I’ve talked about how 9/11 changed my life here, so I won’t beat a dead horse. I took a trip to NYC a few weeks ago and the World Trade Center memorial was top of my list. Have you ever been? It’s stunning. There are literally no words for it. You’re walking through a maze of skyscrapers and construction, and then, BAM it’s opened up in front of you. The two gaping holes in the earth with the constantly flowing water.

You don’t realize the enormity of it until you approach the walls and see the names engraved in them. The names are grouped by flight, ladder, engine, company…you get the idea. Until I saw the names of the 343 men and women who willingly sacrificed their lives on 9/11, it never really hit me. I ran my fingers over the squads, and tears came to my eyes as I realized that these 343 people right here were why I am who I am. They gave their life so I could live mine. So thank you. Thank you to every single one of you, who went to work on that fateful day expecting to come home to your families at the end of shift.

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Please, please visit this place. It’s such an important piece of history. Have you ever visited it? What did you think?

Friday Four

Well, not only is it Friday the 13th & a full moon, but it’s also my baby sister’s birthday. Explains a lot, really.

It’s also been pouring buckets non stop since 8 am (and when I say pouring buckets, it’s not my usual hyperbolic state, it is literally pouring). I don’t remember ever seeing this much constant rain outside of a hurricane. It’s a lovely day to curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Which is basically what I’m doing, since I’m at work.

But here’s the real star of the show:

View More: http://mariesamsanchez.pass.us/gillenwater201223 years old, Bec. Holy crap. I feel like it was yesterday that I knocked out your two front teeth (accidentally, of course). How did you go from my little towheaded shadow to 23 in a blink of an eye? You’re one of the funniest people I know, the sweetest & you have the most in your face attitude of anyone I’ve ever met. Mom says you came out with an attitude and I think you’ve been fine tuning it for 23 years. You’re a spectacular teacher (even if your kids drive you nuts most days) & I can’t wait to see what you will do in the future! You’re my little sister and my confidant; my biggest pain the ass & you’ve got my back. So cheers, Becca on surviving 23 years, and 4 Friday the 13th birthdays. We’ll drink some wine when I get home! Love you.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

[Picture via MarieSam Sanchez Photography]

Dreamcatcher DIY

Dreamcatchers are some of my favorite things ever. I love the idea that they catch all of your negative dreams and protect you. When I was little, we had little worry dolls that hung off our beds for the same purpose. When I got older, I put together a project that was delivered to assisted living homes for residents to put in their windows. We have a little one hanging in our window, but I was looking for something with a little bigger scale.

2014-06-11_0010Once I moved the frame from above our bed to across the room, I needed something to fill the space between the posts…enter the dream catcher.

Here’s the thing; I literally made this whole thing for free, but you can make it for so cheap, it’s not even funny. I started with the outside of an embroidery hoop (leftover from when I made a pendant lamp) & made sure to glue the two pieces together, since I was removing the screw from the center. I then painted the top white, since it would be the only part showing.

2014-06-11_0002Once that had dried, I used some hemp rope I had on hand to start wrapping the hoop.

2014-06-11_0001I secured it to the underside with some hot glue, and made sure that the tail end of it extended past where the wrapping would end.

2014-06-11_0003Once it’s wrapped, you’ll start the weaving. I also used hemp twine for this, although you could use pretty much anything sturdy enough.

2014-06-11_0004Once you tie the first knot, you’ll extend the twine a few inches, wrap it around the hoop, and come back through itself to make that twist. Make sense?

2014-06-11_0006It’s easier with pictures. Once the entire hoop has been wrapped, you’ll start on the next row, as seen above. Make sure that you keep the twine tight!! Otherwise, you’ll have loose string in the middle and it will infuriate you to no end. Not like I know this from experience.

2014-06-11_0005This is what your entire web will look like.

2014-06-11_0008Once I started to get closer to the center, I added some turquoise and red beads. This is a personal preference; you don’t have to add anything at all if you don’t want to!

2014-06-11_0009As for finishing the weaving, just tie a square knot in the center of it all and make sure you put a dab of clear nail polish on it to help hold it.

2014-06-11_0011To hang it, I just threaded a piece of yarn through the holes in the top (where the screw used to be), tied a bow & called it a day. The best part about this whole thing? Embroidery hoops come in all sizes, so you could make a ton of them, or just one. I’m imagining a wall in a kids bedroom covered in various colors and sizes of dream catchers! Wouldn’t that be gorgeous?

Blood Orange Cocktail

I love wine. Like, a lot. But now that it’s super hot, sometimes I find myself craving a refreshing cocktail, like a Blood Orange and Vodka mix.

IMG_0034It’s so easy & refreshing!

IMG_0028I had the blood orange soda on hand, but you can use whatever flavor you’d like.

IMG_0031And I’m not going to lie, I don’t really measure, just eyeball. I’d call this about 6 ounces of vodka.

IMG_0033Once you’ve poured in the can, make sure to stir it all around! This is a large mason jar, so the whole can fit perfectly.

IMG_0037Oh, and make sure that you top it with a striped straw. It’s mandatory.

Enjoy! And as always, drink responsibly!

I wasn’t a fan of sweet potatoes for a long time. I mean, like, FOREVER. I thought that they were this weird root vegetable that only was cooked with marshmallows. When I started eating Paleo last year though, I found that sweet potatoes were a pretty big staple, so I decided to suck it up and try them. This is one of my favorite dishes to make with yams, and I wanted to share it with y’all!

IMG_0181I start out with usually around 3 pounds of maple breakfast sausage & 4 pretty good sized sweet potatoes.

IMG_0169I realize now that raw sausage doesn’t look that great. But anyways, take the sausage out of the casing and scramble it up.

IMG_0173Peel, cut & shred the sweet potatoes (the food processor is your friend here). Once the sausage is pretty well cooked, start adding the potatoes in. You’ll probably have to expand to two pans at this point, but keep cooking it and the potatoes will cook down.

IMG_0179This made over 8 sandwich bags of hash that I freeze and defrost for mornings that I don’t want just eggs or waffles. I have to usually hold back from eating as much as I possibly can out of the pan…it’s that good.

Seriously. You’ll love it. You can use any kind of sausage you want & add whatever seasonings (I’d think that a whole bunch of garlic powder would make it even more amazing). Try it today!

Boston in May

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)

Friday Four

Tap, tap…is this thing on?

Ahem…kids, I’ve got no good reason about not showing up for class in the last week. Suffice it to say, I’ll be back next week, but since I’m currently on a massive bus hurtling towards NYC, here are a few things I’m excited to check out this weekend!

1. The Highline. I can’t decide if I’m more excited about the flowers or the fact that it’s a freaking garden oasis in the middle of the busiest US city.

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2. I can’t wait to walk through Central Park (I mean, DUH) in the mornings. Probably with an overpriced cup of coffee in my hand, as one does.

3. This girl. It’s been two years since we’ve seen each other, & the last time that I was in an unfamiliar city with her, we were in Greece. We’ve traveled to 6 different countries together and always tend to find massive amounts of shenanigans along the way. Also, she’s already informed me that she’s stocked up on wine for the weekend.

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4. The 9/11 museum. Honestly, I’m on the fence if I’m going to visit it or not. After reading this piece and a few others like it, I feel like its a tragedy that the government is capitalizing on such a horrific day, but at the same time I feel like it’s something I need to see to understand why I do my job. Does that make any sense?

Either way, I’m going to have millions of pictures to share. Hope y’all have a great weekend!

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?

DIY Rustic Frame

I have the EASIEST little DIY for y’all today! (You KNOW I’m all about the cheap and easy!)

IMG_9561I found this cute little tea towel at TJ Maxx & grabbed it, mostly because it’s shocking how much I have to Google: “how many ounces in a cup?” Not only was this adorable BUT it was educational (and it matched the curtains, which I didn’t even realize until I hung it up!).

Here’s how I made it:

I got 2 small boards cut at Lowe’s (free cuts = best thing ever). They were stained with Minwax Jacobean (I don’t like dark stained wood, but this tint is so gorgeous) & left to dry. I flipped them and set them up how I wanted:

IMG_9551And then used a combination of L brackets and a staple gun to secure the pieces together.

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I made sure to double check that they were as secure as they could get before I was done with them.

IMG_9559I attached the towel with thumbtacks (I told you it was easy), and then attached a small picture hanger.

IMG_9560After that, I hung it on the wall and squealed over the girly cuteness.

IMG_9563I actually wish that I was kidding.

IMG_9562I love how simple & cute it ended up being. And, I love that I have the option of changing out the towel whenever I want to! Seriously, for kitchen art, it’s pretty good. Oh, and it only cost me $7! Try it today!

Friday Four

Well, here it is Friday again already. Is it just me, or does it seem like since Mother Nature has finally decided to show up to the party with some warmth, the days are just flying by? Slow down already!

Last weekend, I was so lucky to be able to travel to Boston to be my BFF’s date to a seriously stunning wedding at the Boston Public Library. If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. The nerd in me was basically drooling over the location and the gorgeous details that tied it all together.

1. Um, did you know that the Boston Library has a courtyard?

10176244_10202653050460962_3990257793004730428_nYeah, I didn’t. How beautiful is this place?

2. Amy was a bridesmaid, so I got to hang out with the ladies in the morning while they got their hair and makeup done. Let’s just discuss for a second how lovely it was to not have to take a single. freaking. picture. Oh, also, I’ll discuss that dress later. #itwasthebomb2014-05-16_0001Also, I had no idea until I put these side by side that we’re doing the exact same poses.

3. And even though I took maybe 7 pictures the whole day, I had to get one of Amy getting her makeup done. They’re always my favorites!

10301450_10202653052661017_6918817066163403728_n4. The next day, we hung out around the city & ate at Pizzeria Regina (obviously) & walked all of the wine off. No, really.

2014-05-16_0002Oh, and another picture. Because we looked awesome.

I wish that I could say this weekend is going to be just as amazing, but I won’t lie.

Boston, as always, I love you & you were so good to me!

Have a good weekend, y’all!

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