11.17.2017

1987 Birthday Wine Dinner

TGIF!

I don't know about y'all, but for me this has felt like a long week!

I'm enjoying the creative energy that comes from writing again and hoping to find time to create my holiday gift guides this weekend! Last year I only managed to make ladies gift guides. This year, I may try to do gents, too, but reduce the amount. When I was doing 6 for the ladies, 6 for the gents, and 4 stocking stuffer guides it took a lot of time! Each guide takes at least an hour, so at a minimum, I was spending 16 hours on guides, outside of my normal "work" hours. Definitely no time for all of that these days!

I am trying to make time for the blog again, though. We hunker down more as the weather cools, so I'm hoping to get back into at least a semi-regular schedule again this winter. We'll see...

All that being said, I never got around to sharing Bryce's 30th birthday back in March!

A few months before Bryce's birthday, he began researching and ordering 1987 wines to try. We decided it would be fun to have a fancy dinner party to taste the wines surrounded by good friends. It was so fun!

Of course my mind, first and foremost, went to the table. I really enjoyed designing a tablescape that would reflect Bryce. I knew incorporating a decoy was key, and I selected the pintail below because it has special significance to the both of us. It is a Chris Martin decoy, and I actually picked it out! I love that Martin's work has more of an artistic and contemporary style, and I just couldn't resist that fabulous blue beak! His normal home is actually in my ultra girlie sunroom, but I brought him out for the occasion!


The next key elements were finding a tablecloth and fun napkins (funny story about the napkins, below!). The Kate Spade tablecloth was a Home Goods find, and the napkins are from one of my favorite sources for table linens, Pomegranate!


Once that all came together, it was simply a matter of zhushing things up a bit! I love how our new everyday dinnerware provided a nice, fresh look. It is the Emma Collection from Pottery Barn. I also knew that white hydrangeas were key, and drove all over town to find them in late March (Fresh Market for the win!). I was fortunate to be able to borrow the wooden stand and candleholders from my mother-in-law, as well as the gold chargers which were a last minute addition. I made the place cards myself with scrapbook paper!


The "Happy Birthday" banner was made from the same scrapbook paper and grosgrain ribbon!  made a similar one for the mantel and also got "30" balloons!




In the kitchen I set up this little bar area featuring none other than childhood Bryce! He was a cutie! I also ordered these napkins with his monogram, BECAUSE, when the blue napkins above arrived, "his birthday napkins," he was a bit disappointed. When I had told him I'd ordered napkins for his birthday he'd thought I meant monogrammed cocktail napkins, like our friend Frank has for his bar area. Not wanting to upset the birthday boy, I put in a rush order to have these babies at his dinner party!

So now for the courses! We started with Veuve, oysters, and baked brie. Katie's recipe is a go-to I've been using for years! It is so easy and fast, too! It takes 15-20 minutes in the oven, so I put it in right as guests were about to arrive!


Next up was a salad course! One of Bryce's groomsmen, Alec, and his wife, Allison, attended the dinner party, so I looked to this Host: A Modern Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Feeding your Friends (perfect for the occasion!) cookbook they had gifted us at a shower for dinner party inspiration. In it, I found a recipe for a kale caesar that was ahhh-mazing! I will have to share it with you soon!


For the main course, which I was having a little too much fun, and maybe a little too much wine tasting, to photograph, we had beef tenderloin (recipe coming soon!), roasted parmesan potatoes, and roasted asparagus. We selected this menu specifically because it contained items that could easily be prepped ahead. I wanted to ensure I was present in the celebration and not just stuck in the kitchen all night!

Finally, you can't have a birthday party without cake. I ordered a "dessert cake" from a local favorite, Sweet Fix, which was the perfect size for our party of 8. I selected dark chocolate with a salted caramel filling, Bryce's favorites!



Can you tell a lot of wine had been consumed at this point?


I snapped this picture amidst the cake consumption, and remember just feeling so happy in the moment! Surrounded by some of our closest friends, at a beautiful table, after a delicious meal...there's nothing quite like it!


And I also couldn't resist snapping an aftermath photo...that's a lot of wine!


And for the wine enthusiasts, here are the 1987s that we drank:


The Penfold's was the group favorite!

How do you celebrate milestone birthdays?

Have a great weekend!

11.13.2017

Gray Kitchen Love

Hello strangers!

Long time no blog!

A part of me feels the need to reflect or explain my lack of blogging, but the only real explanation is...I haven't made the time! I miss blogging, and have ideas for posts all the time, but ,when it comes down to it, in my free time I choose other things than writing in this space regularly!

That being said, GRAY KITCHENS have inspired me to sit down and blog.

This gray kitchen to be exact:


Let me start from the beginning...

Some of you may have seen on my Instastories last week that we're doing some very minor kitchen updates. And when I say minor, I mean it--just a few cosmetic changes that I'm hoping will make a big impact.

I've never loved our kitchen. The oak cabinets just feel blah to me, our granite is black with brown and gray flecks which I'd never ever choose myself...and to top it all off it has popcorn ceilings with terrible lighting. You can get a little glimpse here.

All that said, it's a starter home, and upgraded enough. This just isn't the home to put time, money, and resources into creating a "dream kitchen," so we've kept things as is.

That being said, we had a leak from our bathtub above the kitchen that's caused some damage to the ceiling. The leak has been tackled, but the ceiling could use some work and we decided to use the damage as an opportunity to get rid of the popcorn ceiling and update the lighting! We might also paint the walls in the meantime. I'm thinking something like Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.  For lighting, I've ordered this flush mount in Natural Brass and am considering this or this small pendant in brass for above our sink. I might also update some of our hardware. Finally, we're going to have a roman shade made in this fabric for the window above the sink. I'm on the hunt for an aqua/turquoise trim to add a little color to it as a border on the shade. Thinking grosgrain might be a nice, preppy pop!

So you might be thinking, where does the "Gray Kitchen Love" come in? The only gray you've mentioned is the gray specks in the granite you don't like. Well...a dream would be to have our cabinets re-done. I've always dreamed of a white kitchen with marble countertops. In fact, I've wanted to paint our cabinets white forever...until seeing the Insta picture above!

I immediately took a screenshot when first seeing itand haven't been able to stop thinking about this fabulous butler's pantry since! And now...I think that I may prefer gray cabinets to white! 

We have white appliances, all in great working order, so gray really wouldn't work in our kitchen, but it's still fun to dream!

Here's some more gray cabinet eye candy:






Also loving the mix of white and gray cabinetry in these photos. Best of both worlds?



What are your thoughts?

Gray is having a big moment right  now, and in a few more years it may feel dated.

At least I'm in no hurry to make a decision!

How do you balance home updates with budget and life stage?

Do you find yourself swayed by trends?

What's your dream kitchen?

Have a great day!

9.01.2017

Five on Friday

Happy Friday and Labor Day Weekend!

Wow..it feels so good to be back in this space writing again.

Pre-wedding it felt as if all my spare time went to planning, so post-wedding, it felt so good to just be, and do, nothing. I've had enough of nothing, now, though and proclaimed September 1 would be my return to both blogging and exercise!

I was planning a run this afternoon, but it's now raining. At least the blog post has happened, though! Maybe exercise will start on September 2...


My favorite blog schedule was my 10/month posts where I alternated M/W/F one week and T/Th the second. I'm hoping to get back in that groove, but admit it might be tough finding the time to post so frequently. I thought I'd ease in today, though, with a simple Five on Friday!

ONE
Married Weekends
As I shared, it's been so nice to just relax post-wedding. We've fortunately had a pretty low-key summer, which has been nice. We've loved having unplanned weekends and one of our favorite activities has been Saturday mornings at the South of the James Farmer's Market followed by time in the James River with Millie!
 
 
TWO
Blue Door Love
I've shared before that I'd love to paint our front door a fabulous coral color. While I still love the idea of coral, I've really been digging blue lately, too! Our house is painted white brick with black shutters, so would have a similar look to the photos below. Fun front doors are "very Richmond," too. Bryce loves our classic black door, though. To be continued...
 



 
 
 
THREE
New Blue & White
Speaking of blue...I'm so excited to have found some new blue & white for our mantel! I've wanted a matching pair of blue & white vases for our mantel forever, but had struggled to find what I envisioned at the right size, and more importantly, right price point. I was thrilled to have found Frontgate as a new source for my blue & white collection! They were having an awesome sale a couple of weekends ago, so I was able to order 2 of the Ming Vases well discounted from their already reasonable price point below $80! I was so pleased upon their arrival. They have the semi-gray background, which I prefer as I think it looks more antique and authentic than the stark white / bright blue pieces. Those that follow on Instagram, saw my reveal of them on Stories, but I'll have to put together a mantel post for the rest of you on here soon!
 
 
 
FOUR
Crème de la Crumb
While September 1 is my return to blogging and exercise, we marked August 1 as our return to meal planning and regular cooking! I recently discovered the blog Crème de la Crumb and have been working my way through her 30 Minute Meals, pinning all that have sounded good. So far we've tried her Chicken Taco Marinade (and topped them with avocado, peach salsa, and cheese) and her Creamy Pesto Chicken Lasagna Rolls. Both have been really good and Bryce especially loved the lasagna rolls! I will share that the lasagna rolls took us longer than 30  minutes, though. I doubled the recipe however (using a rotisserie chicken), as well as added a bag of chopped spinach to the filling, and we were able to freeze 12 rolls that will provide us with 3 more dinners! I'm going to mix those up by topping them with different sauces. I think using jarred spaghetti sauce will make for a super easy meal one night and an alfredo sauce would also be delicious!
 
 
 
FIVE
My new favorite tee!
I'd been eyeing this peplum tee online for a while! It's under $40 and super cute! That being said, we have been trying to be super budget conscious post-wedding. I finally decided I needed to treat myself and bit the bullet! I bought this tee just a few weeks ago and have already worn it multiple times! It is oh so soft and just easy to wear. In fact, I loved it so much that I went back and bought it in gray, too! It comes in a long sleeved option, too, which is perfect for the upcoming cooler months!
 
 
What's been on your mind lately?
 
Any fun Labor Day plans?
 
We have plans with friends on Sunday, but otherwise, are just going to relax!
 
Have a great weekend!



7.06.2017

Lilly for RMHC

Happy Thursday readers!

Gotta love shortened holiday weeks!

I hope you had a great 4th of July and are enjoying summer thus far.

Those that follow along on Instagram, know that I've partnered with Ronald McDonald House of Richmond again this year to promote their Lilly Pulitzer Give Back event that is this Saturday, July 8 from 12:00 - 5:00 pm at the Lilly Pulitzer Short Pump store!

I'll be there at noon for styling tips if you want to shop with me!

Allison, their Director of Development and my friend, and I had a great time last weekend visiting the store and styling looks. I've put together a little preview for those of you that are in town and might be able to stop by.

First up, is my favorite look! I browsed online before meeting Allison and knew I HAD to try on this dress!


The Rylan Silk Maxi Dress would be perfect for any summer soiree, especially one that involves dancing! The silk adds elegance to the bold print and the flowy cut makes this dress extra comfy! It runs true to size. 

Next, I wanted to find a look that would be appropriate for both work and play. Summertime is full of happy hours and fun events, and it's nice when you can go straight from work to a social outing without changing your clothes!


I love the versatility of the wrap above! It adds instant chic to an outfit and can be thrown over a tank when you're in the office and then ditched when you're ready for a night out! The Kelly Dinner Pants are perfect for when you want to wear white jeans, but the occasion calls for something just a bit more formal. They also have good stretch, which I find to be a key component to make any pair of white jeans or pants flattering. All pieces run true to size.

I also wanted to make sure you could see how super
cute the "Paradise Pink Bohemian Beach" print on the top is!

Last, but not least, I was sure to get a casual look styled. Shorts with a fun top and wedges are one of my go-to summer looks and Lilly shorts are my very favorite, so I knew where to start!


I am in love with these cobalt blue scalloped shorts! I might just have to get them as a part of this weekend's promotion! The scallops add both a dose of cute and a dose of sophistication! This big tote bag would also be perfect for a summer getaway. The shorts run true to size, but the top runs large. I am wearing a small in this picture, and would have sized down to an extra small, if they had it in store.

Bag Close Up

To browse some of my other favorites, scroll through below:



And last but not least, I wanted to take the chance to talk some staple accessories with you! You'll notice that I am wearing the same accessories with all 3 of these different looks. I actually packed a couple pair of earrings to switch things up while styling, but then felt no need. These pieces are tried and true and have been favorites for years now:

I am guaranteed to get compliments whenever I wear these 
and they are lightweight, which is even better!


Bryce gave me this bracelet for my birthday 4 or 5 years ago and I have worn it non-stop since!
It is a timeless style and can be easily stacked with other bracelets or a watch.

This cuff can be dressed up or dressed down and makes a statement while still being delicate! 
I wear mine multiple times a week.

These sandals (which are under $30, by the way!) are my favorite!
I love them so much, I actually bought a second pair on sale at the end of last summer.
I  may even buy a 3rd since they brought them back again this summer. They literally go with everything and are incredibly comfortable. Can't recommend enough...I wear mine at least 3-4 times a week!

Have you bought any Lilly yet this summer?

Have a great weekend!

5.12.2017

Five on Friday: Statement Earrings

Happy Friday readers!

Can you believe it?

TWO posts in one week!

Don't count on this becoming a trend anytime soon...

I have a confession to make. I've been having major withdrawals. I need to find an S.A. (Shopaholics Anonymous) meeting stat.

You see, since getting engaged, pretty much every spare penny has been going toward wedding expenses.

As the honeymoon nears, I've been dying for the high you get...you know that little flutter in your heart...when walking out of  store, shopping bag in hand.

We'll be honeymooning in St. Lucia (recommendations, anyone?), and all I can think about is bright, bold looks to wear with a new tan!

Last week, I was helping my mom find gold statement earrings to wear to the wedding, and couldn't help getting sidetracked by all sorts of fabulous, bold, bright pairs of earrings!

Here are my top 5 picks for the Five on Friday:

ONE

They're like fireworks for your ears!

TWO


I'm picturing these with a monochromatic look:

THREE

These keep popping up on my Instagram as a sponsored post, 
just screaming "Buy me! Buy me!" and at under $40, I just might!

FOUR


Neutral and a statement all in one...love!

FIVE
(under $50!)


Just like a good, flowy skirt, something about these just makes me want to dance
...preferably to live music, by a bar, in the sand.

What new pieces have you added to your wardrobe this spring?

What's currently on your lust list?

Have a great weekend!