minted art print giveaway.

When we moved into our house nearly a year ago (where does time go?), I always knew I would have some trouble filling certain "holes" in our decor. One such hole? The large space above the tub in our master bathroom! It took me months to finally decide upon a solution. With the help of Minted, I was able to fill this blank space with something beautiful and perfect for the space!

In case you didn't know, Minted now offers large scale art prints which help make those mysterious voids in your decor history! The print I chose (Savannah Lands by the uber-talented Emily Jeffords) was the ideal solution to our window-less master bathroom. Since much of our bathroom is gray and white, I needed a pop of color without completely overdoing it. I couldn't be more pleased with the final look! (FYI: I chose the 54" x 40" framed print, which filled the space without a hitch.)

Minted is incredibly generous and is offering to give one long distance loving reader an art print of their choosing. The winner will be able to choose one framed print of the size and scale that will fill their "hole" on their own wall -- up to $325! From photography to modern art, there is truly a print for everyone. See their complete collection of fine art here

To enter the giveaway, hop over to my Instagram for two easy ways to win! Best of luck! xoxo {av}

Please note: This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States, 13 years old or older. Entries will be cross-referenced. The giveaway will end promptly at 8:00pm EST on Sunday, November 1st. The winner will be shared on the original giveaway post on Instagram. Should you have any additional questions, please email me.

This post was made possible by Minted. In agreement with sharing information about their brand and promoting their products, I was provided with this art print. As always, I only share about brands I truly love and support on long distance loving. Thank you!

give yourself grace.

316 days ago, I met my precious {jv}. It feels like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. Over ten months into this motherhood journey, I have found myself reflecting quite a bit in recent days. I ordered the invites for {jv}'s first birthday this week, though it hardly seems possible that he is any shade older than three months. It is cliché to say that time passes in a blink, but his smiling face is proof it does.

I have written this post over and over in my head for months. It has had a myriad of titles: ten things I would tell my pre-baby self or what I would tell my friends without kids. None of them stuck. If there is anything I have learned in the past 316 days, it is this: every experience is unique, but in some way, shape or form, they are also all the same. Every delivery has a story, but the end result  (99.999% of the time) is a happy baby. Some of my friends have had tremendous success with breastfeeding; others couldn't manage it, no matter how hard they tried. Certain babies roll over at eight weeks, but some take five months. Whatever the tale, the experiences are shared. 

I went back to work when {jv} was 14 weeks old. Now, when I look back on my maternity leave, I barely remember how I filled my days. In a strange way, it is a sort of blissful unknown. Most of the late nights (and early mornings) all fade together. Around five months, a switch clicked and we got into a much better rhythm. While we still don't have a perfect routine, I try to be out the door with {jv} at 7:30am. We typically walk back in the door together around 5:30pm. I cherish those two hours before he goes to bed. During those hours, I ignore my phone, my work email, and everything else. They can wait. When I am with {jv}, I have made it my mission to be all in. While I may not get as much done as my pre-baby self, I know I am investing my time in the right places. I am far from perfect (and still have a lot to learn), but I am getting there.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be this: give yourself grace. As a perpetual perfectionist, I figured I would bounce back and be my old self in no time. (Breastfeeding burns calories, right?) I gained weight with the pregnancy I lost before {jv}, which I didn't lose between pregnancies. It took me a full nine months to shed those pounds, plus those I gained with {jv}, and really feel (almost) like myself again. Even though I ran until the week before I delivered, I am still slower than my pre-pregnancy self. I am definitely a work in progress.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a sweet reader who said she missed my posts. It made me happy and sad all at the same time. I miss blogging, but pulling back has been a necessary evil since I went back to work full-time. My blog has always been a respite for me: a place to express myself and a place to find clarity. While I have given myself grace in other areas of my life, I haven't here. I am not going anywhere, I simply have made the choice that my family comes first. It is hard to see others rocket to blogging or Instagram fame, while I hover at the same numbers for a month. However, I have to remind myself that 5, 10, 25 years from now.... none of that will matter. My family will.

Whether you are a parent or not, give yourself an extra dose of grace today. As a queen of to-do lists, I know it isn't always easy to put them aside. Ten years from now, we won't remember the deadline we missed -- but we will remember the moments we shared. (I'll step off my cheesy soapbox now.) Thank you for sticking with me, through thick and thin. xoxo {av}

pantone color report: spring 2016.

pantone spring 2016 color report // graphic by @luvfromafar

Happy weekend! I know it has been a hot second since my last post, but I promise it is because I have a lot of great stuff coming your way very soon. I have also been giving myself the time I need to adjust to this whole working mom gig, without feeling like I always have a computer in front of me when {jv} is asleep. Thank you for bearing with me ;)

It has become a bit of a tradition for me to illustrate each spring's Pantone Color Report. I like to see how the colors all work together, as well as how they vary from year to year. (See for yourself -- here are the reports from the last three years: 2015, 2014, and 2013.) While Pantone hasn't released the color of the year yet (I'll update this post when they do), I don't see any runaway surprises like last year's Marsala. I think this year's top ten colors are a solid mix. Some years, the colors are all very muted or extremely bold. I actually like that there is a little of both for Spring 2016.

What are your favorites from the bunch? 
I'm loving on the classic blue with a muted finish, Snorkel Blue, and the bright and bold red, Fiesta!
Lots more soon! xoxo {av}

easy + homemade sweet potato chips.

easy + homemade sweet potato chips.

Last Sunday, I posted a photo of a tasty tray of homemade sweet potato chips on Instagram. We are currently in our third week of the 21 Day Fix -- and I was in desperate need of some "snacky" foods. We referenced our handy Fixate cookbook and decided to try our hand at homemade sweet potato chips.

21 day fix approved sweet potato chips.

I am not a Beachbody coach, but I am trying hard to follow the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan. As a notoriously picky eater, this has proven to be a difficult task. However, seeing the results (only 2/3s of the way through the program) are encouraging me to keep going. When I say I needed a snack, it wasn't because of hunger. It was simply because I missed some crunchy afternoon goodness. (You're talking to a reformed carb addict.)

21 day fix approved sweet potato chips.

We adjusted the Fixate recipe ever so slightly by adding a few shakes of cinnamon on the finished product. On a different tray, we tried cayenne pepper. I preferred the cinnamon, but it was nice to have a little something spicy too. The possibilities are truly endless for this 21 Day Fix-approved recipe! I plan to make these long after the program is over -- not just because they don't break my calorie bank. The delicious snackability makes them the ideal treat for upcoming Sundays spent watching football with friends and family.

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (we used only one large + it filled two full trays!)
  • 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin organic coconut oil or olive oil, melted (truth: we added a touch more than 2 teaspoons-- which deviates a bit from the 21 Day Fix official recipe)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • desired spices (we used cinnamon + cayenne -- separately!)
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.  Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a mandolin to slice sweet potatoes very thinly. Place the sweet potatoes on lined baking sheets in a single layer. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 2-3 hours, depending on desired crispiness. Remove from oven and shake a bit of your desired spices on top of the finished sweet potato chips.

If you follow the recipe strictly, it is equivalent to half of a yellow container and half of a teaspoon on the 21 Day Fix program. A serving equates to roughly 75 calories. This recipe serves 4, requiring 10 minutes of prep and up to 3 hours of patience for the baking chips.

I have to admit I'm entirely obsessed -- and cannot wait to make these chips again! If you make them too, be sure to tag me on Instagram. Have you tried the 21 Day Fix? I'd love to hear your experiences! xoxo {av} 

*Recipe adapted from Fixate