Saturday, August 31, 2013


Hillsborough Street is one of those classic Raleigh spots that has no lack of dining, shopping, or entertainment. But be warned--Hillsborough Street is the main drag of the NC State campus. The traffic during school hours is horrendous, so go late or on a weekend (or better yet go during the summer when the students are all at home). On a steamy day last week, we chose to hit up an old favorite, Locopops, and explore a new-to-Raleigh shop, Lucky Strike Vintage.
If you dig creative popsicle flavors and bright colors, you must visit Locopops. They have a few staple flavors plus rotating specials. Our favorites include the Mango Chile, Rasberry Hibiscus, and Cookies & Cream flavors. This trip we opted for Mighty Mojito (it's very lime-y, but yummy if you like that) and Mexican Chocolate.

For your (awkward) amusement, here are a few accidental "Oh, You Were Taking A Picture? I Was Eating This Popsicle" pictures:

Second stop on our Hillsborough Street romp was the new Lucky Strike Vintage shop. This location opened fairly recently, and we'd heard good things about the Winston Salem shop. They had tons of cowboy boots, vintage hats, and a lot of vinyl among their offerings. We had some fun trying on an awkwardly tiny 70's wedding dress and an obscenely peach bridesmaid's dress (sorry, we won't bless you with photo does exist). The owner of the shop was able to fit tons of things into a small space in a fun way, and I'm certain that if anyone dug long enough, they'd find pieces worth purchasing. Sarah found a pair of Steve Madden oxfords that she would have snapped up in a heartbeat, but alas!, they weren't her size. Sigh. We're looking forward to going back occasionally for records & neat wardrobe finds.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


My little mister turns the big Three this September, and this will be the first year I have the time/motivation to throw a DIY'd theme party. I have been mulling over what theme would represent his interests as a budding pre-schooler and finally got it down to two options: 
no. 1) Where The Wild Things Are (one of his top three favorite books)
no. 2) The Circus (this encompasses his love of animals, popcorn, and tents)

I showed Jack these collages...

and he chose...
The Circus! I think the mini-hotdogs were what solidified his choice because he pointed to those repeatedly. So now I am planning in earnest! I know for sure there will be mini hotdogs, homemade ginger ale, popcorn, animal cake toppers, and some type of tent & banner. For links back to the sources for these pictures check out my Pinterest board (most of the ideas are from Oh Happy Day!). 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I dreamed up this drink while re-reading the Great Gatsby in anticipation for the release of the film adaptation by Baz Luhrmann (which I loved). It's a sparkling, flowery concoction that fits Daisy's bubbly, effervescent personality. St. Germaine is an elderflower liquer that comes in a beautiful gold and turquoise art deco bottle, something Daisy surely would have kept stocked in her bar cart. Gin & champagne were staples of 1920's drinking, although what wasn't a staple drink in that party decade? Enjoy this refreshment on a hot summer night and save some champagne for mimosas at brunch the next day - Cheers!

Friday, August 23, 2013


no. 1) I'm choosing to commit myself more seriously to creative pursuits that bring me joy. The desire to create has been life-long for me. I find a release and a comfort in singing at the top of my lungs, in expressing myself through written word, and in capturing an image with a camera. In the last few years, it's been tough to find room in my life for creativity, but I'm currently choosing to use the gifts I've been blessed with by developing and sharing them. I've lately fallen out of practice and confidence in my voice, which is only way I've ever been able to freely experience and express emotion. It's a release I've denied myself for far too long, and now is the time to reacquaint myself with it. Like singing, writing has consistently been the easiest way for me to logically communicate and process my thoughts. I haven't seriously pursued any sort of writing since my first semester at UNCA, but with this blog I am relearning & exercising a former strength. Photography is another for of expression which I've long wanted to learn, but have always lacked the time or financing to do so. Luckily, I married a photography expert (and with him, I married his camera collection!), and he's graciously begun teaching me technical skills. Using a camera to capture the beauty I see with my eyes every day is a great exercise in living in the present and appreciating the art that exists in the mundane.
no. 2) Fear is a prison that I've lived inside for my entire life. I'm currently finding freedom in forgiveness both by forgiving people who have hurt me, and forgiving myself for what I've done to hurt others. It's a tough (and daily) battle, but one I expect to win. I am so grateful for the beautiful friends and family in my life who patiently offer support while I duke it out with past demons and haunting memories. I will overcome, I will grow, I will give & accept forgiveness freely. I will seek truth and joy above darkness and fear.
no. 3) I'm choosing to not feel confined by definitions of what a 22 year old "should be" by getting comfortable with the strange in between space I live in; being so young but feeling old, carrying the responsibilities of an older person, yet having dreams I'm not ready to give up on. I will own the awkward tension between where my life is and where I (often unrealistically) wish it was. I am choosing to be content with where I currently am on my journey to becoming me, and to live in this present moment rather than constantly concern myself with the next two, five, ten, and twenty years of my life.
no. 4) When I say I'm choosing to curate my life, I suppose I mean that I am deliberately and with design curating the pieces of my life that exhibit me as a whole person. I don't mean curating merely the surface-level appearance of my home or clothing (though I do mean the word in that sense), but more importantly I mean the manner of loving & forgiving that I want to characterize my relationships. I want to intentionally choose to love people in a way that is outrageous & over-the-top with forgiveness and kindness. I fail at this frequently, but I am working to become better with practice. I want to be a friend who helps others curate the best version of themselves, who points others to hope, truth, life and light. I want my home to be a comforting, warm refuge for my friends and family, not only in looks but mainly in feeling. That starts by curating a heart of love & peace towards others. In that way I'll curate beauty first inside and then out.
no. 5) Resting goes hand in hand with fighting fear. To do battle one needs a fresh mind and a full heart. I have to recharge my heart & mind with sleep & rest. I am a chronic over-commiter and a 100% introvert. These two aspects of my life do not combine well. I am choosing to accept my introverted-ness and view rest (which for me is synonymous with alone time) as necessary, not optional.


Our writing topic this month got us both thinking about what choices we would like to actively be making in our lives, and we thought we'd each share a few here. Choices are a bit like instantly gratified goals - once you make a choice, you've won. You've done the hard part. And you just continue making the choice.
These are just a couple things I've been working on lately.

just go to bed. sleep. sleep. sleep.
Too many of my nights turn into early mornings, seemingly without warning. Suddenly it's 1am and I feel like I've got miles to go before finally tossing & turning myself to sleep, fighting clouds of jumbled thought. And I love sleep. It's a blissful third dimension in which nothing goes wrong & our bodies right themselves & our minds work themselves into a bit of clarity - it's magic as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, I can always thinks of a million things I need to do before going to bed, or will watch Netflix until I can barely keep my eyes open. Sleep is usually an afterthought, and I'm realizing it needs to be a priority. It's a strange transition, and I feel a little like an old lady when I get in bed before 11, but I'm also loving it. I've been setting aside my laptop & projects earlier, letting go of what didn't get done, and spending my evenings instead focusing on small rituals like journaling, meditating & stretching. 
(I'm loving the headspace app for meditating, by the way.)

Stop at a new coffee shop, restaurant, museum, or shop I haven't been to. Do one of the DIY crafts/projects, or make one of the recipes I've pinned recently. Even if it's something small, it makes me feel great. I get stuck in ruts easily, and pushing myself out of them is difficult. I need little things to shake up days otherwise filled with office work and commuting. I'm finding meeting a goal of doing something new each week to be simple & fulfilling. I keep a running list of things I'd like to do, places I'd like to try - which in turn fulfills my love of lists ;)

This has been a struggle for me for a long long time. In my relationships, I become the caregiver. The memory keeper. The hopeful. I'm the one hanging on. Sometimes you just need to let go. It's okay to leave behind relationships you're no longer being fulfilled by. Sometimes friendships become toxic. Sometimes you just become two different people. Sometimes you can't accept anymore apologies. Sometimes you need to remove yourself from harm's way. And when you do, you can choose to remember the happy parts of those relationships. Because the best part of our relationships is the love that existed at some point in them, and it allows us to remember the happy pieces. It allows us to remember, and we have to allow ourselves the grace to walk away with the memories we're allowed. I'm reminding myself of this daily, and working on strengthening the relationships I have with people I wouldn't want to live without. 

I absolutely love to read. I would rather read a good book in bed all day than do most anything else. The problem is, I binge read. I go weeks at a time with nothing to read, and suddenly I pick up or am gifted several books...And I read one a day until 4 days later, I'm left with my head swimming in plots and characters, and am suddenly, terribly lonely. And then I realize I've neglected my life for a few days, and become too busy once again.
I've always admired the people who are always reading something. I've just never been one of them. I can't fight the urge to finish a book as quickly as possible (there are things one must find out!). But I'd like to give a slower pace a try. I think it'll fit my busy days better, to set aside half an hour or however long I have to just read, daily. I've made a list (one for everything, really) of books I'd like to read, and I'm planning on getting my Raleigh library card next week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


1 c. almond milk
1/3 c. oats
a frozen, sliced banana
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 tbs. chia seeds
honey to taste (I used a teaspoon or two)
a pinch each of nutmeg & cinnamon (1/4 tsp. or so)
blend & enjoy!

This smoothie is a great breakfast drink, but is also a yummy & filling snack. It's quite a bit smaller than the breakfast smoothie, and the honey makes it sweeter. I took this one to work for breakfast yesterday, after being made fun of all week by my co-workers for my green smoothies.."drinking salad," as they call it. Oh, office life.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



This cocktail was a creation of my husband, who graciously allowed me to publish it on this blog. The inspiration comes from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (obviously). At some point in the book, Gatsby is described drinking a glass of green chartreuse, a sweet but herbal liqueur. I was (somewhat foolishly) inspired by that line to try sipping green chatreuse neat, and in case any of you are curious, 'twas a bit too rich for my taste. Maybe it was equivalent to sipping neat whiskey for those decadent 1920's drinkers...who's to say? Those were different times. I think the below recipe makes excellent use of the distinct flavor of the liqueur without overwhelming the modern drinker. The sweetness of the chartreuse is cut by the gin, and the dry vermouth lightens up the complexity of the drink. The balance between the three makes it a refreshing but interesting cocktail, similar to a martini, but a little something different. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

MINT 101

 Mint is hands down the best beginner container plant. You should probably never ever plant it directly in your yard because it's a beastly parasite, according to all accounts. Our little plant is of the "Kentucky Colonel" variety and true to his roots, he has kept us in mint juleps all summer. I didn't grow him from a seed, but bought him as a small plant at Logan's Trading Co, my favorite local gardening store. Here are a few tips I learned in my first season growing mint:

1. Plant in a container, one large enough to accommodate the mint plant's aggressive growth. I got this wrong at first, and had my plant in a 10 inch pot which was way too small. The poor thing looked pretty sad after a month, so I decided to bump it up to an 18 inch pot and that worked out much better. I probably could have gone even larger, but 18 inches gave the plant enough room to grow that I was able to glean several generous harvests over the season. A general rule of thumb: if your plant looks sad, do something differently. 

2. Feed your plant. I fed this little guy about once a month, and could alway tell a marked difference in his growth afterwards. This is especially important in a container because the soil isn't being naturally regenerated by the earth. I used the general organic plant food and it worked wonderfully.

3. Strategically prune. Early on in my research I found some tips on pruning which were extremely helpful. When your plant is a wee little guy and starts growing wildly, you can clip branches strategically to encourage the growth of one area or to regulate the shape of the plant into something more resembling a bush than a scraggly weed. If you chop off the head of a strong growing branch, it will start putting its energy into forming more branches off shooting the main branch. This gives you a bushier plant, and more leaves in the long run.

1. Over watering will kill your plant. I fell right into this trap early on, thinking I needed to be extra careful in our hot southern climate to make sure the poor guy didn't get thirsty. Turns out my over-nuturing had the opposite effect. A good rule of thumb to remember is that mint is extremely hardy so it really doesn't need a ton of attention to thrive. It's a great beginner plant because if you mess up and do something wrong, it'll generally bounce back pretty well. 

2. Over pruning will make your plant really sad. But fear not! if you do crazy over harvest your mint, it'll bounce back. I speak from experience on this one as well. When we first got the plant I could. not. wait. for a mint julep. So I chopped it almost down to nothing and for a while there thought I'd surely killed it. But miraculously a week later the little fighter came back to life with vigor and we've had many mojitos and juleps since. I usually try to pick off the larger leaves where you can see a new little leaf is growing in right behind it. That way I'm taking off leaves that were about to fall off anyway.

Here are a few photos of my plant. The flower popped up a week ago, signaling the end of my mint season is near. So sad. 

And here's what will one day be the fruit of your labor, an ice cold Mint Julep:

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The concept of choice is intriguing to me. I feel like by in large, we think of choices in terms of the large, the life-altering - Will we get married? Are we religious? Do we want kids? Where should we live? What will we do for a living? These are the decisions that keep us up at night, the ones we make pro/con lists for, and we tend to measure our success by our correct choices.
While certainly these are important & defining of who we are, what interests me more are the small, everyday choices we make & witness others making. What will we read? How will we spend our free time? How do we take our coffee? How do we respond to a compliment? To a judgement? Do we wake up early or battle our alarms? Do we go out of our way for our friends? For strangers?
These little choices can be more telling of who we are than their larger counterparts. We make them with little to no hesitation - they're less calculated, more real. It's these small things that I find myself loving others for. And they don't even realize they're doing it. When I consider why I love the people I do, I see the image I have in my mind that they themselves built accidentally. It's an image of familiarity they've solidified with small choices they make over and over again. That he smiles at babies in public & makes them laugh. That she always points out the possible silver lining. That he sleeps on that particular side of the bed, the one opposite the side I secretly prefer. That he always over tips the bartender. That she withholds judgement when I tell my latest What The Hell Was I Thinking story. That I never have to question her honesty.
To everyone we know, we are a compilation of the choices we make daily. When we realize this, it should be empowering rather than daunting. Sometimes the decisions we make are just the wrong ones. Sometimes certain responsibilities restrict our choices, and it feels like we don't have much control at all. But we do. We have control over all the little choices, the ones others love us for & that we should love ourselves for.
Lately I've been feeling as though my life is going on without my having much of a say in the matter. One of those..I'm twenty-three & suddenly working in a career I never had any intention of pursuing & I've been single long enough to consider the best way to go about collecting of those times. So I've been focusing on who I want to be right now, and the ways I can make that a reality. The immediacy of all the tiny, tangible choices I can make is strengthening & gratifying. And maybe when we accept responsibility for the small choices, those life-altering ones will fall into place a bit easier.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Last weekend we went to NCMA for a brief respite from the heat, and of course, added bonus of beautifully curated rooms to wander through. The museum is free, so if you haven't gotten a chance to check it out, you really should. The rooms are organized by century, ranging from modern pieces to ancient African art. We especially love the American collection. The staff is quite helpful - one of the security guards saw us taking photos & pointed out some interesting views and chatted away. I won't of my favorite things is the twig installation on the wall of the museum restaurant. Does that make me uncultured?! It's so interesting & fun. And we might have spent a generous portion of time in the gift shop. It has so many trinkets & local wares that we were both coveting. Perfect for birthday presents or stocking stuffers.
If you're of stronger constitution than we, and are willing to brave the August heat, you can also take the walking paths through the outdoor part of the museum. We prefer that portion in the fall & spring, but there are several really neat things on the paths (including a cloud room that looks like a hobbit house!).