what I learned from Forrest Gump.

don't ever let anyone tell you they're better than you. #forrestgump

I'm sure you have a list of movies which always detracts from your task at hand. My short list includes: You've Got Mail, Notting Hill, and Forrest Gump. {Apparently, I love '90s movies.} Over the course of the last week, I stumbled on Forrest Gump three times. Though I've seen it more times than I can count, I tuned in and caught different portions of the movie each time. I think there is so much to learn from Forrest--beyond his box of chocolates.

Hearing Forrest's mother utter the quote above to him in one of the early scenes of the movie struck me in a way it hadn't before. Like pretty much every teenage girl, I struggled with the whole self-acceptance thing in those dark middle and high school years. I was never good enough--and I fought hard to try and prove myself. It is funny to think a movie could bring this sort of clarity, but go with me here: my teenage self thought it had something to prove to the world, but my late 20s self realizes the person I really had to impress was myself.

I demand excellence of myself. I don't do things halfway. I am definitely a perfectionist. Being out of my blogging groove in the last few months feels...weird. I miss posting more often, but sometimes, I realize that real life trumps the hours I spend crafting a post. With so much going on behind the scenes with our house, I would rather give you two good posts a week than four or five that are mediocre at best. I don't know why seeing Forrest Gump caused a lightbulb moment for me, but it did. I don't need to be like every super human who somehow cranks out twenty crazy good posts a month. Why? I am happy with the few in which I pour my heart and soul.

What I learned from Forrest Gump {or from Winston Groom--the author behind his story} is this: what I create is enough. The game of comparison is not one I enjoy, but it is one in which I sadly participate. If blogging were easy, everyone would do it. With my 29th birthday looming in May, my goal for the coming year is to finally embrace me. Others' stars may rise, but I'll be happy with wherever mine shines.

Thanks for reading this long, somewhat cheesy post. Claiming Forrest taught me anything could be construed as a stretch, but I promise you it's not. I cannot send enough gratitude to those readers who stick by me, through thick and thin. I read each of your comments and cherish them. You keep me encouraged and inspired, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those who celebrate, Happy Easter! xoxo {av}

10 no-brush blushes.

10 no-brush + no-fuss blush options!

If I could describe my make-up routine in one word, it would be simple. I wear make-up on an almost daily basis, but I like to keep my application to under three minutes. {I value my beauty sleep!} It may sound crazy, but I have it down to a bit of science. When I found blush sticks, I discovered a "grown-up" version of the gel blush from Bonne Bell that I used to wear in 1999. While I do use a brush for my bronzer, I don't want to tote around a separate one for my blush. I love the fact I can concentrate my blush in one particular area with a blush stick.

I have both the NARS and Tarte sticks, which are easy to pack for work trips, vacations, and spontaneous weekends away. I like the NARS stick for everyday use. The Tarte stain is often my date night and special occasion pick for its bold color.  I love the dewy look that both give, but most of all, I love their simplicity. Do you use a blush stick or are you a fan of more "traditional" blush? xoxo {av}


four years.


Alison and Chris from Kate Headley on Vimeo.

Four years ago, I married my best friend. We were lucky enough to have Kate Headley capture it on film. {True story: Kate was the only photographer I approached to shoot our wedding. I knew she had to be the one who captured our day from the moment I first saw her photos.} 

I share this video every year, but I do so because it truly captures the happiness of the day in a way that words cannot. I'm so lucky to share a life with {cv}--one we always dreamed of during our long distance days. In so many ways, our wedding allowed us to finally close the door on those years and open up a life of togetherness. Sorry for the repeat share, but in the very least, I hope it brightens your Thursday like it did mine! xoxo {av}

best google fonts for blogs.

27 clean + simple google fonts for your blog (for free!)
Two weeks ago, I encountered some slow load time in my web browser and was tired of waiting for it to load. I decided to restart my MacBook Pro in the hopes it might bring it back up to speed. Little did I know, shutting down my laptop signaled the death of a certain sector of my hard drive {or so they told me at the Apple Store}. Thankfully, I had purchased AppleCare with my computer and I was still under warranty, so I managed to squeak by unscathed financially. However, my font book did not. 

Low and behold, I was able to recover all of my files {music, photos, design projects, etc.} in safe mode while making myself at home at the Apple Genius Bar. In the hurry to make sure I transferred over the important stuff, I didn't transfer the extensive collection of fonts. It didn't hit me until I opened up a project from my hard drive to discover that all of the fonts I downloaded over the past three years were gone.

At first, I was heartbroken. I am a self-professed font geek, so I didn't take this loss lightly. After a few hours, I had a lightbulb moment: it was time to start new. A font I loved when I first started my blog in 2010 {i.e. Caviar Dreams} was no longer on my top ten list. It was time to start with a blank slate and build a repertoire of new favorites. I started my search using Google Fonts.

I scrolled through all 600+ Google Fonts to download a few which caught my eye. The 27 fonts you see above passed my test, though I haven't had a chance to try them all out extensively. I think it is important to visualize the font in both upper and lower cases, so I gave examples of both. Sometimes, I use a font purely in all caps because I like it better. I'm funny like that ;) Feel free to download a few and see if they suit your fancy!

Do you have any favorite fonts? Have you noticed that your taste in fonts changes too? Thank you for indulging me in a geeky post. The long and short is to always buy AppleCare--and be willing to roll with the punches of a cleared hard drive. In the end, it was refreshing to rebuild my font book, even if it was initially jarring. xoxo {av}

P.S. To download a font file using Google Fonts, simply click "add to collection". A box will appear at the bottom of your screen, on which you'll then press "use". You'll be taken to a new screen and should see a downward-pointing arrow on the right side of the screen {just above something which looks like a speedometer}. Click to download the font as a .zip file. Once downloaded, click on the font in your downloads folder {or wherever you saved it}. Simply follow the prompts to add it to your font book--and always adhere to the font licensing! {NOTE: this is how it works for a Mac; here is a tutorial for a PC.}