Happy Thursday readers!

I don't know about y'all, but I am ready for the long weekend!

Today I thought I would link up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday. My thoughts today are going to be confessional style. These posts are so fun to read for me, so hopefully you'll enjoy!

I confess I just don't get the Beyonce thing. Be yonce, Queen Bey....I just don't get it! Sure, she's an amazing entertainer, but so are a lot of people. And I really don't get the "You have just as many hours in your day as Beyonce." To be quite honest, I bet I could achieve a lot in my day if I had the staff and means she does. I'm not a Beyonce hater, but I just don't get the obsession. Is there something I'm missing?

I confess I'm having a love-hate relationship with the upcoming summer months. I'm disappointed in myself for not sticking to my New Year's fitness goals...I blame the flu for derailing my progress...and am just not ready to put on a bathing suit. (I have been running 3x a week the last 3 weeks though, woohoo!). I also am feeling overwhelmed as the calendar gets so full. Whenever I'm overbooked it makes me feel like that time is lost. Can y'all relate? We have events the first 3 weekends in June, which makes me feel like July is already here.

Speaking of fitness, I confess I might be catching the running bug. I'm still using my "Running for Weight Loss" app, and don't get me wrong, the running/workout part itself is pretty miserable, BUT, I love the sense of achievement I feel afterwards and find myself actually wanting to go for my runs. Any tips for a rookie runner like me?

I confess I'm having major wanderlust. My Charleston trip was wonderful, but so jam packed. I want a leisurely vacation with Bryce. We're due for a getaway, just the two of us, but scheduling it is proving difficult (ie: my summer confession above).

I confess I am loving Blue Apron! My friend Emily sent us a free shipment last week and we really enjoyed the meals! I love that the ingredients are fresh and responsibly sourced, and that there is no food waste. I can't stand throwing food away! I also confess, I am really loving that it means way less grocery shopping. Have I mentioned how much I loathe grocery shopping?

I confess I am really liking only washing my hair every 2-3 days...thanks for all the dry shampoo recommendations. Batiste (original scent) seems to be doing the trick. I'm wondering though..could the dry shampoo product build-up be just as bad as shampooing every day?

I confess I am really missing being such a bookworm. I'm just too tired to read these days, it seems. Whenever I do get around to reading at night, I can't seem to get past 4 or 5 pages before dozing off. I got 3 books from the library yesterday and am hoping to get some poolside reading in this weekend. I started the thriller Pretty Girls last night, and at least the first few pages seemed really good!

Speaking of being tired, I confess that my exhaustion is totally my own fault. Bryce travels so much for work, and then I often have different social events and obligations after work, so when we have downtime home together at night, we tend to stay up way later than we should. I also battle insomnia occasionally, and the lack of a regular bedtime probably only perpetuates that problem. We need to be better about having a bedtime.

I confess I have still not fully unpacked my spring and summer clothes! I got them from my parents house when I was there for Easter...ya know...TWO MONTHS ago! The bags have just been sitting on our bedroom floor and I've been pulling things out of the bags, albeit sometimes wrinkled, as I want to wear them. I blame the lack of closet space.

I confess I'm a stickler for grammar, and cringe when I see a glaring error that I've made on this blog. I initially titled this post, "Five on Friday: Mark & Graham ADDITION." I was mortified as soon as I realized my mistake and immediately changed it to the proper "Edition." Don't even get me started when I realize I've mistyped a there/their/they're or realize an error much later after many of y'all have read and commented!

My recent confessions, friends!

Can you relate to any of mine?

Do share yours in the comments!

Have a great day!


Barre South

A sunshiney Tuesday over here, readers!

We have had pretty much non-stop rain all May, but today the sun is shining and the temperature is perfect! I am thrilled!

Today I'm excited to be posting about my experience at Barre South while visiting Charleston for the Southern C Summit. Brett, the owner of Barre South, used to live in Richmond and was my favorite barre instructor. That being said, when a trip to Charleston was in the works, I knew I had to take one of her classes! I reached out to see if she would be interested in offering a class for Summit attendees and she graciously said yes! 

We planned the class for Wednesday morning, before Summit registration. It turned out to be only three of us, as many people were still traveling that morning or taking add-on sessions. I really enjoyed the intimate class, though! In addition to myself, Erin of Attention to Darling and Maghon of All She Wrote Notes, were both in attendance! If you haven't checked out Maghon's calligraphy business, be sure to! She is very talented and has collaborated with Moon & Lola and my very favorite, Furbish Studio!

The studio is absolutely gorgeous and I wanted to take one of her fabulous lanterns home with me!

Talk about a chic place to work out!

I was so excited to get to bring some Barre South swag back to Richmond!

Brett's class was awesome! She has such good energy, and her enthusiasm makes the hard class worth it!

Those of you that are familiar with barre, know that the seat exercise below is killer!

I couldn't resist snagging a pic alongside Brett! We are both wearing Superfun Yoga Pants! True story...after first taking a class with Brett, I immediately reached out to Amy of SYP saying I needed a pair of pants just like Brett's! I now have 4 pairs and having an excuse to wear them is definitely a motivator to hit the barre!

I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to be back in class with Brett...and was also glad to burn some calories before all the Charleston feasting that was to ensue! I will most definitely be visiting Barre South during any and all future Charleston trips! 

If you are in the Charleston or Mount Pleasant area, be sure to take a class and let Brett know I sent ya! Also, if you want your own pair of Superfun Yoga Pants, you can order online here, or visit a Superfun Pop-Up shop! The Superfun gals will actually be at Barre South tomorrow night and Thursday morning! Details here.

Are you a fan of barre?

How do you like to stay fit?

Have a great day!



Happy Friday readers!

It's been a busy, long week over here!

I've been wanting to recap our weekend all week, and now that the new weekend is here, I guess it's as good a time as any!

Last weekend was a fun one for the books! The highlight of the weekend was probably puppy-sitting Bryce's parents new pup, Beau! He is the cutest, sweetest little yellow lab and it makes me so excited for when we will have a lab puppy of our own! We are currently on the list for a litter that should be born in the next few weeks. A few people are ahead of us, and we want a black female, so fingers crossed that it all works out!

Side note: I have been living in this T. Marie necklace I bought while in Charleston. 
Tiffany, the designer behind the fabulous necklace is an Atlanta native and was a fellow Southern C Summit attendee! Also, these coral jeans I bought last summer in NYC are a wardrobe staple (I wear them about once a week!) and are currently WAY marked down, here!

After feeding and playing with Beau for a bit, we headed down to the newly opened Quirk Hotel Rooftop to celebrate our friend Greylan's birthday!

The views of the city were absolutely incredible, and the rooftop had a bit of a beachy, cool vibe! Most of us in the group are Richmond natives and kept saying "I don't feel like I'm in Richmond!" We've seen our city grown and change a lot in these last few years! 

I sipped on a couple of Hummingbird cocktails, which I would highly recommend, and then we, with most of the group, headed next door for a delicious dinner at Graffiato.

Saturday  morning we were up with Beau bright and early and headed to the South of the James Farmers Market! It was our first visit since this fall, and I was excited to see that the market has expanded this year!

Beau was a trooper his first time at the  market and it was so fun showing him off! We picked up some yummy local arugula, mushrooms, and honey! I also grabbed some pretty flowers to take to my mom for her birthday. 

Finally, we ate a quick bite before heading home! We tried out the Southern Charm BBQ stand, and were not disappointed! This BBQ bowl with smoked cheddar grits was on point! We also couldn't resist sharing a Mrs. Yoder's donut...they are our favorite of all Richmond donuts! Local friends, they now have TWO food trucks at the market, making the donut line much more bearable!

After the market, we got to work in the kitchen! My mom's birthday was on the 15th and we were headed to my parents that evening to celebrate. I had offered to bring both a salad and cake. I fixed my go-to arugula and quinoa salad (recipe here) and tried a new cake recipe! It was a hit, and I will be sharing soon!

I clearly still need a little practice when it comes to the chocolate ganache icing, but, nobody complained about that yummy pool of chocolate!

Sunday was low-key. We took the pooch for a walk, I got a run in, and we did lots of yard work! Our front bushes were in dire straits and Bryce's mom was nice enough to gift us some boxwoods! We dug out the old bushes, weeded the beds, and planted 6 cute little boxwoods! After such a productive morning, we wound down with a yummy snack and some House of Cards!

And now another weekend...and birthday...is here! Tomorrow is Bryce's mom's birthday! We are having she and his stepdad over for an al fresco dinner tonight to celebrate! Rain is in the forecast for the rest of the weekend, but I'm hoping it will give us an excuse to both relax and get some things done inside around the house!

What have you been doing lately on the weekends?

Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

Have a great weekend!


Five on Friday: Mark & Graham Edition

Happy Friday readers!

This week has been a long one, so I am glad that the weekend is here!

Our weather has been dreary for the last two weeks, and even chilly, making the days drag on! I am hoping for some sunshine this weekend!

For today's Five on Friday (linking up with the fab April, Natasha, and Christina), I'm sharing some of my favorite recent Mark & Graham finds.

Do y'all shop Mark & Graham? Every time a new catalogue arrives I get a little bit giddy. Their pieces are of utmost quality, the monogramming options are endless, and every order comes with complementary gift wrapping, making them a go-to for gifts...and a frequent flyer on my annual holiday gift guides.

Here's what's most on my Mark & Graham radar of late:

(on sale!)
I have been swooning over this tote since last summer! I'm a sucker for anything gingham...and pink, and think this tote back is the cutest! That being said...I need another tote like I need a hold in the head, so I haven't bit the bullet. Can y'all relate? 


Every time I see a hankie, I automatically think of my grandpa, who always had one of hand for tears or sniffles. These are so sweet, and have a vintage vibe. I think they would be perfect mother of the bride and groom gifts for a wedding!


In the latest catalogue, I was drawn to their new insulated collection...perfect for the river, beach, or summer cookouts! The have an insulated tote, lunch box, casserole holder, single wine tote, double wine tote, and even a pannier to carry a picnic on your bike!

(on sale!)

I love a stylish barrette, and have quite the collection of J. Crew tortoise ones, but I am also loving these metal monogrammed options! The classic gold is my favorite, but the trendy rose gold is fun, too!

(on sale!)

The Derby may be past, but a good julep cup never goes out of fashion and the hexagonal shape of this one is a great modern twist! I love julep cups for summer cocktails, with a big scoop of crushed ice; but julep cups also make lovely vases. Hydrangea season is coming!

Have you shopped Mark & Graham before?

What are your go-tos for gifting?

Have a great weekend!


Sentimental & Sweet 1st Birthday Gift

Happy Hump Day readers!

I hope this post finds you well. I am finally starting to feel rejuvenated and refreshed after a crazy, hectic few weeks. Last night, when I got home from work, I immediately changed into my pajamas and enjoyed a good dose of me time...and an early bedtime! It is paying off!

Today I am excited to share an idea for a sentimental, sweet 1st birthday gift.

As most of you know, Erin (of Attention to Darling) and her husband Ryan are some of our very best friends. We were among the first to find out about their pregnancy and among the first to meet their bundle of joy, Sullivan Louise, when she was just 4 days old. Being that Bryce and I are both only children, we look to Miss Sullivan, or "Sully" as a niece of our own and love her dearly.

That being said, when her first birthday rolled around, we knew we wanted to gift her with something that would be special and stand the test of time.

I remembered an idea I had first read about on the blog Pink Preppy Lilly Lover. (Trish no longer blogs, but you can find her on Instagram here.)

When Trish's daughter Stella turned 1, she shared that the girls in  her family were always given a set of cake servers as a first birthday present. Cake is at the forefront of life's biggest celebrations, so by providing this as a first birthday gift, it is a present that a young lady can enjoy throughout her life. I absolutely loved this idea!

So, when Sully's birthday approached, I knew that would be the perfect gift for her.

I purchased the Kate Spade Grace Avenue Cake Serving Set from Nordstrom. I thought the bow detail was perfect for the preppy baby girl!

I took it to Things Remembered for engraving. If you have a Things Remembered in your area and haven't checked it out yet, be sure you do! They offer and array of personalized gifts, as well as same day engraving services which are especially convenient if you're a procrastinator like me!

I chose the elegant Balmoral font. The server reads: 
Happy 1st Birthday, Sullivan! 
May this be the first of many 
celebrations honoring you! 
We love you! 
Allie and Bryce

On the knife, I opted to engrave it with her full name and date of birth: 
Sullivan Louise Phillips 
April 19, 2015

Finally, in her card I highlighted the milestones ahead that I hope will provide her opportunities to pull out our gift with fond memories: double-digits 10, sweet 16, wild 21, first holy communion, graduation, and someday even a fairy tale wedding!

Sully was so cute unwrapping her gifts and I was glad to get this special moment with her before all the party festivities the next day!

The Momofuku Milk Bar inspired cake (recipe here) was as delicious as it was cute!

Sully certainly enjoyed her personal sized cake...there was little smashing and lots of eating!

I'd say the servers got put to great use!

What are some of your go-to gifts for the special little ones in your life?

Do you have a favorite gift, that you still enjoy today, from childhood?

Have a great day!


Kentucky Derby Bars

Happy Thursday readers!

This week has been a whirlwind, and I am counting down the days until Sunday when I can relax!

Between trying to get back in the groove from my Charleston trip, planning to take a Cinco de Mayo themed dinner to friends who just had a baby tonight, and being in my cousin's wedding (plus providing bridesmaids' brunch the morning of) this weekend, my head feels like it's going to spin off!

Thanks to all the wonderful comments, emails, and texts responding to my "Defining My Niche" post on Tuesday. It seems that wholeheartedly for many of us, lifestyle is a niche...and, it's what we love most in the blog world.

Can y'all believe that we are already nearly a week into May? Not to mention, Kentucky Derby weekend is here!

We will not be watching this year, as my cousin's wedding will be filling that time, but last year we attended a Kentucky Derby party hosted by one of my book club friends and her husband.

I took Kentucky Derby Bars with me and they were a huge hit. While they did not photograph well, trust me they were good! I am excited to be sharing the recipe with you today!

Kentucky Derby Bars (Recipe credit here)
Serves 18-20

For the cookie crust:
2.5 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp water
2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 C chocolate chips

For the filling:
1.5 sticks (12 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbs bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 C chocolate chips
1 C whole pecans

For the bourbon sauce:
1/4 C water
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C heavy cream
2 tbs bourbon
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.

To make the cookie crust, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add water and beat to combine.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread evenly into greased baking dish and bake 10-12 minutes.

While the crust bakes, make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, flour, salt, and bourbon and continue to mix until well combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Pour batter over the cookie crust.

Bake until filling is set and the top is light golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If top starts to get brown, cover it with foil.)

Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

While the bars cool, make the bourbon sauce. (I had to make Bryce do this step, because bourbon makes me gag!) Whisk together the heavy cream, bourbon, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it begins to boil, watch closely and whisk until the mixture starts to smell like caramel and turn a golden color, and then to a light brown (approximately 5-6 minutes).

When you see that it has started to turn brown, slowly pour in the heavy cream mixture, whisking constantly and quickly.

Continue to heat over medium-high until mixture has thickened and is a light caramel color (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Cut the bars and drizzle bourbon sauce.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.


Do you have Derby plans?

What is your favorite Kentucky fare?

Have a great day!


Defining My Niche

Happy Tuesday, readers!

I appreciate your patience during my blog hiatus last week. I had hoped to schedule some posts ahead of time during my absence at the Southern C Summit, but those plans fell to the wayside as I juggled preparing for the conference, and also preparing to miss a week of work.

Those of you that follow along on Instagram, saw that the conference was an amazing time. I'm still ruminating over all the information that was presented and the many people I met. I'm also enjoying some time to unwind after what was a whirlwind week. I've gotten as far as unpacking my dirty clothes and enjoying some Goo Goo Clusters from my swag bag. I have yet to look through the many business cards I collected over the week or to download the slew of pictures I took. I'll get there.

I eventually plan to do a series of posts, highlighting the many adventures I had during my trip, but first I thought I would spend some time here writing and reflecting on a theme I heard throughout the Summit's sessions: "Be niche."

A message that was relayed by several different presenters in several different ways, was to find your niche...that one thing you are most passionate about or most an expert on...and focus on it. It left me thinking "Do I have a niche? And if so, what is it?"

Now before I go further, I will share that much of the conference focused on small business owners and career bloggers. I am neither. I started my blog more than 5 years ago purely as a hobby, and intend to keep it that way. I do enjoy making a little bit of money on the side and having the opportunity to partner with brands from time to time; but at the end of the day this blog is my hobby and my creative space. Because of that, I don't think I need to feel pressured to "be  niche." I love that this blog is my blog--a lifestyle blog where I post about anything and everything I want, regardless of whether it converts into likes, pageviews, or comments. On the other hand, though, I'm human, competitive, and a perfectionist and certainly feel motivated on some level by those stats. 

Despite recognizing that I don't have to fit myself into a niche, I still find myself pondering and questioning it. Can "lifestyle" be a niche? When asked what I blogged about during the conference, I continually answered "I'm truly a lifestyle blogger and post about whatever I want. I tend to write about fashion, interiors, cooking, books, and then just my day to day life." "Is that too broad?" I wondered. 

At lunch on Thursday, after a morning of sessions where "niche" came up continuously, my table engaged in a great conversation about blogging as a career versus hobby, defining your audience (whether it be as a blogger or creative small business owner), and the motivations that drive and inspire us all. When Haley of Hermosa Jewelry commented that her customer base and audience includes both teens and grandmothers, it all clicked for me. I shared that defining your audience can't always be driven and honed down to facts and figures such as "women in their late-20s to mid-30s." An audience can also be a feeling or a type. In that moment I felt like I discovered my niche!

I realized that the blog world I entered 5 years ago was not one of affiliate links, professional photography, or branding: It was a community. And YES, wholeheartedly, my niche, can be lifestyle. It can include an array of posts that might not always be connected. Even though I don't post about just one topic, I'd bet that you, my readers, know what to expect when you decide to click over to Alexandra Bee Blog. I hope that you expect to find a fellow woman who is real. I hope that when you stop by, you feel like you're sitting down to chat with a close friend. I hope you see that like you, I'm just trying to figure this whole womanhood thing out...career, domesticity, relationships, adulthood, healthy living, identity, and more.

My favorite blogs are the real ones. The bloggers that bare all from time to time, and make me realize none of us have it all together. The bloggers (and readers) that have been by my side over the last 5 years, through the good times and bad.

So now, if you've made it this far. I want to hear what you think. How would you describe Alexandra Bee Blog to someone? If you're a blogger, in what ways would you define your niche?

I love learning from you.

Have a great day!