Archive for the ‘My Favorite Things’ Category

See Ya, Summer

It’s been awhile. Summer tends to do that to blogging, does it not? Summer is now regretfully over, and with it go my days of laying on the beach doing nothing but reading brain candy and hanging out with my family. However, I did accomplish a few things…

10418338_10203281611134586_2339180192512064705_nI shot a wedding in Connecticut & the Fireman joined me as my assistant. He’ll never volunteer his services again.

10519577_10203348506646932_5832005185605614006_oThis is my lake. See why I want to be there all day, every day?

10498329_10203267736148412_6259141960078368925_oMy sister came out to visit for a month (!!!!) this year and it was AMAZING. We had so much fun together & she was already planning her next visit out before she even left.

Obviously, the highlight of the summer was the Fireman’s return home from deployment, but my 2 week vacation to California was right up there in second place.

But the best thing I did all summer was hang out with this precious man:

10527320_10203176236140277_8255681100750404190_nI realize what a gift it is that my grandfather is still around and kicking (and sassy!) at 88. He is such a sweet man & if I was given the option to hang out with him or hang out with my girlfriends, you KNOW I’d pick him any day.

10577067_10203303815289676_3933535083251009874_nA few of his favorite things include reading every book he can get his hands on (sound familiar?), eating chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake, or Oreos at any turn, & taking naps on the porch. He is hilarious & opinionated & he even has his own hashtag on Instagram (#grampftw).

10653656_10203464519027169_8344865596165815764_nHe tells me every time that I leave that he’s going to cry (stop it already, you’re breaking my heart). Gramp, I love you bunches & I know that Mom will tell you you’re online again & you’ll pretend to be over it but will secretly be thrilled.

Anyways, Summer. So long, buddy. I can see the trees changing colors and I feel the morning chill & secretly I’m thrilled about pulling out my sweaters & boots. I’ll be back to posting more often, but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of it all! Happy Fall, y’all!!

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I’ve been seriously absent (again) around here lately. Great reason though.

10527262_10203180718852342_2046162171753022332_nThe Fireman arrived home last Friday & we surprised his family the next day. I’ve had the whole week off to hang out with him (freaking amazing).

1908032_10203181737877817_6565329572897054923_nThere are no words to describe what it’s like to have him back after 6 months without sounding like a total sap head, but I’ll say this: seeing him come down the stairs at Logan made all the worry of the last 6 months melt away.

IMG_2626Deployment sucks. So, so much. The last 6 months have been a struggle. But it’s over now & I’m so happy that he’s home.

IMG_2638-3So I’ll just be over here hanging out on the couch & going on great adventures with my favorite if you need me.

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I had bad skin when I was younger. Like, BAAAAAAD. No matter how much I washed it, or applied Clearasil, or Oxyclear, or whatever product I was desperate to use, it never helped. My poor kids are genetically cursed. Later in high school, the tides turned and my skin started clearing up, but it wasn’t until I was about 19 that it really cleared up. I still have occasional breakouts, but don’t wear any sort of coverup unless it’s bad. This is a HUGE improvement over what I used to have to cake on to cover up the blemishes.

It’s taken me almost 25 years to figure out what makes my skin happy, so I figured I would share it in case you’re in the same boat as me. I’ve been using this regime for almost 6 months and haven’t had a single issue.

2014-06-23_0001I wash my skin with EV coconut oil. Just rub it in, and then wipe it off with a wet washcloth. Remember, your skin needs hydration; without it, it will just produce more and more oil.

I use this fantastic toner after washing my skin. It doesn’t contain alcohol, so it’s not overly drying.

2014-06-23_0002I swear by this eye cream. I’ve been using it for YEARS (and before you laugh at me for using it in my 20’s, let’s just talk about the fact that I have no wrinkles or bags under my eyes). It makes your skin feel so smooth, and as someone who hasn’t had much sleep in the last few months, it diminishes the bags and dark circles that I get. It’s a bit pricey for a tub, but it will last you for quite a few months.

2014-06-23_0003Remember how I mentioned all that Clearasil? Well, after over 5 years of using it, I was sick of how it dried my skin out and I was grossed out by the amount of chemicals in it. I found this here in NH during one summer, and purchased it on a whim, after seeing the organic ingredients in it. It made my skin feel so much better after just one use. It won’t dry you out, and bonus, it smells great.

2014-06-23_0004Because of where we live, my skin is SUPER dry during the winter, so I moisturize with thick Nivea cream (the kind that comes in the blue tins). In the summer though, I like light moisturizer, and this is my new favorite. I received it for Christmas (thanks Beth!) & now swear by it. It’s so light and thin, but I have no idea how much it costs (yet!).

So there they are, my arsenal of tricks. Please share if you have any!!

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Let’s just start off by saying, if you’ve never been to Boston in the spring, you need to experience it. Between the gorgeous blooms and the exuberant air when the Bruins play, it is truly a once a year experience. Last month when I visited, we spent an entire day wandering the North End (also known as Little Italy to those of you who have never been. Seriously, please go. You’ll thank me.)

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There’s just something about those old brick buildings juxtaposed against the modern sky scrapers that makes my heart go pitter patter.

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We started up at Government Center (for those of y’all that are locals, can we talk about the fact that the T stop is going to be under construction for 2 years!?)

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The trees and window boxes were in full bloom and it was 80 degrees; essentially the best kind of day in May. We strolled down the old, winding streets, passing restaurants with lines out the doors, with scents of garlic and basil floating out into the street. Old Italian men sit in front of the cigar shop, soccer games are on full blast in the bars. I remember visiting once after Italy won the World Cup…let’s talk about chaos for a hot minute. It was freaking AWESOME.

2014-05-15_0004After a ridiculously filling lunch at Pizzeria Regina (seriously I’ve talked about it so many times at this point y’all need to go), we walked back out of the North End through the farmers market.

2014-05-15_0006When my BFF lived in Boston, I’d come visit and spend my days walking the city; during farmers market season was my favorite time. All you can hear is the haggling of vendors and the cries of, “lettuce! peaches! apples!” People from every walk of life visit the farmers market and stock up for the week.

2014-05-15_0007Our stroll ended at Faneuil Hall & we headed back to our hotel.

2014-05-15_0009Which was, coincidentally, right across the street from the Boston Public Library. Love that place!

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Boston, you have my heart forever & ever.

2014-05-15_0005Also as a sidenote: I am so lucky to call this girl my friend! So glad you joined our Biology group 10 years ago!!

As far as places to eat in Little Italy (because you know the way to my heart is through my stomach), make sure you go to:

Pizzeria Regina (DUH)
Mike’s Pastry (you’ll wait in line, but their cannolis are out of this world)
Cafe Pompeii (freaking yum)
Ristorante Saraceno (also freaking yum)

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A few weeks ago, I attended a completely gorgeous, kick ass wedding in Boston. I was advised that it was a black tie optional wedding; and then I freaked out, because the only black tie-ish dress I own…is my prom dress. From 2007. #stillfits

Anyways, I’d heard about Rent the Runway but had never had any experience with it, until I worked at The NotWedding in Boston.

IMG_7180Gorgeous dress, right? The ladies in charge loved RTR & I started checking it out periodically to see how it worked. I ended up reserving this Herve Leger dress:

dress_herve_leger_deep_fruit_passionYep. RTR sends you two sizes so that you can make sure the dress fits, which is such a great service. I rented it so late that I got one size (which fit like a glove, luckily), but it showed up the day before my event in a garment bag with a prepaid return envelope. I also rented this Rebecca Minkoff clutch:

handbag_rebecca_minkoff_navajo_adventure_clutch_0I am completely obsessed with that pattern.

I felt so incredibly amazing in the dress! Seriously, y’all, you need to wear one of these dresses before you die.

10268601_10202653052261007_8177627704856849536_nOf course, this is the best picture of me wearing it (complete with the requisite glass of wine, obviously). The best part about the service, is that you can opt for a 4 or 8 day rental, they send you a return envelope, & they take care of dry cleaning for you (so if you end up getting wine on yourself [I can neither confirm nor deny that this happened], you’re all set).

Their selection is INSANE & I had such a hard time narrowing it down. They also have reviews that display the wearers height and weight, which helps with some of the guessing involved. Oh, and the best part? For a 4 day rental of the dress, the cost was only $30. THIRTY FREAKING DOLLARS. For a $1350 dress.

Which naturally, I paired with $14 earrings and 5 inch heels from clearance at TJMaxx (#iwasthetallestpersonthere). Work with what ya got, people. But honestly, I know that I’ll be renting from this company again.

Oh, and the best part? I don’t have a single shred of guilt over buying a dress I was going to wear once (#ihavesomanydresses). I promise you, you’ll love the dress options, the speed of service, and most of all, the prices! I’m finding myself perusing it now…a Monique Lhuillier dress is completely acceptable for a fire department gathering, right?

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This week has been a strange one, with temperatures ranging from 47 degrees (heatwave! Every window and door open!) to the 6-godknowshowmuch inches of snow that we’re getting today. I’m moving to Florida. BUT. Here are a few things that I’ve been loving lately.

IMG_5532How gorgeous is this sunset? I mean seriously. I was so happy that I had my big camera on me when I saw it!

IMG_5761This dress shot from my last wedding might be my favorite of all time. Mom & daughter’s dresses (& her daughters dress was made with parts from her mothers wedding dress). Just the sweetest.

IMG_8265Last week was my sweet Gramp’s 88th birthday and we had a little party for him that culminated with this insanely delicious cake. And champagne. How cute is he!?

2014-03-11 21.48.00And last but not least, I took a fall (the likes of which I haven’t taken since the early 2000’s) last night walking into the fire station to go on a call. Lesson learned: tie your boots up. Otherwise you’ll end up full of gravel and yelling curse words. It’s a really good thing I won’t be wearing a dress for the next 6 months.

What have you been loving lately?

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Hobby Lobby

I mentioned that I finally went to Hobby Lobby last week; what I didn’t mention was that my jaw dropped when I walked in. HOLY. FREAKING. AMAZING. I don’t know how big the stores usually are, but this was about the size of our Walmart. HUGE. I took some pictures of some of my favorite things that I found (and then my phone died, leading to a frantic search for a Target in a city I am so unfamiliar with that I got lost multiple times).

Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Am I the only one who had no idea that Hobby Lobby sold furniture? I mean, REALLY!?

2014-02-10_0006I loved some of their pieces:

2014-02-10_0005That card catalog? Holy mother of everything organized.

2014-02-10_0008I really loved these shelves. They were so sturdy (steel and wood) and chunky and had a lovely rustic meets industrial vibe going. Oh, and that alphabet dresser? The nerd inside of me cartwheeled in the aisles when I found it.

2014-02-10_0007How cute would these be in a girls room? They had an entire selection of ottomans, chaise lounges, and wingback chairs.

2014-02-10_0002I absolutely loved the color coded knob aisle. SO MANY CHOICES!

2014-02-10_0009And fake succulents? Come to mama. Oh, and the baskets in the place were insane. Baskets EVERYWHERE.

2014-02-10_0004I thought real hard about bringing one of the huge wire ones home with me, and ultimately realized there was nothing that I had to put in such an enormous basket. But the real winners were the mirrors. Oh, the mirrors.

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2014-02-10_0001Love at first sight. My favorite was the one with the peaked tops. They reminded me so much of the old church windows in Europe. If I had enough money and wall anchors, I’d buy two of them and hang them above our bed between the posts. I actually thought about it for a hot minute and then remembered I have bills to pay.

2014-02-10_0010Sidenote: It snowed (only an inch) last night, and this morning, the sun coming through the snowy pine needles was so pretty that I had to snap a few pictures with my phone. Top right is my favorite!

Posts are going to resume next Wednesday, but until then here’s an easy Valentines Day garland! Pardon the sarcasm, I was sick and snarky. Have a good V-day and weekend, y’all!

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I have had crazy long hair for most of my life, except the two times that I chopped it for Locks of Love. So, I’ve become somewhat of an expert (can I say that without sounding totally shallow??) of quick and easy styles that will hold up all day long. I can definitely say that with confidence, because my hair is super heavy and thick and these styles hold it all up really well.

This is what my hair normally looks like when I wake up in the morning: tumblr_ly2npzfbA31qezpw2Minus the tan and hat. And the natural looking makeup. Anyways. I wash it every other night and let it air dry as I sleep, so it always has tons of waves and texture in the morning. On nights that I don’t wash it, I spray dry shampoo into it so that it’s distributed better as I sleep (just learned this one, and it really does work better). 85% of the time I’m running late in the morning and just throw it up into a messy bun, but when I take time to actually do it, it’s in one of these 4 hairstyles:

1. The sock bun

70c2586421fb11e2bb0f22000a1fbc94_7I haven’t exactly mastered the “correct” way to do the sock bun so it looks super neat, but mine looks like this (for the most part). It holds up great (my way to test its hold is shaking my head back and forth, and this baby barely moves). Here is a good tutorial; I usually do the messy bun.

2. The top knot

1ba4444a943b9e6699d7b53f3594ce82This is the best “I haven’t washed my hair in three days but you’d never know, would you?” hairstyle ever invented. Seriously, check it out.

3. Low french braid updo

5887010998_306e2e5563_oOh gosh, I just love this one. I’ve also started it up at the crown of my head and gone backwards, zigzagging it, and it looks great too. If your hair is slightly damp when you put it up in this, it holds even better, and gives you great waves when you take it down.

4. The fishtail braid

99fe2eae1cf66df61882267f6db33381I just figured this one out this summer. My tip is to practice on other people first to get your bearings and then it’s super easy to do yourself. This is another one that works even better if your hair is wet. I fishtail braided my sisters hair when it was super wet and she was able to sleep in it and it still looked good the next day! This is an awesome tutorial.

And a few tips:

1. Dirty hair is best. The dirtier, the better. Like I said, I wash every other day, but I’ve gone as much as 4 days without washing, and my hair will spike in a mohawk at that point.
2. I swear by Suave Dry Shampoo (for awhile I was using Tresemme, but it was too chalky for my taste, plus Suave is something like $2.70 a bottle).
3. Go get yourself a pair of Goody’s Spin Pins. They are life changing if you’re like me and have to use 47 bobby pins to hold your bun up. Literally 2 Spin Pins are all that I use now. They are FANTASTIC.
4. I’m too cheap to buy one of the hair donuts that they recommend, so I commandeered one of the Fireman’s socks and cut the toe off of it and rolled it up. It’s really sturdy and doesn’t pull on my hair. I haven’t used the actual donut, so I don’t know if it works better…just my opinion.

Try one of these out today! Do you have any other easy styles that I can use? I’m always on the lookout for new ones!

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Suave and Goody don’t know who I am, I just love their products and want to spread the love!

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Behind where we live is this insanely massive field that leads to a swamp. A few weeks ago, between rushing home from a baby shower to a study session, I saw that the light was that gorgeous Fall light that seems to hang around for a few weeks and then disappear. The mountains were lit up like crazy, everything was so clear…I immediately wanted to shoot, so I stopped at the field. It. Was. Amazing. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud for 2 minutes and I shot like a crazy woman as I watched the sun fade behind the mountains. Worth every single second.2013-10-31_0001

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Our family reunion is in full swing! Today’s Friday Four encapsulates four reasons why this is my favorite week every other year:

1. Babies EVERYWHERE.

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This year we have 2 2 year olds who were mere fetuses last reunion, plus one new baby! As someone who has had baby fever approximately 79% of her life, this is what I consider heaven.

2. Our family kayak trip.

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30ish people. 3ish miles + half a lake. Cooler of beers. Ice cold water. Seriously, it’s the most fun thing of the whole weekend. Especially the end where we try to out paddle each other to shore. We’re not competitive or anything.

3. Enough food to feed an army.

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Literally not joking. We live on leftovers for days…which include lobsters, hamburgers, chicken, salads, rolls, cookies, etc. Best thing ever.

4. Family, duh.

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This is my generation, and since this picture 4 years ago, we’ve added at least 6 kids to it, not to mention at least 6 to the next generation. We’re like rabbits.

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Enjoy your weekend! This morning I’m hanging out with my main man! Today I’ll be lounging in the water with my babies and paddling down the river tomorrow!!!

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