We've finallllllllly made it to Hilton Head, after a rather early morning {read--3:45am wakeup!}. It was so wonderful to finally see my parents again! We haven't seen each other since early August, so I'm going to soak up every minute I can with them over the next few days. Two uncles, two aunts, and two cousins--who we haven't seen since the wedding--will also be in attendance, so we have a lot of catching up to do! 

{cv} and I can't wait to kayak the marshes on the island, ride bikes on the beach, and eat some yummy seafood. {Yes, we live in New England, but I grew up on this South Carolina fare on visits to my grandparents, so I'm partial!} 

Apologies that you won't be hearing much from me until January 2nd...I had grand plans of doing a recap of 2010, but maybe I'll do that early in the new year.  Friday's Fancies will also recommence the first week of January ;)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina - NYE 2008: Photo by {av}

So, lovelies...enjoy the last few days of 2010 and bring in 2011 with a bang {but safely, of course!}. I can't wait to hear about your new year's resolutions--and share mine with you--when I get back to reality. I promise to take lots of pictures. You all better do the same!

I have a great feeling about 2011. If the last two months of 2010 have been any indication, my fantastic, loving followers will surely bring me lots of smiles and encouragement in the next year. For that, I am beyond grateful.

Much love, {av} 

P.S. Many thanks to Ashley from Run With Me for 
some great new ideas for our visit! :)

p.s. I made this.

Last week, I was treated to a lovely little Christmas surprise from my maid of honor, {ch}. I get a boatload of packages for, when I first received the brown padded envelope, I just added it to my work pile. A few hours of organizing later, I saw her name in the corner of the package and I obviously ripped it open!

Inside I found this absolute gem of a book she and I had seen 
during our kate spade adventure the weekend before

P.S. - I made this... by Erica Domesek
Hipstamatic Print by {av}
I loved the style of this book when I first saw it with {ch} has easy-to-digest craft projects with lots of fun flair. Some of it is my style, some of it isn't--but I love how Erica Domesek explains them with fabulous pictures and witty captions.

I haven't made anything out of the book yet--but you better believe I will be once the craziness of the holidays cools down. Here's a little video clip of the author with everyone's favorite crafter, Martha:

The author even shares an inspiration board behind each project, which I thought was pretty neat! Here's an example from the "big ball necklace" project she did on Martha's show:
Hipstamatic Print by {av}
Once I get through a few projects, I'll be sure to share the results. If you ever need a last minute gift for a crafty friend or DIY-er, P.S. - I made this... is sure to be a winner. Or--better yet--grab yourself the book and make a few gifts of your own! Do you have any other go-to gifts for your crafty friends? Even though the holidays have passed, it's always good to have some ideas on the back burner for birthdays!

Thanks again to {ch} for the fabulous and thoughtful gift :) 
Have a great night! xoxo {av}

the big easy.

About two weeks ago, I enlisted your help on the destination for our annual girls weekend...and if the title of this post didn't give it away, we're going to:

{Image via weheartit}
A BIG thank you goes out to Jillian, Lena, Bethani, and Marian, four of my fabulous followers, who helped to steer our girls weekend toward New Orleans! Though this isn't my first trip, this is my first adventure where I can really enjoy it as an adult. I visited in 1994 with my parents, in 2001 with my youth group, and in 2008 for a work conference. I couldn't be more thrilled to get to share a weekend in NOLA with my girls--and really soak up all the city has to offer!

{Image via weheartit}
With the decision about where we're going under our belts, I {desperately!} need your help on where to stay, what to do, and what we cannot miss during our weekend there. 

{Image via weheartit}
Five of the six of us have booked flights for President's Day weekend in New Orleans. {We're holding out hope our smartypants friend in med school will be able to join us!} We will arrive on Friday afternoon and leave on Monday at noon or so. 

The biggest {and most pressing} concern is where to stay. We'd optimally find a hotel room with two doubles where we can add a cot--or a perfect little apartment rental where we can all fit.

I can't thank you all enough for your input on our destination--you all offered a lot of great options, which I'm sure we'll use in the future. I cannot wait to see the ideas you throw our way for our NOLA adventure! I know we cannot wait to "laissez les bon temps rouler" in New Orleans :)

Hope you've all had a cozy and happy Monday, wherever you may be! xoxo {av}

christmas cheer.

Holy moly! I can hardly believe it's December 26th...and that both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are behind us. Our first married Christmas proved to be a perfect one...which could have only been made more perfect if we could have spent it with both sides of our families. I'm SO excited to get to South Carolina later this week and see my folks!

I thought I'd share a few photos from the past few days...the first of which is an "action" shot while we passed over the border from New Hampshire into Maine on Thursday. We spent Christmas Eve's Eve with a smaller crew from {cv}'s extended family. 

Christmas Eve was a rather low-key day, though it did require a crazy trip to the grocery store before we caught a fantastic Christmas mass. I may be a Presbyterian, but I don't discriminate on where we celebrate Christmas Eve. Ironically, the parish was named after St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits {near and dear to our Georgetown hearts} and the church itself was named after St. Martin of Tours. Tours, France is where I studied abroad during the beginning of long-distance years--and we visited his cathedral in Tours on our honeymoon! Must have been meant to be!

From mass, we made the quick drive to his uncle's home to begin the evening's festivities. We had to check our phones at the door {pretty good rule, I think!}, so the photo below is the only one I have from the evening. Though we're clearly on our way home, you can catch a little glimpse of something sparkly under my's the Milly dress I rented from Rent The Runway! I had initially wanted to wear it for NYE, but I thought it would be perfectly fun for our Christmas Eve celebration :)

Once we got back to my in-laws, "Santa's elves" quickly prepared the living room for my 18-month-old nephew's enjoyment the following morning. Santa was definitely great to all of us this year...

I felt especially blessed when {cv} and I exchanged gifts quietly upstairs {we wanted to have a little private moment to enjoy with each other!}. Being his generous self, the husband gifted me with an incredible piece of photographic equipment that I've been eyeing f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  Good news is that my dad is a phenomenal photographer and can show me a few tricks during our visit to Hilton Head. 

I. am. still. so. excited.

Later that day, I couldn't help but snap a picture of the calendar {cv}'s parents still have hanging in their stairwell. It is hard to believe it's been more than 20 years since this photo was taken! I have to say that my husband's a handsome little guy ;)

After a day full of presents, eating {LOTS. of. eating.}, and general happiness, our first married Christmas came {all too quickly} to a close. Before it did, I had to snap a shot of my nephew's new ride under the tree...

{cv} and I woke up this morning, fully intent upon leaving Maine after the Patriots game {my husband really loves his Pats}. After watching a few weather forecasts, however, we realized that might not be the best plan and hopped in the car to beat the storm. Crossing the bridge from Maine to New Hampshire, the snow just looks imminent, no?

We hit the snow just outside of Framingham, Massachusetts and it just got heavier as we continued south toward Rhode Island...

We rolled into our building at just the right time...{cv} caught 3 quarters of his beloved Patriots on TV. Now, we're settling in for the night--and watching the snow fall outside the window. No complaints from me!

I know I'm looking forward to a cozy tomorrow to catch up on how all your holidays went. I hope and pray you all created a few special Christmas memories! I can't wait to hear about them! 

Much love, {av}

safe travels.

This was the best image I could find to depict our two-hour drive to Maine:

{Image via weheartit}
Ok, we may not be cool enough to drive an original English Mini and I may have wrapped the presents in kraft paper, not pretty pink...but in a few short hours, we'll be headed for "Vacationland". 

This is my fourth Christmas with {cv}'s family--and this year, more than ever, I'm missing the quiet of Christmases past in Indiana. We spent Christmas together before were were married because we were long-distance and have actually only spent two of our six Christmases apart. 

Don't get me wrong: I adore his crazy Christmas Eve gathering--where my husband's Italian throng gathers to bring in Christmas. He is one of twelve grandkids, so it manages to trump the fact that I'm an only child with a much smaller family gathering.

I fell in love with their family Christmas when I first came in 2007, before we were engaged. I felt this strange feeling, that if for some reason we didn't end up as husband and wife, my future Christmases would never really live up to what I saw that year. Truth be told, I love that so much family comes to be together in one place to celebrate.

It was never easy to be away from my family at the holidays...and it hasn't gotten any easier. I don't think it ever will. I know my mother probably thinks that I'm fine without the cozy Christmases of years past, but that's definitely not the case.  

I miss the late night Christmas Eve church services. I miss sitting by the tree with my dad, just watching the lights. I miss singing Christmas songs at the piano with my mother. I even miss my old cat, Whitty, who chewed on ribbon and thus barred pretty bows from our house. I generally just miss home.

I wish I could say that we could slip away for a Midwestern Christmas some day soon, but it's tough for {cv} to break tradition...and I understand that. Over the past ten years, my family hasn't celebrated with much tradition...we go to Kansas City one year, Nashville the next, and generally, the shuffling is tough. Where we spend Christmas is a perennially tough debate, which I know will not get easier until we're settled somewhere, have kids, and want to spend Christmas at home {wherever that ends up being}.

I'm feeling more at home in New England, but the truth is that it never really will be home. My "home" is now with Chris, but my heart will always have a place in the quiet, snowy cornfields of Indiana.
The good news is that we'll be joining my parents on December 29th in {what I hope is} sunny Hilton Head, South Carolina. Until then, I'll savor our New England Christmas--our first as Mr. and Mrs. :) I'll enjoy the time with his family and seeing our 18-month-old nephew enchanted with presents. I love his family--and I am so lucky they have embraced me as one of their own.

So, Merry Christmas to all of you! Safe travels to all of you departing for home--or wherever "home" is this year. I'm going to take my first little blog vacation, but I promise more soon. Each of you have been such a gift to me over the past couple of months, so thank you!  

Never forget your childhood image of Christmas. And, most importantly, never ever forget the reason why we celebrate...

Until the 26th! xoxo {av}

nyc, part two.

We've made it to Wednesday, which also means Christmas is three short days away! I have to say, your overwhelming response to yesterday's post blew my mind. A few of you asked what camera I used...and I have to admit: it was Hipstamatic app from my iPhone. I've been lusting over a Nikon D90 for months now, though I've been wanting a DSLR for years. Until then, I make due with what I have ;)

So, I won't withhold the second batch of photos from you any longer...
From the Union Square Holiday Market, {ch} and I continued the walk south toward her apartment in SoHo. We found our way onto Mercer Street, where we made a few stops--the first of which was at Nespresso. The husband may have been back in Rhode Island, but I knew one way to bring the pleasures of NYC back to picking up a few more Nespresso capsules for his Nespresso Cube.

Nespresso could be compared to the coffee lover's candy store. The colorful capsules line the walls, making even the non-coffee drinker, like me, reconsider my dislike ever so slightly. Though the machines may not be in everyone's budget, the capsules of goodness cost $5 for a sleeve of ten, which is much more reasonable than the boxes of K Cups you find at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Those little capsules definitely pack a punch! 

The other treat at Nespresso were the holiday displays by Manish Arora, which packed their own sparkly punch. I've never seen so many sequins in all the right places!
From reading many of your blogs, I'm sure all of you will appreciate our next stop...the ever fabulous Kate Spade. The next photo now graces the "lock screen" of my iPhone. I love it--almost as much as I love Kate Spade.
I've been in many a Kate Spade stores in my day, but something was downright dreamy about this particular store. Maybe it was the extra dose of holiday sparkle {see a theme here?}, but our 15 minutes in Kate Spade brought so many smiles to my face. 

First, I ran into a bag I featured in one of my first posts: the head in the sand Melinda in a fabulous cobalt blue. I had yet to see it in person--and Kate did not disappoint. The embossed texture and the vibrant color were enough to continue my dream of owning this bag... 
In the last 6 weeks, I cannot count the number of times I've encountered these dazzlers in the blogosphere....they're definitely gorgeous in person.
I also spotted a few of the "Book of the Month" clutches, as spotted by Deanna over at Mellow Fever. Though I didn't spot The Great Gatsby, I did spot these two great reads!

After our time in Kate Spade heaven, {ch} and I hopped on over to her apartment and changed before meeting {ah} at Morandi, another tasty spot in the West Village. Morandi is a cozy Italian "trattoria" with a good dose of charm. We noshed on some yummy Burrata e pachini {burrata cheese with vine-ripened cherry tomatoes..with just the right amount of balsamic on the side} and sipped a great Italian red.

Dinner was even better...I had the pasta special--triangular penne with white wine, roasted garlic, rock shrimp, and a number of other yummy ingredients. Let's just say that I very rarely finish a plate of pasta--but I managed to eat every last morsel. {ch} and {ah} also enjoyed their entrees down to the last bite. To cap off the meal, I ordered a two scoops of sorbet: one of coconut and another of concord grape. All in all, Morandi was the perfect spot for us to continue our impromtu girls' weekend.

Though I don't have any photos from later in the night, we hopped from the West Village to the Lower East Side to check out the Hotel on Rivington, where we met up with one of my dearest high school friends, {hp} and a few of her closest college friends. The bar scene was exactly what you'd imagine in a swanky NYC hotspot. It was so fun to catch up and enjoy the scenery too! We called it a night after a fantastic evening and headed back toward SoHo to catch a few winks.

The next morning, {ch}, {ah}, and I continued the fun at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District. The restaurant is attached to the Standard Hotel, which is right on the highline.
The fun, clean atmosphere served as the perfect brunch spot. Each table had a different set of these magnetic doggie salt and pepper shakers. Funny enough, the menu even offered The Standard's patrons the opportunity to walk their dogs, Salt and Pepper, for $25. Not such a cheap thrill, but we all thought it was rather hilarious.
As a fun side story, {ch} and I sat down before {ah} arrived and I saw the cutest little family at a closeby table. A few minutes later, I started putting the pieces together and realized Philip Seymour Hoffman was sitting with his back to me at that same table with his wife and three children. Thanks to IMDB, I confirmed it! Though we didn't say hello, it was great to have a celebrity sighting ;)

I loved The Standard's menus, which mimicked a newspaper and I also adored my Nutella waffles. I continued the trend from the night before and finished every last bite. 

After brunch, we decided to schlep my suitcase up on the highline--and I'm so glad we did. The views were fantastic and, for a few minutes, I didn't really feel like we were in NYC. I snapped this fun shot below of the DVF space in Meatpacking--with a little glimpse of the Empire State Building in the background.

Following our little jaunt on the highline, I reluctantly said goodbye to {ch} and {ah} so I could make the short walk up to the bus stop. Struggling with my gloves and suitcase, I may or may not have put my iPhone in my mouth for a second--and without knowing it, clouded the camera lens before I snapped this shot. I thought the results were still kind of dreamy.
I passed my 40-hour NYC threshold by a few hours, but my short weekend in the city was just what I needed. The time I spend with my girlfriends is so important to me--and we just don't get enough of it. I'm really looking forward to our girls weekend in February.

I hope my second installment from NYC did not disappoint! I haven't said it enough lately, but your comments and blog love have made the last six weeks so rewarding for me. 

I can't wait to see where the future takes us... 
thank you all so, so much!
More tomorrow! xoxo {av}

nyc, part one.

Happy Tuesday! I have so many photos from this weekend that I need to split it into two posts, so without further ado, here is the first batch:

My bus from Providence  to NYC took about two hours longer than expected, so I took a little shut-eye knowing the City hours are a little different than those we keep in our apartment. After being dropped at 42nd street, I jumped on the subway to meet up with {ah}, one of my best friends and bridesmaids, at her new place in Chelsea. She just moved from Dallas to NYC in late October, so it was fantastic to finally see her new digs. 

We changed quickly so we could meet {ch}, another one of my best friends and also my maid of honor, at The New French in the West Village. It was an absolute treat to be reunited again, though we missed our other partners in crime {jt} and {kj}. My yummy fare for the evening was a hearty burger with manchego. We also split a solid bottle of Albariño before heading out to a festive and fun "bad ornament" Christmas party, back up in Chelsea, hosted by {ah}'s cousin.
After the party, {ch} and I jumped in a cab to SoHo, where she moved in mid-summer. We came home to find these beautiful curtains had finally been hung in her apartment. I took this picture the next morning and it truly doesn't do them justice.

I took these shots while roaming the streets of SoHo on our sunny Saturday morning stroll. I could take pictures of fire escapes all. day. long.
{ch} lives dangerously close to the Bloomingdale's in SoHo, so we made a quick stop to remedy my "lack of gloves" situation. {I can't believe I was goofy enough to forget's always something though, right?} I won't complain too much because the decorations in Bloomie's were downright festive. I wish I could have taken more photos, but I was worried they would confiscate my iPhone ;) 

We also passed my perennial favorites {as evidenced in last week's Friday's Fancies}, Vince and Tory Burch. The doors to Tory heaven were especially heavy!
Along the way, we met up with {nm}, another Georgetown grad and very close friend, who had the brilliant idea to take an impromptu culinary tour of the East Village. 

First, {nm} took us to Bespoke Chocolates, for a little dessert to start the day. We tried the pretzel-covered sea-salted caramels, the lavender honey fleur de sel caramels, and the peanut butter honey squares. I seriously don't think I could pick a favorite. The textures were out-of-this-world and we probably looked hilarious indulging in them on a street corner. 
From Bespoke, we headed to Pommes Frites, which should be translated to French Fry Heaven in English. As the name suggests, it serves up fries--and only fries--in its cozy, crazy storefront. The kicker here is that they have 26 sauces to choose from...and it is SO hard to choose. {nm} decided on the roasted garlic mayo, {ch} chose the dijon mustard, and I picked the peanut satay. 
Here's a photo of {nm} holding the massive cone of fries we beasted at Pommes Frites. Clearly, this wasn't meant to be a healthy culinary adventure, but we were all on board with that ;)

Next stop on our tour was our original destination of the day, Luke's Lobster. Funny thing is, we actually all know Luke from our days at Georgetown. He opened Luke's Lobster just over a year ago to critical acclaim. A native Mainer {just like my husband!}, Luke took his love of lobsters and filled a void in NYC: a tasty yet affordable lobster roll. Let's just say this, Luke did not disappoint.

The lobster comes fresh daily from Maine, but more specifically, from Luke's father's sustainable seafood company. We tasted a perfectly crafted lobster roll {seen above}, along with a shrimp roll which blew my mind. The rolls were just the right size to share and I enjoyed every bite. Yay for Georgetown grads doing us proud!
The final stop on our adventure was the Momofuku Milk Bar. We topped off an unforgettable jaunt of the East Village with some raspberry Lambic and a piece of "crack pie", which you truly cannot stop eating. It's literally described as having a "gooey butter filling." Another little slice of heaven. Seriously. 

After a little shopping, we decided to head toward the Union Square Holiday Market. On the way, we passed through a number of these sidewalk Christmas tree vendors. I wish I could have bottled the smell and somehow found a way to share it with you. It. was. incredible.
I wish I could've taken better pictures inside the holiday market, but people were shoving left and right...soooo, this was the best I could do. They had vendors selling  just about everything you could imagine. I now regret not picking up this fun "home brew" kit for {cv}, so he could concoct his own beer in our apartment. Maybe next year!

We said our goodbyes to {nm} and headed back toward SoHo. On our way, I spotted this fine gentleman transporting his tree via shopping cart. You have to love city living--and finding creative ways to do seemingly normal tasks.

I have more to share tomorrow...but I hope this whets your appetite. Literally and figuratively. Thanks again to {nm} for crafting such a wonderful East Village adventure--and to {ch} and {ah} for being such incredible hosts!

Hope your holiday prep is going splendidly! Until tomorrow! xoxo {av}

P.S. Thank you all SO much for your sweet words about our engagement story--it really warmed my heart :)