sweet and wild.

Hello again! It's Wednesday, which means it's time for another round in the {distance makes the heart grow fonder} series. Today's couple, Ben and Jackie {from sweet and wild}, just got engaged in January and are busily planning their July wedding! Read along to discover what helped them survive two deployments and make it to their happily ever after... 

Name: Jackie
Significant Other's Name: Ben
When did you start dating? We started dating on May 31, 2009, right after our freshman year of college.

At what point did you begin dating long distance?  Ben left for Air Force boot camp on June 2, 2010 (just after our first anniversary) and came home that September. We spent the year together and then he left again May 9, 2011 for a six-month deployment. Thankfully, he is now home :)

How did you fill your days while you're apart?  Last summer, I worked full time during the day and spent my nights with his family or mine to pass the time. In this last deployment, I studied abroad in France for two month, which made the time go by a little faster. It was also an incredibly beautiful experience. After I came home from France, my days were filled with school work, working part time, hanging out with my friends, and blogging.

What did you find most difficult about being long distance? It was really difficult to being living our lives and not being able to share them with one another. Skype, Facebook, and e-mail helped us stay connected, but it just is not the same when you can’t share those little moments together. Weekends were incredibly lame when we couldn’t go out on cute little dates or cuddle up and watch a movie together.

How did long distance change your relationship? Our time spent long distance was tough, but it definitely made us stronger. We learned how to talk through our problems, rather than just get angry and walk away. For us, it was harder to walk away when we weren’t sure when we would talk next. The time by myself in France made me more independent. I learned to enjoy spending time by myself--reading, going for bike rides, or blogging. My blog actually wouldn’t have been born if Ben hadn’t gone away that first summer.

What do you enjoy most about the time you have together? Since Ben returned home, we enjoy every little second we have together. We don’t take those little moments together for granted. I love just holding his hand, or catching him staring at me from across the room. We can go on all the cute little dates we want to make up for that lost time.

Send your love Jackie's way today! After two summers apart, their upcoming summer wedding is a perfect way to round out their long distance years. I'll see you all tomorrow :)

P.S. If you want to plan out your Friday's Fancies for this week, click here to join the email list!

I survived.

I am here to say that I survived a second month in Operation Spending Freeze! It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the end goal feels more real than it did in January. {We're waiting on the first drafts of our house from the architect! I'm SO excited.} My new goal is to make it through the first 100 days of the year without buying a single piece of clothing. I thought it was crazy, but after surviving 60 days, I know I can do it!

Creating the round-up of what I would have purchased last month was really therapeutic, so I'm doing another round for February. If money did grow on trees, the beauties below would find their way into my closet and jewelry box...

I'll be honest: it is more difficult {by the day} to see all the fun spring purchases across the blogosphere. Everyday emails from my favorite retailers are pure torture and passing up on sales is also mind numbingly hard. I have realized the things I think I need today pale in comparison to the the items I'll want to fill our future home.  Keeping myself accountable {via posts like this!} helps me turn a blind eye to temptation. Creating Friday's Fancies posts also helps me feel like I'm shopping--without spending a dime. At the end of the day, being able to pass on something I want so badly is incredibly empowering. 

I've been putting away a few dollars here and there, so I can buy a few things to spice up my spring wardrobe--but don't expect me to go on a spending spree when I finally break the seal! I've completely changed my habits in just 60 days. When this is all "over," I know I will be a much smarter and stronger shopper. Thank you all for the encouragement to keep going! Believe me: if I can do it, you can too :) Have a happy Tuesday!

monday marvels.

Hello friends--and happy Monday! We had a quiet weekend and enjoyed every minute of the Oscars last night. I can't wait to see all the dress round-ups today, though you won't find one here. {For sake of discussion though, a few of my favorite dresses from last night were worn by Octavia Spencer, Kristen Wiig, and Natalie Portman.}

In true Monday fashion, I have my Instagrams to share with you today! My love of Instagram borderlines obsession and I'm okay with that. Here are my snaps from the last two weeks of the #febphotoaday challenge--

I love capturing the little {sometimes forgettable} moments of my day with Instagram, though I will say coming up with ideas for the photo-a-day challenge is a little bit stressful. {Please tell me I'm not alone!}
And since I love Instagram so much, I'm linking this post with Ashley and Jenni :)

This week is chock full of meetings--fun ones and important ones, so I'm off to tackle it! 

friday's fancies #65.

Happy Friday! With the Oscars on Sunday, we are primping this week for Friday's Fancies for our own walk down Hollywood Boulevard. Since I "rocked" the red carpet in my Oscars-inspired Friday's Fancies last year, I decided to take a different spin on Hollywood Glam this time around! It has always been a dream of mine to walk the red carpet, but not as a celebrity. I would love to be the girl who plays a supporting role to the stars--as a personal assistant. I know it's random, but I would love all the craziness. Here's what I would wear if I had that chance...

1) This Tibi Jacquard Ruffled Dress is a stunner from the front--and the back. It brings just the right amount of drama, without taking away from the main event {aka the stars!}.
2) Though my dress may not be Oscar de la Renta, this 24-Karat Gold-Plated Crystal Necklace does bear the infamous designer's name. The long rose gold chain and the brilliantly colored stones make it a definite winner in my book.
3) I love to imagine carrying a little clutch like this Jimmy Choo Mini Tube, though I don't think I could ever limit myself to such a small purse in real life ;)
4) A little sparkle does the body good! These Anita Ko 14-Karat Rose Gold and Diamond Disc Earrings carry through the rose gold in the clutch and necklace and would pop against my brunette locks.
5) When I think of shoes worthy of the red carpet, I think of Christian Louboutin. These Mille Dam Patent Peep-Toe Platform Pumps would help me fit in with the sea of red soles.

I can't wait to see who wears what on Sunday, but I really can't wait see what you ladies created for today! Enjoy your weekend--I just wish we could all walk the red carpet together! I know we would turn heads :) psst: If you'd like to join in Friday's Fancies in future weeks, click here to add yourself to the mailing list! You'll get all the themes in advance--and find ways to connect with this lovely group of bloggers.

Many thanks to those of you linking up today...I hope you all have a phenomenal weekend!!
Enjoy the big show on Sunday!

how do you stack up?

Hi friends! As I look ahead to our big move, I'll admit I'm anxious about filling a whole home after five years of apartment living. I can't stop pinning gorgeous little vignettes of a well-decorated home. The photos below show my love of these perfectly styled stacks...

It all seems a bit intimidating {and expensive!} to decide what books earn a place of honor in our home. If I had an endless budget, these beautiful books would be gracing the coffee tables and bookshelves of our future abode. They may be eclectic, but that's who we are ;)

You won't find me buying books just because they'll make us look snazzy--I want our future stacks to represent the things we love. {Ok, maybe {cv} won't love the fashion ones, but I will!} Do you have any tips on how to create such gorgeous stacks on a budget? Have you been building yours for years or do you splurge every once in a while to create the look you want? I can't wait to hear what you're doing! 

Many thanks in advance for your advice! I'll see you back here at midnight for a very glamourous Friday's Fancies in honor of the Oscars! Want more info? Add yourself to the mailing list by clicking here

P.S. A very happy 59th to my dear daddy, {jn}. He doesn't look a day over 45, so I hope I got his genes ;)

daffodil darlings.

Happy Wednesday! This week is flying by, but I'm not complaining ;) I have another sweet and inspiring story in my {distance makes the heart grow fonder} series for you today. Kevin and Kate {from Daffodil's} dated long distance from day one of their relationship--and even lived their first year and a half of married life apart. I'm amazed at the sacrifices they have made and am so honored to share their story...

Name: Kate
Significant Other's Name: Kevin
When did you start dating? February 2006

At what point did you begin dating long distance? From the start! Even though we grew up in the same town, Kevin was a few years older than me and we didn’t meet until I was in high school and he was at West Point. We were casual friends for a few years, but we started emailing a lot when he was deployed in Iraq in 2005. When he got home, we immediately began dating, while I was in DC and he was in Savannah. We were engaged within six months and married seven months later. Kevin then deployed again, separating us for almost 15 months. If you do the math, we were married almost a year and a half before our long distance ended.

How did you fill your days while you're apart? At the time, I was a high school English teacher, which kept me pretty busy. When I wasn’t lesson planning, I was taking our dog to the park, hanging out with friends, and counting my blessing that my family was nearby. I was also waiting by the phone and constantly checking my email, hoping to hear from Kevin. His days were busy in a different way, but he looked forward to that little bit of down time to write me a quick note or to have a turn on the phone.

What did you find most difficult about being long distance? It was so difficult to not be a part of each other’s everyday lives. While we were dating, I was just constantly waiting for the next time I would be able to see him. Once we were married and he was deployed, I hated coming home from work and being by myself all the time. It was very hard to be the single yet married lady. I also feared for his safety and would be on edge until I heard from him.

How has long distance changed your relationship? It made us so strong! Before we got married, we saw each other every two to three weekends. Aside from one week-long trip to the beach, we never spent more than a handful of days in a row together, but we were certain we was meant to be. Because so much of our relationship was based solely on conversation, we know each other much better than we would have if we were in the same place. With two years in Iraq now in our rearview mirror, we know we can get through anything tough that comes our way.

What do you enjoy most about the time you have together? We just love being together. I love that Kevin is the first and last person I talk to every day. I love that I can talk to him anytime I want (and no longer have to wait for a phone call or an email).

What sacrifices have you made in order to make things work? Because I was only 23 when we got married, my friends were in a completely different life stage, which was difficult. I felt like no one really knew what I was going through especially because I was not living in a military community. My husband put his life on the line for two years to help protect us at home. We were both willing to sacrifice a normal dating life in order to commit to each other.

How has your life changed now that you're back in the same place? So much has changed since those years apart! We moved twice (from DC to North Carolina and then NC to California) and we now have two children (Cullen, almost 3 and Bennett, 10 months). I think if you told me in 2008 if I would be a mother of two and living in Monterey, I would have thought you were crazy. We thought our military life would end shortly after Kevin’s last deployment, but he answered the call to continue to serve and I am proud of him for that. Luckily, we have not had to deal with any long deployments since our boys have been born, but because we know there is always a chance he could deploy again, we never take a day for granted and make sure we make the most out of our time together.

Truly and honestly, military spouses are some of the most admirable people on this earth. Please give Kate your love today...she certainly deserves it for sharing her husband with us, as he serves our country. If you're long distance, I hope these stories keep you encouraged :) see you back here tomorrow!

P.S. Congrats to Danielle and Alaina on the launch of their brainchild, The Everygirl. Amazing work, ladies :)

rainbow bright.

Hola! I hope you all had a magnificent Monday! If you clicked over thinking you'd see your favorite 80s cartoon character, I apologize for letting you down ;) With each day that passes in my {clothing} spending freeze, I find myself seriously reassessing how I'll be making purchases in the future. Over the past few years, I have focused on buying classic pieces, but more than ever, I need to invest in pieces which will outlive the trends. While I save my pennies for my next handbag, I'd love your input on which hues you think will stand the test of time! 

Seeing this colorful round-up all in one place just makes me happy! Though I'm a sucker for cobalt blue, my heart is being pulled to a classic red somewhere down the line. I won't be buying one of these bags in the near future, I can imagine the full array in my closet. Until then, I'll just keep dreaming in technicolor :)  Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

a little staycation.

Happy President's Day! With an apartment full of best friends and a vacation day on tap, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite instagram shots from this weekend! We are having the best time sharing little Rhody! In fact, yesterday was warm enough to sit on a dock by the water and share a bottle of wine in February. perfection. I just wish our pals could stay forever...

I'm going to run and play hostess! {thanks again for all your tips last week!} If you don't have a vacation day and need a distraction, take a peek at the incredible Friday's Fancies from last week and start plotting your next adventure :) I'll be back to normal programming tomorrow...

psst: you can find me on instagram here! Oh, and I'm linking this post with Ashley and Jenni!

friday's fancies #64.

Hello hello! I'm so excited to be teaming up with Lisa at Elembee, Etc. for a super special Friday's Fancies. We're dreaming really big this week by concocting a fanciful outfit to wear on a fabulous vacation! One destination on my travel bucket list? Greece! I would love to wear this number while strolling the streets in Santorini...

1) If you ask me, this J.Crew Seabreeze Maxidress screams Santorini. Wouldn't this brilliant blue be simply magical? I'd be sure to pair it with some SPF, in true sun savvy fashion. 
2) These Kate Spade All Aboard Stud Earrings are perfect for a day at the seaside. I'd love for them to magically appear in my jewelry box ;)
3) I spied this Tuleste Market Braided Marble Necklace and it now occupies a place on my ultimate summer wardrobe wishlist. It could go with nearly everything--and would really make the cobalt of the dress pop! 
4) Flat and functional, these Diane von Furstenberg Klee Toe Ring Flat Sandals would be the ideal pair to toss in a suitcase for an adventure in Greece.
5) With a little extra glam, these Gucci Oversized Sunglasses would amp up any vacation.
6) Though this is seriously an investment piece, I simply adore this Yves Saint Laurent Gold-Plated Rope-Inspired Cuff. I could wear it all summer long in the Ocean State. le sigh.

In the midst of a long, cold winter, I hope you all enjoyed this little chance to fly away! Many thanks again to Lisa for this incredible theme suggestion--be sure to stop by Elembee, Etc. to see her weekly "getaways"! So excited to see where each of you picked as an escape this week :) Thank you all so so much for taking the time to link up today! Have a fabulous {and hopefully long} weekend!

{Click here to subscribe to the FF mailing list, so you can join in the fun in coming weeks!} 

special visitors.

On Saturday morning, we have four very special visitors arriving on our doorstep in Providence! I am so excited for a weekend of fun, spent cheering on our Georgetown Hoyas and enjoying quality time with these dear friends. In preparation for their visit, it got me thinking about what I would love to have waiting for them at our apartment--if we had an unlimited budget.

Anthropologie has plenty of bathroom flair which could jazz up our rather boring bathroom. I'd can just imagine those precious trinket boxes {perfect for storing jewelry} on the vanity--and that shower curtain? Swoon! I can just smell that divine Laura Mercier sweetness now...

In lieu of these pricey additions to our guest bath, I opt to have a 
basket of little essentials which will make their visit a little easier...

I include the Claritin for those guests who may get the sniffles from our furry friends. A toothbrush and a contact case always top my list of forgotten items when I pack at the last minute. And those make-up wipes? They work magic after a long night of fun. I also throw a travel-sized toothpaste and a small first-aid kit in the basket--and voilà! This basket filled with goodies greets them when they first walk in the guest bath. Dusting and vacuuming await me tonight, but I'm more than happy to do those chores because they'll help me pass the time until Saturday morning!

I will see you all back here tomorrow for Friday's Fancies!
{Click here to subscribe to the FF mailing list, so you can join in the fun!} 
Thanks in advance for all your tips :)

virginia is for lovers.

Happy Wednesday! I hope y'all had a great Valentine's Day :) In keeping with a lovey dovey theme, I have another round in the {distance makes the heart grow fonder} series! This one features Steven and Sarah {from Simply Sarah}, who are high school sweethearts with a seven hour divide between them. Despite their crazy schedules, Steven and Sarah make it work. Find out how below...

Name: Sarah
Significant Other's Name: Steven

When did you start dating? 
We were “dating” after he asked me to prom our junior year of high school, but we use the date August 26, 2008 as our "official" date - the beginning of our senior year of high school.

At what point did you begin dating long distance? 
Our long distance began in August 2009 when we both started college. I go to school in our hometown in Virginia and he goes to school (and plays baseball) in Pennsylvania, about 7 hours away To keep up with college ball, he plays summer ball, which forces us to stay long distance throughout the summer. It is tough, but I know he loves to play and I am 100% supportive--I love to watch him play :)

How do you fill your days while you're apart? I stay busy focusing on school and I have a part-time job that I absolutely love. In addition to keeping up with his schoolwork, baseball keeps Steven extremely busy year round. Time actually seems to fly by because our plates are so full during the school year!  We always text each other good morning and good night, as well as random times throughout the day. I'm also a planner, so I'm always plotting our next visit together so that I have something to look forward to on my calendar. Making countdowns is so helpful! During the week, we try to fit in a phone conversation (and a Skype date on occasion)...I am so thankful for that technology!

What do you find most difficult about being long distance? 
It is hard not being able to share our college memories.  When I have a free night on the weekends or if one of us has had a rough day, it is so hard to not be close enough to just drive up and see him for dinner. I also miss the simple things, like watching movies, holding hands, going to church together, or playing Wii tennis - one of our favorites.

How has long distance changed your relationship?
 Our relationship is definitely much stronger! We have learned how to communicate better and definitely appreciate the little things now, like only having to wait a week to see each other rather than a month! I still find it very hard to say goodbye, or "see you soon" as we say, but each time I think it gets a little bit easier. With every visit, our relationship grows a little bit, so it helps. When I get to see him, I appreciate every second that we are together.

What do you enjoy most about the time you have together? Everything! No matter how long it has been since we have seen each other, it still feels like it has only been a day. I love that! We fall right back into place with each other. (I still get butterflies on the drive up to see him!) It doesn't matter if we're staying in and watching movies or going on a day trip somewhere...we're in the same room and that’s all that matters!
Is there any end in sight to your long distance days? I hope so! After we graduated in 2013, I am praying we can be closer together.  Steven hopes to take baseball as far as he can and I will continue to support his dream. If he ends up going to grad school instead, you can bet I will be rooting for a school in Virginia!

Be sure to send some love in Sarah's direction today :) I'm crossing fingers the next year flies by for them! It's weird to say, but 2013 will be here before we know it. Craziness! I'll see you back here tomorrow :) Enjoy your Wednesday!

my valentine for {cv}.

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm a hopeless romantic at heart, so I enjoy this holiday. In light of Operation Spending Freeze, {cv} and I set a limit on our gift giving of fifteen dollars! Cards excluded, we decided that we should only create {or purchase} something special. {cv} admitted he was a little nervous about this one, but I have full faith he'll knock it out of the park. I opted to make {cv}'s gift: a series of five prints  with song lyrics we love! They may not all make sense to you, but they will to {cv}...

SONG: Look After You by The Fray
STORY: Right at the beginning of our long distance years, I studied in France. Our schedules were crazy--{cv} was starting a new job and I was batty with school. My soundtrack that summer was The Fray's How to Save a Life album--and I shared the love of this album with {cv}. Whenever I hear Look After You, I go right back to those early days, when he was beginning to feel like my home. Corny, I know.

SONG: For Once In My Life by Michael Bublé
STORY: Back in 2007, I gave {cv} an iPod for Valentine's Day--and engraved it with "for once in my life". This song has always been one of our favorites--and the lyrics ring true for us :) We even picked this as the first dance song for our wedding! Though we loved the Stevie Wonder version, Michael Bublé slowed it down a bit for us. It was the perfect song for that memory.

SONG: Golden Slumbers by The Beatles
STORY: At the end of the summer of 2006, I nannied for a few weeks before heading back to Georgetown. After that first distance summer {and a six-hour time difference}, it was such a relief to just be in the same time zone as {cv}. Those weeks were long, but he made them better with little songs to help me through the rough nights. This song from The Beatles is one of those he shared--and it will always bring me smiles. {Paul McCartney even played it at the Grammys on Sunday...I almost died!}

SONG: Be Mine by David Gray
STORY: The week before our wedding {in 2010}, we had the privilege of seeing David Gray live in Providence. These first few lyrics in the song almost prompted us to make a last-minute change to our first dance song. However, the rest of the song wasn't so happy, so we kept our original plan ;) {cv} just loved these lyrics, so I hope he'll like this print too...

SONG: Scenes From An Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel
STORY: Flashback to that first distance summer in France {yet again!}...{cv} used to brighten my day by sending iTunes gifts my way. One week, he sent along the Greatest Hits from Billy Joel. This song was on that album--and made me think of the precious, little Italian restaurant across the street from my French host mother's house. I dreamed of going there one day with {cv}, but I thought it was a pipe dream. Just shy of four years later, we finally made it to that little Italian restaurant in Tours...on our honeymoon :)

Was that a sappy post or what? I don't care though--{cv} deserves the love. I truly count my blessings every day that God placed him in my life six and a half years ago. I love him with every ounce of my heart...and always will. I can't wait to see what other songs inspire us down the line :)

Do you have any songs which bring you back to a special place? Do share!

happy snaps.

A very happy Monday to each of you! I'm seriously still pinching myself that 127 of you linked up for Friday's Fancies. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!! If you need any Valentine's outfit inspiration, look no further--the ladies of Friday's Fancies really outdid themselves. If you'd like to join in the FF fun in future weeks, just click here to join the mailing list!

In typical Monday fashion, I'm sharing a few of my snaps from Instagram. I'm linking this post up with Ashley at a {little} dash of ash and Jenni at Story of My Life!

Disclaimers: I hate self-portraits, so please excuse my awkwardness ;) Also, there are plenty of things which make me {very} happy, including my husband {cv}, our little life in Rhody, and JIF peanut butter...but I opted for a little Godiva action {key lime truffles are my jam!}. 

Here are a few extras from the week--from another successful Boston Bloggers events to the discovery of watching Netflix on the elliptical, last week was a great one! We also enjoyed some delicious fare at Harry's and even made some of our own chicken fingers at home. I clearly have the diet of a 12-year old.

On a more serious note, prayers are needed for little baby {eo}, the newborn daughter of a dear friend, who was born last week at only 25 weeks and five days. Her sweet momma started a blog to chart her progress. Please keep {eo} and her family in your thoughts and prayers!

This week couldn't pass more quickly in my book--three of my favorite people arrive in Providence on Saturday for a weekend of fun. Do you have any big plans this week!? Happy early Valentine's Day ;)
psst: If you'd like to see more from me via Instagram, click here!

friday's fancies #63.

Hello lovelies! It is finally time for another round of Friday's Fancies :) I'm particularly pumped for this week because we're exploring a color combination I have been dying to try in real life...red + pink! With Valentine's Day on the horizon, I thought there was no better week to give it a go :) Even if you don't like the holiday, this mix of happy hues will surely brighten your Friday...

1) Lace wins my affection, yet again. This Roberto Rodriguez Lace Shift Dress is just a little slice of heaven. I know this dress would help me conquer pink once and for all!
2) These Kate Spade Bar None Huggie Earrings would lend a quick pop of red, without overtaking the stunning pink in the lacy masterpiece.
3) Pardon the second selection from Kate Spade, but I couldn't pass up this Triple Threat Faceted Bangle. A bold and beautiful bracelet like this one would most definitely stand the test of time.
4) When I set out for a red clutch, I wanted a bag with a cute twist. This Anya Hindmarch Maeve Crossbody Clutch passed the test with flying colors!
5) To avoid being too matchy-matchy, I opted for a nude pair of heels. If I could add these Christian Louboutin Leather Platform Pumps to my collection, I would be one very happy lady.

I know I'll be finding inspiration in your outfits this week :) I don't know about you, but I love being able to "shop" without spending a dime. I know I'm not alone! Many thanks to my Friday's Fancies faithful...
I hope you know your posts make my week! Happy Friday--I'll see you on Monday!