Favorite Investment Pieces

Picking out quality pieces for my closet has been a big change in how I am shopping this past year. I have started to not only shop for sustainable and ethical products, but also looking for more items made in the USA or high quality products. It’s been a task because high quality products are way more expensive than what I have spent on clothing before and fast fashion just seems a bit more interesting because it’s trendy and what most of you are wanting to see. But I just can’t spending between $20.00 and $40.00 on cheaply made clothing that is going to get holes or start to ravel and possibly be out of style next year. So I started buying things I actually like, that are fun, versatile and much better quality than fast fashion. So here are my favorite quality purchases I have made in the past year.

Lysse Denim– These jeans are amazing. They work perfectly for curvier ladies because of the actual denim used and the control top available in each pair. These are skinny jeans with a nice side pipping and a fun zipper detail at the ankle. Seriously if I could wear these every day I probably would. So comfy and so slimming. The best part about Lysse? They include sizes from XS to 3XL. So everyone can enjoy these jeans. Lysse jeans are a little over $100.00 a pair and tend to sell out quickly when updated on their website. Seriously worth the investment though.

Lack Of Color Hats– A new to me brand and I’m in love. Quality made hats with structure, so no floppyness with these. I haven’t had these hats for too long but they have held their shape very well so far. There are a ton of options on their website; different colors and styles. These hats are $80.00 and up but well worth it if you are a hat lover.

Yana K Dresses– Buttery soft, simple and versatile. I can’t say enough about this brand. From every day wear to dressing up. Each piece has the potential to be styled so many different ways. And so flattering on so many body types.

Custom Fox & Beaux Jewelry– Located in Asheville is a little jewelry boutique where all your jewelry dreams can come true. Carefully designed pieces are available for quick purchasing or you can work with the staff to create your own. This dangle choker was a custom design piece I created and they put together. Literally no one else will have anything exactly like it making it perfect for my daily go to choker.

These are just a few of my favorite investment pieces from the last year. And you will see them on repeat, styled different ways. Because sometimes having less is more.

Shop This Look: Jeans // Dress // Hat // Silver Necklace // Dangle Choker // Horseshoe Necklace

The Benefits of Disconnecting on The Trail

Warning- this is in no way a fashion related posted or even a cute styled one, but that’s part of life.

It’s been a long past few months for myself. If you have no idea what has been going on, you can read a little here why everything has been off. I’ve been worrying about everyone else but myself and have been trying to be the best multitasker there is. But it’s taking a toll on just about everything in me. I knew I needed to take a break from absolutely everything. So since we have access to tons of trails and views around Asheville, it only seemed like the best thing to do. Minus the fact it was freezing and there was actually some snow on the ground.

I chose hiking, because what some of you may not know, I go quite a bit. But also hiking is the best way to disconnect and feel a little closer to yourself. When you go up in the mountains, you don’t have any cell service. You have to put that phone away or you could actually get hurt from not focusing. You have to focus on your path and how you are handling it. And that’s literally the only thing you need to focus on.

Hiking reduces stress by allowing the freedom to think without distraction. Some hikers may opt to spend the majority of their time fully taking in the sounds and scenery of the majestic nature around them, while others prefer to take advantage of that rare moment of silence to think deeply on issues that are affecting their lives. The combination of aerobic exercise and deep thinking aids with strengthening the body’s internal system of stress management, far more powerfully than with just exercise alone. An added bonus is that your endorphins will be higher, allowing positive thoughts to sneak through rather than negative ones.

Hiking also has plenty of health benefits like reducing heart disease and boosting endorphins, but it also helps boost your energy which can cause you to be stressed or just a pain in the ass to be around. It is proven that people with a sedentary lifestyle had increases in energy after doing exercise with a focus on walking.

All in all hiking is extremely beneficial to you. And on the plus side you get some awesome views and you can still get some killer Instagram photos with the airplane mode on!

 

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

This weekend has been a duzy. It was literally back to back things in my calendar. Actually this entire week has been a whirlwind. So here’s a little recap of the fun things that happened because I wouldn’t want to bore you with work and classes taught and interning things. This weekend I had several photo shoots for several exciting things coming up on the blog. I’m actually really excited about all the things I’m working on, and I know all of you will be too!

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I was invited to the Food Truck Showdown in downtown to get some pics of all the awesome food. There were tacos (can I get an AMEN) and I have found my new favorite food truck. Vieux Carre had some Crawfish Etouffee Mac and Cheese, let’s just say it was to die for, and I could eat it every day. I hope it’s a regular on their menu and not just for Saturday. Sadly they didn’t win the ultimate award but they were the best in my book. Side note, pretty sure after this weekend a juice cleanse is in my future this week.

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On Sunday we got up really early to get some hiking in before I had a list of appointments and homework a mile long to do. It was freezing on the parkway, literally ice every where. But we did. And it was great to get out of my own head for a little while. Lunch took place at the Pisgah Inn because I have never actually been there. Delicious food and great views. Best part, I honestly didn’t have to worry about anything.

I hope all of you had a great weekend! Cheers to this week.

Fall in Western North Carolina

Fall in Western North CarolinaFall in Western North CarolinaFall in Western North CarolinaFall in Western North CarolinaFall in Western North CarolinaFall in Western North Carolina

This past weekend was one of the peak weekends for Fall colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And Andrew wanted to get some photos. So we got bundled up and took Romantic Asheville’s advice and road far North on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was freezing as we drove into higher elevations and there were so many tourists. It was an all day event. There was no vigorous hiking this weekend due to there being so many tourists and recovering from being sick but the sights were still amazing. We visited the viaduct which I had never seen in person before. There was a lot of pulling over for picture opportunities. And then we ended up at a lake. And we got in a canoe. Even though the time was mostly spent in the car, it was still pretty amazing. And if you have the chance to get out on the Blue Ridge Parkway before it closes for the winter, I highly suggest it..

Weekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North Carolina

Weekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North CarolinaWeekend Hike + Favorite Hiking Spots in Western North Carolina

T-shirt- Target // Leggings-Target // Shoes-Nike 

Andrew and I go hiking about 2-3 times a month, more depending on if we have the time. I personally prefer to go hiking more in the Fall because it’s a little cooler but it’s also nice to get a little wet and see the wild Rhododendrons in bloom. Over the weekend Andrew and I had planned to visit Chimney Tops Trail in Gatlinburg but the weather was predicting bad storms so we didn’t chance it. Instead on Independence Day we headed over to Brevard, entered the Pisgah National Forest and hiked up to Moore Cove Falls. The hike was pretty easy, about 1.5 miles round trip and leads to a waterfall and a large cave. Standing behind a waterfall in a cave is really one of the greatest things you can experience. Plus hiking is a great and fun form of exercise and for most it is really budget friendly because you are just paying for gas!

Western North Carolina offers so many great views with hiking that I can’t hold in my favorite spots any longer! So here there are!

Looking Glass Rock Trail– It’s steep, long and a little exhausting but the view is extremely worth it.

Graveyard Fields– Perfect For swimming

Dupont Waterfalls Tour– about 7 miles total, 6 waterfalls, can travel as short as you would like. This is perfect for swimming! Also where part of the Hunger Games was filmed!

Douglas Falls– easy hiking

Mt. Mitchell– offers hiking or drive to the short walk to viewing area. There is also a restaurant on this are of the parkway.

Devil’s Courthouse– Steep trail but wonder views

Pink Beds Loop– around 5 miles of easy walking

Chimney Rock– Offers different levels of hiking or easy access to the overlook area. This is a park where you do have to pay to enter, but the town it’s in is cute, there is a garden bridge you can walk through and Lake Lure where Dirty Dancing was filmed is just past the entrance to Chimney Rock.

Max Patch– Short but steep walk up a hill to some beautiful views. Perfect spot for kite flying and a picnic.

I always check with Hike WNC before heading out for photos, maps, length and other information about the trail. If hiking isn’t your thing you can still get beautiful views by driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway..

They Say Spring Is Here

They Say Spring Is Here 3-38 3-39 3-40

The calender says it’s officially Spring, but here in Asheville it does not feel like Spring nor look like Spring. Sure there are a few wildflowers coming up (some are dying from freezing night temperatures) and a few blooms on the trees, but it’s not yet “Spring”. I really feel like this is affecting my attitude. It’s supposed to be bright and sunny and warmer, but it’s just been gloomy, cold and rainy (making it feel more like winter is still lurking around). The Blue Ridge Parkway is finally fully open (which means you know it’s Spring) so Andrew and I decided to take a drive. It was disappointing, death was still lurking in the mountains. Everything was in hues of blues, browns and grays with some occasional chunks of ice thrown into the mix. I’m really hoping this weather turns around soon, for my attitudes sake.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Like I said it may be the weather or it may be the amount of negative feedback I have been receiving on or about the blog, but changes are coming soon to 30 Shades of Stephanie. Before writing this morning, I was ready to completely deactivate the blog and no longer post. I thought what was the use? Who wants to read this blog? Does anyone actually care what I’m doing or wearing because neither are extremely interesting? After joining an online community for Asheville residents and trying to engage Asheville residents on the blog, I have received a lot of “hate mail” and nasty comments (there will be a blog post on this later). This has torn me down, but I just realized, I’m going to do what I want on the blog, not what others should expect from a blogger. So be prepared..

Fall Adventures

Fall Adventures

Andrew and myself decided to take a drive up the parkway to see the changing colors, so he could get some new pictures for his portfolio and website. In Asheville the leaves haven’t changed that much (of course there are some color changes and leaves on the ground), but the higher you went up in elevation the more beautiful it became. Everyone and their mother was out on the parkway, hello to constantly being surrounded by leaf lookers so pulling over and parking became an issue very quickly. When we couldn’t find a place to park where we really wanted to go, we kept driving and ended up on the Great Smokey National Park. I had no idea the Blue Ridge Parkway ended straight into that. We enjoyed our (long) drive taking in many natural beauties, venturing into Tennessee, and driving back home through Cherokee (Andrew refused to let me watch the Indian dances). It’s so great that this is my back yard.

Fall Adventures

 

Fall AdventuresFall AdventuresFall AdventuresFall Adventures

 

Fall Adventures.

Fall LookBook: Casual Date Night

Fall LookBook: Casual Date Night

Dress- Forever 21 // Leggings- Forever 21 // Boots- Charlotte Russe // Earrings-Vintage // Scarf- Gift // Bag-Target (sold out online)

Key elements for this look: casual dress, leg wear for warmth, riding boots, and personal touches.

I think going on date nights or days in honestly more fun in the Fall time than any other time. It’s something about dressing up all warm and the possibility of sharing a warm intimate moment together. Let’s face it, when date night comes around we are not always going to a 5 star restaurant so why should would we dress it. Don’t get me wrong if you want to dress extremely nice for your local burger joint, then go for it, but generally going the casual route is the way to go (at least for me). I love this A-Line dress that flares out at the hips, the perfect fit and the perfect color, black. By having this basic dress I can style it so many ways and add any other color to it. I decided to go for a pop of color in leggings and opted for leggings for warmth. I added some personal touches such as bright vintage earrings, a warm scarf and my favorite bag.

Fall LookBook: Casual Date Night 10-82014-2 10-82014-6 10-82014-3 10-82014-1.

Adventures in the Mountains

Adventures in the Mountains

Sweater-Andrew’s // Jeans-Old Navy // Shoes-Sperries // Glasses-DKNY // Beanie-Forever21

I will say, this is not the most glamorous post! After a stressful week and an upcoming stressful week, Andrew decided we should go on an “adventure” (honestly those words generally scare me). We decided to go to Linville Caverns and a surprise visit to Grandfather Mountain; both of which I had never been to. The cavern was much different than I expected (dripping wet inside and no bats) but was amazing. A stream straight through it and the rock formations were crazy; hard to believe our mountains look like that inside. Grandfather Mountains was breathtaking yet a little scary at the same time; climbing rocks to stand higher than the world below, breathtaking views, mountains for days, and a little animal habitat area. If you haven’t made it out to either one, I highly recommend it!

If you want to see even more pictures of this adventure, visit 30 Shades of Stephanie’s Facebook page (and like it too)!!

Also we took the Blue Ridge Parkway home (a new route for me) and talked about this summer or fall taking a trip the entire Parkway and stopping along the way to see fun and new things. Has anyone done this? And if so let me know about your experience!!

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Asheville Happenings

Asheville Happenings

 

There is so much stuff going on within the next few weeks around Asheville that I am extremely excited about. So here they are!

Biltmore Season Passes are still just 99.00 until April 1st! This is a great deal.

Don’t forget you can still pick up your tickets for the ground breaking ceremony New Belgium Asheville. Can get these tickets at the Grey Eagle or Bruisin Ales.

Orchid Exhibit at the NC Arboretum is March 29th and 30th.

Live Well Expo at the Ag Center March 29th until 5PM and this is free and the entire cast of WLOS 13 will be there.

The Go Green Jam at the Orange Peel is March 28th and tickets are only 9.00.

The first Asheville Tourist game is April 3rd at 7:05 PM and it’s Thirsty Thursday!! There are also games throughout the entire weekend.

The new Brazilian Steakhouse downtown opens March 29th.

Tickets go on sale next week for beer city festival!!!

April 5th an Arcade/Video game inspired art show at Zapow, free beer and wine and the chance to meet and buy local art!

Also most of the roads along the Blue Ridge parkway as well as the Great Smokey Mountains have reopened for Spring..