Wednesday, March 28, 2012

feels like me

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I'm not much of a makeup girl. It's not that I don't enjoy cosmetics, I just don't find the overdone, caked-on foundation, heavy black eyeliner look attractive. Don't get me wrong- there are people who can pull off a dramatic eye or a bold lip like nobody's business. I'm just not that girl. My minimalist routine becomes even more minimal as soon as the temperatures start warming up, so I like to think my natural approach is the direct result of being a beach baby. When you grow up by the shore, light makeup just makes sense. You don't try to fight your hair when the humidity rolls in for the summer and you certainly don't want black mascara streaming down you face the minute you decide to splash in the waves. 

When it comes to summer makeup, (summer meaning 10 months out of the year) I want to look like me... just better. These are three products that make me "feel like me." When I'm wearing them I don't feel done up, in fact, I don't feel like I'm wearing anything at all. Of course, for events and such I'll glam it up with shadows or a brown liner, but for everyday, real life... this is it. Beach baby, tomboy chic... call it what you want. 

1. Bare Escentuals: A Little Sun
Back before I knew what sun damage, skin cancer, and wrinkles were, I loved the look of fresh sun on my face. You know the kind: not burnt, but it hasn't quite turned to tan yet, so the cheekbones have a reddish-golden glow? I'm a total sunscreen nazi now, but this does the trick. When I'm applying it, I close my eyes and pretend I'm sitting on the beach. I run the brush along the parts of my face that feel the warmth of the sun first: cheeks, forehead, and down the bridge of my nose. Not only is it a great product, but closing my eyes and picturing the sea is probably the most "zen" part of my routine. 
2. Maybelline: Full 'N Soft Mascara
For long, fluttery lashes, this can't be beat. It doesn't look like you're wearing mascara. It doesn't look like giant spiders are feasting on your eyelids. It looks like your natural eyelashes, just longer, fuller, softer... better. 
3. Fresh: Sugar Passion Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15
This is my latest, greatest obsession. Our weekend in Atlanta was a basketball trip. Seriously, even when we were in our room, ESPN was on in the background.
[if you can disregard my "get that camera out of my face" face, you can see Dickie V. in the background.]
However, we did manage to squeeze in a little shopping at Lenox mall. I kept seeing chatter about the Sugar lip treatments on the interwebs, but at $22.50 a pop, I was skeptical. So I did what any sensible girl would do: I talked my mom into trying it and telling me how she liked it. Her rave reviews were all it took, so the next day we went back to the mall and I purchased it in Passion. Mom bought Plum the day before and decided to scoop up Passion too when I purchased mine. Bottom line: I love it. Seriously, the best lip product I've ever used. The nourishing, age-delay formula lasts for hours, it has the perfect amount of sheer color, and windblown hair doesn't stick to your pout like gluey gloss makes it. I was torn between Rosé and Passion and I am quite happy with my selection: it's like a lighter version of popsicle stained lips. And it hydrates so well I just might be officially retiring my Burt's Bees. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Atlanta Eats

While looking through pictures from our Atlanta trip, I soon realized that food would deserve a post of its own. We ate at some wonderful restaurants. If you're ever in the Atlanta area, might I recommend...

We didn't make it to Buckhead until after 10pm Thursday night, so we opted for a late dinner a Buckhead Pizza Co. It did not disappoint! The toppings were bomb (my mom and sister got a pizza with goat cheese and Italian sausage!) and the crust was just right.
Friday morning started with brunch at Southern Art. This was definitely my favorite breakfast of the trip: from fresh squeezed orange juice to the most delicious French toast... everything I tasted was perfection. (Even the pulled pork barbecue with an egg on top! (pictured below) Not a typical breakfast item, but quite possibly my new favorite!) I opted for the buffet so I could try a little of everything, but their menu looks delightful. And if we had gone back for Sunday Brunch? I definitely would have ordered the Fried Chicken and Waffle.
Before Friday night's basketball game, we knew we wanted Mexican food. En route to another Mexican restaurant we spotted Tin Lizzy's. Our driver (and countless reviews on Yelp) testified that it was great, so we decided to give it a try. We had to wait about 15 minutes to get a table, which is always a good sign, especially at 5 in the afternoon. It was definitely worth the wait. Quick, fresh, and delicious tacos, great margaritas and fantastic service. The perfect way to start off a night of fun!
I have no pictures of the food. Or self control for that matter. It looked so good I dove in, head first. hint: be sure to start out with their fresh, homemade guacamole
 4. La Grotta
Dinner Saturday night was at La Grotta, the restaurant where my parents got engaged! It was absolutely delicious, my favorite meal of the entire trip. I can see why my dad chose it for their engagement. I highly recommend you go if you're ever in the area. 
[I have no photos of the food, it just didn't seem appropriate... but this is us before!]
After dinner Saturday night Julian and I walked to Bistro Niko for brother-sister drinks. He had a Maker's and ginger, I had a chocolate martini. We loved the cozy atmosphere of this darling French restaurant so much that we took our parents back the next night for drinks and dessert. 
Profiteroles (because you cannot go to a French restaurant without ordering them) and the most delicious hazelnut teacake with roasted pineapple on top. 
We sat at the bar the first night and at a table inside the second night (because it was a little chilly by the time the sun went down,) but the patio area is absolutely adorable. Every time we walked past it I wanted to snap a photo! (And drink a glass of wine)

After the game Sunday, we wanted to find a place nearby to watch the Carolina-Kansas game. We walked to Dantanna's and decided to stay for dinner. I love the concept: An upscale sports restaurant. The basic premise is that you should be able to go somewhere and watch your favorite team play without having to settle for frozen chicken wings. We were able to watch Carolina lose while dining on pecan-crusted monkfish and zinfandel braised short ribs. Hello, perfect night. 
We started with baked goat cheese and blue crab fingers. 

It's safe to say I over-indulged, as would be expected. But hey, that's what vacation is all about!

CATlanta Recap

Good afternoon & hello my sweets... yet again I find myself feeling like I'm coming up for air, but never in the drowning sense. I feel like I've done a giant cannonball, a swan dive into the chilly springs of life. It's thrilling, exhilarating, and as I push my way back to the top the excitement is ever-increasing in the pit of my stomach.

Atlanta was a blast. We laughed until our stomachs ached, screamed until our voices were gone, and had the best time. It really is a fun city: young and fresh, southern and charming. It has a little bit of everything: food, shopping, art, sports, nightlife. I can see why my parents loved it so much when they lived there, although a lot has changed in 25 years. At the risk of a photo overload, here are just a few... the highlights, if you will. :)
We took MARTA downtown, which was very easy to navigate (even after 3 margaritas.) Well, in all honesty, we just followed the sea of blue. Seriously, I felt like I was in Lexington. There were so many Kentucky fans in Atlanta, I see why they call it CATlanta.
After we beat Indiana Friday night, I didn't think I would scream so much ever again. But the Baylor game Sunday was equally crazy.
Dippin Dots and a Dasani were a halftime essential. My voice was gone. Even better though, was the fact that my mom sounded like a ragetastic party girl. 
After a Wildcats Win on Sunday, we were all feeling pretty giddy. As we walked to dinner, we spotted this shiny building and instantly knew it was the scene of our next family photo. 
Be back later to dish on some of my favorite Atlanta restaurants! 
Hope you've been having lots of fun! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

just throw it in the bag

Hi kittens! Remember how I teased you with top secret travel plans? Well, I'm leaving on this evening's flight to Atlanta to spend a glorious weekend with my family cheering on our Wildcats in the NCAA tournament! It's the first trip all six of us have done together in quite some time, and to say I'm excited would truly be an understatement. In between games, we are sure to do some shopping, run along the Chattahoochee River, and have several delicious dinners out.

Packing for this sort of trip can be a daunting task. I'll only be gone four days, so checking a bag seems silly. But between all the activities we'll be doing, multiple outfit changes will be required each day (at least for this diva.) To keep it simple, I'm sticking to one main color palette, Kentucky Blue, for obvious reasons, but throwing in some unexpected twists to keep it fresh!

Outfits for the games will be casual and spirited...
but with fun accents, like this layered necklace and some bold, leopard flats, to elevate the look (just in case I happen to make my television debut)
Traveling with restaurateurs always guarantees one thing: delicious food. Seriously, my parents know how to find a great restaurant (darn industry insiders, they know all the best-kept secrets) Outfits for dinner will be dressier, but I'll incorporate pieces I can easily mix and match
This top will be worn during the day with cropped pants and gold sandals, and then at night over this sneaky black dress.
You thought it was a skirt, huh? I'm tricky like that. 

Watch out, Ashley Judd...
You've got nothing on this...

psst... Tune in next week to see how I fit eight days in 2 separate states into one carry-on... hopefully.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

cool as a cucumber

After an absolutely crazy day at work Saturday, (as would be expected, Emerald Isle takes St. Patrick's Day very seriously) I was ready to kick up my feet and relax with a cocktail. I decided to play mixologist, and I was craving something refreshing and calming after the hustle and bustle of a busy day. I decided on the ever-refreshing gin and tonic, but with a cool twist. 
I picked up this sparkling cucumber water a few months ago and really love it. There's something so calming about cucumber, and this stuff is like a spa in a can. (Bonus: It's organic and has no sugar added.) It is lovely mixed with gin, but equally soothing straight from the can when you're having an emotional breakdown over a lost cardigan (not that I've ever been there...)
I had an airplane bottle of Tanqueray on hand, so I used that, but I think Hendricks (which is infused with rose and cucumber) would have been a perfect match. 
A few thin slices of cucumber served as the perfect garnish, and provided a tasty snack once I reached the bottom of my glass. It was refreshing and soothing, perfect after a day running around or soaking up the sun. Probably not your best bet if you prefer fruity or overly sweet cocktails, but it suited me just fine. 
[throw in a People Style Watch magazine and Essie's "Tour de Finance" and you've got yourself a back-porch spa. Or at least an hour of pure relaxation.]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bright Ideas

I recently purchased 2 pairs of fantastically bright, cropped pants (as seen here.) Purple and green, slim fit, and hitting right above the ankle, I thought they would be perfect for spring. And then the weather decided to play June. Look, I'm not complaining, but this girl had to accommodate. I spotted these cute shorts in Forever 21 last week for an absolute steal. Truth is, I'm not so sure I'll be dying over hot pink or neon coral shorts a few months down the road. But for now? I'm digging them. They're a great way to add a little color to your spring wardrobe without breaking the bank. You know I'm never one to hold out the information on a great deal, so you can scoop up these babies here before they're sold out. 
Note: I went up a size, as I usually do with F21 clothes. I hate when shorts are too short or too tight, and these fit just right. And as for the belt? Garbage. Flimsy and unattractive. But what do you expect when you're getting shorts for $13.50
Disclaimer: I'm making no guarantees that these things will wash up and retain their size/shape/color... But it's worth a shot. If you're looking for a better quality "investment," J. Crew has some great options

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nostalgic Garden Roses

My mom and I were grocery shopping last week when I spotted these beauties out of the corner of my eye. I was immediately transfixed, initially assuming they were peonies but upon closer look realizing this was not the case. The florist was quick to offer an explanation: nostalgic garden roses. I'm no floriculturist, in fact my thumb is anything but green, but I've always had an appreciation for all things old and beautiful. She explained that nowadays, most roses are grown in hot houses. As a result, modern "roses" rarely smell like roses. Enter the nostalgic garden rose. A reminder of a simpler time, they are grown in actual gardens and smell like actual roses. Just as they should. 
I've never been a fan of anything too perfect, and as I looked at these nostalgic garden roses I started feeling a little sad. Have we gotten so far off that we mass produce our flowers, and everything else, until there is no variation? Marilyn Monroe is credited for saying "Imperfection is beauty," and I wholeheartedly agree. The slightly irregular shapes, the variation in color... by modern standards these roses are sub-par, but in my book they are perfectly imperfect and absolutely stunning. 

p.s. from the archives, on nostalgia

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quinoa "Huevos Rancheros"

I believe in breakfast.
I believe in quiet mornings.
I believe in coffee.

I always give myself at least an hour to linger in the morning. The sun hangs at just the right place in the sky. The air is quiet and still. It's like all of nature takes a long, slow sip of coffee and lets out a deep sigh. I don't like feeling hurried, frantic, or frenzied. When I think back to my high school days, I cannot believe I ever managed to hop out of bed rush out the door in mere minutes. Although it takes me less time to get ready now than it used to, I like having time to get my mind in the right place. Maybe if I had given myself this time to mentally prepare for the day when I was in my teens, I wouldn't have been so, how shall we say this, teenager-ish?

If everyone ate breakfast, drank coffee, and took a little time to linger in the mornings, we probably wouldn't have road rage. And if everyone ate this Quinoa Huevos Rancheros on the back porch with a steaming hot latte? We would probably have a cure for cancer. And world peace.
Confession: I didn't exactly make the Mexican Fiesta Quinoa myself. It was leftover from last night. My mom made it following this recipe. Of course, she improvised (recipes are mere suggestions after all) and opted to saute the onions, peppers, etc. in a little bit of olive oil before mixing everything together. The colors turned out less vibrant than the original recipe, but I'll take a sweet, caramelized onion over a raw one any day. I topped it with an egg (over easy) and it was legitimately the best "huevos rancheros" I've ever had. Granted, it was a departure from the traditional dish (there were no tortillas in sight.) But I think it was a welcome change. When that silky yolk invaded the bold, crunchy quinoa... magic. Bonus: Quinoa is packed with protein, so it kept me full past lunchtime! Tasty and healthy? I'll take it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

shrimp burgers and sunshine

Saturday morning was one of those perfect days that just demand you spend some time in the sunshine. Even though it was a little windy (in typical March fashion... roar!) Taylor and I bundled up and headed to the beach. We picked up shrimp burgers at Big Oak. If you ever make your way to this coastal town, Big Oak is an institution. In all honesty, I think it's half the reason Taylor keeps coming back. (The other half? My sweet pup.)

Last September we talked about a transitional wardrobe... one that works between seasons. As important as it was in early fall, it is equally essential in March. The principles that I stick to in September serve as a guide during early (almost) spring too. My number one? Don't try to force it. If you try to fight the weather, you will lose. Instead, choose bold, happy colors, lightweight layers, and fun accessories. 
 [proof that it was particularly windy by the shore]
 [As much as I prefer flats for spring, I equally despise cold toes. So for Saturday, I stuck with my trusty boots. To take this outfit into warmer weather, I'll trade the boots for flats, and lose the vest.]
[I firmly believe spring is more of an attitude than a season. Bright stripes and this bold cocktail ring give a fun, unexpected twist and lend an air of playfulness- which is what spring is all about!] 

Bottom Line: Trade boots for flats. Save the sandals and shorts for when you've got a fresh pedicure and your sunless tanner has really had a chance to do work. And have fun. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brownies & Brownie Pie

Tuesday afternoon already? This week is going by at lightning speed! Lately I have realized how prone I am to counting down: days until my next trip, miles until my run is over, minutes until 5 o'clock. It's such a funny thing though... the minute I stop paying attention to the minutes in the day, I find myself enjoying them more. 

You know how I mentioned my "big speaking engagement" this past weekend? Well, Sunday afternoon I was invited to share with two Brownie troops (twenty 2nd graders!) about QH2O. I was nervous. Explaining the global clean water crisis to a bunch of 7-year-olds is a daunting task . I didn't know if they would understand. I worried they wouldn't be interested. I also was afraid of upsetting them. How do you look at a child and say "Every 15 seconds a child, just like you, dies from a water related illness." But the minute I entered that room, my anxiety left me. 
They were enthusiastic and passionate. Empathetic, interested, and attentive. They asked intelligent (heartbreaking) questions. Questions I don't have the answer to. But most importantly, they were moved to act. When I talk with adults about what we are doing, many don't understand. They refuse to believe that they are capable of making a difference. Children are different though, they still know they can change the world. Even if it means saving up coins in an old milk jug in hopes of someday financing a well. I left feeling inspired, encouraged, and reassured that this field, nonprofit communications, is exactly what I want to do. 
In honor of the Brownies, I made a Brownie Pie Friday night. That's a lie. I've had this recipe marked on Pinterest for weeks and I finally got around to making it. It is delicious. The kind of thing that each bite makes you happy to be alive. And, since there are no guarantees in this life, I found it perfectly delectable with strawberries for breakfast. Brownies and brownie pie... whatta weekend. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Guilt-free Friday!

Hello lovey loos! Happy Friday to you! Do you have anything special planned for this weekend? Taylor is heading north to spend a few days here in Emerald Isle. Our time promises to be relaxed and cozy, filled with my mom's spaghetti, red wine, watching basketball, and booking flights! (details to come!) Sunday afternoon I have a little "speaking engagement." I'm filled with nervous excitement and would appreciate your thoughts and prayers as I'm putting the finishing touches on my presentation (again, details to come.) I hope you have a blissful weekend. Do something adventurous! Until we meet again...

Hey! It's ok...

... if you're ready for spring, but not quite ready for the burdensome task of shaving your legs

... if you can tell time based on your coffee consumption. Third cup? It must be 9:15. 

... to challenge the refs calls against your team. Even if you don't technically know what traveling is. "That was all ball! Oh, I mean, he didn't even move! Yeah..." (just for future reference)


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