Holiday Gift Guides

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Topshop Sweater Dress | BaubleBar Tassel Earrings | Chloe Perfume | Stilla Lipstick | J.Crew bow flats | Chloe Small Crossbody Bag | J. Crew Sequin & Bead Ball-Drop Earrings | Cuyana Sunglass Case | Off-The-Shoulder Sweater | Faux Fur Jacket | AERIN Perfume | Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set | Double Breasted Coat | Herbivore Botanicals Rose Coconut Oil Body Polish | GlamGlow Mask | Gold WatchCable Knit Faux Fur Pompom Beanie | Saint Laurent Tote


Only one week until Christmas - I can't believe it!! The end of this year has just been flying by and I'm trying so hard to savor every moment. Another year is about to begin and while I love the sense of refresh it brings, I just feel like life is flying by! This year is going to be a strange Christmas for me. My entire family will be taking a trip to South Africa so they won't be home for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and I'm going to miss them like crazy. Patrick and I had decided not to join them for the trip and every day that gets closer to their departure I'm feeling more and more regret! To be honest with you all, when my family planned the trip 10 months ago, we weren't sure if we'd be pregnant by this time and I wasn't comfortable traveling around the world during my first trimester (also...Zika...yikes!) Definitely exciting in it's own right for sure, but we're currently not pregnant and also now not going to South Africa haha. So, to keep our holiday spirits up, we're focusing on creating some of our own special traditions this year together and we'll be spending the actual holiday days with Patrick's family. I'm usually so good with my gift shopping every year (like getting it 100% done by Cyber Monday good) but this year I haven't done ANY yet. Like I said, I don't know where the time is going lately!! So, this week is crunch time for us to get it all done and if any of you are in a similar situation this year, I wanted to post these gift guides in hopes that they'll be helpful!

In case I can't get my life together enough to post again before Christmas, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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Our Wedding

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I can't believe our wedding was over one year ago! Time really has flown by. It really was the greatest day of my life because I genuinely married my best friend in this world. Patrick and I had dated for almost 9 years before we got married, and we were friends for almost 2 years before we even started dating - so to say this day had been a long time coming is an understatement! We got married at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on the Upper East Side (the most beautiful church in NYC!!) and had our reception at The New York Public Library which still feels like a dream. We had chosen to get married up in NYC because our families are from New York and New Jersey and most of our closest college friends were coming from DC - so NYC was a perfect central location. We knew we wanted to get married somewhere that was convenient for our guests to travel to, with tons of accommodation options, food, things to do and see, etc. We both had grown up close to NYC so there were so many memories from our childhoods there as well. Patrick had proposed to me in New York City the year before in Gramercy Park (you can read about how he asked here!), so that our families could celebrate with us right after. So, NYC just was the perfect fit.

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 A few months after we got engaged, we went to NYC for a long weekend to start the venue search. We toured a few iconic places like the Central Park Boathouse and The Plaza Hotel....but the second we climbed the steps of the New York Public Library we knew it was the place. It felt so romantic, this breathtaking white marble structure that housed all the greatest love stories of all time. Patrick, being an architect, started pointing out all the details he loved about the space and for me, having grown up a bookworm reading Jane Austen and Emily Bronte - it was a place that combined our passions and we knew it was perfect!

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Our cocktail hour was in Astor Hall, the Lobby of the Library. It's such a gorgeous space we didn't do anything to it. We added a bar and some candlelight and let the venue speak for itself. We added personal touches by offering signature cocktails that were our real-life favorite drinks and we designed custom cocktail napkins together with different quotes from our favorite love stories and poems: E.E. Cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, and more.

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Our first dance was to: Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love. Patrick and I have always both loved music and share an appreciation of the oldies so something we both agreed on from the beginning of wedding planning was not to have any "current music". To us, there's nothing more awkward at weddings than watching parents and grandma trying to dance to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.  Our guests dined to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and danced all night to the classics: Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, James Brown and Rick James to name a few! 

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A special shoutout here to my dad, my sister and my brother-in-law for the best wedding speeches ever! They all kept them under a few minutes, they were short and sweet and also had everyone (especially my brother-in-law's speech) in stitches, we noticed some guests crying they were laughing so hard. The speeches were one of the highlights of our night for sure!

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When we fell in love with the library, the front steps and Astor Hall had already sold us, but this private room under the lobby with it's incredible glass ceiling was the icing on the cake. Most people don't know it even exists, but if you ever find yourself at the library, pop your head into the Bartos Forum. It felt like an old Parisian carousel to me and was just a truly magical space. 

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Our cake was another one of our favorite parts of the evening. So many little details go wrong when wedding planning. For example, our only instruction to the florist was white and green flowers only and no tulips. And sure enough, pink and purple bouquets showed up to the bridal suite that morning that I had to send back, and from each high reception centerpiece hung white tulips haha. There's so much at the end of the day {no matter how hard you plan and how many phone calls and emails to planners and vendors...ugg}, that's completely out of your control. But this cake was done by Madison Lee Cakes, and it was everything we'd dreamed it would be. Patrick and I originally had wanted something simpler, just a 4-tier white cake with gold bands, but when we went to Madison's showroom she had this one on display and Patrick actually was the one who said "that's the one". It really was gorgeous and Madison's attention to detail was amazing. Most people don't care about the cake, but I think since Patrick and I both have design-based jobs, it's something we couldn't help but fully appreciate. Every single flower on our cake is sugar that Madison hand made. It was unreal! At our cake tasting, I had loved a champagne soaked vanilla cake and Patrick had loved the strawberries and cream flavored cake. So, Madison had the idea to join both of our favorites together. We had a champagne soaked cake with fresh strawberries and creme and words can't begin to describe how delicious it was!

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Our wedding day was truly was magical!

What We've Learned In Our 10 Years Together 

I mentioned on social media, but Patrick and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary together yesterday. So last night over dinner, we chatted about a few things we could share, here it goes:

Don't sweat the small stuff. I feel like deciding to marry someone isn't about who gives you the most butterflies (yes, butterflies are still important) but I think the reality is deciding who you want to fight with and work things through with for the rest of your life. The reality is that disagreements happen. Coexisting with someone and sharing your life fully with someone is hard work, but Patrick and I both say to our friends who ask us, you have to learn to pick your battles, let the little things go, and for the bigger things- know that there's no other person you'd rather be arguing with, forgiving, and moving forward with. 

Know how the other person receives love. There's an amazing book called The Five Love Languages- it's about how people receive love in different ways. When Patrick and I first started dating he would always say "I love you" and think that satisfied his expressions of love. But my love languages are 'physical touch' & 'quality time'. I feel love, not by hearing words, but through affection: hand holding, sitting close on the couch while watching a movie, being out with friends and Patrick crossing a room to give me a little kiss (not in a gross PDA way, but in a little "hi just checkin on you, love ya" kind of way). It was a source of tension at the beginning of our relationship because I grew up with TONS of affection. My parents hugged and kissed my sister and I like crazy and that's how I became programmed to receive love. On the other hand, Patrick's family wasn't as physically affectionate so it never was a way he received love growing up. His love languages are 'words of affirmation' & 'acts of service'. So Patrick would always say "I love you" because it's how HE received the feelings of love. So, to show Patrick love, I use words, not only " I love you" but also "thank you" -  "thank you for taking out the garbage", "thank you for cooking dinner", "thank you for walking the dog", etc. And acts of service (i.e. when he gets stuck working late at the office and I have dinner ready when he gets home or a glass of wine poured or the dog's already been walked). I think you get the idea. But without knowing HOW your partner receives love and feels loved, we do what we personally would want and expect, not realizing it doesn't work that way. Read the book, thank me later!

Keep dating each other. This was something that became really important after we moved in together. When you're so comfortable with someone and so content it's easy to fall into patterns of doing the same thing every day and for us, it was becoming complete home bodies. Friday and Saturday nights meant a bottle of wine and renting the newest movie out on iTunes, most of the time also being on our phones or laptops, working on opposite ends of the couch like roommates. That had to come to an end! There were Friday's we'd do happy hours with friends or the occasional group dinner, or birthday party that would draw us out into the world, but we never just went out for drinks just the two of us or had spontaneous night's out on the town without friends. It's something we try to do a lot more now. And the nights we do stay in, we try to put the phones and computers away. 

Keep other people out of your relationship. It's easy to vent to a girlfriend over a glass of wine about a recent argument or to text a sibling and say "we're fighting about XYZ". We've come to realize that involving other people in your relationship does nothing but cause bigger problems. You start having friends or family members that think they know the ins and outs of your relationship because of that one argument you mentioned, or that one time you said something negative about the other person. Everyone has flaws and you accept them in your partner in order to have a successful relationship and move forward together, but outside people can cling to these negative things. In addition to that, the advice people tend to give is usually biased and based on their own personal experiences, which will be different than yours anyway. The only person you should vent to about the inner workings of your relationship is the other person involved. If you can't find a solution to the problem and really struggle to move past an argument, then consider seeking outside help from an unbiased third-party.

Learn to love "middle ground". Patrick and I always say the best thing that happened when we moved in together was that we learned how to effectively communicate! When we argued before we moved in together, it usually involved a hang up or "I'll talk to you later", followed by a few hours or a day without speaking until we were ready. Moving in together changed all of that. We couldn't run away anymore or ignore each other. We had to learn to argue and still coexist in the same space for the rest of the day or night. Even for the first few years living together, when we'd fight, I'd always want to talk about it until we worked it out and Patrick always wanted to take some time {like the entire night!} to calm down and talk about it in the morning. I never wanted to wait until the next day and Patrick never wanted to keep talking so...dead end. We found middle ground by agreeing to wait an hour or so after a disagreement to collect our thoughts and calm down before trying to work it out. Then, even more middle ground is needed. Patrick and I are both very opinionated, passionate people which makes arguments difficult, and "agreeing to disagree" usually isn't a real true resolution to an issue. Since we both work hard in our marriage not to sweat the small stuff, the things we actually do argue about are usually deeper. The only way to move past them is so both agree to work on things about ourselves for the other person. Not to change who we are, but we challenge each other to self-improvement {which is never easy to hear at the time, that one of us is "doing something wrong"}. We've just learned after all this time, that if we each work a little bit on ourselves, our relationship is able to come out on the other side of it all, better and stronger than it was before. 


Fall Sweaters Under $100


Sweater weather is officially here! I love this time of year, before you need to break out the layers and jackets. The past few days in DC have been absolutely perfect: gorgeous and sunny with a cool breeze. It's the perfect temperature for jeans and a sweater and I hope it sticks around. I love investing in a few new sweaters every season and because I usually want  to purchase more than one or two, I stick with the ones under $100.

The new trends this season are ruffle sleeves and tie sleeves and I can't get enough! They both add such a feminine detail and look so chic. I encourage anyone thinking that they "can't pull it off" to just try. I had thought that before I purchased my first sweater with ruffle sleeves and I ended up LOVING the way it looked. I felt so dressed up and chic, it didn't feel like I was just wearing jeans and a sweater. And, if you're going to try it out, or for those of you who already love the trend, the under $100 price tags will keep your wallet happy. 

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Transitional Fall Style & Shopbop Sale

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Black Cold Shoulder TopBlush Crossbody Bag | Gold Ball Earrings | Rose Gold Watch | Blush Suede Pumps | Stackable Gold Rings | Camel Suede Booties | Round Frame Sunglasses | Cream Textured Sweater | Black Chain Strap Crossbody | Lace Cuff Bracelet | Tassel Earrings | Floral Dress | Leopard Bow Mules | Chanel Earrings | Black Distressed Denim | Black Suede Heeled Booties | Cap Toe Flats 

Hi friends! It's been WAY too long since I've blogged! A 'life lately' post is headed your way tomorrow with some reasons why....BUT in the meantime I didn't want you all to miss out on one of my favorite sales! The shopbop sale has been extended through today and gives you 20% off the entire site! Shopbop is one of those websites I don't shop on too frequently. Most of the items they stock have high price tags and the sales are few and far when one pops up I always jump on it! 

A few years ago I realized how much online shopping has evolved and how beneficial it really can be. I feel like sales only used to be at the end of each season, but so many retailers now have pre-season sales and mid-season sales that I never purchase anything full-price anymore. Instead, I'm patient and wait for sales like this one to stock up on some season essentials that I love. Since prices are lower, I keep an eye out for not only budget-friendly items that I can snag even cheaper, but also some splurge-worthy items that I've had my eye on and wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. I also always stick with season staples that I can use for years to come: new suede booties, new flats, new denim, a great sweater or two, a statement bag and some new fun jewelry that I can pair with everything. Another perk of online shopping - there's no more surprises at the register. I notoriously would be checking out at a store, see the total amount and start to have heart palpitations. I love that online, I can better manage my money and budget and even when there's not a sale going on, I can almost always find a discount code "using the google", as my mom would say.

I rounded up my favorite transitional items that I've been eyeing, and while I can't afford to purchase all of them at once today, I plan to add a decent handful that I know I'll wear frequently in the upcoming months. The best thing about "transitional" items is that you can string them in between seasons, so while it's still a bit warm outside-  pair ripped denim with an off the shoulder or a cold shoulder top, or style a cute dress with ankle booties! 


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Summer Dress Edit - Under $100

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. {similar here}| 7. | 8. | 9. | 10. | 11. | 12. 


It's been cold and rainy all week and it's making me more excited for summer than ever! We have an upcoming trip to my favorite city next month -Charleston- where I know it will be warmer and sunnier {because it's basically perfect there}. We also have some upcoming weddings and beach trips planned out to the Hamptons in July.

Having all these events and trips to look forward to definitely helps get through these cold rainy days but it also invites an online shopping temptation {and the struggle is REAL!}. I'm definitely someone who invests in their handbags and shoes but that's really it. When it comes to everyday looks, I can find just as pretty dresses for $70 as the ones with the $200 plus price tag. Plus, sticking to a budget also means I can purchase more than 1 or 2 new pieces and that really seals the deal for me. 

I've rounded up some of my favorite dresses under $100 that won't break the bank and are also classic pieces that you can wear into the early fall and even wear summer after summer. After all, there's nothing really better than a pretty dress with a pretty price tag. 


Switching to Natural Skincare with Goop


I recently went through a HUGE change in my skin. These days I've been counting myself lucky to have escaped my teens and college years with clear skin. And even more so, my wedding day and all the festivities that lead up to it!! I'm still a bit unsure how or why it happened but the week we returned from our honeymoon back in September, my skin changed and I've been battling it ever since. 

At first, I thought it was the water in St. Lucia or the fact that I got sunburned so I figured my skin was just incredibly dry. Multiple sheet masks and weeks later, my skin was only getting worse! The worst part, these were not the type of pimples I was used to seeing pop up occasionally, they were deep under my skin and they were so incredibly painful! They were mostly on my chin and jawline so around the holidays I decided to do some research. Basically the first thing that came up in google was that it was 'hormonal cystic acne'. I didn't want to run to the dermatologist because I figured they'd probably tell me the same things I was already reading. There were so many potential reasons why this happened and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. 

The first possible solution I tried was changing my diet. I immediately cut out dairy for 2 weeks to see what would happen. There really wasn't any change. I already try to be as gluten-free as possible (I actually have an allergy that effects my stomach) so I cut it out completely for those 2 weeks. Again, no improvement at all. My skin only felt like it was getting worse but on a positive note, I definitely did have more energy and was sleeping a bit better! So...silver lining?

Then, more water. More water. More water and then some more water. I have always been so bad at drinking more than a glass or two per day. But I figured, having turned 30 right after our honeymoon, drinking more water each day could only help. Again, no real change in my skin but I definitely felt less tired during the day.

Next culprit: hormone-imbalancing products that most people use on a daily basis. This included basically everything I used in my day-to-day life: hand soap, shampoo, face wash, lotions, cleaning products that I'd use to clean my kitchen counters, burning candles in our home; after tons of research I discovered that all these products contained hormone-imbalancing chemicals. I had a friend who I knew had switched to clean, organic living, Marissa (her blog is amazing BTW), and she encouraged me to make the switch and also introduced me to essential oils (more on that in an upcoming post!). One placed order for an essential oils starter kit and one (massive) trip to Whole Foods later, I had swapped out everything in my home for toxin-free alternatives.

This lifestyle change is what led me to the goop brand when it came to my skincare. I had heard amazing things about the brand in the past, but to be honest I had ruled it out because of the price tag. I started to hear more and more beauty bloggers rave about it and since I was in the market for a whole new facial care system, I decided to reach out to their team. You guys, I couldn't be happier with them. The products are all-natural and highly concentrated, so you don't need to apply a lot. I got the discovery kit (you can check it out here), which included a daytime moisturizer, a night cream, a face oil (my favorite) and a mask called the "Exfoliating Instant Facial". Full disclosure, the facial mask tingles a bit if you have slightly sensitive skin but it works absolute wonders. I really do feel like I've gotten a facial when I wash it off. I also use an ice pack on my face afterward for a little bit to cool it down and help close my pores. 

So far, I think the goop products have been really improving my skin's texture. Since I made all these lifestyle changes at once: diet, water, toxin-free and organic living, etc., I really can't say for sure that I owe my skin improvement to the products alone, but I do know for sure that they have helped keep my skin hydrated and more firm. 

I encourage anyone interested in goop products to definitely give the 'discovery kit' a try, this way you can sample a little bit of everything before you spend bigger bucks on the individual products.


*this post is NOT sponsored. All opinions and experiences are my own.*

Spring Style with Talbots


Confession: I came across these bow flat mules on Pinterest a few weeks ago and in under one minute, I had tracked them down and added them to my cart. I was so pleasantly surprised to see where they came from and even more pleasantly surprised when the brand was willing to collaborate with me! When I was growing up, Talbots was the store my mom would take me to when she was shopping for my grandmother and for herself. Usually she was looking for something simple and classic like a sweater-set or a perfectly tailored pant. I had put the brand in my memory's classic-mom-wear category and moved on. So, a few weeks ago I was truly happy to have been brought back to them! Their brand has definitely grown and I was excited to see trendy pieces on their website like bell sleeves and flutter sleeves, chambray tops and ankle strap heels. They also have a great selection of floral dresses and tops that are so perfect for spring! 

Here are just a few of my favorites. I honestly had trouble limiting my selections.  I love the direction this brand is headed and I hope that keep it up! 


P.S. - I'm thinking this dress will be my Easter look this year!!


Pleated Bell Sleeves


It's no lie that bell sleeves have been having more than their moment this season. I fell in love back in the fall and haven't looked back. They are so feminine and fun! When I came across this one with the pleated detail, I couldn't get enough. This whole look has been on repeat for me this season. Let's be honest, no one can go wrong with black skinny jeans and a crisp white blouse. It's always been my go-to combo for meetings and business lunches. I feel tailored and professional but also fun and trendy with the blouse's details. 

In other good news, I'm no longer having "buyer's" remorse about this Gucci bag! My husband purchased it for me for my 30th birthday back in the fall and I had felt so guilty because I knew how expensive it was. Now that I've had it for a few months, I know I'm getting his money's worth! I use it almost every single day and I couldn't love it any more. Corny as it is, I also love that it's a daily reminder of him. 

Also, I love that greenery has returned to DC! Bye, jackets and dead trees, Hello, beautiful warm spring!


Spring Home Decor


The start of spring always puts me in the mood to clean and re-organize. To keep our home feeling fresh, I like to invest in a few new pieces of decor at the start of each season. These pieces are a bit random but all caught my eye while browsing on Nordstrom's website. Just adding a new lamp in a room, or buying a brand new set of towels, or a new decorative pillow - tiny changes can make such a difference to make any room in your home feel new. I even rearrange some furniture to help give some rooms a really fun extra update.

Most of these items are under $100 and can be used year round so they're definitely worth it. I prefer to stick with neutral colors in my home to keep our rooms bright and clean looking {dark furniture and decor tend to make a space seem smaller}. Sticking with this palette also ensures that anything new we buy continues to compliment what we already have in our place!


House Hunting


Starting the first time home buying process has me feeling all types of feelings! Excitement is definitely a big one but stress and anxiety have managed to creep in there as well. Patrick and I know we want to stay living in this city {for now} and since his job is here in DC, we think purchasing something would be a smart business decision for us in the long run. The best part about DC is that it's a really transient city, there are always people coming and going, so we talk about anything we buy having the potential to become an income property when we do leave this city eventually {our eyes are on you, Charleston!}

Over the past few months we've been looking at newly renovated townhomes and condos to get an idea for spaces and home values in our area. Everything has been really nice, but SO expensive! In addition to the high city prices, we're constantly finding things wrong with the home design, appliances, even down to the little details like the base boards and hardware. My husband is an architect and over the past 10 years we've been together, I've become so much more aware of spaces and construction details I would have never noticed before I met him. After stopping by a listing last week, we spent close to 2 hours discussing everything we'd change about the townhouse. We're starting to realize that we might just be too picky to buy something already newly renovated. Between Patrick's career and passion for building and design and my love for interior spaces, we know we won't be 100% happy unless we design the space ourselves. And so the hunt for the perfect fixer upper begins! We know we'll make a great team, but it will definitely be a huge project to take on in addition to both having full time jobs. Still, it's a really exciting prospect for us, as we sip our Saturday morning coffees and binge watch HGTV every weekend.


In the meantime, I've been going crazy on Pinterest {follow along here!}. I've found so much inspiration that makes me so hopeful we could make anything really beautiful. My husband is amazing at what he does and even though this would be his first residential project, I have full confidence that even the worst eye-sore on the block would become our mini dream home by the time he was done with it. Plus, we talk about it being great experience for when we design our real suburban dream home someday - a goal of ours.

I'm looking forward to keeping you all posted on the search, and if we do end up with a fixer upper, I'll definitely be documenting the entire renovation!


*all images via Pinterest*