patio style challenge -- revealed!

I am so excited to finally reveal the results of my Patio Style Challenge post with The Home Depot! Turning our empty deck into a backyard oasis was just what the doctor ordered after the brutal New England winter. {cv} and I hadn't invested much thought in our outdoor space. When The Home Depot offered me the chance to work on this project, I jumped on it! I spent a good deal of time at three of my local stores during this challenge. Their staff amazed me with their expertise and patience. Though the cold weather threw things off a bit (and subsequently killed my basil -- boo!), we were able to capture the patio on the one nice day in a very long string of rainy days. Here are a few teaser images from the day...

The "placemat" below is actually a marble tile cut to 12" x 14" by a friendly Home Depot employee. I added a few felt pads to keep the scratches to a minimum. These beauties won't blow away and they'll survive in any weather. I am just a little bit obsessed.

Since our home is in the Ocean State, we had to pay homage to its nautical roots. I created these rope coasters, which could be made in a number of sizes, to use under pots of plants on the deck and under hot plates on our patio set. They add an extra splash of color and definitely gave the space a nautical vibe! (If you want to make your own, you only need rope, a glue gun, some masking tape, a utility knife and a lighter. For all the details, check out my post for The Home Depot here.) 

I must give BIG props to my sweet friend, Bree Hester. She took the photos for this post and completely knocked it out of the park! Bree was an absolute lifesaver the day of the shoot -- I seriously couldn't have done it without her. Credit must also be given to my dear friend, Meredith, for whipping up my chicken scratch designs into those nautically inspired pillows. She is a rockstar. Last but certainly not least, I am so grateful to The Home Depot team for making this post possible. We cannot wait to share this space with our friends and family in the coming months. I hope you love it too. xoxo {av}

This post was made possible by the generous support of The Home Depot. They provided me with the patio set and a gift card to cover some other costs associated with this project. All opinions are my own. Many thanks for your support of brands that support long distance loving.

two quick beauty routines for new moms (or for anyone).

two quick beauty routines for new moms (or for anyone!)

Since {jv} came on the scene, time is in even shorter supply than I expected. I knew my routines would have to change, but I now have two paths to take when I put my face on in the mornings. I have a "bare minimum" routine, which can be enhanced with the "four-minute pick-me-up". {jv} watches my every move when I get ready in the mornings for work, so I have to keep it quick. If you're a fan of efficient makeup routines (whether you're a mom or not!), these are for you!

When it comes to makeup, my priorities are the length of wear and ease of use. Some of these products require a bit of an investment, but for me, it is an investment in myself (for once these days). If something can make me feel even the slightest bit more like a human, I jump at it ;) These routines may work for me, but I would love to hear what works for you too. Leave your favorite in the comments below -- even as a creature of habit, I'm all ears to what works for you. Enjoy your weekend!  xoxo {av}

P.S. I don't know about you, but when Sephora offers a sale, I act on it. As a creature of habit with my makeup and hair routine, I know what products I need at any given time. As long as you're a Sephora VIB, you'll get 15% off your order through April 21st using the code VIBLOVE. Don't say I didn't warm you ;) 

THE BARE MINIMUM: Though it looks way more complicated than it actually is, my bare minimum routine just gets me to a solid starting point -- and gives me enough confidence to face the world, even if I don't have the time I'd like to get ready.

-Clarins Multi-Active Day Early Wrinkle Correcting Lotion: It's a fact that makeup goes on much better when your skin is hydrated. I had to do some research to find a lotion compatible with my sensitive skin. With an SPF included, this lotion from Clarins is lightweight and easy to apply. It has a soft and pleasant scent, which didn't offend my sensitive nose while pregnant. I have this lotion on every day of the year.
-Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer: My bff introduced me to this concealer the year we graduated from college -- and it's been my go-to ever since. It doesn't require a special brush for application and it packs a serious punch for dark circles.
-Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder + Bronzer Brush: I was leery about bronzer until a few years ago, when the winter pastiness really got the best of me. Since I do my best to stay out of the sun, I need a little color in some shape or fashion. This powder + brush combo is the best I've found; the color lasts for hours and doesn't look cakey. 
-Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara: This mascara has been a favorite since college. The waterproof mascara requires a bit more in the way of makeup removal at the end of the night, but it helps with the new mom hormones (aka spontaneous tears). 
-Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow: When time is of the essence, a couple of quick swipes of a light shade + a dark shade of this long-wear shadow will do the trick. 
-Aquaphor Healing Ointment: We have tubs of Aquaphor in nearly every room of our home. It works wonders on a number of baby ailments, but it also works as an incredible basic lip balm.

THE FOUR-MINUTE PICK-ME-UP: This routine includes the extra steps I add on days when {jv} may have fallen asleep after his morning feed while I'm getting ready for work  -- or is just being kind enough to let me have a few extra minutes ;)

-Benefit Cosmetics Erase Paste: If I need a little extra coverage after a long night, adding this concealer below my Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer makes a big difference. (Be sure to watch Sephora's video on application to prevent excess application.) 
-Dior Rosy Glow Healthy Glow Awakening Blush: Another bff shared this with me during a recent visit to Rhode Island. It is the newest piece of any of my makeup routines -- and I absolutely LOVE it. It is seriously a magic blush which creates the perfect amount of color for your cheeks.
-Bobbi Brown Bobbi's Browns Eye Palette: I created my own palette of Bobbi Brown hues, but this set contains similar tones to the ones I use on an every day basis. 
-Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum: This plumping serum works as a fantastic primer for my waterproof mascara. I use it to help keep my eyelashes from getting too brittle, which is a phenomenon I discovered in my late twenties.
-Nars Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner: When I have an extra minute to get ready, I love adding some eyeliner to help make my eyes pop. This eyeliner doesn't require a pencil sharpener, only a twist of the pen. 

-Clarins Eye Contour Gel: I've professed my love of this eye gel before, but I can share it again, can't I? It definitely softens dark circles and cools down your eyes before a long day begins.
-Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes: Actresses tout these wipes on TV, but I just wish they hired people who use these wipes day in and day out (like me!). I can't start or end my day without them.
-Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm: I mostly love this lip balm for its scent; the plumping feature is just a bonus. 

what I've learned from five years of marriage.

Alison and Chris from Kate Headley on Vimeo.

Today, {cv} and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary! It feels like yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago because we have packed so many wonderful things in those years. I share our wedding video every year, mostly because I still love it as much as the day I saw it for the first time. (We are forever indebted to my dear friend, Kate Headley, for capturing this day on film and video. She posted a great #tbt yesterday -- we look like teenagers!) Here are a few things I wish I could tell my 24 year old self walking down the aisle...

1) Always (and I mean always) prioritize each other. {cv} and I started dating nearly ten years ago. In that decade, we have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together. {cv} is, far and away, my best friend. Maintaining a friendship requires time and effort. It seems like a no-brainer, but the same should apply to a marriage. While it is easy to get caught in the minutiae of everyday life, we try to take a few minutes to block out the craziness and focus on each other. (We also have embraced -- because going out to dinner was one of our favorite activities before we had {jv}. Finding a few sitters we trust has made all the difference.)

2) Learn to compromise, even when you really don't want to compromise. When you've built a house together, I have an even greater appreciation for this tenet of marriage. I don't believe compromise means submission to your spouse. I believe wholeheartedly that it is taking into account what matters to your partner and putting their needs above your own. When I embraced this perspective, compromise became a much easier pill to swallow.

3) Don't sweat the little things. A marriage is the sum of its parts; don't let life's minor annoyances tally up to create a big issue. I used to hate how {cv} left his shoes under the coffee table every day -- without fail. Now, I look at it a different way: seeing those shoes under the table means he's home and he's not traveling for work. Nagging about the shoes day in and day out is just wasted breath. In my opinion, this isn't an avoidance of the issues. Rather, it is an acceptance that nobody's perfect and you're better off spending your time on things that matter.

4) Stop keeping score. Taking the scorecard out of marriage makes your life together way more fun and so much less cumbersome. Sometimes, life's load falls more heavily on one spouse than another. When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I couldn't pick up the dry cleaning. When I went back to work last month, I was (strangely) excited to be able to do something as simple as that pick-up because it lessened {cv}'s to-do list. 

5) Always be kind. Without sounding too morbid, the best thing I can say is that you don't want to live life with regrets. Five weeks after {jv} was born, one of {cv}'s tires gave out while he was going 70mph on the interstate. Though he walked away without a scratch, every part of me couldn't believe that our life almost changed in an instant. I would have never forgiven myself if I had been less than kind when we'd last spoken that day. Rather than live in fear, we simply keep kindness and love front and center. 

I temper this entire post with this fact: our marriage is far from perfect. I will never qualify as a marriage counselor. We have our scuffles like the best of them. (Many of them admittedly begin when I haven't eaten -- hangriness makes me an unpleasant person.) I share these five things because they have made our days together infinitely better. Our years of long distance forced us to be great communicators. While we didn't love those years apart, we learned so much about each other. There is still a thrill in waking up next to him -- even with those heavy, tired eyes of parenthood -- because we didn't always have that luxury. I am so lucky to have a lifetime of those mornings ahead of me. 

Thank you for the forum for this mushy post -- I hope Kate's video brings you a smile. 
Happy anniversary, {cv}! xoxo {av}

psst: if you're in the mood for more wedding photos, you can see more on: Martha Stewart Weddings + Southern Living!

slip-on sneaker shopping guide.

the complete guide to slip-on sneakers for all budgets // @luvfromafar

When it comes to shoes, I am a very calculated shopper. I rarely (if ever) go shopping without a plan. I do a fair amount of research on comfort and wear before actually investing in a pair of shoes. (I purchased one too many pairs of blister-producing shoes in my college years to let that happen again.) I investigated leopard pointy-toe flats last fall to find the perfect pair and shared my findings with all of you. This spring, I put in the same leg work on a new type of shoe: the slip-on sneaker. I had been skeptical of this old school sneak until one of my most stylish friends arrived wearing them this weekend. I decided it might be time to give this trend a try. 

Per usual, I did some extensive research to uncover all my options. From under $25 to north of $200, there are pairs for every budget and style. After looking at these shoes for quite some time, I've decided they would work perfectly in lieu of a boat shoe or an espadrille. Don't get me wrong: I love my Sperrys, but sometimes, I want more comfortable shoe. No laces would also be a bonus! This pair from Splendid and these classic (but perforated) Vans are topping my wish list, though part of me wants to try the trend with a pair from Old Navy or Target before making the investment. I'm torn!

Have you dipped your toe in the slip-on sneaker trend? How do you like to style yours? xoxo {av}

$24.94 - Old Navy Canvas Slip-Ons (available in Red + Blue)
$24.94 - Old Navy Canvas Slip-Ons (available in Blue Floral + Black Floral)
$24.94 - Old Navy Perforated Slip-Ons (available in Navy, Tan + Black)
$24.99 - Mossimo Supply Co. Dedra Quilted Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black, White Lace + Snake)
$24.99 - Target Carolyn Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black Perforated + Cream Perforated)
$39.94 - Puma PC Extreme Slip-On Sneakers (available in Gold)
$39.95 - Fergalicious Happy Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black)
$39.95 - Gap Slip-On Sneakers (available in Blue Print + Light Denim)
$39.95 - Wanted Ollie Slip-On Sneakers (available in Quilted Black)
$44.95 - Vans Asher Slip-On Sneakers (available in Leopard, Blue/Beige Paisley + Navy/White Nautical Stripe)
$45.00 - Unisex Vans Solid Canvas Classic Slip-On Shoes (available in White)
$46.95 - Vans Comina Slip-On Sneakers (available in Tan Wide Stripes + Navy Mini Stripes)
$49.95 - BP. Twiny Slip-On Sneakers (available in Grey Embossed Snake, Gold Stars + Tropical)
$49.95 - Gap Leather Slip-on Sneakers (available in Black, White, Red Snake + White Snake)
$50.00 - Vans Asher Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black/Gold MetallicGrey/White Stars, Coral/White Polka Dots + Navy/Purple Check)

$55.20 - Steve Madden Virggo Perforated Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black, Powder Blue + White)
$59.95 - Bernie Mev. Verona Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black, Black Patent/Silver, Leopard, Multi Camouflage + Pewter)
$59.95 - Steve Madden Ecentrcq Sneakers (available in Quilted Pink, Quilted Black, Quilted Gold, Quilted Pewter + Quilted Wine)
$59.95 - Superga 'A Line' Sneakers (available in Black, Grey Sage, Mushroom, Navy + White)
$59.95 - TOMS Avalon Nylon Slip-On Sneakers (available in Red, Black + Khaki)
$60.00 - Sperry Top-Sider Seaside Breton Stripe Slip-On Sneakers (available in Navy)
$60.00 - Vans for J.Crew Classic Slip-On Sneakers (available in Misty Orchid, Silver, Black Perforated + White Perforated)
$68.00 - BucketFeet Savusavu Slip-On Sneakers (available in Beige/Green Palms + Vermillion Print)
$69.95 - Halogen Turner Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black Floral, Blue, Coral, Magenta + Taupe Snake Print)
$69.95 - Steve Madden Giftt Slip-On Sneakers (available in Leopard)

UNDER $100
$75.60 - Cole Haan Jennica Slip-On Sneakers (available in Leopard)
$79.95 - Adam Tucker Soul Canvas Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black, Denim, Light Grey + Red)
$84.00 - BucketFeet Pineappleade Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black + Beige/Gold)
$87.95 - Dr. Scholl's Original Collection Scout Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black + Ivory)
$97.95 - TOMS Avalon Leather Slip-On Sneakers (available in Embossed Stucco, Black + Natural)

UNDER $150
$107.96 - MICHAEL Michael Kors Olivia Perforated Leather Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black, Optic White + Peanut)
$108.00 - Splendid Seaside Slip-On Sneakers (available in Natural)
$118.00 - Banana Republic Brenna Slip-On Sneakers (available in Gold, Tea Rose, Cotton, Super Silver Perforated, Imperial Blue Suede, Snake + Black Suede)
$135.00 - Ash Illusion Lace Slip-On Sneakers (available in Coral, WhiteIndigo + Black)
$140.00 - Kenneth Cole Perforated Kerry Flat Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black + White)

ABOVE $150
$150.00 - DKNY Beth Woven Slip-On Sneakers (available in Buff + White)
$165.00 - Tory Burch Jesse Flat Slip-On Sneakers (available in Platinum + Greek Blue)
$175.00 - Via Spiga Galea Leather Slip-On Sneakers (available in Elephant + Black)
$195.00 - Vince Blair 5 Slip-On Sneakers (available in Black + Woodsmoke)
$180.00 to $220.00 - Joie Kidmore Slip-On Sneakers (available in Navy/White StripesPorcelain Mesh, Black MeshWhite SnakeBlack/White Snake, Dusty Pink SandRose Gold Perforated + Pewter Perforated)
$198.00 - Ash Intense Zip Slip-On Flat Sneakers (available in Black, Marble + Yellow)
$198.00 - Kate Spade Serena Slip-On Sneakers (available in Silver)
$248.00 - Marc by Marc Jacobs Cute Kicks Slip-On Sneakers (available in Blush, Deep Yellow + Conch Blue)

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