had snow twice, did a good bit of walking/hiking, and they even took the train up the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak.


Happy Birthday to my Bean Boots!  We have done so much together and I don’t regret buying you at all.  Can’t wait to see what other adventures we have in store together!

love, brooke

What She Wore… Fishing


FullSizeRender (5)The essentials:

  1.  Pearls.  These are only mandatory when fishing in the south.  They make your teeth look whiter in fishing photos.  I’d recommend a pair that you bought at Target as part of a 3 pack… you know, the fancy ones.
  2. A shirt.  On this trip, I am sporting a Magnolia tank top that I bought in Waco while visiting the Silos.  On it’s second wash, it got two holes in it.  I hope their renovations are higher quality than their shirts.
  3. A Hat.  I prefer to wear a ten year old Masters hat that is showing its age via fading and fraying on the brim.  At this point, I am not sure I could give it away.
  4. Sunglasses.  Many people go the expensive route when buying fishing sunglasses… something with UV protection and polarization.  I, however, go the complete opposite route and buy my sunglasses from the Dollar Tree.  Yes, they cost $1 per pair.  Don’t be jealous.  They are probably going to end up at the bottom of the river/lake/ocean anyway… no matter how much you spend.
  5. Croakies.  My croakies are a free set from Southern Tide that I received at a tailgate party 8 years ago.  They are old, ratty and tattered but this prevents others from stealing them.
  6. Shorts.  These (non) fancy shorts are a pair that I found at the C Shack that someone abandoned and never reclaimed.
  7. Waterproof shoes.  My chacos have helped catch plenty of fish.  Bonus point is they don’t fall off if your boat flips over.  Not that I would know anything about this, though.

FullSizeRender (6)As my husband always reminds me, the most important part of any sport or activity is how you look.  Thankfully, this outfit actually helped me catch something (*I do not guarantee it will work for you though).  So, the next time you go fishing… head to the Dollar Tree, pull out your hole-iest clothes, find a free t-shirt and be ready to rock an awesome fishing style too!

laugh, brooke

How to… Take the Perfect Easter Photo

After scrolling through social media today, I was reminded of how easy it is to take the perfect Easter photo with your family.  Here it is in 20 simple steps.

  1. Spend hours figuring out what each family member is going to wear.  Comb through closets to try to find something that has bright colors, isn’t stained, doesn’t have holes and might fit.
  2.  Remember to drop off dry cleaning 4 days before Easter Sunday.
  3.  If you are unsuccessful in finding something in closets, visit target and spend way too much money.  Be sure to buy two sizes of each item to find the right fit.  Convince yourself that you will return the unused size… one day.
  4.  Have each family member try on their potential outfits two days before Easter.  This will involve lots of eye rolling, complaining about how shoes fit, and trying to get distracted by a book or cell phone every 30 seconds.
  5.  While potential outfits are laying on a bed, remind family members not to sit nor jump on them.
  6. Hang completed outfits on hangers in doorways so they are easily available for getting dressed.
  7. Over the next 2 days, remember to crouch low so you can still enter your closet without knocking down the chosen Easter outfit.
  8.  Don’t forget to pick up your dry cleaning.  Be mindful of holiday hours/closings so you don’t get stuck without your coveted Easter garments.
  9. On Easter morning, make sure everyone has eaten breakfast before getting dressed to prevent stains.  And for the love of everything, make sure all Easter candy is hidden so hoarders can’t get into it while in their carseats on the way to church.
  10. Take pictures outdoors before going in to church.
  11. Find the perfect photo location requirements… outside, with perfect sun light, a green backsplash or flowers.  Try not to make your family hate you during this time.
  12. Once you find the right spot, try to find someone to take the photo.  Hopefully it can be someone who has held an iphone before and knows “which” button to press.
  13. Try to get your children to look at the camera and smile.  This can happen in a number of ways… swearing, bribing, and saying silly phrases… do what is most effective for your crew.
  14. Look at the photo and try not to offend the “photographer” with how bad it is.  Say something like “oh, it’s great… but do you mind taking two more?” (but really you mean five more)
  15. Repeat step 13 way too many times again.
  16. Thank the “photographer” profusely and wish them a Happy Easter.
  17. Rush your family into church to try to find somewhere IN side the sanctuary for the service and promise to fix the photos in post production.
  18. After church, frantically try to edit the photo while driving the lunch with your family.  Use all the tools you can; including filters and cropping.
  19. Pick the photo where you look the best and your family looks “eh, ok”.
  20. Be sure to crop any body parts out of the photo you don’t like.  Arms and bellies are a good place to start.

And that’s it… only 20 EASY steps to getting the perfect Easter photo! Be sure to post it ASAP on social media.  And if you really want to fit in, title the post with either “Happy Easter!” or “He is risen!”

Easter 2013

Here is my 2013 Perfect Easter Pic

laugh, brooke