September / October Remix

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleAugust and September were incredibly busy months for me. Between traveling and finishing up projects around the house, I barely had time to get any blogging done.  It feels good to get back into the swing of things for October.  I hope you all enjoyed the posts I did about my trip out West.  My husband and I had never traveled to that part of the country before,  and enjoyed experiencing the desert climate.  Right now I’m starting to gear up for the upcoming holiday season and preparing for all the traveling that I will have to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Below is a brief recap of all happenings on the blog for the past several months.

Our Trip Out West

IMG_0727-RecoveredSeeing Britney Spears live in concert in Las Vegas!  Read my top Las Vegas tips here.

Grand CanyonAmazing views at the Grand Canyon.   To see more fun pictures click here.Visiting the Hoover Dam | Watch Carmen StyleTouring the Hoover Dam.  To read about the different things offered at the Dam click here.

Sedona | Watch Carmen StyleVisiting the red rocks of Sedona.

Personal Style Posts

Layering for Fall | Watch Carmen StyleLayering For Fall

The-Collar-024Comfortable Work Outfit

park-pics-021Statement Jacket: How to Spice Up Your Look

The Red Rocks of Sedona

Sedona | Watch Carmen StyleFor the final leg of our trip out West, we visited Sedona, Arizona.  Only a a short two hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Sedona should definitely be included on any tour of the Western US. Full of a beautiful and dramatic rock formations we spent the majority of our time there just trying to capture it in pictures.  We somewhat succeeded, but no picture can really do justice for this type of scenery.

Amara Resort & Spa | Watch Carmen StyleWhile in Sedona, we stayed at the Amara Resort & Spa.  As  you can see from the picture the hotel features beautiful views of the red rocks. The above picture was taken while eating breakfast on the outdoor patio.  The food was delicious and we really enjoyed being able to eat outdoors in such a beautiful setting.  The rooms are spacious and comfortable.  The hotel is located inside the city of Sedona and one can easily walk to downtown. Pink Jeep Tours | Watch Carmen StyleUnlike the Grand Canyon, Sedona gets very hot during the summer.  While we were there in August, the daytime high temperatures were in the upper 90s.  Wanting to explore the rocks, but not wanting to die from heat stroke we opted to take a jeep tour.  We went with the Pink Jeep Tour company and had a blast driving over the rocks.  Pink Jeep offers several different types of tours in and around Sedona.  We opted for the two hour Broken Arrow  Tour which takes you up onto Submarine Rock and Chicken Point.  The following pictures are all taken from that particular tour.  Our tour guide Andy was very knowledgeable on the formations and the surrounding area.  He did a great job answering everybody’s questions and had no problem taking pictures of everybody up on the formations.   The great thing about the Broken Arrow tour was the ability to travel to different points and then being able to get out and take lots of pictures.  It was 97 degrees that day and I don’t think we would have made it to all those places if we had had to hike.

Sedona | Watch Carmen StyleSedona | Watch Carmen StyleView of Submarine Rock.

Sedona | Watch Carmen StyleMountain bikers enjoy biking along that thin white line that you can see in the picture.  It’s about a foot wide and really high up.  Google white line Sedona to see you tube videos of this incredible feat.

Sedona | Watch Carmen StyleA picture of the Devil’s Staircase which our jeep drove down.  It’s about a 45 degree angle.

We had a really great time visiting Sedona and it made the perfect ending to an already fantastic trip!

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The Statement Jacket: How to Spice Up Your Everyday Look

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleLooking for a great way to spice up your everyday look?  Then try wearing a statement jacket in a bold, bright color.  Below is a step by step guide to help you create your own head turning look.

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleStep 1: Add a blazer in a bold color or print to jazz up the classic jeans with a white shirt combination.

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleStep 2:  Pick a shoe in a fun print that picks up the colors in your statement jacket.

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleStep 3: Add a handbag in a classic color and shape to balance out the boldness of the jacket.

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleStep 4: Accessorize with jewelry that doesn’t take away from your jacket, but complements the colors in your base outfit (the jeans and shirt). Remember the jacket is the star of this outfit.  I picked a blue and black beaded necklace and a white watch.

Statement Jacket | Watch Carmen StyleResult:  A  basic outfit transforms into a head turning look!

This simple formula can be applied to any type of outfit.  Simply pick your statement piece and follow the steps.

Outfit
Jacket:  White House Black Market (old similar here)
Shirt:  Express  (old similar here)
Jeans: American Eagle
Shoes: Express (old)
Bag:  Brahmin (similar)
Watch: Fossil
Necklace: American Eagle (old)

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Photography: Susan McDonald

The Grand Canyon

grand canyonAfter visiting the Hoover Dam we continued on to the Grand Canyon. It’s roughly a three and half to four hour drive. The distance between the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam is very sparsely populated. I highly recommend having a full tank of gas, before venturing out on your journey. While visiting the Grand Canyon we stayed at the The Grand Hotel located in Tusayan.  I really liked the hotel and enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub after a day of hiking.

Tusayan is the closest town to the park and a shuttle service runs from many of the local hotels in to the park. The shuttle is free once you have purchased a park pass which is good for seven days. During the busy summer months, parking fills up quickly. Being able to park at your hotel and ride the shuttle saves a lot time and frustration. Click here for a link to the Tusayan shuttle service.

I recommend staying at The Grand Hotel in Tusayan and using the free shuttle service to reach the park.

Once inside the park free shuttle buses can take you virtually anywhere. All water is free and food is available at the various lodges. If you are looking for a gourmet meal, then I would recommend the restaurant at the El Tovar. The food was delicious and a nice way to unwind from the day.  The restaurant fills up quickly so I would recommend making reservations in advance.  For guests not staying in the park hotels, they take reservations no sooner than 30 days in advance.

One of the best resources that I found when touring the Grand Canyon is this newspaper put out by the national park service. It gives you wonderful information on the various activities, hiking trails, restaurants and shuttle routes located within the park. The newspaper can be found online, at the visitor center and on the shuttle buses.

grand canyon newspaperSince this was our first time visiting the Grand Canyon we decided to do the Hermits Rest Route and rim trail. This trail goes along the south rim of the canyon and has nine lookout points.

hermit road

Photo Credit: National Park Service

The last point, called Hermits Rest, has a bathroom, gift shop and a canteen. A shuttle service (that runs every 15 minutes) stops at all nine look out points.hermits restBeing able to hike between lookout points and take the shuttle when we were tired turned out to be a very enjoyable way to see the canyon.   I would definitely recommend this trail to anyone with young children or someone with some sort of disability.   Below you can see pictures taken from the various look out points.

IMG_3861Grand CanyonUpon leaving the Grand Canyon to travel to Sedona, we took the scenic drive Highway 64. This drive includes various look out points. One of these points includes the Watch Tower which was an interesting place to stop off and learn about the various local American Indian tribes. Grand Canyon Watch TowerOne of the best parts of this drive had to be the rain. The entire time we were at the Canyon rainstorms kept rolling through which were absolutely spectacular to see. Being able to watch rain, clouds and lightning roll through the canyon is a memory I will never forget. It was truly Mother Nature at its finest.   We saw rainbows, lightning strikes and fog banks.   Here are some of our pictures below.

Lightning strike grand canyonRain in Grand Canyon | Watch Carmen Style

Grand Canyon Fog

I highly recommend visiting the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. They are a part of the United States that should not be missed. So tell me, have any of you had the privilege of traveling to these destinations? If so, what did you like best?

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A Comfortable Work Appropriate Outfit

The-Collar-024As an accountant, I work in a fairly conservative environment.  Dress code wise one must always err on the side of professional conservatism.  The above look is something I put together (that while remaining office appropriate) still allows me to express my own personal style.  Plus it’s super comfortable!  I mean is there anything worse than being stuck at your desk all day in constrictive, uncomfortable clothing?

The-Collar-025The outfit itself is pretty basic and made up of a sweater and a black pencil skirt.  The sweater’s high collar keeps me covered up and the rhinestones keep the sweater from being completely boring.  The black pencil skirt is a classic work piece that can be mixed and matched for other non-work related occasions.

Work Appropriate | Watch Carmen StyleI infused my own personal flair through the use of accessories. The metallic leather bag with the chain detail adds a hard rock edge to an otherwise very conservative outfit and keeps the ensemble fun and youthful.  The grey two-toned suede heels add a touch of interest and their four inch heel height is balanced out by the length of the skirt.

Work Appropriate | Watch Carmen StyleWhat I love about both of the pieces is the ease upon which they can function in a non-work related capacity. For example, this skirt when paired with a sparkly top and a sexy pair of heels works well for a date night with my husband. The sweater dresses down nicely when paired with jeans and a pair of boots. In fact, I’ve worn it this exact way to family Thanksgiving.

Work Appropriate | Watch Carmen StyleSweater: Loft (old similar here) | Skirt: Express | Shoes: Tahari (old) | Bag: Micheal Kors (old similar here)

To me having items of clothing that can function in various settings is the hallmark of a well thought out wardrobe. It shows style and ingenuity to be able to use clothing in multiple situations and settings. Plus, it expands the functionality of your wardrobe and minimizes the need to purchase different items for different situations.   Before I purchase any new article of clothing I always like to ask myself these two questions:

1) How many things do I already own that can be styled with this particular piece of clothing?

2) How can I re-style this piece to work for other occasions?

By always asking myself these two questions, I ensure that I only buy clothing that serve multiple functions.

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Photography: Susan McDonald

Visiting the Hoover Dam

Visiting the Hoover Dam | Watch Carmen StyleShirt: Express (alternate colors), Shorts: J. Crew, Shoes:  New Balance , Bag: Kate Spade (very very old)

While visiting Las Vegas, my husband and I decided to extend our trip to include the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and Sedona.   After seeing many documentaries and pictures of both the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, I was curious to see if these two sites lived up to all to hype. We were not disappointed! The sheer scale of both of these places can truly only be appreciated in person. Pictures do not do them justice.

The Hoover Dam

Depending on traffic the Hoover Dam is less than an hour away from Las Vegas. Hearing that Las Vegas rush hour can seriously affect travel time to the Dam, we decided to visit the dam on a Saturday morning. We encountered no traffic problems and reached the dam in under 50 minutes.   I recommend arriving at the dam early because the line to purchase tickets can get really long and tickets can sell out. We arrived at 9:30 and were able to purchase tickets for an 11:00 dam tour.   The dam offers two tours: the power plant tour and the dam tour. We opted to take the longer and more expensive dam tour and I am so glad that we did! The power plant tour is really quick and only shows you the power plant room where the giant turbines are housed. The picture featured below is really all that you see.

Power Plant Tour | Watch Carmen StyleThe dam tour includes the power plant room and tunnels inside the dam itself. I feel that the longer dam tour gives you a better appreciation for the sheer scale and scope of the dam.  Below is a picture of some of the tunnels within the dam.

Visiting the Hoover Dam | Watch Carmen StyleThe museum and visitor center are also really nice. Everyone must watch a 10 minute documentary about the Hoover Dam which does an excellent job at explaining the overall construction and purpose of the dam. After watching the movie you can then tour the museum or start your tour of the dam. The museum has an excellent observation deck that allows you to take great photographs of the outside of the dam. It also helped me to appreciate the enormous amount of water that the dam holds back.

Visiting Hoover Dam | Watch Carmen StyleThe visitor center has a nice cafe that offers a nice selection of food and refreshments. It is rather expensive, but the only other option for food is nearby Boulder City. If you are interested in visiting the Hoover Dam then click here to reach the official website.  Check in next week to read about the continuation of our journey to the Grand Canyon.

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October Book Club: Personal Style

Personal Style Books

I Love Your Style:  How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style
By: Amanda Brooks | Pages: 288 | Price: 19.19 | Rating: 3 of 5

Amanda Brooks, former muse and creative director for Isbel Tuleh, has written a personal style guide for the modern woman.  Like most style books, Brooks has broken down personal style into the stereotypical categories of classic, bohemian, etc.  and ends her guide with where and how to shop for each category. If you have read a lot of personal style books, then there really isn’t any new information presented in this book that you haven’t already read in the other hundreds of personal style books already on the market.  What does set this book apart from other personal style books would have to be the absolutely amazing photographs and pictures used to illustrate her points.  I honestly had more fun just looking at the pictures, then I did at reading the actual content.

Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty, & Everything Glamour
By: Rachel Zoe | Pages: 192 | Price: 15.99 | Rating: 4 of 5

This a fun book written by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and definitely pays homage to her love of all things 70s.  Its a true personal style book in the sense that Zoe focuses solely on teaching the reader how to dress exactly like her.  She doesn’t really focus on how to find a style beyond her own personal aesthetic.  If you do not like the 70s or Zoe herself, then this is most definitely NOT a book for you.

I Want To Be Her!: How Friends & Strangers Helped Shape My Style
By: Andrea Linett | Pages: 160 | Price: 19.95 | Rating: 4 of 5

Andrea Linett, cofounder of Lucky magazine, provides a wonderful glimpse into her own style evolution through this book.  I fully enjoyed looking at the illustrations and learning about all the women through out her life that influenced her own personal style.  While reading the book, I began to look back upon my sources of inspiration and had a fun trip down memory lane.

Do you have any personal style books that you would recommend?  What do you think about October’s picks?

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Photo Credit:  Amazon