Gift guides: Monogram, Home, and Traveler

The holiday season is in full swing with decorations going up and holiday shopping. This year I made a few gift guides that I hope you enjoy and are able to find something you like!

  • Monogram Gift Guide
  • Home Gift Guide
  • Traveler Gift Guide

Monogram Gift Guide

We all have a friend that loves a good monogrammed gift. Here are a few ideas ranging from earrings to stationary.

1  Bauble Bar | Alpha Ice Pendant
2  Bauble Bar |Block Acrylic Monogram Coaster Set
Marley Lilly | Monogrammed Reversible Disc Earrings
4 Mark & Graham | S’well Water Bottle
Amazon | Kate Spade New York Women’s Initial Thermal Travel Mug Tumbler, 16oz, S (Pink)
6 Paper Source | Monogram Border Stationery
7 Mark & Graham | Dreamy PJ Set, Navy
8 Mark & Graham | Blanket Scarf with Fringe, Ivory and Charcoal Window Pane
Mark & Graham|Travel Jewelry Case
10 Marley Lilly | Monogrammed Jewelry Tray read more

Hermes and Cartier Designer Bracelet Dupes

Designer Dupes: Love them or Leave them??

I snagged these designer dupe bracelets last spring and wasn’t sure what to think about them. Designer dupes are one of those things that you either love or hate. On one hand, I do love getting a $600 look-alike for $20. On the other hand, the dupe isn’t going to have the same level of quality. What do you think of designer dupes? Comment below! 

These bracelets and necklaces are a great gift for a friend or a nice treat for yourself! read more

Home Office Redesign

I had a blast changing the guest bedroom into a home office and craft room. My only regret was not doing before/after photos! This room used to be the guest bedroom and had more or less turned into my extended closet. We weren’t using the space so Justin wanted to make a more usable space and turn it into a home office.

 

We raised the curtains all the way to the ceiling to “expand” the room. Older houses or condos have the curtain rod right at the top of the window. However, if you raise the curtain all the way to the ceiling it really expands the room. you can still see the holes in the wall where the curtain rod used to be… cleaning those up next weekend. 🙂

The desk, rug, and dresser all from the Crate & Barrel outlet store in Dallas (linked here). I feel like not too many people in Dallas know about the Crate & Barrel outlet. I’ve found some really good deals there. Some of the furniture has been returned or slightly damaged, but you can get 40% off a sofa or new dining table and fix it up. You also have to arrange for pick-up and delivery, so find a friend with a truck or rent a u-haul if you’re buying a big piece of furniture.

I love this new letterboard that I found at Home Centric. I linked similar ones from Amazon.

My favorite part of the room is this wall with the 9 square photos frames. These photo frames are just under $50 and such a steal! This dresser is full of crafts. I can’t wait to get started on some holiday crafting.

Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my email list to get notifications about the latest blog posts.

Best,
Rachel

Winc Wine Night

It’s no secret that I love a good glass of Chardonnay. Lately, I’ve been sticking to the same wine labels and haven’t tried anything new until I found out about Winc. Winc is a monthly wine subscription service that delivers 4 bottles of wine right to your door.

Try your first month for $40.

To start, you take a quiz to determine your Palate Profile. Then Winc recommends four bottles of wine for the month. The recommendations improve each month based on your feedback. There is a wide selection to choose from including a variety of “classic blends to obscure, single vineyard fringe projects”-Winc.com

For my first month, I select the wines below

  • 2017 Pretty Young Thing Rosé
  • 2017 Summer Water Rosé
  • 2017 TBT White Wine Blend
  • 2017 Pacificana Pinot Noir

You can get a discount on your first month of Winc

I was pretty excited for my first wine delivery and celebrated with my boyfriend. We had a little wine night to celebrate the end of a really big project for him. He has been working crazy hours for the past month so it was nice to relax for a little bit.

The wine from Winc was great. I would definitely recommend getting a subscription if you want to try something new or treat yourself! You can also send a box of wines to a friend for Christmas.

My Favorite Wine “Accessories”

Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my email list to get notifications about the latest blog posts.

Best,
Rachel

Guest Post: Kelsey Barnes – Classy Outfit Formula

I’ll be starting a guest post series on Simply Sheppard to feature other bloggers that I’ve connected with and I’m inspired by. I hope you enjoy this series and enjoy following new bloggers.

For my first guest post I’d like to introduce Kelsey Barnes. I first met Kelsey while at SMU back in 2010! Fast forward to 2018 and we’ve reconnected through blogging. Since our Freshman year at SMU Kelsey has started a career in NYC, and now moved to Amsterdam and is living the expat life. In addition to blogging Kelsey does freelance work and is training to become a spin instructor!

I love following Kelsey on Instagram (KelseyyBarnes) because of her authenticity and unique content. Oh, did I mention her breathtaking pictures of Amsterdam and multiple travel guides throughout Europe?

One of my favorite blog posts from Kelsey is her “Classy Outfit Formula” blog post. Read below and enjoy the guest post!

From www.kelseyybarnes.com:

I love fashion, but sometimes it can be really hard to decide what to wear. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in leggings and a comfy top while working from home. This makes it even harder to decide what to wear when I need to look like I’ve got my sh*t together. Which is why I’ve developed an outfit formula for when I want to look put together, but I also don’t want to put in a ton of effort.

Last week, I met two girlfriends for a drink at the cutest all pink restaurant in Amsterdam, Mama Kelly. I’m not kidding when I say this place is pink – everything from the velvet booths to the bar to the cocktails. I wore an outfit based on my formula, and it worked perfectly for the setting.

I always start with dark skinny jeans. I wear this distressed pair (that pair sold out, similar here)  from Gap often because they’re so versatile. A dark wash always elevates every look. Even with sneakers and a t-shirt, these jeans manage to look just that little bit nicer.

Next, I add a blouse with an interesting detail. I picked this lace panel top up in my last Shein haul, and it’s just too cute. I love all of the girly details like the lace neckline and the slightly puffed shoulders. Going with something that’s a little dressier helps to elevate your look, but you could look just as put together in something basic. I’ve linked some tops in the below carousel that are perfect for looking put together with minimal effort.

Lastly, throw on a cute pair of block heels and grab a bag. I hardly ever wear heels anymore, but it’s so true that they instantly make you look like you’ve got it together. I wore a Kelsi Dagger Brooklyn block heel because I didn’t want to go too over the top. This is Amsterdam after all, and no one dresses up here. I grabbed my YSL clutch to carry my phone and was good to go.

Dark Denim + Interesting Blouse + Block Heels + Clutch

Just four items. All pretty simple, which is why I always go to this outfit formula when I don’t know what to wear. It’s perfect for so many situations, dinner with the girls, date night, even an interview. Just change up little things here or there to fit the situation. For example, for an interview, you can just change the denim to a pair of nice cropped pants.

Do you have an outfit that instantly makes you look put together? Let me know!

Xx, Kelsey

Mix and match below to find your perfect outfit!

I hope you enjoyed this guest post from Kelsey!  Sign up for my email list to get the latest blog post right in your inbox. More guest posts to come. Send me an email at simplysheppard@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured.

Best, Rachel

 

 

 

Life update: Puppies and Holiday Plans

Thanks for following along as I continue to grow my blog. This is my first “life update” post. Comment below if you enjoyed it and want to see more. Today I’m talking all about life as a “Dog Mom” and my holiday plans.

Dog Mom Life

If you’ve been following along on Instagram you know I adopted a puppy in August and since then I’ve had my hands full. Literally full… Like picking up Reagan, the puppy, or picking something out of her mouth lol. She is a sweetie, but a lot of work. We adopted her from Shasta Flat-Coated Retrievers out in California. She came home to Dallas right at 8 weeks and that is the minimum age to be separated from the litter. She was 10 pounds in August and is now 30 pounds! Fully Grown she’ll be about 50 pounds.

Reagan, the puppy, has a great time playing with our older dog Winston. Winston is a 5 year “young” Flat-coated mix from GRRALL. The toughest part about raising Reagan was the health scare we had last month. Reagan started vomiting and wouldn’t eat or drink for a day. We brought her to the vet and they didn’t know what was going on either. The second day the vet did an X-ray and discovered something in her intestines.

We brought Reagan to the surgery center to remove the “foreign object” from her intestines. Turns out she had eaten a lot of our other dog’s hair and it just got stuck….. It was a stressful week for us. Reagan had to stay in the ICU for three days to recover and I took three days to look at my finances and create a budget. Dog surgeries are expensive- get dog insurance.

Since then, Reagan has fully recovered from the surgery! She had another health scare at the start of October. This time she was able to pass the hair wad (TMI?). Now on my restricted budget, I am reprioritizing many things. I haven’t been able to go on a weekend get-a-away and I hope to be able to go on one soon.  After all, that was the reason I started this blog- to give you travel inspiration.

Holiday Plans

I am looking forward to seeing my family for the holidays and eating some delicious home cooked food. For Thanksgiving, I’m headed to Houston to see my parents. We are road tripping with the dogs. It’s a four-hour drive from Dallas and it will be Reagan’s first road trip. I hope to take the dogs to Galveston so they can see the beach for the first time while we are in Houston.

The real fun is our Christmas plans. Justin and I are thinking about driving to his families house in North Carolina… 14 hours with 2 dogs in the car. Call us crazy, but it’s so hard to find a dog sitter over the holidays, especially for a puppy. If we do go to North Carolina, it will be the first time not spending Christmas with my family- talk about a milestone! We haven’t finalized our plans so I might end up staying in Dallas.

That’s all for now, be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my email list to get notifications about the latest blog posts. Next week I’m starting a new series of guest posts. My first guest post will feature Kelsey Barnes! Stay tuned.

Best,
Rachel

 

Website and Social Media Analytics: How to Use Them to Achieve Success

Hey everyone, you might know that my day job is in website analytics and this blog is my hobby. I’d like to share how to analyze your website and social media analytics to achieve success for your own business or blog. “Success” is a broad term and is different for everyone. So the first step is to define “Success” for you. Most people would define success in terms of revenue, but if you’re blogging for a hobby, success might be defined as a number of blog post views. Here are a few definitions.

I feel successful when…
  • I’ve achieved X amount of revenue
  • I’ve achieved X number of sales
  • I’ve achieved X% engagement on Instagram
  • I’ve gotten X number of followers on Instagram
  • X number of people have read my blog post

Pick a goal and work backward from there. When you have an online business, there are many data points to analyze. However,  when you have a brick and mortar store,  analyzing sales can be more difficult. Maybe you had more sales in your store because the weather was good that day. Sometimes it is difficult to quantify. In this blog post, I’d like to walk through a few examples of how to use your Social media and website analytics to achieve your definition of success.

Website Analytics

There are many ways for bloggers and small business owners to analyze Website analytics.  I use the free Word press analytics tools and Google analytics is also free.

Take a few minutes and go look at your website analytics if you haven’t already and answer the following questions.

  • What is my most viewed page in the past 30 days?
  • What pages are directly related to achieving my goal?
  • read more

    Review of Rent The Runway Update

    Rent the Runway

    I started using Rent The Runway Update back in August when I would walk into my closet and feel like I had nothing to wear. No matter how many clothes you have, everyone gets this feeling from time to time. So instead of heading over to Nordstrom and stocking up on clothes, I decided to try Rent the Runway Update.

    To start, there are 3 different options you can choose from Rent the Runway:

    • One time rental (Get $30 off your first rental)
    • RTR Update
      • $89/Month
      • 4 pieces for a month
      • You can only exchange once a month

      RTR Unlimited

      • $159/Month
      • 4 pieces that you can exchange whenever

      I decided on RTR Update because that made the most sense for me. One thing I really like about RTR is that you can browse all the clothes before signing up so you know if their selection will match your style. I know $89 is expensive, but comparing it to the $300 I spent on 2 dresses for my birthday and knowing I only wore them each twice, the math added up and RTR was a good deal for me.

      Let me give you a few tips for picking out what you select when renting. The first month I made a few mistakes. The first mistake I made was buying a dress because I thought it looked amazing, but I didn’t actually look through my upcoming events and think if I could get use out of the dress. The dress was stunning. Unfortunately, I ended up not wearing it at all because it was a better fit for a trip to Mexico and not a date night in Dallas. The second mistake I made was picking an item because of the price tag and not because I thought I would wear it. Yes, there are a lot of expensive clothes to rent and the idea of wearing a $200 tank top got me excited. In reality, I didn’t wear the tank top the month I had it because it wasn’t my style.

      In summary, when picking your 4 items for RTR think about any upcoming events that you want something special to wear. Also, don’t pick something because it’s unique or expensive, pick it because you can see yourself wearing it and getting use out of it. This is important because at the end of your rental you get the option to send the item back or purchase it at a discounted rate. I really like selecting items I will wear on a day-to-day basis so I can purchase them at the end of the month at the RTR discount rate. See below, here is an example of my current rental purchase options:

      Pros
    • Great way to refresh your closet.
    • Dry cleaning is included.
    • Shipping is included.
    • You get 30% off one time rentals.
    • I liked renting the clothes so I don’t fill up my closet with items I only wear twice.
    • When I rented the clothes I actually wore them more, because I knew I had to return them.
    • You can cancel at any time, you’re not locked in for 1 year.
    • read more

    Best of T.J. Maxx Online Deals

    This week I found out that you can shop at T.J. Maxx online and of course I wanted to share some of the amazing deals I found. You’d be surprised to find some of your favorite brands at discount prices online. My favorite surprises were Free People clothing, Gucci handbags, and OPI nail polish. Here are my some splurge-worthy finds.

    Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest ! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my email list to get notifications about the latest blog posts.

    Best,
    Rachel

    Under $25
    Under $50

    Slupurge Worthy

     

     

     

    Fall Decorations: It’s Fall Y’all

    It’s finally Fall! For those of us in Dallas, you know it means we’ve survived the blazing hot summer. I’ve been feeling inspired by Pinterest crafts and decided to make a few fall decorations myself.

    This weekend I bought pumpkins from Trader Joe’s and added my own personal vinyl decals. I made a monogram pumpkin, a pumpkin with the Dallas skyline, and two cute little pumpkins. I used my silhouette cameo to cut the vinyl. I hope you enjoy the fun fall decorations!

    XX,
    Rachel

    pumpkin, craft, monogram

    Products used to make theese decorations

    Halloween pumpkin

    monogram pumpkin

     

    pumpkin, puppy

    Fall decorations, Silhouette cameo

     

     

    PIN IT

    Monogram pumkin

    pumkin fall

    Silhouette cameo craft

    vinyl monogram pumkin