Thank goodness it's Friday!!  Hope everyone is having a lovely start to the weekend!  Today's post is a bit scatterbrained, so bear with me!

First things, first.  My heart goes out to all of those affected by the tornadoes that have ravished the southeast lately.  The death toll is now near 300 and thousands of people have been affected in addition to that.  Please keep all of these people in your thoughts and prayers and take a minute to be thankful for all you have.

Just some of the damage that has been done.

Secondly, on a lighter note, I started off the weekend last night with some good clean fun!  I went bowling as part of a staff bonding event with some of the fellow R.A.s from my building.  We had such a good time, and a few strikes were even thrown into the mix!


Look at that magnificent form, ha!

Group shot!

Finally, Foxfield is here!  Foxfield is a set of steeplechase races and the Spring Races have occurred in April every year for more than thirty years. Because of its timing at the end of the year, it is always a last hoorah for UVA students (as well as students from many other VA universities) before finals.  It is a day filled with tailgating, big hats, and Lilly/seersucker/madras galore!  I thought it would be fun to show you my Foxfield outfits over the years in anticipation for this year's race!

1st Year
Allie and MTG
My dress was actually a steal from Target!

2nd Year
Lilly and the pink floppy hat!

3rd Year
Lilly and no hat!

4th Year
It's Lilly!

Don't forget to enter my first giveaway!!!

Any guesses which dress I got for this year's races?  What are your weekend plans?


Dahl House Giveaway!

Yippee, woohoo, hip hip hooray-- it's my first giveaway!  The lovely ladies of Dahl house, who are already sharing their fabulous discount with you (see here) also want to do a giveaway on my blog and are giving me a personal discount to boot!

Don't forget your 25% off Jumbo Dot discount through May 3!

So here are all the exciting details!

The prize will be a 5x7 picture frame of the winner's choosing from the dahl house, which can be personalized with a single name or 3 letter monogram if the winner so chooses!

Here are my favorite frames from their site:

So classic, elegant, and cute!

You know I love the water!

I know Christmas is a ways away, but how cute is this?

I'll take the frame and that cutie baby, too!

God Bless America!

This would be the perfect graduation gift.

For the queen bee in your life!

And now...here's how to enter:

  1. You MUST be a follower of Sundresses and Smiles and leave a comment saying so!
  2. For one extra entry, visit the dahl house and tell me what your favorite frame on the site is!
  3. For another extra entry, blog about this giveaway!  
  4. For the last possible entry, like the dahl house on facebook-- click here!
That's a total of 4 possible entries!  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Also, if your email account is not linked up to your blog, please leave your email in a comment or send it to me at sundressesandsmiles@gmail.com so I can contact you if you win!

The giveaway lasts until 11:59 pm next Thursday, May 5.  The winner will be announced the next day on Friday, May 6.

Good luck!


Crazy for Callahans

Happy Hump Day everyone!

It should come as no surprise to y'all that I love Lilly's Callahan Short, because really...Lilly can do no wrong in my book!

I'd always been a J. Crew chino kind of gal (I've got close to 10 pairs of the shorts), but last summer I found myself feeling less and less satisfied with J. Crew's chino shorts.  The 5" look awkward on my 5'3 body, so I always used to buy the 3".  Last summer though, I felt myself pulling them down to make them longer constantly, and let's be honest--after wearing them for just a little while they get the worst wrinkles and all bunched up which makes them even shorter!

At the end of the summer I came across Lilly's Callahan short, though!  I bought an aqua pair on sale and fell in love!  I pulled them out for the first time of the season on Monday (paired with a white eyelet cami and white Jacks), so naturally I thought it would be appropriate to post about them.

Aren't they a great color?

What I love about the Callahan shorts are:  
  • Their 5" inseam is a little longer, but the cut is not awkward on my shorter body
  • The material is a little softer than the J. Crew chino and they are SO much more comfortable
  • They wrinkle way less than J. Crew chinos. 
Fun shorts are one of my go-to summer staples.  When I'm running around all day with the Cuties, comfort is key, but I still want to look cute.  What I love about the Callahans is that you can pull them on with a plain tee shirt or tank and you're set!  

These Callahans are now on my summer wishlist:

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the crisp look of white shorts.  These might need to replace my white J. Crew chinos!

I have been obsessing over this print for a while now, so I think the shorts would be a perfect addition to my wardrobe!

Multi Minnie Zinny-- say that 5 times fast!

In middle and high school I had a pair of pale pink shorts I lived in!  Eventually I had to get rid of them, because they were so worn, BUT I think these would be the perfect replacement!

Who doesn't love a fun a green print?  

Are you a fan of the Callahan short?  What are your favorite Lilly products?  


On Friendship...

Hello!  Just to warn you, today's post is a bit lengthy and word intense, but, I guarantee it is well worth the read!

The editor in chief of Self Magazine is an Alpha Phi and a major perk of being an APhi is a free subscription to the magazine.  I had never read much of Self before my time in the sorority and now it is one of my favorite magazines.  Their articles address a wide variety of topics all with the goal of empowering women.  Of all the articles I've read in Self, there has been one that stands out amongst the rest.  This particular article is one I've found myself mentioning in conversation and reflecting on time and and time again. The article was "You gotta have friends!" and it appeared in the October 2009 issue.

To read the full article yourself, click here.  Because I have told so many of my friends about this particular article, I thought it would be only appropriate to share it with all of you, my blog friends.

The article talks about the need for friendship in our lives, it states that "There's vast evidence that women who nurture friendships of any stripe feel more connected and content."  The catch, the article discusses, however, is that there are multiple types and tiers of friendship.  It is quite clear the importance of close friends in one's life-- the people you can call or go to for anything and know they will be there with support and love, but, equally important, says Laura Carstensen, Ph.D., "are the people you see every day who smile and nod, who are pleasant and who provide simple human interaction that improves the quality of your daily life."  This part really spoke to me.  

I am very much a people person and long to deeply connect with others.  I think I often lose sight of the importance of acquaintances or casual friends.  I have a handful of very close or best friends that are wonderful, but at times, I feel lonely because my store of casual friends is smaller.  If I worked to cultivate more casual, fun friendships I may actually be more content.

The article mentions that psychologists have determined four major types of friendship which are all key to our happiness.  In ascending order of importance:

1.  Acquaintances:  someone you'd chitchat with in line at the grocery store.  Someone who gives you a sense of belonging.
Why not strike up a conversation?

2. Casual friends:  the "grab lunch" pal with a specific purpose, such as your running partner

Swapping running secrets, of course!

3. Close buddies:  intimate, trustworthy friends you can say anything to

Anything goes!

4. Lifers:  "as deep and forever as family"--the person you can call in a crisis; might even be family

My #1 Lifer:  Mommy

The article suggests that the trick is to find a balance of all of these types of friends that is right for you.  It is advised that women aim for 3-5 lifers and 5-12 close friends ("people who are deeply interested in the details of your day-to-day and bring comfort during lonely times, even if you don't see each other regularly").  With acquaintances and casual friends there's more leeway.  Anywhere from 10-100 acquaintances and 10-50 casual friends will work.

It also mentions that at different times in our lives, our needs will change and we should respond accordingly.  One of my greatest fears for life after college involves my social life and friendships.  Next year, all of the friends I have become accustomed to having nearby are going to be scattered.  I'm going to be put into a new situation that is out of my comfort zone.  This article, however, gives me confidence that new friendships can always be cultivated and that with some effort I can nurture my old friendships, while also fostering new ones. 

Does this article have relevance in your life?  What do you need to work on in the friend department?

As a side note, don't forget the Dahl house discount I blogged about here last week.  The 25% discount for the Jumbo Dot Collection is available for one more week, through May 3rd!


Hippity-Hoppin' Easter Weekend

Happy Monday!  It's a sleepy, exhausted Monday morning for me.  I have a paper due at noon, and even though I meant to get it done while I was home for Easter, it just didn't happen.  Last night turned out to be quite a late night of writing.  I will say it was worth it though to have a relaxing weekend at home to celebrate Easter.

I'll share a few highlights of the weekend with you.

My Thursday plans with Cuties A and B were cancelled, because Cutie A got sick.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because Thursday my sinus infection was in full force.  Thursday and Friday I just spent time relaxing and recuperating and was able to start reading The Help.  I love it so far and am already on page 259!  Hopefully I'll be able to finish it soon despite all my upcoming projects, papers, and tests.

Saturday, Cutie A and I were both feeling much better and I got in some much needed time with Cuties A and B.  Cutie A has started playing lacrosse and her practice is right around the corner from my house.  I got to watch her practice and scrimmage!

Ignore my crazy hair, it was quite windy!

Cutie A then went with me on some errands.  That night the "Cutie" family invited me to go to a Flying Squirrels game.  The Flying Squirrels is a minor-league baseball team that just came to Richmond last summer.  The wind cleared up, the sun came out, and it was the perfect night for a baseball game.  We started with dinner at Kitchen 64 and then headed to the ball game!

Our seats were right behind 3rd base!

We were happy after lots of peanuts and funnel cakes!

It was an exciting and close game.  The Squirrels were up against the Altoona Curve and had to play 11 innings!  Ultimately, the Squirrels won 3-2!

Sunday morning, I woke up to a lovely Easter basket.  My basket is really special to me because it was made for me when I was just a baby by a loved one who I liked to call "Tricky Nikki" when I was younger. 

Contents:  lovely new pajamas, Waiting for Superman, lots of candy!

We had brunch as a family at Strawberry Street Cafe.  It was a particularly emotional Easter for our family, because today would be my grandfather's 88th birthday.  He passed away about two and a half years ago and was one of the kindest, most incredible men.  Above all, he had the greatest faith in God.  He never missed mass and always said our blessings at meals.  It was definitely hard not having him there for both Easter and what would have been his birthday, but we managed to keep the day upbeat and fun!

Strawberry Street Cafe is known for their bathtub brunch bar.

the tub!

My dad and I have always had a tradition of ordering French toast to share.  We both order whatever we're having for brunch, and then add a separate order of French toast to split.  Yesterday was no different!

All of the plates had a strawberry on them!

Sadly, we didn't take as many family pictures as I would have hoped, but here are my favorite two from the day!

With my Grandmas!

Mommy, Allie, Daddy

How was your Easter weekend?


Easter Dreams

Happy Good Friday!  In honor of Easter, I thought it might be fun to come up with a "Dream Easter Basket."  In my family, Easter is all about spending time with one another.  The basket tradition is fun, but we don't go over the top.  That is fine by me, especially because I'm quite the family girl, but it certainly was fun coming up with this fantasy basket.

Dream Easter Basket

Dream Easter Basket by sundressesandsmiles featuring ballet flats

What would be in your dream Easter Basket?

Additionally, I decided to participate in the White T-Shirt Challenge posted by WhatMissLoves.  The challenge was to put together a cute look using just a simple white tee shirt.  This is the look I put together!  Head on over to her blog tomorrow (Saturday, 4/23)  to check out what other people came up with!

Finally, thanks to Elizabeth from Life with Elizabeth and Jennifer from Blue-Eyed Belle for the "One Lovely Blog Award."  I received this award last week, so to see my random facts and the bloggers I awarded, click here.  

I hope everyone has a very Happy Easter!  Look out Monday for my Easter highlights.  I'm particularly excited, because, I was put in charge of finding a brunch location this year.  I decided to try a Richmond classic, Strawberry Street Cafe, hopefully it will not disappoint!

What are your Easter plans?


Craving Summer: Lemon Shrimp Pasta

As the weather is warming up, I find myself craving summer.  One of my favorite things about my home is our huge backyard.  We live on a little over an acre of land, which is pretty rare for our area.  We have a nice patio right behind the house, a pool with a great deck my dad built, a volleyball net, and then some extra room to spare.  My dad loves landscaping and gardening (sadly, I did not inherit his green thumb) and in the summertime we spend most of our time in the backyard.

Last May, I decided I wanted to cook a really nice meal for two of my best friends, LPC and ALG, to kick off the summer and have a little girls night.  I went to Target and got cute things for my tablescape (which, by the way, is a new word I've learned blogging) and got cooking!  Now, I'm craving a taste of that delicious meal as well as summer fun with friends.

ALG, LPC, Allie
Please ignore my slight sunburn

The menu for the night was a Lemon Shrimp Pasta and one of my summer (or anytime of year for that matter) favorites, Sangria.  ALG also brought some homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert.  I got both of the recipes online, however, I wrote them down by hand, and therefore can't cite them to their proper source.

  • 1 bottle red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Roja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)--I have no memory of which I used
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 orange cut into wedges
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Splash of orange juice or lemonade (I used OJ)
  • 2 shots of gin or triple sec (optional)--I used the gin and may have been a bit generous when adding it, hehe!
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
  • 4 cups Gingerale (I used Sprite because I don't really care for Gingerale)
  1. Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon, orange, and lime into the wine.  Toss in fruit wedges and pineapple, then add sugar, OJ, and gin.
  2. Chill overnight (I learned that this is key to making a good Sangria!)
  3. Add Gingerale (Sprite in my case), strawberries and ice just before serving.
Lemon Shrimp Pasta
Makes 6 servings. 
  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 12 oz angel hair pasta
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (these were expensive, so I skipped them)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons (1/4 cup or so)
  • 1 tbsp table salt
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, mint (I used all 3)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper (I did not measure this, just added some pepper)
  1. Cook angel hair pasta al dente
  2. Cook shrimp on a skillet (until pink) with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, herbs, salt and pepper
  3. Combine with pasta and grape tomatoes.  Add more salt and pepper as necessary to taste
Voila, the final product!

It turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself!

We had so much fun sipping (or, maybe, gulping) sangria and chitchatting all night!  

What are your favorite summertime meals?  Are you craving summer as badly as I am?

As a side note, in case you were wondering, I went to the doctor and have a sinus infection, which is a bummer.  Luckily, however, it's not contagious, so I can still spend some much-needed time with Cuties A and B.


Meet Cuties A and B

Hello!  Today I wanted to introduce you to two of my favorite kids in the world.  I babysit for a lot of families, but this one takes the cake.  We're going to call them Cutie A and Cutie B.

I started babysitting for Cutie A and Cutie B when I was a junior in high school.

This is them back then!
Cutie B and Cutie A

I think it was love at first sight and I continue to babysit for them in summers and when I'm home.  They also come visit me here at UVA and in the fall, I even had Cutie A spend the night with me after a football game.

This was them the weekend before move-in day my 1st Year at UVA

The next summer I was lucky enough to go with them to the beach!


We have so much fun together.  Cutie A is a little version of me; our hobbies include splash contests off the diving board, making friendship bracelets, and playing some intense games of Crazy 8's.  Cutie B is a goofball.  He loves to make people laugh and has some good jokes up his sleeve.  

This is currently my desktop background.

Did I mention they like to be silly?

It's funny because Cutie A and Cutie B's mom says she trusts me with them moreso than she does her own mother!  Additionally, this summer, their dad was telling me how someone asked who Allie was in conversation.  Rather than saying, "Oh, she's our babysitter," his response was, "I don't know.  She's like my older daughter or niece or something."  I don't consider watching them a job.  They're like family and we have such a good time together.

Maymont is one of our favorite places to go.

Our picnic spot in the Japanese Gardens

Our last day together last summer!

I wanted you guys to meet them, because, I'll be watching them full time this summer and because they're a huge part of my life.  It's funny, because, my mom has always said that you don't really know what love is, until you have a child.  I love Cutie A and Cutie B so much, that I can't imagine what it will be like to have my own kids someday.  

This summer I'm sure that many of my posts will be about our adventures.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to pick them up from school and take them to see the movie Hop.  I've been feeling a bit under the weather, so I am wishing and hoping that all is better by tomorrow and I won't have to cancel our get together.


Dotty for Dahl House!

Hello everyone!  Today I am feeling particularly cheery-- yesterday I had the best day!  Why you ask?  A few reasons--the weather was gorgeous so I pulled out a favorite Lilly skort for the first time this season; I won some teaching goodies in class; babysitting was so much fun (the little boy and I rode bikes and then the mom actually surprised me with one of my favorite ice creams, Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie); AND, last but certainly not least: I actually got into bed at a decent hour.  All of this combined put me in a great mood for the day and week ahead!  Now onto today's post...

Last week, I was contacted by the dahl house.  I had never heard of this company before, but one look at their website and it was love!  Whitney, the owner, creates hand painted products for the home and is so talented.  She has a knack for detail and never uses stencils; additionally she will customize many of her pieces for you, using specific colors and ribbon or by adding a monogram.  Check out some of my favorite finds below!

I have a feeling this frame will soon be mine (with a monogram added at the top, of course!)

love, love, love the gingham ribbon along the edge!

I'm buzzzzing for these bees!  (get it!?)

Wouldn't this be precious in a little boy's room or beach house?

And now, drumroll please, I'd like for you to know that the dahl house is running a spring special for the next two weeks, offering 25% off their Jumbo Dot Collection and wanted me to share it specifically with YOU, my readers!   The Jumbo Dot Collection is oh so cute and perfect for spring!  All you have to do is enter code EAS2011 at checkout and place your order by May 3rd.

I wouldn't mind having a few of these in my Easter basket!

My two personal favorites are the Waste Can and Frame.

All of the items in the Collection can be customized by color, ribbon style, and optional personalization.  

So...what are you waiting for?  Head on over to the dahl house and get dotty! 

Have a great day!