operation spending freeze.

Back in early January, I shared the vision {cv} and I crafted for this year. As I coined it, 2012 is the year of health + home. In order to make our dream home a reality, it was time for me to make some big changes in my shopping habits. For the first month ever, I spent not a single cent on clothing. I stepped in my favorite store only once--to return a backordered sweater I purchased back in early December. The saving grace in a spending freeze happens to be my weekly Friday's Fancies posts--because I still get to create outfits, even if they don't end up in my closet. This post is devoted to the items I would have really loved to add to my rotation if it weren't for operation spending freeze...

Making it 31 days without a dime spent on clothing is definitely an empowering feat. I know it isn't realistic to think I can go an entire year without buying something new. {Case in point: I shrunk a sweater on Friday. Stuff happens, right?} The biggest encouragement is knowing that each thing I don't purchase means we are that much closer to getting in our house. This pin really helped me gain perspective on that.

I'll keep living vicariously through all of you {and doing it up with Friday's Fancies} to make it through operation spending freeze. Since we're focused on spring fever this Friday, I can focus my desire for some bright and cheery clothes into that post. Enjoy your Tuesday--and I'll see you back here tomorrow!

vlog + fun announcement.

Happy Monday! It's a big day here at {long distance loving}...I'm premiering a new blog design and debuting my first vlog. I'm also starting a fun new adventure, but you'll have to watch the vlog to hear more :) Please forgive {cv}'s guitars and the crazy volume of books behind me. Once we get out of our little apartment and into our house, we can spread out a bit {aka {cv} will get a man cave and I'll get a cute little office!}. Until then, this is what you get...

Thanks for watching! I hope my vlog didn't scare you completely!  My days on the east coast have tamed my southern Indiana accent, but there was a y'all in there ;) Vlogs are scary, I'll admit, but it was also kind of fun! I'll do more in the future, so pretty please pass along any questions if you have them.

friday's fancies #61.

Happy Friday, friends! After a busy week, I love having Friday's Fancies as my light at the end of the tunnel ;) This week, many of the Friday's Fancies faithful {82 to be exact!} are paired up with one another--a true testament to the wonderful community you have all helped to create. I'm in awe!

Since the weather can't make up its mind this winter, I paying homage to colder temperatures with a big, fuzzy sweater. This outfit board should also include a fireplace, don't you think? sigh. Since we're meeting with our builder this weekend, I'll have to remind him a fireplace is a non-negotiable in our dream home!

1) All winter, I have been aching to rock the Fair Isle. This By Malene Birger Anninas Chunky-Knit Wool Cardigan would create a look which is far from frumpy. I just wish my budget would allow for it ;)
2) A gorgeous light gray like the one in this Rebecca Minkoff Love Spell Tri-Zip Satchel would make this bag a great addition to any wintry wardrobe. It most definitely cast a spell on me.
3) I really need to bite the bullet and get a pair of black jeans, but until then, I will dream of these Burberry Brit Mid-rise Skinny Jeans. The extra little details make them the ideal pair for me!
4) The bold beauties in this Shashi Eclipse Bracelet Set would make a statement and amp up the fun factor in this ensemble.
5) With so much action happening in the sweater, I didn't want overstated earrings, so these Michael Kors Pavé Pyramid Earrings were the perfect compromise. They add an ounce of sparkle to this get-up!
6) Right down to the toes, I'm swooning over these Giuseppe Zanotti Metallic Leather Captoe Ballet Flats. Though I know most women love heels, I am absolutely a flats fiend. I only wish I could add these to my collection! 

Never-ending thanks to those of you linking up today! I am so excited to see your outfits and collaborations :) I just love this family of ours! If you want to join in the Friday's Fancies fun in future weeks, pretty please email me--and you'll get the themes {and future opportunities for blog swaps!} in your email every Monday. All my love to each of you today! So excited to see your looks!

your advice needed.

When I got my iPhone in September 2010, I carefully placed it in one of these Speck Candyshell cases. I loved the pop of color, but I eventually went through two cases in the course of maybe six months. After hearing about the Otterbox, I was lured by the absolute indestructibility of these cases. I ran a half marathon in the rain--and my iPhone kept playing the whole race. I dropped my phone in the sink--and it survived. I'm not easy on my phone because I use it constantly, so I need a phone cover that protects without looking so, how shall we say, boring. Here are a few I rounded up--and I need your opinion...

{first row: left - right | second row: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 | third row: left - right}

So, give it to me straight...if you've had any of the covers above:
did it do a good job of protecting your phone?
did it last longer than three months?

If you've found a cover elsewhere that works like a dream without looking like a phone from the mid-2000s, please bring me to the light ;) I need some color and personality back in my life!

P.S. See you all back here tomorrow for Friday's Fancies! I'm creating a Winter Wonderland look...don't forget that if you create a post, you get an extra entry in my giveaway for $100 to Local Hem!

a neverending adventure.

Happy Wednesday all! The long distance story I have for you today will melt your hearts. It started as an adventure for Carolyn--and that adventure never ended. She met Kevin while studying abroad in Belgium in the spring of 2006. Their lives haven't been the same since that semester! With a wedding on the horizon, this pair decided to put an end date on their long distance, which helped them survive a 4,000 mile divide. You're going to love this one...

Name: Carolyn
Significant Other's Name: Kevin

When did you start dating? 
Kevin and I met in January of 2006. I was a junior studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium. I had just gotten out of a really terrible relationship, so it was a time for me to have my own adventure and start anew. I met Kevin after he overheard me speaking English at a French-speaking bar in a trendy, university neighborhood. We exchanged numbers at the end of the night…and the rest, as they say, is history! I decided to put my heart into this relationship and we let fate lead the way.

At what point did you begin dating long distance? Luckily, we met early enough during my stay in Brussels that we had about four months to spend together before I had to return to the US. We traveled all over Northern Europe and spent all the time we had together. The day in May eventually arrived that signaled my return to Chicago. So many of my friends told me that it would never work because we both had to finish our last year in college and that long distance doesn't work, but I kept reminding myself that the pain was worth it. KEVIN was worth it. We had decided that no matter what, at the end of the next school year we were going to be together, even if that meant someone was moving overseas.  

How do you fill your days while you're apart? Skype is a godsend. If we didn't have Skype, we wouldn't be together and I believe that 100%. There is something different about being able to see someone and talk to them for hours on end (and not having to pay for it). Skype saved our relationship. During our year apart, we made a schedule of when we'd speak. We were up against a 7-hour time change, so we had to strategically plan our calls. That year was the most difficult year of my life. I was a senior in college and I was lucky to have good roommates. They didn't make fun of the fact that I was skyping with an awkward Belgian kid all the time and supported me when I was down. My family was also incredibly supportive. They believed me when I said that Kevin was truly special and they knew how important he was to me.

What do you find most difficult about being long distance? As Tom Petty sings, "The waiting is the hardest part." The most difficult thing about long distance is the waiting. I'm incredibly impatient, so having to wait so long to see Kevin was excruciating. However, both Kevin and I feel that in order to survive a long distance relationship, you absolutely need an end-date. Even if its five years down the road, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel….

How has long distance changed your relationship? Long distance gave us an unbreakable trust. We both knew that if we could survive a year living 4,000 miles apart, then we could survive anything. When things get tough in the relationship, like they inevitably do, we think back to that year and think how we can make anything work.  

What sacrifices have you made in order to make things work? While we have both made sacrifices for each other, Kevin made the ultimate sacrifice for me. After our year apart, Kevin decided to pursue a master's degree in creative writing in Chicago was thankfully accepted.  With the support of his family, Kevin left all he knew in Brussels. He left his friends, his huge family, and his entire life for me. I had decided to pursue a law degree, so my career was in Chicago. He moved to a city he didn't know because he knew I needed him here. He took a huge risk in his life so that he could be with me.

How has your life changed now that you're back in the same place? Altogether now, we have been with each other for five and a half years. We met when we were 20, so we knew we wouldn't be getting engaged any time soon. When Kevin first moved here, we were 22 and decided not to live together. We didn't think it'd be wise to jump into something that young. For three years we hopped between two apartments and then, just last year, we decided to move in together. In August 2011, Kevin got down on one knee and asked me to marry him one morning on our deck. We're so excited to get married next March, but we're even more excited to get to be together forever.

Though Carolyn doesn't have a blog, she certainly deserves your love here. Her story reminded me just how lucky we are to live in this technological age! I wish only the best to these distance warriors--and many years of happiness wherever the adventure of life takes them! 

If you've emailed with your story, don't fret! I'm sorting through all of them as we speak :) I'll be in touch soon! See you all back here tomorrow! 

a $100 giveaway to local hem.

Today, I'm super excited to introduce you to Local Hem, a fantastic new website which is home to five boutiques {and growing} that carry your favorite brands {think Splendid, Citizens of Humanity, Elizabeth and James!}. Colleen, a fellow Georgetown grad, recently launched Local Hem after years of dreaming about a one-stop shop for all her favorite boutiques. As a former boutique employee myself, I am IN LOVE with Local Hem. It is a fantastic way to support small businesses and enjoy boutiques, even if you live in a city without them. You'll definitely want to read on to find out more...

psst: don't miss your chance to win $100 to spend on Local Hem at the bottom of this post!!

I officially started work on Local Hem while I was getting my MBA from MIT Sloan in Cambridge, MA. We launched the website this past September, but the creation of Local Hem was a long time coming.

 While I was an undergrad at Georgetown, the boutiques along Wisconsin Avenue had me hooked as early as orientation weekend.  It wasn’t until I left DC for an internship that first college summer and began suffering boutique-withdrawal that I came up with the idea of having a place online where you could shop the best local local boutiques from anywhere.  I tinkered with the project for a few years while I was in college, but never really gave it the attention it deserved. After graduating, I took a “real” job for a few years, but always knew that I wanted to come back to idea and give it a serious go, which is actually why I ended up applying to business schools.

I wanted to create a place online where shopping independent boutiques was as easy as shopping from the large chain retailers. Boutiques, and most other small businesses, are so wonderful because they offer a truly unique and carefully curated collection of merchandise. Boutique addicts like me exist because of this meticulous merchandising and the commitment of boutique owners to top-notch personalized service.

With that in mind, I set out to find the “best” boutiques, that is, the boutiques which not only offer fabulous things but those which really care about their customers and offer great service. {I know we’ve all been into those nose-in-the-air boutiques and you won’t find any of them on Local Hem.} By carefully choosing our boutiques, we are able to translate the same warm, fuzzy feeling you get from shopping boutiques in-person to the online shopping experience. When you shop the boutiques on Local Hem, there is a real person on the other end of your purchase waiting to answer any questions you have on fit or color, carefully packing up your items, and handwriting you a quick note.

Since we have five boutiques on Local Hem, I have to share all of them—because I couldn’t pick just three! Each offers something different, so they are all my favorite for different reasons.

Encounter in Saratoga Springs, New York has a fantastic mix of big labels and indie designers with a decidedly downtown edge. Sadie’s in Arlington, Massachusetts is a shoe boutique where every pair of shoes is actually comfortable. Helena’s, also in Arlington, Massachusetts, carries pieces you could wear every single day of the week--everything at Helena’s can pull double {or triple} duty in your wardrobe. Duchess in Newton, Massachusetts walks the casual and career line perfectly. Finally, She in Marblehead, Massachusetts has the weekend look down to a science.

...if you're not on the actual page for the giveaway, please click read more to enter!

unexpected + lovely.

Happy Monday, everyone! Though today's weather feels more like March, this weekend most certainly looked like winter. I snapped a few photos on Instagram to capture a few cozy days at our little apartment. {I'm also linking this post up with Ashley at a {little} dash of ash!}

The snow stopped us from journeying up to Maine as planned--and though it was a big bummer, a true quiet weekend at home was just what {cv} and I needed. I finally tackled a closet which had been on my to-do list for months...super exciting right?! It did allow for a fun walk down memory lane. We also squeezed in two movies, which had been on my list for ages: Midnight in Paris and Friends with Benefits.

Two other moments I captured over the weekend involved some wine and a mani. {cv} and I shared a bottle from our Napa adventures last year, which was as good at home as it was at the vineyard. {Mr. Pinky really wanted a taste too!} I also painted my nails for the first time in forever. I generally hate chippage {is that a word!?}, so I tend to leave my nails bare. This was my first foray into a dual colored mani, using Essie Chinchilly with a touch of Butter Diamond Geezer. I took the photo before I had done all the necessary touch-ups, but they turned out better than I hoped.

After this unexpected yet lovely weekend at home, it had me dreaming of just a few more snow days to tackle another closet--or watch another movie on my list. It begs the question:

friday's fancies #60.

I can't believe it, but here we are...a year into Friday's Fancies link-ups! From 6 to 102 bloggers, this incredible journey exceeded any of my wildest dreams! It has been amazing to watch this little idea grow into something bigger. I truly cannot thank you all enough for helping to make this "dreaming big" revolution happen. I cannot wait to see what the second year of Fancies brings.

This week, I thought it was time to exercise our creativity even more--by reworking an outfit you've seen across the blogosphere or pinterest into one of your own :) Jessica Alba inspired my outfit below...it is chic and sophisticated without being overdone. I hope you like it!

1) It doesn't get any more basic than a white v-nekc, but when it's by James Perse, it definitely ups the ante. I have a few of these Short-Sleeved V-Neck Tees in my closet from my retail days--and they're still my favorite.
2) These bold Oliver Peoples Eyewear Kosslyn Polarized Cat Eye Sunglasses create a fabulous impression from your first glance. I loved the touch of silver to keep them from overwhelming the face.
3) I wish my wardrobe could contain an endless supply of blazers like this one from Girl. by Band of Outsiders. You can amp up the chic factor over a basic white tee and not think twice ;)
4) Big enough for almost anything, this Marc Jacobs The Wellington Bag would make for a stunning addition to my handbag collection. I know our rent needs to be paid, but...
5) Kenneth Jay Lane stunned me {literally} with this Cubic Zirconia Necklace. I like that it isn't your basic diamond necklace and has a bit of an edge. I envision it layered with a number of other necklaces in my jewelry box, if it ever showed up on my doorstep!
6) Red pants make a statement and these Rag & Bone Skinny Corduroy Pants certainly do the trick. They take this black and white look to a whole new level.
7) Though I don't have the courage to rock these Maison Martin Margiela Leather Wedge Ankle Boots, I knew they were the perfect choice to round out this get-up. Who wouldn't love a little boost?

Jessica Alba makes a perfect muse, if you ask me. I hope I can look that put together after two little ones! She doesn't overcomplicate things and I adore her for that. I may never have her wardrobe, but I can certainly dream up my own versions of her outfits, right?! ;)

If you'd like to join the Friday's Fancies fun, pretty please send me an email and I'll add you to the weekly mailing list so you can know what's on the docket for next Friday. Thanks again for taking time out of your hectic schedules to join in the fun! Make sure you get all the attention you deserve by using your name in the "title" box of the linky tool--I want people to know your name! Until Monday...

forever festive.

A very happy Thursday to each of you :) I can hardly believe it, but tomorrow marks one year of Friday's Fancies link-ups! In honor of this milestone, I geared today's post toward a party planning essential: confetti. It may not be appropriate for every occasion, but in my book, confetti adds a touch of color and a boatload of fun to any fête!

{find this inspiration here: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8}

Tossing some confetti on a table or incorporating them in invitations is a simple way to up the ante. I definitely think the cheery look of confetti trumps the inevitable clean-up. In my mind, these colorful or sparkly bits will be forever festive! I'm so looking forward to tomorrow's Friday's Fancies...I'll forever count my blessings for each of you who link up week after week. See you after midnight!

P.S. Want to join in the Friday's Fancies fun!? This week, we'll be using inspiration from across the blogosphere and pinterest to create your own look! Email me if you'd like more info :)

loads of peonies.

Hello friends! It is time for another round in my {distance makes the heart grow fonder} series, featuring Josh and Jessica {from Peony}. This couple grew up in Washington State and started dating in their hometown after high school. They had a wonderful routine, until Josh had to transfer across the state for school. Though they have only been long distance for a few months, I think it is super important to hear from a couple who is still new to distance...

Name: Jessica
Significant Other's Name: Josh
When did you start dating? We started dating more than three years ago, in July 2008.

At what point did you begin dating long distance? We started dating long distance in August 2011, which means we are very new to the whole concept. Josh left to complete his junior year of college at a school across Washington State. 

How do you fill your days while you're apart? I try to spend my time hanging out with my family and friends. I also work as a nanny and learned quickly that kids serve as a great time filler. Blogging helps to fill my time as well. It is hard not to get caught up with how much I miss him or focus on how drastically my life has changed. I am learning to remind myself this is only temporary and eventually we will be in arms reach again soon. When that time comes, I know this whole experience will have made us much stronger as a couple. 

What do you find most difficult about being long distance? So far, the hardest part has been feeling like we are living in different worlds. He lives in a true college town and I am living at home with my parents. While transitioning into a long distance relationship has been incredibly hard, sometimes it feels good to know I have someone to miss. It is a bittersweet feeling, but it reminds me how much I love him.

What do you enjoy most about the time you have together? It is simple: just being together. He has only been gone a semester, but we have seen each other much more than I expected. The time we do get to spend together is not any different than it was before he moved, which is beyond comforting.

How has long distance changed your relationship? After high school, Josh and I were among a select few who stayed near home to attend a community college. Most of our friends went away to the school where Josh is now. We were on a team at home, living a quiet life. We would go to our classes, work our jobs, do homework together, and most of all, end each day together. Now, my teammate is on the other side of the state. We text and talk on the phone when we can, but it is incredibly different from the existence we had in our hometown. Our nightcaps are now over Skype. 

Is there any end in sight to your long distance days? We hope it will end in May, which is when his school year ends. He hopes to transfer back to the west side of Washington State for his senior year. Fingers crossed!

Many thanks to Jessica for sharing their story--I am crossing my fingers their long distance ends in May :) Their fresh perspective helped me remember the early days we spent apart. I am sure I don't stand alone in telling Jessica that the distance will most certainly make them stronger. Enjoy your Wednesday!

cozy time.

This weekend, the cold of winter finally descended upon New England. After the crazy amount of snow we got last year, I would call this season unseasonably mild. The return of near single digit temperatures {and the dusting of snow this morning} has me dreaming of fun ways to stay cozy. These goodies caught my eye in the process...

{find these cozies here: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8}

A candle may not make you cozy, but it can definitely add to the ambiance ;) My relationship with the cold is changing with each New England winter I survive. Though I don't particularly like the cold, I do love that it forces us to get cozy for a bit...and enjoy it. There is also something about the anticipation of spring which makes winter more bearable.  Truth be told, I'm a spring and fall girl, but I'll take a frigid winter day over any unbearably hot summer day in a heartbeat!
Have a great Tuesday--and stay cozy :)

inspired + thankful.

Happy Monday! For those of you enjoying a day out of work, I'm envious ;) I'm not so lucky! I thought I'd spend today's post focused on this week's theme for Friday's Fancies to give you plenty of time to brainstorm! On Friday, we'll be sharing our interpretation of gorgeous outfits from across the blogosphere and pinterest. You can see a few of the outfits which have been rocking my world as of late...

Quick side note: this week is extra special because it marks the 52nd week {count it--a year} of Friday's Fancies link-ups. To top it off, the beautiful color crush outfits from last Friday broke the all-time record for most posts in one week. I seriously count my blessings every week for all of you! I can't wait to see what this year brings :) One thing is for sure: I know it will be incredible!

{images via my pinterest style inspiration board: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9}

If you'd like to hop on the mailing list for Friday's Fancies, shoot me an email! You'll get advanced warning of what's up next--and you'll meet a lot of wonderful bloggers in the process :) Any questions whatsoever can be directed my way via email--I'm happy to help!

The other piece of news I'm pinching myself about this week you can see here...

After my blog disappeared into thin air for a day last week, I was afraid I would lose you all forever. Low and behold, las week was the week during which I hit this big milestone. For my followers new and old, thank you for making my day brighter one comment, tweet, email, repin, instagram, and post at a time. You inspire me more than you'll ever know. I may not get to comment as much as I like, but never think your comments go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Enjoy your Monday--especially if you're still enjoying your weekend. Otherwise, distract yourself and create an outfit for Friday ;) Have a fantastic week!

friday's fancies #59.

Who is happy it's Friday?! {ME!} I always anticipate 12:00am on Friday because it means the weekend is almost here...but more importantly, it is Friday's Fancies time again! This week, the theme is color crush, which meant it was my chance to indulge in my recent love of purple. My high school used this color as one of its own, so I was clothed from head to toe in purple for nearly eighteen years. I strayed away from the grape hue for quite a few moons, until recently that is. I can't get enough of the punch it packs--and only wish I could have the outfit below to do it justice! I'll just keep dreaming...

1) The grape-colored glory, which is this Alice + Olivia Caprice Cross Back Dress, is simple, stunning and just plain gorgeous. I adore the waistline and only wish I was daring enough to pull off that plunging v-neck!
2) I chose this Derek Lam Albertine Clutch because it kicked this outfit up a notch. It gives a nod to the classic side I love without being too, how shall I say, boring ;)
3) I didn't want to distract from the killer neckline of the dress, so I opted for a dramatic pair of earrings! These Belle Noel Black Leather Pyramid Stud Tassel Earrings might get caught in my curly locks, but for this outfit, they were a no-brainer. 
4) Though I could never pull off these Jimmy Choo Patent Leather Sandals in the cold of winter, I can in my Friday's Fancies. I also thought they mimicked the cross back of the dress beautifully.
5) I have an affection for anything Wizard of Oz-related, so the name of this BaubleBar Yellow Brick Road Bracelet had me at hello. The bracelet also created a pleasant contrast between the black of the clutch and the purple of the dress.

Infinite amounts of gratitude coming to each and every one of you linking up this week :) Your posts definitely inspire me to try harder, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. {psst: Don't forget to use your blog name in the "title" box, so your post gets you all the credit you deserve.} Please email me if you'd like to join in the Friday's Fancies fun--I would love to have you join the family! Until Monday...

shining light.

{cv} and I will be embarking on the home design process soon, so I have been engrossed in finding inspiration. My pinterest is quickly filling up with cheery, sun-filled photos of homes I would love to call my own. One common theme {cv} spotted after peeking over my shoulder at my pinterest boards is my love of bright and happy spaces. Here are a few of my favorites...

{discover here: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8}

I know it's not necessarily realistic to have lots of light in every room, though it would be amazing if it was. My goal is to find places in our design where we will attract the most light. If you have any advice on that front, I'm all ears. For those of you who are already homeowners, I'd love to hear about your favorite sun spots in your home. I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm excited to do it! See you back here for Friday's Fancies tomorrow :)

i'm back.

For just over 28 hours, this little blog of mine went off the grid. In those 1,680 minutes, I received countless emails, tweets, texts, and calls of support, which made me realize why I started blogging in the first place. When Michelle started the twitter campaign and posted on her blog last night, my fear turned into hope. After a crazy post in the Google help forum, a twitter frenzy, and a random email to a mysterious google address which only warranted a form response, magic happened. This little blog reappeared :) My heart feels at ease again--except that it is fuller than it ever was before. 

I also learned in the midst of this blog disappearing madness that you can back up your blog--and that was the first thing I did when I got back into my blog. Follow Chelsea's helpful hints and back up your own! The thought of losing the 14 months of blood, sweat, and tears that I put in my blog was sickening. Losing those memories was my worst fear in the midst of the madness. Thankfully, I have those memories back and they're now saved on multiple computers so I don't ever lose them.

What did I learn from all of this? 
I owe you all so much for helping me through those 28 hours of terror.
And for those of you who noticed I was gone, thank you for caring :)
Above all, I love each and every one of you.**
**Not that I didn't already know that, but I'll never forget all you've given me!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you did to bring me back :) I'll be back to normal programming tomorrow...and Friday's Fancies will be here in full force on Friday, don't you worry!

P.S. Blogger--though I didn't enjoy the heart attack, I do appreciate the lesson in backing up my data. Oh, and thank you for not really deleting my blog. Next time, just freak me out by deleting a single post or something...