Engagement Party, aka The Games Begin

When Craig proposed to me this past Christmas Eve, I was elated. Not only was I about to spend the right of my life with the most perfect man ever for me, my Type-A personality was ready to shine: I feel like I’ve been prepping for planning a major event like a wedding since I was a little girl.

Never one to shy away from hosting anything (from intimate dinners to lavish themed parties), planning a wedding seems like a stressful, beautiful time. As someone who has gotten a bit of an adrenaline high from stress since she was little (I always secretly loved having multiple deadlines), I can’t help but smile when I say “I can’t believe I have so much to plan!”, because I am actually quite excited.

The first event for wedding business seems natural enough–the engagement party. I was excited to share the good news of our engagement with our loved ones (not like I hadn’t text them within 24 hours of Craig proposing or anything…), but was a little nervous about how to get a party going while working full-time and being a busy bee in general. Luckily, I have an amazing family team behind me, so my parents and sister took on the bulk of the planning and executing. I was able to pipe in with some hopes and expectations, but for the most part they took charge and it was AWESOME.

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to be so bold.

“I did something kind of weird,” I confessed to one of my best friends in a drunken haze. I was visiting her in our sleepy college town–a place where we had found soulmates in friendships, but not in boys.

“What?” she replied, politely listening while trying to fight off sleep (I’m notorious for chatting all night while people are trying to go to bed).

“I told the universe I was ready for the big love. The man I’m going to marry,” I said with a dumb, inebriated smile on my face.

“Do you think it will really happen, though? Like, this soon?” she asked. A valid question.

“I really do.”

Fast forward a couple short weeks, and that’s when I met him–Craig.

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Stitch Fix #10!

If you have ever complimented an article of my clothing, at this point 80% of the time I chipe in that it came in a Stitch Fix box. I love this service, and think it is extremely helpful for bizzay ladies like myself. Not sure how Stitch Fix works? Let me explain real quick, or you can check out my first review:

You get a Stitch Fix account. You fill out a detailed, wide-encompassing style profile explaining what you like, what makes you feel confident, etc. From there, you are assigned your own personal stylist that hooks you up with 5 super unique pieces. This service costs a $20 styling fee. Once your items have been shipped and you receive them on the date of your choosing, you have three days to play around with the items. Try them on, pair them with things you already have–just don’t rip off the tags! Love just a few items? You pay for only the things you keep, and deduct the $20 styling fee from your total. All you have to do is plop the things you don’t want to keep in a prepaid envelope and ship it back in your mailbox. Love it all? Enjoy a 25% discount on TOP of deducting the styling fee. It’s pretty much the sweetest deal.

So now that you get how it works, let me show you how my November Stitch Fix turned out!

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Man, honestly? It’s hard to remember the first time.

I remember the first time I outwardly thought I was fat.

I was putting on a favorite dress of mine–a little worn, probably a little old. I may had outgrown it a bit since I was growing quickly. I was 5 and my mom was helping me get dressed when I asked her, point-blank:

“Mom, am I fat?”

I remember the look of surprise on her face. Here was this tiny creature, dressed sweetly in a 101 Dalmatians dress and bare feet, asking one of the most loaded questions possible. Her surprised face became a furrowed brow. “No, you’re perfect just the way you are,” she told me, as stern as I’d ever seen her. “I think I like the way I am,” I remember telling her. And with that, I demanded my photo be taken in my favorite dress.

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Not me in the aforementioned dress, but looking cool as hell with Jasmine. Unabashedly baring my belly!

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Fall Has the Best Foods: Chorizo Chili, Y’all

I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile, and this one was too good to pass up. As any of you are probably well aware, my Crockpot & I are good buds. I turn to my Crockpot when I want something delicious, homemade, and requires me to pay no attention at all. Lots of Crockpot recipes require pre-made ingredients, but I’ve been fortunate enough to find recipes that can be quickly adapted so that I can make some ingredients by scratch.

Chili is probably one of my most favorite things to cook in a crockpot, because the smell is so gratifying throughout the day. To complement smell with health, I made this turkey-based chili last night. And as Leslie Knope would think, it was so good…it was pretty sexy.

Get it, ladies.

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True Life: I’m An Almost-30 Something That Unironically Loves Taylor Swift

I wrote one of my final papers in college about how Taylor Swift was detrimental to the feminist movement and a negative influence on young girls.

I was adamant in my writings that her lyrics perpetuated dated female stereotypes, created an unhealthy competition between women for male attention, and–most importantly–she determined her self-worth based on her attachment to a man, rather than from within and based on her own talents and contributions as a decent human.

For years, I rolled my eyes when she came on the radio, and I proudly wrote snarky Facebook statuses proclaiming my distaste. I applauded my famous heroes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, for burning her at the Golden Globes and snarled when I heard Swift’s infamous response. I howled with disdain when she insisted that she was not a feminist. I joined the chorus of “WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING BESIDES YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, TAYLOR SWIFT” that filled my favorite feminist blogs and friendship conversations.

Then, something shifted.

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lessons.

I had a discussion with a good friend of mine recently that there are some things I wish were actually told in college, or high school, or whenever. Yes, academics are important and awesome, but there are just things I wish someone had shown me or told me about before they happened. To save you all some grief, I’ve typed out some of the things in my life that have happened I’ve been analyzing, and wish someone had explained to me in a text book earlier.

  • All relationships take work, not just the one with the person you’re in love with. Friendship takes effort, too.
  • You’re going to grow separately from people you have spend a considerable amount of time growing alongside, and that’s ok. If you keep lines of communication open, this will help.
  • Be available when you can, but don’t be afraid to say “I can’t”. If doing something will make you unhappy, you don’t have to do it.
  • Know your limits, and when it’s time to walk away. This goes for everything: friendships, jobs, and too much pizza.
  • If you’re a lady, don’t be afraid to be intimidating. Use your voice and be loud if you want. Use your brain and don’t apologize for it. If you’re a dude, be cool with ladies being intimidating, and support them when you agree.
  • People will always try to knock you down for wanting to be more than what they are.
  • Random acts of kindness go farther than you could ever initially believe.
  • Be an ally.
  • Remember to celebrate everyone’s successes, no matter how unrelated to your success it may be. We all have different goals and dreams, and just because it’s different than yours, it doesn’t mean it’s less than.
  • Never, ever let a boss tell you you’ll never do better than a job with them. It’s degrading, and you can do better. Promise.
  • Traveling the world doesn’t define an open-minded person. You can be just as close-minded after seeing the world as someone who has never stepped out of their hometown.
  • Live music is great, but sitting down at a concert is THE BOMB.
  • Always have a little money saved in case of emergencies, like your health insurance prices going up…or that pair of shoes you have been lusting over going on sale.
  • COOK FOR YOURSELF, DAMMIT. Don’t eat out (too much)! Cook and cook for others all the time.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell someone when they’ve hurt you. I was a doormat for many years of my life. When I stopped being a doormat, people stopped stomping all over me because they stopped visiting, and that’s ok too.
  • Try hard at your job, and ask for help when you need it.
  • Find a partner when you’re ready to ~settle down~ (dumbest term). Not a boyfriend/girlfriend, not a dude/lady to bone. You will have plenty of those. But when it’s ~The One~, you’re going to want a ride-or-die, defend you always, awesome partner that you will have to compromise, be honest, and be deeply in love with.
  • At some point, you’ll stop asking people how old they are, and friendships will bloom regardless of the years between your ages.
  • EXERCISE. I can’t stress it enough. Find some sort of weekly outlet of something you enjoy to do. Your metabolism will slow down and your body won’t be able to enjoy eating half a frozen pizza in one sitting like it used to.
  • You’ll start to bond with friends over something other than getting drunk and going out together (but you’ll still bond over that, too).
  • Hobbies will never stop being important. Get involved in things you’re passionate about and don’t stop.
  • Get your hair cut often and buy clothes that fit well.
  • Invest in things. Invest in good clothes, stock markets, and good people.
  • Celebrate and enjoy community.
  • When in doubt, NPR podcasts cure all ailments.
  • You’re never too old to start or rekindle a passion for doing something you love.
  • You don’t have to like everybody, but if you’re gonna be a jerk, have a solid reason to be one.
  • It’s totally fine to have a weird, loud laugh.
  • Falling in love with yourself is the most important thing you can do.

I love how everyone I know and care about is constantly evolving and learning, growing and exploring. We all figure out things on our own time, and these are things that have taken me years to understand and appreciate. I can’t wait to keep seeing what changes are ahead for all of us, and I hope you’ll share with my the knowledge you’ve gained along the way, too.

Chronicles of a Stitch Fix Addict: Box #2

Hello all! As most of you know, I am a bit of a shopaholic. That self-proclamation aside, I do hate that term, and I don’t like its implication that I’m a woman who doesn’t know how to spend wisely–I definitely do. I just know that I like seeing my money where I can see it–my closet (not my original quote, obvi).

I’ve written at length about my love of local Asheville boutiques, finding great gems at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, and how much fashion and clothing inspires me. I have never been the type of person to roll up anywhere in sweats–I’m chronically overdressed, and damn proud of it. I am super excited to talk about my newest clothing related obsession–Stitch Fix.

I’m sure you’ve gotten the notifications on your Facebook feed before–vague images of boxes and the promise of a personal stylist. Being intrigued by the minimalism and the idea of someone picking out all my clothes for me, I’ve checked out Stitch Fix a few times in the past couple years, but never really committed. It wasn’t until my fabulous co-worker, Nina, told me about her experience–she loved the convenience, idea, and what they sent her. I gave in and signed up.

When you first sign-up for Stitch Fix, you fill out a questionnaire about your sizes, taste, and day-to-day wear. It’s lengthy, but for good reason–Stitch Fix is determined to send you 5 articles of clothing that best fits your taste. When your first box arrives at your door step, you get to try on everything in the comfort of your own (properly lit) dressing room, and avoid the terribleness that is most dressing room mirrors and lighting. You only pay for what you want to keep–and if you keep everything, there’s a steep discount of 25% off it all. I got my first box about a month ago and kept a gorgeous cobalt blue top and a new gold statement necklace. I had originally planned to receive a box once a month, but after such a great first experience, I upped the frequency to every 2-3 weeks.

What I’ve discovered is that it curbs my impulse shopping–I am less tempted to make a quick run to the mall or Marshall’s. I’m less intrigued by browsing online for hours. I’ve also found that stylist, Alexis, is super observant and knows my style pretty well through my questionnaire (she also follows my Pinterest board, which I love). I am so excited about this  service that I want to share my second fix with you!

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First item of discussion: this floral top by Daniel Rainn. As soon as I pulled it out of the box, Craig said “I love that!”. It is the first item Stitch Fix has sent to me in petite size, which is amazing. Petite sizes are a new launch for them which makes my life so much easier. It fit really well with a nice flow. Knew I was gonna keep it as soon as it met my body. 😉

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These zipper leggings by Rune were also a must-have. I put them on first to try on the tops, and it was love. I would wear them with everything if I could, and they’re going to be a great Spring transitional piece. I love the zipper detailing that makes them different, and the material is thicker so I won’t feel pantsless.

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My stylist, Alexis, sent me this top because I had recently pinned an open-back shirt on my fashion Pinterest board. This top by Coulourworks is the softest, greatest shirt! I love the material, and the back design makes it nice enough to wear to work or out. I opened the back part out more in the picture to show the detailing, so it won’t be that wide in real life, but the peek of the split is awesome. Keepin’ it!

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I struggled with this dress by Rune. It fit a little largely, which didn’t come across super flattering. I loved the material of the dress, however, and the pockets made it a tough one to turn down. Ultimately, I found the color to be a little drab and the cut to be not for me, so I passed. Not a terrible dress, just not a dress for me.

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These bracelets from Bancroft were also a tough combo to pass up, but I couldn’t justify their cost with the commonness of their design. I feel like I’ve seen both of these bracelets at other places, and they just didn’t look nice enough to commit to the purchase.

Ultimately, I ended up with 3 really great pieces that made me excited for my next fix. Since it’s only my second box, my stylist is still getting to know me, but so far she has done an amazing job taking note of my taste, lifestyle, and overall excitement for the service. One of the craziest things to me about Stitch Fix is since they have my measurements, everything fits so well. I have never had to return something because it didn’t fit–it simply is based on if I like it or not. These folks really know their garments and how it fits on women’s bodies, and that is so awesome to me.

I would love to have more friends try Stitch Fix! If this is something you want to give a whirl, please use my referral code! You can access it , or just go to: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4802321 . I would love to hear about your experience, and also just make your life easier in general. I have talked to folks who use Stitch Fix because they hate to shop, and I have talked to folks who have used it because they love to shop , and everyone has enjoyed it. Let me know if you give it a whirl!

I would love to have more friends try Stitch Fix! If this is something you want to give a whirl, please use my referral code! You can access it here, or just go to: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4802321 . I would love to hear about your experience, and also just make your life easier in general. I have talked to folks who use Stitch Fix because they hate to shop, and I have talked to folks who have used it because they love to shop too much, and everyone has enjoyed it. Let me know if you give it a whirl!

What We Ate Last Week: 2/8-2/14, 2015

I got such a positive response from posting my dinner menu last week, I thought I would share it all again! We enjoyed lots of tastiness, a variety of flavors and ingredients, and not enduring the cold weather outside.

Monday, February 8th

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Thoughts & adjustments: First of all, I used a cup of quinoa rather than a cup of couscous because ~someone~in my house claims to dislike couscous (when we were eating this yummy dish and I asked him the last time he even tried couscous, he said he couldn’t remember! I’ll get him to like that grain!). I adjusted the spices a bit (adding more than suggested), but it contributed to a very flavorful, yummy dish that we enjoyed as leftovers for a couple more days. I enjoyed the variety of veggies & meats hanging out together.

Tuesday, February 9th

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Thoughts & adjustments: These tasty little guys were my contribution to a book club meeting. My girl Laura shared this recipe with me, and it was one of her strongest finds. As I was gathering my ingredients, I realized that I only owned one normal muffin tin, but 2 mini-cupcake tins, so these turned into mini taco cupcakes. If you check out the recipe, that means I only made one layer rather than two. All my book club ladies said they liked the bite size option, and topped these treats with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, and chopped cilantro. I would try this recipe again, but without a time constraint, I would make my own refried beans (check out my favorite from scratch recipe here). A crowd pleaser, for sure.

Wednesday, February 10th

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Thoughts & adjustments: During busy weeks, Craig & I indulge on Blue Apron boxes (which you should totally try!). Not only are the recipes delicious, they are fun to replicate on your own. This was one of my most favorite recipes that was given, but I made a few adjustments. I used ground turkey rather than ground beef, eliminated the almonds, and couldn’t find a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, so substituted some good salsa. Regardless, this is a easy, tasty dish that highlights some yummy veggies. Simple & delicious.

Thursday, February 11th

Thoughts & adjustments: This was a pretty fast meal, and I was able to serve it for four of us. Marinating the steak is key to keep in some of those traditional Greek flavors. I followed the potato recipe pretty closely, but threw in 1/2 cup of grated parmesean cheese (because I mean, why not?). Everyone gushed over the potatoes. The asparagus was simple and added a good contrast to the potatoes. A great ensemble of dishes if you are a lover of Greek food.

Saturday, February 14th

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Thoughts & adjustments: Lobster tail is a traditional Valentine’s Day meal, and that tradition does not skip our house. Rather than fighting others for reservations, Craig and I enjoy cooking together on the sappiest day of the year. I must admit that we had a bit of a pasta disaster (heart raviolis are tougher than they look!), hence the store-bought tortellinis, but we made our favorite salad dressing to go alongside our favorite part of the lobster. Lobster tail shouldn’t be for just V-Day though–enjoy it throughout the year (Earthfare often has lobster tail deals every month or so).

It was a very tasty, vibrant week of meals at our house. Let me know what you’re going to try, I look forward to hearing your adjustments and ideas!