Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I was working a few weeks ago when an older gentleman came into the restaurant with his wife. He discretely slipped the hostess this note and she passed it along to me before I greeted the table.
Typed, printed, and trimmed to just the right size to protect the surprise, I couldn't help but be impressed by the lengths he went to to make his wife's birthday special. I held onto the note, and in the days that followed I found myself wondering what other ways he has surprised her throughout the course of their marriage, and even now, what plans he's currently making to keep their relationship new and exciting. Even at 80 years old. 
[image via pinterest]
I think it impacted me most significantly because when I picture their lives, from the outside looking in, they seem strongly intertwined, tightly woven together. He knows her faults and shortcomings, she knows his quirks and nuances. They spend their days together. They spend their nights together. They are a part of each other in a way that cannot be separated. He is her future, she is is past,  2 have become 1 . But even now, after all these years, he wants desperately to impress her. He values her, cherishes her, and adores her. This is obvious. I'd say it was probably hard for him to keep this small surprise a "secret" from her, as I assume they share everything with one another. But he pulled it off. And she was thrilled. 

That is love.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I've never been a fan of anything overwhelmingly sensual. And in all honesty, I don't think anyone would ever describe my style as "sexy" (and that is perfectly fine with me.) I much prefer subtle beauty, quiet confidence, and easy, natural appeal to the skin-tight, plunging necklines, and pitching hems so typical of my generation. 

Don't get me wrong, my style rarely veers toward Puritanical (though I will admit my hair starts looking Amish if I put off getting a trim for too long), but there's something to be said for demure charm with flirty accents. That's exactly what I love about the peek-a-boo/cold shoulder top. At a glance, it's your typical tee. Some have long sleeves, some have short sleeves. Silk, cotton, chiffon, take your pick. What makes this top stand out is the coy slit right up the top of the sleeve. Everyone knows the power of a properly-placed slit (though I would argue Angelina may have tried to over-work her's Sunday night...) 
[Marc by Marc Jacobs, Rachel Zoe3 and 4 Josh Brody via ASOS]
Peek-a-boo tops show the perfect amount of skin and really complement those toned shoulders you've worked so hard for.* I've been pining for one (or 12) ever since I read an article** in the February 2012 issue of Glamour magazine. Lauren Conrad is talking about them, and her buddy Lo is even in on the trend..., naturally, I scooped up the first one I could find. 
...and modeled it in my kitchen while my sister took pictures. Talk about a fashion blogger...

*In case you haven't quite started working on those toned shoulders, here is "The Sexy-Shoulder Workout" from Glamour. 
**I cannot, for the life of me, locate it on the interwebs, sorry friends!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Things I will accomplish today...

I've always been a lister... I love making lists. To do lists. Grocery lists. Packing lists. This week, on a whim and perhaps under the influence of a deliriously gorgeous "spring" day, I titled one "Things I will accomplish today" instead of "To Do." It may sound silly, but making this minor change really put things in perspective. 
The truth is, it's not just a list of things I need "to do." Obligations. Chores. It is a list of things that I will accomplish in order to become the person I want to be. This new understanding had an empowering, transformational effect. Rather than looking at the list of things I "had to do" begrudgingly, I had small goals and measurable benchmarks of success. When I was tempted to whine about small obstacles throughout the day, I held my tongue. In the big picture, I know I want to be a positive person, and complaining is not a characteristic of someone who is positive. Having a clear vision of where you are and where you want to be is essential. The list isn’t about chores, but rather priorities. As you can see, “unpacking” was carried over from Thursday to Friday… a task which was eventually completed Saturday night. But I did go on that bike ride with my little brother. And sometimes, the little things (like bike rides) are the most important. 

What will you accomplish today?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

hello + inspiration

Hi love doves... I feel as though a bit of an explanation is in order. 2 posts last week? The only thing more pitiful than that is the number of times I went to the gym in that 7 day span... just once. It's really a silly thing, and there's no true reason for my absence. The weather was heart-achingly beautiful until Friday, I was shockingly productive (thanks to a new technique I've employed- more on that tomorrow), and then I got waylaid by a migraine yesterday. I spent a good portion of the day in bed, curled up with Hemingway.* Thankfully, I rallied for church, which was great (have a listen here.) Well, how's that for an overshare? In short: life is sweet.

When I find myself feeling uninspired, I typically don't post, but it was quite the contrary this week. Beautiful bits of inspiration popping up all around. My mind has been an ocean of ideas, pulling every which way with the currents and trade winds, so, just for today, I will slow down. Edit. Organize. You need that, every now and then. But, if you dare, just a glimpse into what has caught my attention lately...
 [stormy seas]
 [bright ideas]
 [These BCBG heels were a steal at Marshalls... $15!]
[comfy, cozy]
[Jesus Calling is always an inspiration, but today's message was just perfect. I'm trying to be more mindful of the journey. Because it really is a beautiful ride.]

*I'm reading A Farewell to Arms, and enjoying it very much. Diving into a classic after reading loads of young adult/chick lit is kind of like jumping into the cool ocean on a hot, spring day. Rattling at first, but surprisingly refreshing once you get acclimated. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

say cheese

Disclaimer: I don't know much about cheese. It is certainly a topic I would love to learn more about, but as of now, my knowledge is pretty limited. I cannot explain the aging process to you, and I don't know the difference between blue cheese, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort (mainly because I don't care for any of them.) But I can say that cheese is the perfect counterpart to wine. And we know how I feel about wine...

Do you have a favorite cheese? I've always loved a good, sharp cheddar, Havarti is delicious melted on a sandwich, and I could  probably eat goat cheese with a spoon. Last night, at the wine bar, we ordered 4 different cheeses to snack on. French Brie, Danish Havarti, an aged, American cheddar, and the most delicious double-cream cremont. It is made from goats' milk and cows' milk, so it has an amazingly silky, smooth, texture and a beautifully balanced flavor. It reminded us of goat cheese mixed with butter. We ate it on toasted baguette, with apple slices, and (toward the end of the evening) with a fork (but that's just me). It is certainly my new favorite. Here's hoping I can find it in this tiny town's grocery store...
[and a group photo. my body is completely blocking the cheese board, but you can see a basket of baguette by my head. oh, and I don't always make obnoxious kissy faces in pictures, but we snapped this one and sent it to my favorite bee to wish her a very happy birthday. Beijos Meliss! 

P.S. if you're a cheese lover & you're ever in the Boston area, Formaggio Kitchen is a must. It is the coolest little cheese shop. An Epicurean's dream. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Review...

Hi hii my sweets! How was your weekend? Technically, I'm still enjoying mine (as I don't go back to work until tomorrow evening... hey, no judgy I am on holiday after all.) We are finally back in Wilmington after hours in the car, but we had an amazing weekend in Salisbury and Asheville! After planning to visit the Biltmore for 3 years now, we finally decided to make the trip to celebrate a late Valentine's Day. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing, romantic time. In review, a few sweet things...

Family time
The friendliest people in downtown Asheville*
The J. Crew clearance store (and running into my best friend's precious family!)
The Biltmore Estate & Winery
A shared ice cream cone
A Sunday afternoon matinee (and so.much.popcorn)
A surprise snowfall
cozy Italian dinners
lingering over cups of coffee in both morning and evening
a few extra hours of sleep
"going to church" during roadtrips (we love tuning in to North Point online... such solid teaching)
never taking enough pictures, but always promising to take more next time. 
 [Chloe said she read my post from Friday and even GUESSED that we would be at the J. Crew clearance store! The oldest sister (Lauren, not pictured) is one of my oldest and dearest friends, so naturally her family feels like family to me. I had not seen them since they moved to Asheville (and Chloe to Savannah) a few years ago, and it was such a treat running into them. I made Taylor snap this photo so I could send it to Lauren and make her jealous, just like any good friend would do.]
[Taylor's favorite part of the Biltmore? The breathtaking panoramas. Seriously, I had to pry him away from the windows. It's kind of funny, as much as we enjoyed the tour, we probably would have been equally happy hiking up the side of a mountain overlooking the Blue Ridge. (p.s. my favorite part? the kitchen, duhh.)]  
[We went to see The Vow Sunday afternoon, and it wasn't even snowing when we went in the theater (nor did we expect it to.) When the movie ended and we ventured outside, it was like a blizzard! So unexpected and totally surreal. Everyone in the cinema was giddy!]
It was a great weekend. The snow was probably the sweetest surprise of the month, but now that I've gotten that out of my system I have some serious spring fever. I'm still feeling celebratory, so tonight we are dragging the boys to a wine bar in Wilmington that I've been dying to visit. And tomorrow? Back to the grind, I promise.

*We asked some locals if you have to feed the parking meters on Saturday and after telling us yes, they started digging in their pockets to give us change! We had plenty, but the gesture was so generous and hospitable... I love the south. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Guilt-free Friday!

Hi hii kids! Happy Friday! Are you getting into anything fun this long weekend? Taylor and I loaded up the car and are headed west for a few days. To be honest, it has been a long week and this afternoon I found myself feeling pretty tired and a little defeated. It happens, but I'm certain a change of scenery will give me a change of perspective. We have super fun plans for tomorrow, but I think I'm going to hold out the details until next week! How's that for a cliffhanger? I hope it is beautiful wherever you are, and I look forward to catching you on the flip side!

Hey, it's ok...

... if 4 hours in the car justifies the consumption of 4000 calories worth of junk food. (personal faves: nacho cheese bugles and cheddar & sour cream ruffles. I'm partial to snax that turn your fingers orange. Yum.)

... if the right striped sweater (or a Starbucks cup in hand) makes you instantly feel more fashionable.

... to rationalize purchasing excessive amounts of Girl Scout cookies because "it's for a good cause." (8 boxes...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


iPhobia: (noun) 

definition: fear of going anywhere/doing anything/the thought of life in general without your iPhone

No matter where I go, my iPhone is never too far away. I really would love to say this isn't the case, but sadly it is. I am, certifiably, dependent. I use it for communicating (duh... turns out, that's what phones were technically created for), music, the camera, the news, the weather... etc etc etc...

It's so bad, in fact, that if I should happen to leave my house without my iPhone in hand, I have a moment of panic before locating it in my purse. So call it an addiction, a dependence, a loving relationship... whatever you like. But she's always been there for me...
...and I have every intention of keeping things that way.

Have fun finding the iPhone in all six pictures... some are sneakier than others! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day my sweets! I hope you are enjoying this day, celebrating the love of your dear ones. I woke up this morning and had one of those crazy God moments as I was doing my devotional...

One of my readings for today was Isaiah 41:13...

For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

I was shocked and dismayed at the verse, not because it is a new concept for me, but precisely the opposite. On this same exact day last year, God was teaching me the same exact thing. [see post here] Not just to trust Him, but to remember that He is holding my hand. As much as it impacted me then, it is as relevant to my life now as ever. We have talked about fear, anxiety, stress, and worry. And as much as I would like to say these things never bother me anymore, it would be a lie. This world can be scary. Decisions can be scary. Uncertainty can be scary. But it is a lot less scary knowing you have someone's hand to hold. And although there is a lot of uncertainly in this world, you can be certain of one thing, friend. You are loved. Today and everyday. You are loved with an everlasting love

Monday, February 13, 2012

Daddy Valentine

Is your dad your valentine? One of my sweet readers commented last week that this year her dad is her valentine and I must admit my dad will always be #1 valentine. I mean, my mom is my best friend, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I am a total daddy's girl. It's so bad, in fact, that my friends expectantly look for me to tear up at the mention of anything father-daughter (movies, songs, commercials...) Here's the thing: my dad has always been my valentine, not because of any specific, over-the-top display of affection on Valentine's Day, but because he makes me feel loved and secure the other 364 days of the year too. 

When I saw this video yesterday, I couldn't help but think that this precious little girl definitely has a "Daddy Valentine," too. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

touches of Valentine's day

Only a few days left until the sweetest day, and things are certainly starting to shape up around here...
glass jars filled with sugar cookies that, at a glance, might be mistaken for lace doilies
I guess you could call this Christmas cactus a late-bloomer, but it suits me just fine. The fuchsia blooms seem more appropriate now than they would have in December anyway.
a little pampering (manicures to celebreate a sweet friend's birthday) and gorgeous red polish.* (2 strangers have stopped me to tell me so & one even grabbed my hand! It reminded me of this exchange last year and has me thoroughly  convinced I should wear red polish all the time.)
 My mom's mantle always looks good...
 ... but I'm especially fond of the sweet, romantic touches it has right now (like this adorable photo of my parents, tucked inside a pretty glass dome.)
 This precious boy is all hearts & kisses after a fresh haircut this morning!
 It has finally been cold enough to wear these cozy fingerless gloves Taylor gave me in December! (J. Crew)
 A vintage-inspired mug
 No shortage of love notes
And I'm sure you're seen photos similar to this one all over Twitter and Instagram, but I'm loving the Valentine's cups at Starbucks!

Click here to see last year's touches of Valentine's day post.

*psst... it's the gel nail polish! Great for when I know I'm going to be particularly hard on my nails.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think Pink

Last week I was invited to attend a wine expo and tasting in Wilmington, NC. I'm always looking for an opportunity to go to Wilmington to visit my favorite boys (and drink wine, for that matter) so it was perfect! Rob and I spent the afternoon with Choice Specialty Wines, swirling, sipping, and learning a lot. The event couldn't have come at a better time, as Faith recently asked if I would do a post on some wine recommendations!  

But first, a disclaimer: I am in no way a wine expert. Enthusiast? Perhaps. Snob? Never. I think wine-making is truly an art form and I have a love and appreciation for it, but I'm not delusional enough to consider myself a sommelier. I can't differentiate between apple notes and a hint of pear... but I am all for learning and enjoying.

We sampled some great wine from South Africa, a white from Argentina (I thought they only made Malbec!) and I was introduced to a sparkling rose. I broke my only wine rule: I typically don't drink pink (ok, maybe I'm a little snobby, but white zinfandel just doesn't do it for me...) One of the wine reps coerced me into tasting this French wine by promising that it was 100% pinot noir (that is Rob's middle name) and not the least bit sweet (I don't do sweet wine, I'm sweet enough already.) 

I won't lie, I was skeptical. I had even scoped out the nearest spittoon and devised an exit strategy in case it was truly terrible. But it was delicious! And pink! And bubbly! Every girl's dream, right? It is fresh, fruity, and crisp. 

So of course you can pick up a bottle of red for Valentine's Day (I'd certainly never turn it down.) Or mix it up and think pink
[video from Funny Face... have you seen it?]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Royal Weddings

Call me a romantic sap, but I recently spent a good portion of an afternoon perusing old wedding photos of American presidents. I find it so ironic, when the Royal Wedding took place last spring, America was riveted. We woke up in the wee hours of the morning, sipped tea and indulged our inner Anglophile. But oddly enough, we rarely spend any time reminiscing over our own leaders' nuptials. Of course, I'm partial to the Reagans and the Bushs, but, for the sake of being unbiased, I will admit that the the picture of the Obamas is equally heartwarming...

JFK and Jackie...
[I really love this one, she looks so happy]
The Reagans...
George and Barbara Bush...
The Obamas...


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