Buy Nearby Guide: Lansing

August 24, 2016 by  
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I've claimed Lansing as my home since checking into the dorms at MSU in 2004 and so much has changed in the last 12 years. Lots of new developments along Michigan Avenue, Reo Town, Old Town and other little pockets and neighborhoods. One of my clients, Michigan Retailers Association, has launched a year-round shop local in Michigan campaign called Buy Nearby and naturally, I want to support this effort and dedicate a post to share my favorite places in Lansing.

I find myself spending the most time in Old Town since I gravitate to the shops and it's also where I live. Read below for a breakdown of the local retailers including boutiques, salons, and restaurants I love and visit the most!

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Favorite Salons & Spas


Laurel Salon: Located in Okemos, it's such a gorgeous space and I've followed my favorite esthetician there and so glad it introduced me to such a beautiful, serene salon. Camilla has been waxing and now tinting my brows since my early 20's--even when I lived in Chicago briefly, I'd come back to Lansing and have her fix the brows. Her room at Laurel has a giant window facing all things nature. This salon has a lot of great talent and experience, plus the salon is light and bright with a laidback luxe vibe. What I love about the salon is the focus on what's good for your body--inside and out.

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The Standard: The Standard focuses on hair, eyelash extensions and brows and it's the cutest space in Old Town. The owner Michelle cuts and colors my hair now and I've had a handful of the girls handle my NovaLash extensions--and each time it's amazing! They also style my hair with a braid for a great price--I'll go in and get a quick crown braid to wear through the weekend. What I personally love so much about this salon is how Michelle hires new talent and personally trains and educates them and invests so much into each stylist. They're on top of new trends and willing to do anything like take a walk-in braid appointment.

Vada's Day Spa: This is where I go for any of my other waxing needs. Vada, the owner, makes you feel so incredibly comfortable and she has years of experience. Her spa is in an office park, so initially you may be like where the hell am I? But trust that inside those doors is the best brazilian wax you'll find.


Favorite Shops & Boutiques



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Retail Therapy: Retail Therapy is my most favorite place to shop in Lansing. I worked with Retail Therapy a couple years ago for a blog opportunity and I've been hooked ever since. Celeste, the owner, is everything I want to be when I grow up. She's the most stylish woman on this planet with the biggest heart. She inspires me professionally and of course, her taste and aesthetic is bold and refined--also inspiring. She picks out such cool pieces that are mostly designed and produced in the U.S. with a small set of labels out of Europe that are impeccably made.

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Belle Row: A bit off the beaten path in East Lansing, you'll find a darling boutique carrying affordable contemporary lines of clothing and accessories. You can snag an affordable dress for an upcoming wedding or snag your basics like black leggings guilt-free. 

Bradly's Home and Garden: This store is the source of all home inspiration. From furniture to lighting to small decor pieces and gifty items, it's large and carries so many amazing pieces. I walk James past the store almost daily and do a lot of window shopping--which is always stocked with new decor accents that I feel as if I need, like the ceramic cacti I bought recently.

Favorite Restaurants


The Creole: This New Orleans inspired bar and restaurant packs a punch to each dish and cocktail offered. I've experienced this place for breakfast, lunch and dinner--and it's just a great place no matter what time of day, but this is definitely my favorite brunch spot. French press coffee, grapefruit mimosas and the best quiche--it's a great way to start a weekend.

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Strange Matter: The best coffee shop in town hands down. Think hand brewed coffees, syrups made in-house and delicious treats (like donuts!) I'm not much of a coffee connoisseur, but I can taste when that shit is real good, plus they are priced well. Can't. Beat. That. I love any of the sweet drinks like  the iced nolas and cinnamon honey lattes.

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Cheers: If you head downtown during the lunch hour, check out Cheers for a deliciously filling protein shake. This is where I go usually every day of the week for lunch. The hours are limited--10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays so it's the perfect spot to grab lunch or a late breakfast. Birthday cake, skinny mint, brownie batter and peanut butter are a few flavors I have in my current rotation. 

Thai Village: A place my co-workers crave daily and love to grab lunch downtown and a place I love to order delivery from during the weeknights. The spicy fried rice varieties blow my mind. Because I'm trying to eat much healthier, I order delivery not often and I can divide this order into plenty of meals!

Fitness Faves


FLEXcity Fitness: I've been a dedicated FLEXcitizen for just over two years now and this place has really helped me become physically fit, but transforming the way I look at health, fitness and eating right. When I think about what I love most in Lansing and what I would miss/couldn't live without if I left, it's this studio and the instructors (especially owners Jenny and Trista!) 

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[Desigual dress and Quay sunglasses from Retail Therapy, blow out by the Standard]

This is just a very short list of my favorites, but learn more about what's going in different areas of town by visiting the Old Town Commercial Association,  Downtown Lansing Inc. and Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. Also be sure to participate in the Buy Nearby photo contest on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Just use the hashtag #ibuynearby during the first weekend in October and you could win a $500 Discovery gift card!

Cut It Out

August 22, 2016 by  
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I styled this dress for a grand opening at Laurel Salon a few weeks ago where I snapped photos of the ribbon cutting, indulged in a delicious cupcake and was able to meet more of the team at Laurel. Plus, I love seeing Steph and Janae who own the salon. I'm pretty much in awe of both of them for their respective talents: Steph's hair coloring, creativity, laid-back attitude and sense of humor that perfectly complements Janae-- the perfect mix of creative and Type A MBA bad ass business owner. The two of them make a great team personally and professionally. Can you imagine working with your spouse? They do it flawlessly and the grand opening gave everyone a sneak peek of how amazing their talents come together and what it brings to the Lansing area. If you haven't checked out the salon yet, you definitely should come in for a tour and check out their services!
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[cut-out dress by LNA, rings c/o Autumn Lace, clutch by CHC, similar black boots, necklace by Jenny Bird]
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Photos by Ashley Howard

A Little More Sunshine

August 19, 2016 by  
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This beauty is Ashley--you usually see her work from the other side of the camera when you're on my blog since besides being a gorgeous model, she's a talented photographer and snaps a lot of my photos! The summer light was too hard to resist for a quick photoshoot and here are just a few photos--more on her blog at Ashley Ellen Howard!
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To Fruitport and Back

August 17, 2016 by  
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Paid my mama a visit last weekend--we have a cruise and a short stay in Florida coming up next month and she's in the zone for preparation. We found her some new luggage, light tops and shorts--and bonus it was all on major sale. We ended our shopping excursion in Fruitport to grab ice cream and then I was off to Grand Rapids to shoot a family photo session. I used to HATE coming back home and I love heading to West Michigan now as much as I can.
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[top from UO, similar Blank denim shorts, Rayban aviators, similar sandals, straw hat from Retail Therapy, rings by Katie Dean Jewelry]
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black + white

August 15, 2016 by  
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I somehow stumbled upon a pair of perforated leather shorts I bought last summer, couldn't fit into and never wore. Tags still attached. I wondered if my ass could shimmy into them and make it work and by the beard of Zeus, they fit like a glove. I made my beautiful model friend Ashley try the shorts on too and they fit her. She's like a size 24 and some perfect model height so you can imagine my excitement when they fit her too. I'm going to let her borrow them for her trip to cali and start the sisterhood of the traveling leather shorts.
Like fate, the perfect off-the-shoulder top entered my life at the moment when I needed a perfect flowy top to fit with this tight pair of leather shorts--and I loved the balance. I wore this look for my friend's bridal shower and meet up with family for lunch. I traded out the heels for flats though--too hard to traipse around town in heels. I'm finally feeling my age. 
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[begonia top c/o People's Project LA, shorts from Banana Republic, similar black mules, choker c/o 4th Street Boutique, bag by Givenchy, stardust ring set and  sahara midi-ring (worn on pinky because I liked it there better on my hand) c/o Autumn Lace Jewelry]
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Photos by Ashley Howard

A Healthy Summer

August 10, 2016 by  
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Last winter and spring brought a ton of changes and stresses. A break up, a move, finishing a master's program that I wasn't entirely excited or passionate about and doggie sicknesses. I gained weight, let workouts slip away and ordered pizzas for most of meals. I was in a slump. Nothing was motivating me to change until my favorite fitness studio, FLEXcity Fitness started to promote a new nutrition program they were going to begin offering in May. I knew with their guidance and the accountability that came up with the program, I could stick with it, if for nothing else but embarrassment over writing down and sharing my shitty "meals" and laziness with the food/workout journal. 
I went from eating shitty snacks every hour and drinking virtually no water and only pop to eating the appropriate portions of protein, carbs and good fats and drinking a lot more workouts--and challenged to up my workouts to four days a week. I was sick and lethargic for probably the first four or five days. I felt absolutely terrible. But after I came out of that, I felt so much more energy. My skin cleared up a lot, I could push myself harder during workouts and I felt confident, not ashamed by my lazy sloth-like lifestyle.
I lost 9 pounds and shit ton of inches in that first month and it took two months more, but I finally reached 10 pounds lost and even more inches. My waist went from a 31 to a 26 in the last three months and my thighs and hips lost a considerable amount of inches too. I'm 5'4" and weigh 134 now. I was really tied up in the number, wanting to be in the 120's, the weight I've always been at up until this last year. But now I fit all my old clothes better and feel so much stronger, so I'm working on accepting that number.
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I'm so thankful Jenny and Trista who own FLEX for offering the nutrition program and using their expertise to help us reach our fitness and nutrition goals. I would highly recommend this program if you live near one of their studios in Bloomfield Hills, Lansing or Grand Rapids (all in Mich. so far!)
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[top c/o CHLDR, align pants and sports bra from Lululemon, watch c/o Obaku]

Golden Hour

August 8, 2016 by  
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Last week was the BEST WEEK EVER. I'm legally locked down to buy my first home (wee!), discovered I lost 10 pounds (and a shit ton of inches!) just from eating healthier and brought in a new client at work! All of this happened in one day too! I ended this amazing, adrenaline-rushed day with some friend time with Ashley and a little photoshoot with my new 85 mm lens and the prettiest sunlight. And a trip to Whole Foods for snacks and flowers..and we also took a drive by my soon-to-be neighborhood and house. 
I've been living in high waist denim shorts and bodysuits and threw this maxi-length flowy top by People's Project LA over to give it a more elevated look. It seemed so dramatic as I glided through Whole Foods with my fruit snacks.
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[mystic vest dress c/o People's Project LA, bodysuit from UO (just $29, I own 3!), shorts from Gap, necklaces by Katie Dean Jewelry, watch c/o Obaku]
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Photos by Ashley Howard

Easy Like Sunday Morning

August 3, 2016 by  
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Last Sunday started off cool and wonderful. It's been a little too hot for my taste and finally, I was free to wear jeans and a light sweatshirt comfortably to brunch and some photo work at Retail Therapy. By the end of the shoot, I was sweating profusely and had to change into breathable workout clothes for the rest of my lazy day.
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[sweater by CHRLDR, 721 High Rise Denim by Levi's (quite possibly the best jeans I own), rings by Katie Dean Jewelry, watch c/o Shinola, glasses c/o Firmoo, bag by Rebecca Minkoff (similar totes by RM)]
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Dress for Summer

August 1, 2016 by  
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Feeling those boho vibes this summer, especially elevated in this dress. Most of the time I prefer to wear jeans and anything baggy but it's a nice feeling to feel pretty and feminine from time to time.
Boohoo sent me this fabulous dress and they also sent me a quiz to define my style squad, which was no surprise at Casual Squad, which is fitting for my typical ripped jeans, tank and birks, but I love the look and feel of summer bohemian. The Boho Squad is definitely one I relate to more with this look and digging the boho playsuits and the maxi dresses.
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[dress c/o Boohoo, sports bra by lululemon, hat from Retail Therapy, sunglasses by Quay, heels c/o Lulus, choker c/o 4th Street Boutique]
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Black + Grey

July 29, 2016 by  
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I've been in desperate need of more professional clothing for work and once I found these culottes online, I scooped them up and they actually fit! I donated my boring ass dress pants a year out of college and vowed to wear professional clothing that better suited me. And these culottes are it! If only I had these eight years ago as a pant option. Since they're so high waist, I could pull off this tight little crop top and tucked into my pants (with a blazer and black heels!) for the press conference we had in Detroit with a client. For a coffee date with Ashley and dinner with Sam, I traded out the heels for oxfords. My feet just can't handle a pair of high heels like they used to, damn.
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[crop top from American Apparel, culottes from Missguided, watch c/o Obaku, platform oxfords from Lori's Shoes, bag by Proenza Schouler, choker by Vanessa Mooney, rings by Katie Dean Jewelry]
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Photos by Ashley Howard

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