Major Life Update: We’re Moving!

Two blogs posts in one day?! Who is she?!

But I have some very exciting news to share that Dolly and I are moving!

And where are we moving to?? Well… we’re moving to… or back to…

SAN ANTONIO!

Reflecting on my time in Houston is bittersweet. I spent so much time working and going back to San Antonio that I don’t think I built much of a life or friend circle here, let’s not even start on the dating aspect. However, being in Houston brought me Dolly, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

Y’all know in March of this year that my mom donated a kidney to her brother, and I kept wanting to be back and close to my parents more and more. It’s been on my heart for a while now and I’m just not happy in Houston.

Not that moving is going to solve that, but I know I’ll feel better having family close by. Dolly lovessssss my parents and I know she’s going to be so happy to see them more often.

And the good news is, I’m not saying goodbye to Houston completely. I’m staying with my company and will work remotely in SA, and come back to be with the team on a monthly basis.

I can’t wait to show y’all my new place as I put it together! In fact, I can’t wait to see it myself lol my parents went to look at it for me!

Here’s to the next chapter!

MUMU x Barbie Malibu Recap

Welp, I’m about three months late on posting this recap, but it was truly the highlight of the summer for me and I wanted to have a permanent place on the blog to remember the amazing Show Me Your Mumu x Barbie Malibu trip.

This was truly a pinch me moment and I am so thankful to the entire MUMU team for always supporting and encouraging me. It’s a dream to work with a brand that lets me bring my voice and body to their brand. Working with MUMU as they’ve worked to expand their extended sizing has been awesome!

Barbie and MUMU is really an awesome collaboration because as Cologne said, Barbie is every woman and she does everything.

We stayed at the beautiful Surfrider hotel!
Talk about views!
Seriously, could this place be any more gorgeous?! Shop my two piece look here!
Matching with Hailee!

Night one included a happy hour, meeting so many internet friends turned IRL friends, and ended with Mickey D’s and a dance party! I knew I was going to be in good company all weekend!

Somehow I made it down to the beach the next morning for a workout with Megan Roup from The Sculpt Society. Megan was such an encourager, and shared ways to modify as we moved. Shop my Barbie workout look here

After our workout sesh, we had a great breakfast and had mini massages. Talk about being spoiled this weekend

Then it was time for a beach day and picnic! The water was freezing so I just put my toes in, but we got tons of compliments on our fun suits! Shop my beach day look here!

Afterwards, I needed a rest and some lunch as the sun was draining my energy. We headed back to The Surfrider (which is across the street from the beach) and were treated to some hair and makeup treats! I got lashes, a lip, and a hair curl

Put on the cutest pj’s for getting ready! I sized up! Shop them here!
Can we take moment to talk about the final look?! I felt like a million bucks headed up the final event!
Insert Life Size movie quote here! The MUMU team went all out this weekend, including making this Barbie box! Shop my dress here!
Such a highlight to be able to spend time with Sabrina, who has been a good friend throughout my blogging journey!

I have so many more pictures and memories to share, but this will have to wrap up at some point lol! The last night ended with another dance party and Taco Bell! It was seriously like a sorority, summer camp, and sister trip all in one. The group was amazing and I walked away feeling like I made so many more friends! Thank you MUMU for including me!

Reflecting on 5 Years of That Blonde Rebel – Answering Your Questions Here!

I am sitting here just trying to wrap my head around how it’s been five years since I started this blog! My life has been so profoundly and positively impacted by this amazing community of women. I’m answering some of your questions and reflecting on these last five years. Whether you’re new here or have been around since the beginning, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I got started back in 2017 during a really tough time in my life. I was having a very difficult time in the classroom (I taught 10th and 11th grade English), was feeling lost, and really needed a hobby. My mom actually started her Instagram and blog before me (Hi Mom!) and I was living in San Antonio and would be her “Insta Husband”, taking her photos, helping her create content. She encouraged me to start ThatBlondeRebel and it’s been a wild ride ever since. I started my IG first and ran that for several months and then started my blog five months later!

In the picture below, you can see my first IG post EVER!

Q: What’s been the greatest change in your style evolution?

A: Good question! I have always loved fashion, but I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I will spend more money on quality pieces instead of constantly indulging in fast fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I am part of the problem as a blogger, in terms of fast fashion, but I’ve gotten better about where I spend my money. Another thing would be the confidence I’ve gained to try things I wouldn’t have five years ago. Denim shorts, mini dresses, etc. Life is too short to wore about belly rolls and cellulite.

Q: Work vs. Rewards – Is it worth keeping up the blog?

A: Ohhh interesting one! TBR has grown a lot over the last few years and I think it is still important to own your site. Instagram, Tik Tok, it could all be gone tomorrow, right? The one thing you own? Your site. I also love having posts in one place for you. Like my Reads page (all the books I’ve read in a year), and Eats page. There’s five years worth of content on this site! Should I reshare some of my most read posts over the years? Could be fun to look back.

I’m not going to lie, though, running this account… this is work! At times, it feels like a second full-time job. However, I’m better at stepping away when I need to and not feeling pressured to share every single day (although I’m very active on my page).

Q: You were so new at the mannequin challenge?!

A: Yes, I was only a few months in to running my IG! If you don’t know what she’s talking about, back in Spring 2017, I got to do a mannequin challenge at Neiman Marcus with some other bloggers (including my mom!). I loved putting this outfit together so much. It was very much a Liza outfit that I would have worn. Although I didn’t win, it was awesome to be a part of! Check out pics from my styled look below!

Q: In these five years, how has plus size fashion evolved and what does plus size look like in store?

A: LOTS of thoughts on this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Plus size fashion has definitely evolved. Big names like Anthropologie, Madewell, Tanya Taylor, Show Me Your Mumu, have all worked to expand their lines. This is progress (insert clapping hands emoji here)! However, the in-store shopping experience for plus is still extremely dismal. With news hitting this last week of Old Navy removing plus from 75 of their stores, it’s just another brand in a long line who didn’t consult with plus consumers on the roll out. Anthro removed plus from almost all their stores (only 10 carried it) – which can we pause for a second and talk about this? EVERY Anthro has a petite section but the average sized woman in the US in 18, so make that make sense (insert eye rolling emojis here lol). Nordstrom’s plus section is store is sad, and Walmart doesn’t always have the plus sizes available in store. So although brands are expanding, we’ve regressed in terms of making in-store shopping accessible for all. Remember Loft’s plus rollout? Yea, although advertised in store, my local stores didn’t have it. I want to be able to go shopping with my mom and sister, with my friends, and have options. I almost always hate shopping in-person now, just because this is such an uphill battle and feels discouraging.

Q: What has been your proudest moment?

A: Gosh, there’s been so many pinch-me moments and I’m so grateful for the community we’ve built at That Blonde Rebel and all the opportunities that have come my way. Two things certainly stand out when I think about what makes me proud. The first is during the crazy Texas freeze of 2021, the TBR community came together and raised $6,600 in 72 hours for Kids’ Meals Houston, a nonprofit organization that lost all their food and reserves after they lost power from the freeze. I’ve volunteered and working with KMH for years, and it feels extremely rewarding to be Hunger Hero for Houston kiddos.

This photo was taken before the weather took a turn for the worse

The other proud moment was being included this past May for Show Me Your Mumu‘s Barbie Collaboration Launch. The weekend was an absolute dream and I certainly would not have been invited to Malibu had it not been for all of you supporting and shopping my Mumu picks. So thankful for my relationship with the Mumu fam and have been happy to see and be a part of their expanding into extended sizing!

Shop my Top and Skirt

Q: How do you balance this account (the business aspect) with your full-time career?

A: I think for me, it’s been all about time management. I do most of my shooting, filming, and writing on the weekends. I’ll respond to emails and messages as I can. Would I love to be a full-timer?! Absolutely! But as a single woman in my 30s, I have to be able to fully support myself and I wouldn’t be able to continue to live at the lifestyle I’m accustomed to on blogging alone. My full time job provides me a consistent salary, insurance, and a 401K. I think people don’t talk much about this side. Have I made money from blogging? Yes, a pretty penny actually, but it will remain a passionate side hustle (and second job) for the time being.

Q: How do you feel like you’ve grown as a person in the last five years?

A: Oh my gosh, so much! I’m stronger, more confident, and more reflective. I truly feel lifted up by y’all in so many challenging moments, losing Suellen traumatically, leaving the classroom, moving to Houston, getting Dolly and becoming a dog mom again, quitting my job. Y’all have been here for all the highs and all the lows and because of y’all, I’ve felt empowered to put me first, make decisions that are best for me, and worry less about people pleasing. I’m not afraid to share my opinions, not afraid to get on my soapbox once in a while, and not afraid to show my dimpled legs anymore. Y’all have truly been a gift and as you tell me I inspire you, y’all do the same for me! We’ve grown together and I wouldn’t be me without this page and this community.

Q: Did you ever get discouraged?

A: Absolutely. Still do. It is hard to grow in this space nowadays. Other bloggers doing loop giveaways, buying followers, challenges with the algorithm. All make getting noticed by potential supporters and brands that much harder. Not to mention, the fatphobic and rude people who want to discourage you cowardly from behind their keyboards. All of this would have made me sad and discouraged a year ago. Now I just focus on doing me, being me, and whoever is here to support it, that’s great!

Q: What do you like most about being on social media?

A: The sense of community! Five years ago, there really weren’t a ton of plus size bloggers in this space. Now we have a strong presence in the blogging community and honestly have helped make this space more inclusive. Connecting with so many of my readers over the past five years has been incredible! I follow a lot of you and love seeing you live your lives and knowing that we’ve connected because of fashion but now we’re connected by more! Y’all are an amazing group and it fills my cups to know so many of you across the globe. Okay, now I could keep going, but this will get more sappy lol. Overall, I’m extremely grateful for the connections made with my readers and supporters, other bloggers, and brands!

Q: How long will you be on this journey?

A: Easy one! As long as this community continues to have me and feels impacted by my presence! Excited to continue to grow!

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to start their own business?

A: Get organized, create a plan, and do it! Don’t dive headfirst and put all your eggs in one basket. Let your business be the side hustle to start. Nurture it, grow it in your spare time, invest what you can and when you can. This keeps the passion for your business alive, thriving, and growing, while staying afloat with your active income. When you’re ready to make the switch over, you’ll know when the time, environment, and finances are right. I hope that helps!

Thanks for submitting these great questions, they really made me pause and think. Thank you all for reading along these last five years, here’s to the next five!

My Favorite Books of 2021

I read 24 books last year and wow, there were so many good ones, but these were the top picks!

I absolutely loved One to Watch! Think Bachelorette with a plus size bach! So many of the experiences our main character experiences are relatable for me. I need this to be made into a movie stat, and honestly I would love to play Bea. Witty, funny, shocking at times, this was a great read!
Elin Hildebrand has to be one of my favorite authors, and 28 Summers has to be one of my favorite novels of all time. This book follows the same time, next year type of romantic relationship over 28 years. I read this one on a plane and SOBBED. Definitely a bittersweet ending.
The Guest List is a mystery up until the very end! This is a who-done-it that keeps you turning the page. Set on an island off the Ireland coast for a wedding weekend where everyone has a secret!
I read The Last Thing He Told Me in two days! Think Enron but in The Silicon Valley. Hannah think she’s met the love of her life, widowed Dad, Owen. Things turn into an absolute nightmare when Owen takes off but leaves a note to Hannah to protect his daughter! This was a gripping read!
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a true story of one man’s harrowing journey to survive the Holocaust and make it out with the love of his life. This is a hard read at times, but it is our responsibility to know these stories of endurance, survival, and hope.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop is tale of one British town’s people and it’s central spot, the bookshop. There’s multiple character story lines and bittersweet moment. I absolutely loved this book!

My Word of 2022

If y’all have been reading along the past couple of years, you know that I choose a word every year to focus on. In 2019 it was Growth, in 2020 it was Focus, and 2021 was Abundance. I very much enjoy picking a word instead of setting myself up for failure when I previously couldn’t meet a rigid set goal.

So my word for this year? Well, it was very hard to decide, and I will let you in on the two I’ve been going back and forth about. Ease and Grace. Here’s why I was torn. Ease is defined as freedom from labor, pain, or physical annoyance; tranquil rest; comfort, freedom from concern, anxiety, or solicitude; a quiet state of mind, freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility. Now doesn’t that just sound like what we all need? Some ease. The last almost two years now have been anything but smooth regardless of your circumstances. We have all been impacted in one way or another and in many people’s cases, in multiple ways. So I like Ease and I want to keep it in my back pocket. But then we get to Grace. And a lot of times, people think of Grace as faithfulness, empathy, and forgiveness. However, Grace can be interpreted in many ways and can also be defined as elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action, a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment, favor or goodwill, moral strength. So you can probably see why I’m torn. Both are extremely relevant to me currently. I want things to be smooth this year, I want to not be so combative and find myself operating more in a state of ease rather than insecure fortitude (i.e. moving forward but with no sense of direction). I want moral strength to offer empathy, understanding, and extend grace to myself and others as needed. I sincerely need both of these things in my life.

So honestly, I don’t know why I’m holding myself to some strict rule of only one word, so I guess that decides it. I will be picking two words for 2022 and very much am willing Ease and Grace to help me live a more peaceful and happy year ahead. Did you pick a word or words?! TELL ME!

Shop: 2022 Energy Sweatshirt, Hoops, Jeans

5 Hard Truths I was Reminded in 2021

Well, hey friends! It seems like another Covid year has come and we made it. So much loss, grief, panic, and anxiety filled so many of us. I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably also found some ways to find joy and happiness. Puppies, babies, promotions, homes, new jobs, engagements, moves, weddings, etc.

Be proud of all the pivoting, resiliency, and growth you’ve shown the last 12 months. May we leave this year stronger, wiser, and kinder.

I had several major life changes this year, some happy, some hard, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Below are 5 hard truths I was reminded of this year, and I’m sure most of you can relate.

  1. Priorities change and balancing all of them means compromise and it is important to change the things that no longer align with your values, the things you’re no longer willing to compromise on. You can’t do it all at all times, so you must re-prioritize to stay balanced. And no I don’t mean balance is 50/50 split, balance is whatever you need it to be and it is ever evolving. Be okay with it.
  2. That leads into the next one. You will disappoint people with your decisions and actions. No is a complete sentence and you don’t owe anyone anything.
  3. Everything in life is temporary. Time, relationships, jobs. Hold on tightly to the things that matter most to you and let go of the things that don’t.
  4. Don’t take it personally. Everyone is looking out for themselves and their actions say a hell of a whole lot more about them than they ever did about you. Free the sting from your heart and head and move forward (with or without said person, it is your call what you will accept and tolerate in your life).
  5. Learn to like yourself, flaws and all (hell, love yourself, but baby steps is okay, too). We are our harshest critics and that can be self-destructing. You are capable of way more than you think and your biggest person to impress, to encourage, to challenge, and to motivate is the person looking back at you in the mirror. Make her proud!
  6. Throwing in an extra one just because I think it’s noteworthy. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, is fighting battles that you have absolutely no idea about. Be there when you can. Offer support and a listening ear when available. And above all, do no harm and take no shit. Be kind to you and others.

I also wanted to share this sequin shirt dress because DUH, it’s new years eve, and although I’m staying home, I still never miss an opportunity to dress up!

Shop: Dress, Bag, Hoops (old from Kendra Scott), Lipstick

Top 15 Products YOU Purchased in 2021!

For the second year in a row, y’all invested in a good strapless bra and I’m proud of us! Get those girls the support they need!
We are LOVING the straight leg jean trend and these met all my requirements, I think for y’all too!
This chunky Free People sweater was a top purchase (and unfortunately out of stock). Hope y’all love this one!
This top is another top purchase this year (was in the top 10 of 2020)! The seller is super nice and accommodating and I sent her a message asking for a 2X and she did it! I’ve ordered this in 5 colors! I love it!
We all went nuts for these affordable bow heels!
I tried the famous nap dress this year and y’all did, too! Size down in these as they run big!
The best, everyday lipstick! Even though we’re wearing masks, I still like to have a pretty pout!
White jeans are a difficult find for everyone, but we found the best with these Good American cropped jeans! Unfortunately out of stock but hopefully will be back in time for Spring!
This eyelet dress is actually full in stock in the black! Such an easy to throw on dress for casual events or can be dressed up!
These skinny jeans were also a top purchase for y’all this year! I scooped up my pair during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! Love that Madewell offers standard and plus sizes in these! Currently unavailable
So much controversy this year about if a smocked dress was dressy enough for a wedding but y’all seemed to love this one (sold out)!
Hate getting sunburn, but this recovery lotion was a lifesaver! This took away the redness and the pain off my shoulders and it seems like y’all liked it too!
This blouse was a top seller for 2020 and I’m not surprised it made the cut this year too! Such an amazing piece for work and play!
And last but certainly not least, this amazing hat! I have it in three colors and this neutral was my latest addition! I hope y’all are loving it, too!

How to Build a Presence on LinkedIn and Some Workwear

Hey friends and welcome back to my little corner of the inter webs! As a lot of you know, my full time gig is a campus recruiter for a consulting firm. I hire new grads for our starting positions in engineering, project management, IT, and data analytics. Over the years, I have really loved giving back to students and offering professional development to help them fine tune their resumes, build out their LinkedIn, dress to impress, and master interview etiquette.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to underclassmen is to start building out their LinkedIn profile ASAP. And then continually update as they gain work/internship experience. I can’t tell you how many students miss this step early on and create a headache for themselves down the road and potentially miss out on great opportunities. Recruiters spend a majority of their time looking at profiles on LI, so let’s make yours stand out! Check out the below tips and let me know if it’s helpful!

Build a Presence on LinkedIn

First things first, choose a professional-looking photo. If you’re a college student, most university career centers offer this to you at no charge. Take advantage!

Write a summary of yourself and your experience.

If job searching, add your #opentowork logo (available in the profile picture section) and industries/jobs you’re interested in. Make it really easy for recruiters and attach your most recent resume to your profile.

Add your work experience, school(s) attended, and skills.

Check out two sections of my profile for reference below:

Your profile should be a reflection of you!

Grow Your Network

Connect with thought leaders (I personally love following Brené Brown and Sara Blakely), colleagues, and industry professionals. The more people you connect with, the more the LI algorithm will suggest people and groups to continue to expand your network.

Join relevant groups – LOTS of options here! Examples: Young Professionals of Houston, National Society of Black Engineers, etc.

Showcase Your Passions

The best thing you can do is engage, engage, engage! Here’s how: comment on relevant posts, tag others in your network, share content with your own commentary, and write and share your own original content!

And now, because I don’t know if you’re here for the advice or the workwear, I’m not going to leave you hanging, so here’s a CUTE look for office wear!

Shop: Top, Jeans, Heels, Glasses, Bracelets, Hoops, Adorable Dog (not available for purchase lol)

Summarizing 2020 and Intention Setting for 2021

What did I learn in 2020? I learned that I don’t like to be alone (I am not one in favor of permanent WFH), I fell back in love with reading, my relationships with friends and family are extremely important, and that the only person who can make you happy is YOU! My word that I verbalized in my intention setting for 2020 was FOCUS. I focused on my job, on saving money, on the blog, and honestly, by the end of it, just making it through the year. I wrote a blog post at the beginning on 2020 about how setting resolutions has really set me up for failure in the past and I am really happy I didn’t put the pressure on myself to hit specific goals. Intention setting is my route that I’m enjoying and I’ve set some intentions for this upcoming year (in no particular order):

I intend to read 24 books this year (2 books x month) – I read 16 books in 2020 so I want to continue that and increase! I think it’s so good at night to close my laptop, put down my phone, and get lost in a new story. I’m looking forward to it!

I intend to eat at home more. I’m starting this month by purchasing meals from Home Chef. The meals look absolutely yummy and I cannot wait to put my chef’s hat on. What seems awesome about this is that each meal (you pick three) come in two servings, so essentially I’ll get six meals for the week. I’ll keep y’all posted on what I think! The first week’s meals will be here on Tuesday!

I intend to intentionally move my body several times a week and can’t wait to get my Peloton on the 16th. I’m committed to 30 minutes 2-3 times a week and will see how I do. I also want to make it clear that I am not doing this to lose weight. It truly is to move more (I was so sedentary in 2020 and that needs to change) and improve my mental health. I always feel better and am honestly nicer and happier once I’ve released some endorphins.

I intend to save three months salary this year. I accomplished that goal in 2020 (and then I bought myself my Chanel bag) and would like to do it again in 2021! I work hard and I’ve realized I need to make my money work hard, too.

I intend to grow this community even more – recommitting to several blog posts a week, asking to be compensated appropriately with brand partnerships, and expanding my lifestyle topics (wellness, cooking, home decor) even more. I dipped my toe into the home and beauty sectors this year and am excited to continue!

Here are my top nine Instagram posts of 2020

We covered a lot of topics on my Instagram this year: body acceptance, my move and home decor, body positivity (especially in swim season), athletic wear on a soft body (thanks Fabletics for continuing to work with me), wore amazing dresses, the election and BLM. I used my voice, I didn’t shy away from tough conversations and although I lost hundreds of followers, I gained a deeper relationship with so many of you! This year was hard, but I’m also grateful as I feel like I’ve grown so much as a human being. I’m looking forward to the inauguration, to getting vaccinated, and to finding another new normal!

So what is my word for 2021?!

ABUNDANCE – we are going BIG this year. So here’s to being abundant in health, wealth, and happiness! That’s really all I have to say about my word of the year at this time and I think I summed it up pretty succinctly LOL.

Thanks for being here for another year!

Xx

10 Popular Items You Bought in 2020

Really excited to review these items and if they’re still available, I will link!

  1. Monogrammed Wallet – How absolutely fabulous is this?! I found this company on Etsy and want to order more items from them! They’re based in the UK so shipping takes about 4 weeks. I got the pink wallet and get SO many compliments. Shop it HERE
  2. Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Bra – I think this one goes without saying much. Being bigger busted, this is really the only bra that keeps everything in place. Shop it HERE
  3. Knit Set from Anthropologie – This was one of the most popular items this year and I hope that you are LOVING it! These pieces can definitely be worn as separates too, so I’ll continue to share ways to wear it! Shop it HERE
  4. Good American Crop Jeans – There are four places that I shop for jeans and Good American are honestly the best quality. I’ve had some pairs for over 5 years! If you’re looking to not pay full price, Nordstrom Rack has some styles regularly. Shop these HERE
  5. Rachel Parcell Smocked Dress – Y’all loved this dress and I did not sleep on this one as I got it in the Mauve and in the Leopard. Fits great and I think it’s a style you can wear year round! No longer available
  6. The Ever Popular Printed Anthro Top – For two years running, this top has been IT! Thank goodness it’s continually restocked LOL I’ve bought it in three prints and wear it all the time – it’s colorful and full of pattern play! Shop it HERE
  7. The Knee High Boots That FIT!!!! – Best find of 2020?! Probably the OTK boots from Target that actually fit my thick calves and y’all’s too – I got so many messages that they are magic and I definitely agree! Shop them HERE
  8. Flowy Dress – I think we were all shopping more affordably this year and H&M was a huge WIN for me (although that shipping was frustrating, am I right?!). I will still be all about an easy, afforable, and flowy dress going into Spring and Summer! Still available in stripes HERE
  9. OTS Sweater – Another great affordable find! H&M does a great sweater selection! Still available HERE
  10. Plush Blanket – We spent A LOT more time at home this year and a majority of time we were in athleisure, am I right? I can’t decide between my Barefoot Dreams Blanket and this one, which one I like more. Both are so cozy, this one being a more affordable option. Shop it HERE

Thank you for supporting this space here, I hope it’s brought you joy, a laugh, and some great pieces for your closet!

Xx