friday's fancies #92.

Happy holiday weekend, friends! I am still in denial that this splendid summer is winding down, but I'm super excited that fall is on the horizon. This week of Friday's Fancies is sure to be bittersweet! To kick off the Labor Day weekend, {cv} and I snagged a pair of last-minute tickets to see Zac Brown Band in Connecticut. I can't wait to rock my cowboy boots for the occasion ;) With that in mind, I whipped up a sassy little ensemble--perfect for a country concert.

The brilliant red and pretty polka dots in this Madewell Dreamdot Dress had me at first glance.

This Leather Crossbody Bag is doing wonders in pulling me back to the Coach brand. If I could add this bag to my collection, it would certainly be a timeless addition.

Versatile and subtle, this B-Low The Belt Alpha Belt makes the ideal choice for this sweet ensemble.

For an extra dose of flair, these Lulu Frost for J.Crew Navette Earrings do the trick. I just love the cherry red + aqua combination!

I want a closet full of Frye boots, but for this week, these Frye Melissa Button Boots would do ;) It may be cliché to wear them to a night of country tunes, but I don't care in the slightest.
Become a part of the Friday's Fancies family! Join the mailing list here and get the themes in your inbox every week--but don't feel tied down by my suggestion. Any and all fashion posts are welcome :)
After seeing this get-up come together, I realized I must be channeling Taylor Swift today. It's only appropriate, right? As always, loads of love to my Friday's Fancies faithful. I'm blessed beyond words to have you. Enjoy each and every minute of your long weekend--see you next week!

parisian street style.

When we were in Paris, I felt compelled to capture the absolutely effortless style of Parisian women. I may not be Vanessa Jackman or Bill Cunningham, but I did my best. It's a good thing I took a candid photography class at RISD to overcome the fear of random acts of photography. {cv} called me a stalker--and I'll admit that I felt a little like one. These photos aren't perfect, but they'll help me remember our Parisian adventure. Enjoy!

Chambray and cobalt blue. Need I say more?

Glittery Oxfords and hairbows on Rue Rivoli. 

Golden {from head to toe} down the street from Chanel. {I wish I hadn't taken this in motion. sigh.}

Black + Grey + Orange--without feeling even a bit Halloween-ish.

A bold print paired with neutral accessories--and yet another pair of Oxfords.

A quintessentially French ensemble. {I only wish that daggone van wasn't in the background.}

Sigh. Can we just go back now? I was absolutely inspired to polish my look after our visit, even when I'm just running errands. I also really want to try Oxfords, but I haven't made the leap just yet ;) There are a few more where these came from--and I'll share them with you next week! Have a fantastic Thursday and I'll see you all for some Labor Day Friday's Fancies at midnight...

P.S. An enormous thank you to those who entered my J.Crew giveaway. I was absolutely overwhelmed with your enthusiasm! Miss Allison {from In the Queen City} was the lucky lady this time--and I only wish all of you could win for everything you've given me. I hope you'll stick around {long distance loving}, even when I'm not giving away giftcards to everyone's favorite retailer ;)

a gluten-free fam.

After lots of frustration and extensive research, {cv} recently decided to give the gluten-free diet a try. We are "officially" starting his gluten-free regimen after Labor Day. {We decided we needed a little time to prep our pantry before making the change.}

Here's the sneaky and persistent problem: I love all things that contain gluten. Pasta. Desserts. Beer. BREAD. You name it, it's on my short list. You better believe I want to be a supportive spouse, but how in the world do I juggle these loves? {aka my husband and gluten}

find the recipes for these treats here: macarons + crêpes + poptarts + cinnamon rolls

These photos make gluten-free look...normal. I have always perceived gluten-free food to be flavorless and boring, but it is clear there are plenty of ways to jazz things up. We're blessed in that {cv} is not allergic to gluten and that he is voluntarily making this change, but it still going to be a major adjustment. My extreme picky eating doesn't make it any easier. Suffice it to say, I'm a little nervous.

In true {av} fashion, I'm coming to you for help. Do you follow a gluten-free regimen? Or do you live with someone who does? Where can I find the best recipes? Is there a magical website somewhere to help me? I'll take any {and ALL} advice you can give me. A sincere thank you in advance...

Before I go, here is one last reminder to get your entries in for my J.Crew giveaway which ends tonight! Click below to enter :)


Happy Tuesday! After working to pull off the Boston Bloggers event last night, it reminded me of something incredibly important about the blogosphere: the whole reason I started blogging in the first place. After our wedding in April 2010, I had a lot of extra time on my hands, which {in turn} prompted me to channel my energies into something constructive. I was also aching to find a good crew of like-minded folks--without joining a group on some random meet-up website. I'm more than pleased with what I've discovered in the last two years...

After a wonderful night last night, I recognized again how blogging brought me a new sense of happiness I never felt possible. I had no clue that blogging could help me just be. Because of you, my life is infinitely richer and happier. I'll thank Leo Tolstoy for the encouragement to just be, but I'll thank all of you in the blogosphere for helping me to realize it is possible. If you're on the fence about blogging, make the jump. Right, fellow bloggers?

j.crew giveaway.

A very happy Monday to you! To round out the summer, I have a fantastic giveaway for you all today: a $50 J.Crew gift card! Any one of these happy J.Crew goodies could brighten up your fall wardrobe in an instant. Take a peek at all the ways you can win below via Rafflecopter...

{Giveaway generously sponsored by GroopDealz - a group deals website for the internet savvy lady!}
FINE PRINT: This giveaway runs from Monday, August 27th at 7:30am EST until Thursday, August 30th at 12:01am EST. All entries will be cross-verified.  Both domestic and international entries are welcome. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 30th at 8:00am EST via twitter.

friday's fancies #91.

It's Friday's Fancies time again! I love a good old-fashioned road trip, especially in the hazy days of summer. After work today, we're bound for Cape Cod! I'd positively love to wear this bright + happy ensemble this weekend. I just can't wait for some last-minute packing inspiration from all of you ;)

Current/Elliott get it right--they really did create The Perfect Shirt. Though we've already had a chambray week of #FridaysFancies, I had to include one of my favorite summer staples.

I know I've used a number of colors of these Kate Spade Gumdrop Stud Earrings, but I can't get get enough. I just wish I could have a whole rainbow of these little beauties!

You also know my love of these J.Crew 3" Chino Shorts. This little dash of green goodness would help round out my growing collection ;)

Oh hello, Rebecca Minkoff. This Mini MAC Bag is just the right size for a quick pit stop or a long stroll.

With a little touch of yellow, these Soludos Barca Espadrilles would help me channel the last few happy days of summer.
Click here to join the Friday's Fancies mailing list + get the themes in your inbox every Monday!
Endless love and gratitude to those of you linking up today! Have a fantastic weekend, friends!

P.S. Don't miss some more of my road trip love over on a {little} dash of ash!

totes magotes.

Happy Thursday :) Yesterday, I went shopping with my bff {kr} who is in town from DC! We had one mission: to find the perfect bag for grad school and work. {kr} wanted to invest in something which would last longer than a season--with a little flair. She nabbed a fantastic deal at the Kate Spade outlet and brought this gorg bag home for less than $150! I decided to channel our bag hunting into today's post--and found five bags at a few different price points below... 

find them here: $145 + $175 + $195 + $258 + $500

Is the $500 bag from Mulberry worth the extra pennies? I'll leave that up to you! What we learned yesterday is that a little sleuthing goes a long way. Spend some time identifying what you need the bag to carry--and bring it with you or read the reviews online. When you find something you love, you won't hate carrying it when you head out for happy hour. If there's one thing I've learned in my quest to spend selectively, it is to identify the things which will make me happier on a daily basis...and save to get them!

P.S. If you didn't get the title reference, your new objective for the week is to watch I Love You, Man. 

rearview mirror.

This {distance makes the heart grow fonder} post is an extra special one: After only two weeks together during a study abroad program, Dom and Robin {from Sunshine State of Mind} embarked on a long distance journey which finally ends tomorrow. Robin will be moving to Florida to join Dom and start their new life together and putting the distance in the rearview mirror :)

Name: Robin -  Significant Other's Name: Dom

When did you start dating? Dom and I began dating on June 11, 2010. We were in the same study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. Toward the end of our semester, a group of people were heading to Fiji for a week before finals started. Even though Dom and I didn't know each other well, we both went on the trip, which would be an adventure of a lifetime.  We have been together ever since!

When did your long distance begin? We started our long distance days on June 28, 2010--just two weeks after our first "date". Our program in Australia ended and we had to go home to our separate cities. Luckily, we are both from New York, so the distance was only a few hours. It was still scary to start being apart when our relationship was brand new.  We weren't even official yet! I was nervous what we had might not withstand the distance, but I'm so glad I was wrong.

How did you manage to fill your days apart? When I was still in school, my days were filled to the brim with classes, my job, my internship, and all of my sorority events. My best friend and I scored a townhouse and spent lots of time decorating it to make it a home. Dom and I joked that even if we were at the same school we would never see each other since we were both so busy! Keeping busy definitely made it much easier. After graduation, I worked full time and took classes in the evening, so I really didn't have time to dwell on missing him!

What did you find most difficult about being long distance? Without a doubt, it was coming home after a long hard day and not having Dom there. I'm not the type that needs to be attached to my boyfriend 24/7, but sometimes you just need a hug! It would make me sad to see friends doing normal things, like grocery shop or go out to lunch with their boyfriends, while I had to wait three weeks in between visits and then try to cram it all in during our visits. Luckily, my best friend and roommate was also in a long distance relationship, so I had someone who understood acutely what we endured.  On the upside, there was always ice cream in the freezer for the rough nights!

How have your long distance years changed your relationship? I attribute our amazing communication skills to the long distance. Talking is all we have, so we learned early on to be upfront and honest with how we are feeling. You certainly can't read someone's body language over the phone! We are also very mindful of how we disagree. There is no silent treatment because it is complete torture when you are apart. If something is bothering us, we talk about it before it grows into something more. We have also developed a deep sense of trust. {In my opinion, there is no way to survive being long distance without it!} We choose to trust each other 100% and, as a result, we don't get into petty little fights about small details. We learned to genuinely appreciate and love each other as individuals, which made the long distance years more worth it.
I can't even imagine how excited Robin is today! Be sure to send your love her way :) If you'd like to see your own long distance story featured here, click here to submit it!

all eyes on paris.

Since I started pinning last year, I've cataloged more than a few of my favorite things. One board which might throw people off is the one I devoted purely to the signs of the times. Why? I grew up the daughter of a self-taught signmaker, who instilled in me a love of all things neon. If you look at the family vacation photos from my childhood, you'll see me next to a cannon on a Civil War battlefield right next to a photo of a historic diner sign. With that back story in mind, my post for today features a recurring theme I noticed while roaming the streets of Paris last month...

Whether they were neon or not, these peepers popped up all over the City of Lights. My best guess? Parisians must love their eyewear. Then again, what don't the Parisians love which allows them to showcase their style?

Seeing the trend? Seriously, all eyes are on Paris. le sigh.

I have enough photos from our 40 hours in Paris to fill a week's worth of posts, but I'll pare it down. 
I promise to condense them a bit...but not too much, of course. Paris is the best, after all. 

These days, {cv} is now in on the sign gig and points them out on our travels. Down the line, I'm almost certain we'll have photo albums which look much like the ones from my childhood. I am not afraid to profess my love of signs. It's only ironic that my love of neon cross applies to my wardrobe this year ;)

back in the saddle.

Hello hello! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. This weekend was our first full weekend in Providence since the middle of June. We were thrilled to sample the summer menu at our favorite restaurant downtown and get some time to organize our lives a bit. If you follow me on instagram, you might have seen the other activity in my weekend: the Providence Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon.

About two months ago, I shared a post with you about my love of running. I haven't given much in the way of updates because we've been all over the place the entire summer. I also was a little anxious I might have had another brush with my pesky tibial stress fracture. My physical therapist gave me the go-ahead for this weekend, so I went for it yesterday and managed to get a PR! I was over the moon!

I'm still aiming for the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October, but I just have to pay close attention so I don't kill my tibia any day soon. I'll be visiting my PT regularly to make sure I'm squared away. I also bought some reasonably priced insoles from Spenco to help with my gait. The one thing I wanted to ask all of you {whether you're a runner or not!} is about taking a trip to the chiropractor. If you've gone, has it helped you? I met someone at the running expo this weekend who thinks I might be a bit misaligned {thus making me prone to re-fracture} and that a chiropractor might be able to help. I'm a little skeptical, but I know you all will help me make the right choice.

For those of you non-runners, thank you for bearing with this post. Running is a big part of my life, so I couldn't help but share this little slice of excitement ;) Many thanks for your love yesterday and today!

friday's fancies #90.

Hello again--and happy Friday's Fancies! Though it pains me to say it, summer is winding down. I thought we should devote a week to one of my favorite features of the season: a serene summer sunset. Whether its a sunny color palette or an outfit perfect for an al fresco happy hour, I hope you all had as much fun with this prompt as I did. Enjoy!

This Tibi Solid Shift Dress gives a bold pop of color to brighten up any evening. It is also ideal to beat the breezes of a late summer evening!

Though these Kelly Wearstler Quartz Drop Earrings may be a bit out of my comfort zone, I loved the statement they made against the buttery yellow of the dress. They'd be great with a top knot too :)

Like the burning fireball in the sky at the end of a gorgeous sunset, this bold J. Crew Copley Saddlebag sets off beautifully against the Tibi stunner.

For a klutz like yours truly, these Tory Burch Emmy Demi-Wedge Sandals give enough height for a night out without tempting fate. Can I have them please? 

I wouldn't miss any sunsets if I had this gorg Gramercy Crystal Marker Watch from Kate Spade!
Want to make your own Friday's Fancies? It's easy! Simply dream up an outfit {and forget about the budget} and link it up here every Friday. Click here to get the themes in your inbox every week!
This is our first full weekend in Providence since the middle of June {yes, you read that right}, so I'm looking to relish every minute of it. Whatever you're doing, I hope it's marvelous--and that it includes a sunset or two :) Sending my love to each and every one of you linking up today! I'm so grateful to have you as part of the #FridaysFancies family. See you next week!


Hello again! I had other plans for my post today--until I logged into blogger and realized this post was a bit of a benchmark. It's my 500th post! When I wrote my first post 638 days ago, I had zero clue that 
blogging would become such a big part of my life...

Along the way, you gave me the courage to share my experience with melanoma. You embraced your natural color when you signed the sun savvy pledge with Danielle and me--and finally got me to pick up a self tanner ;) You helped us weather the unexpected exit of our little Lucy last March. You celebrated with us when our wedding got some airtime on one of my favorite websites and in a beloved magazine. You pick me up via comments and twitter when I face challenging days. You've shared countless stories of long distance and created phenomenal outfits for Friday's Fancies week after week...and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I could share countless other examples of how you've affected my life in the last 20 months, but I think you'd get bored. Suffice it to say, you've allowed me overcome some major hurdles in my life and you've rejoiced alongside me in the highest of highs. For that, I say thank you.

My first post may have been a bit lackluster, but I'm so glad I kept with it to find all of you!

P.S. I'll see you at midnight for another round of Friday's Fancies! Remember: any + all fashion posts are welcome :)

fall in love again.

My post for today is a bit out of the ordinary, but I hope you'll bear with me. It's been brewing for long enough ;) I can hardly believe it, but nearly six months have past since I had my first polish consultation this past spring. It's been amazing to meet with fabulous bloggers {over Skype and email} to help them craft their niché in the blogosphere. Though I didn't major in blogging during my years at Georgetown, I would like to think I've learned quite a bit by trial and error. If there's one thing I've encountered in recent consults, it's a new fatigue setting in. Bloggers are getting caught up in the whirlwind and I see their joy in blogging fading, which is exactly the reason behind my post today.

Here are six {by no means fool-proof} tips on how to fall in love with blogging (again)...
1) Plain and simple: you get out of blogging what you put into it. Your blogging experience won't be as rich or as rewarding as it should be if you're not actively "participating" in your blog. If you put up a post and don't share it on any social media, you're not engaging with anyone or bringing anyone to your blog. I'm a huge advocate for social media, though I don't encourage the overshare ;)

2) Leave genuine comments, not ones which say "great post--I'll follow you if you'll follow me". I'll admit that my time is in short supply these days and doesn't often include commenting. However, it doesn't mean I don't read, appreciate, and cherish each one you leave. By leaving generic comments, you invite people who will leave the same kind of comments for you. Blogging is all about community. {Quite frankly, a community based on the number of comments and followers is a pretty petty one. I could write an entire post on this topic alone, but I'll leave it at that for today.}

3) If you have a question, ask it. I get emails from readers asking how to participate in Friday's Fancies, how to make collages, and countless other topics. I admire them for asking because it takes guts to put yourself out there and admit you don't know something. Again, I'll harken back to the fact that blogging is a community and we're here to help one another--not compete. If you're in it for the latter, it's not cool and it hurts the rest of us. 

4) In my first six or eight months of blogging, I felt slightly like I'd reverted back to seventh grade. It was all about who you knew and where you stacked up. What I'm alluding to is this: don't try to fit in with the crowd and do your best to stand out. Sure, you may see certain bloggers gaining steam for a particular type of post they're doing. {Great for them}! Try to find your own spin and create your own steam engine. Though imitation is absolutely a form of flattery, the fact that so many blog posts look the same is a bit frightening. I just wish I was brave enough to follow this same advice when I was twelve years old with frizzy hair and braces.

5) I've said it once and I'll say it again: don't get bogged down by the numbers. It is fun to celebrate little victories {like hitting 50 followers or getting comments in the double digits}, but for heaven's sake, please don't define a good day by your stats. Enjoy these little celebrations in the quiet of your home ;) I have good days and I have bad stat days, but in all reality, my "bad" days pale in comparison to the awful days of people in the midst of life crises. 

6) Blog for you and not for anyone else. With each and every post I share on {long distance loving}, I spend a good deal of time prepping it for the "world" to see. I will never post about something I don't sincerely like. I may use promotional links for some posts, but they're all for products I truly wish I had in my closet or home. Make blogging for yourself your mantra. Your posts will be better for it--and your readers will thank you.
For those of you who've made it this far, thank you. This list is fluid--and I want your additions! Please understand these suggestions weren't meant to rock the boat, only to make the blog world a friendlier and happier place. I desperately want this community to continue for years to come--but we all need to be on a similar wavelength to make that happen ;) Thanks again for reading.

P.S. If you want me to help you polish your own blog, all you need to do is email me. I may not be a master, but I absolutely care about making the blogosphere a better place and would love to be in your corner!

destination: loire valley.

Happy Tuesday! I'm finally wading through the 1300+ photos from our European adventure and wanted to share the first two days of our getaway with you today! As a warning, these posts will be very picture-heavy, so if you'd rather turn through them on facebook, you can do that too. {I opted to show the full photos, rather than make normal collages because some of the fun details would get lost!}

After landing in Paris, {cv} and I hopped the train to Tours, a city in central France which is home to roughly 150,000 people. I also called it home during a study aboard program in the summer of 2006. Tours is special to us because we began our long distance days while I was studying here. It was also a stop on our French honeymoon, so we were thrilled to get back. We stayed in the charming Hotel Ronsard, just a few steps away from this magnificent corner of Tours called Place Plumereau. Before a yummy dinner at Les Papilles, we people watched while strolling my favorite little streets.

On our first full day in France, we powered up with croissants and headed out for a day of chateau tours via Loire Valley Tours. Though it wasn't the cheapest of adventures, it was absolutely worthwhile because we didn't have to worry about anything--food, entry fees, transportation, or wine. The van was small {it only seated 8!} and two of the other passengers were fellow Hoosiers, which made my day!

The beautiful chateau of Blois was our first stop--I loved the pattern in the windows below!

From there, it was on to Cheverny. {I should have allowed {cv} to keep his sunglasses on in this one!} This chateau is famous for its furniture. Take a peek at the beautiful pink+gold room...

The last stop on our tour was Chambord--a massive masterpiece complete with a double helix staircase. {cv} and I tested it out :)

To cap off our crazy day, we adventured out to visit my host mother from my study abroad days. {cv} had only heard stories of my time with her, so I was excited for him to actually meet her in the flesh. {Read an early post about her here!} My language skills could never compete with her 100+ mph French, so let's just say things hadn't changed. Multiple miscommunications later, we took a ride with an incredibly kind employee of the tourism bureau out to the little bistro she now runs...

Clearly, she wasn't scarred by my picky-eating habits during the summer I lived with her. She sent these interesting fried friends out to our table. {The picture isn't super clear because I had to be as inconspicuous as possible!} Suffice it to say, we will never forget our dinner at her Bistro du Lac. 

Chris caught me getting a few bisous from Maman Pat--just before she arranged a ride for us with two strangers back into Tours {!!!} It was an absolutely surreal experience to be back with her six years after my summer on Rue de la Grosse Tour. Even though she thinks I'm a pharmacist {wrong} and that we live on Long Island {wrong again}, it was so wonderful to see her :) {I also felt better because our angel from the tourism office affirmed the rapid speed of her French! VICTORY!}

Here are just a few street scenes from Tours before I say "au revoir" for today...

This last photo doesn't look like much, but it makes me so happy. I took it on the street where I lived in 2006 and where we had our favorite dinner of our honeymoon in 2010. I'd taken that walk countless times, but having {cv} there to share it with me means more than words could explain...

Sigh. Can we just go back? Our photos from Paris will be in the next installment! Yay!