make 2014 amazing.

Since most people have tuned into their lives and away from the blog world {for good reason!}, we will likely be in Europe by the time you see this post. {YAY!!!} We are flying out on Christmas night for ten magical days, just the two of us. Click here for our itinerary! I'm also doing something a bit unconventional for me while we're gone: I'm leaving my laptop at home. I will be checking out of the blog world until the first full week of January, but I didn't want to leave you hanging completely...

Here's a little look back to the posts which got the most buzz {or were among my favorites} in 2013:
-why you should always eat the cupcake, also known as the post where I made peace with weighing ten pounds more today than I did on our wedding day in 2010
-an amusing look at my curl evolution--and my three-minute recipe for perfect curls
-building a gallery wall which represents your life {not the one you see over and over again on Pinterest}
-a bright look at Pantone's color report for spring 2014
-is it sad that I'm still dreaming of these boots or that I'm still trying to master booties?
-my New England portrait, as captured by the fabulous Kate Headley
-five tips for bloggers on how to win big on Pinterest, otherwise known as the post where I shared my Pinterest secrets {and while I'm at it, this post on how to add a Pin It button was also a fan favorite}
-somehow, my favorite quotes all used photos from our nautical adventures {see here, here, and here}
-how to make macarons at home {it can be done!}
-a few tips on planning an amazing girls' getaway or a killer bachelorette weekend

Before I go, I must send my heartfelt thanks for making 2013 infinitely better. I know there are plenty of blogs out there to fill your reader, but the fact that you take the time to follow along with {long distance loving} means the world to me. I put my heart and soul in this little blog and I hope it shows. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see what 2014 has in store. I can't wait to make 2014 amazing, with you by my side. I wouldn't have it any other way. Have an amazing Christmas and a wonderful start to the new year! xoxo {av}

P.S. You can stay in touch via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter while we're away on our European adventure. I'll be back to normal posting the first full week of January!

friday's fancies #159.

J.Crew Cable-Knit Pocket Sweater {30% off!} //  Tory Burch Melanie Leggings {30% off!} // BaubleBar Crystal Posy Collar // Essie Nail Polish in Belguaria // Max & Chloe Athena Designs Silver & CZ Bangle Bracelets {these would make a fun gift too for only $31!}  Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAC Bag // Circus by Sam Edelman Ali Ballet Flats {only $39--and they're my namesake flat!}

If you blogged about fashion this week, you should absolutely add your link below. Any and all fashion posts are welcome, regardless on when you shared them :) I'm just happy to have you joining in the #FridaysFancies fun. Many thanks to those of you linking up today! As always, you rock my socks off. Be sure to peek around through the links below--you'll find fantastic bloggers in the mix!

Do you dress up or down on Christmas? I'm a fan of mixing both--a little sparkle and polish with a big cozy sweater :) In my opinion, this outfit is the epitome of a cozy Christmas get-up with just a little extra. However you spend it, I hope you have a fun and festive weekend! xoxo {av}

P.S. Because of the holidays (and our big trip to Europe!), Friday's Fancies will return on Friday, January 10th! 

hello new york!

Surprise! I took this week to spend with my best friend in NYC, soaking up the city at Christmastime. {cv} is working a ton in preparation for our European vacation next week, so when {ch} said she'd be in town, I knew exactly where I was headed ;) I promise fun holiday Instagrams from the city! Do you have any favorite spots I can't miss? xoxo {av}

P.S. If you're in town and want to say hello, shoot me an email!

friday's fancies #158.

Sass & Bide Back to the Start Embellished & Printed Dress  //  Loren Hope Abba Earrings //  Drybar Moneymaker Flexible Hold Hairspray  //  Drybar The Chaser Shine Pomade  //  Essie Nail Color in Toggle to the Top  //  Moyna Solid Fold Over Clutch  //  Nine West Beautie Pumps {33% off!}

If you blogged about fashion this week, your post is most certainly welcome for Friday's Fancies. By joining in for #FridaysFancies, you become a part of the friendliest bevy of bloggers on the interwebs. I'm not exaggerating. I count my blessings every week for this lovely group of ladies. (Click here to sign up for the weekly mailing list!) This weekly post also allows me to love great fashion from afar. I may never be able to buy myself that Sass & Bide stunner, but I can certainly include it in my post. I'll just rely on Rent The Runway to bring dresses of that caliber within my reach. (Speaking of which, I'm still eyeing these options for a few holiday parties--I just need to pull the trigger.)

Do you go bold with a sparkly dress or do you like to bring in the shine with your accessories? If I'm renting, I opt for the sassy dress. If I'm "shopping" my own closet, I layer the bling on with my jewelry. Both options are winners in my book! I hope your weekend has an extra dose of sparkle. See you on Monday! xoxo {av}

(happy) holiday entertaining.

(happy) holiday entertaining: seven goodies to take your party from drab to fab!
from top to bottom: Crate & Barrel Gatsby Bar Tools with Ice Bucket  //  Kate Spade Glitter Coasters  //  Serena & Lily Fresco Beverage Bowl  //  Design Darling Monogrammed Stir Sticks  //  Mark & Graham Medium Crystal Decanter {also monogrammable!}  //  Kate Spade Pierrepont Place Corkscrew & Bottle Opener  //  Cathy's Concepts Cheers Shooters

Last week, I shared 12 must-serve holiday drinks. This week, I'm here with a few fun ways to present them! Prepping your home for a holiday party doesn't require the investment in purely holiday pieces. Many of these pretty serving pieces would also make great gifts for the favorite host or hostess in your life. The seven goodies above are proof that you can simply jazz up your presentation--and make it last well into the new year (and beyond)! 

Would you add anything to this happy round-up? Whether you are a hostess with the mostest or simply on the guest list, I hope these pretty pieces bring some beauty to your holiday preparations! xoxo {av}

five tips for bloggers to win big on pinterest.

Five tips for bloggers to win big on Pinterest!

One small disclaimer: these are my findings. There is no scientific study behind them, simply what has worked for me. Some of this may not be new to you, but it never hurts to hear it again. Pinterest is a phenomenal traffic driver and learning to unleash its repinning fury is half the battle. Without further ado, these are my five best tips for bloggers to win big on Pinterest...

1) While landscape photos (aka those that are short and wide) look nice in your browser, they are not ideal for pinning. Ensure your photos are tall rather than wide and you'll feel much more love on Pinterest. Taller images take up more visual real estate on Pinterest--and you want ever ounce of real estate you can get. Experiment a few times with this and you'll see what I mean. (My Pinterest feed is one giant example of portrait photos--with very few exceptions.)

2) It goes without saying that visually appealing images or content will attract pinners. (Think about what you like to pin!) Creating visually appealing images or content is much easier said than done. Cropping photos goes a very long way. Example #1: I loved this pretty scarf, but the photo was  taken landscape. I knew it wouldn't pin well as well in that format, so I cropped it a bit. (NOTE: Even though I uploaded the cropped photo to Pinterest, it is absolutely essential to add the correct source.) The result was a pin which did quite well (and illustrated the portrait vs. landscape idea perfectly). Example #2This sporty outfit didn't pin well because the photo was a bit far away. Ensuring your audience can see your content (whether it is an easy-to-read font or a close subject) will help you immensely.

3) Timing matters. I pinned this yummy lobster crostini recipe around 2pm one day--and it got zero repins for the first hour it was up. I decided to take it down and pin it again later in the day. It now has over 170 repins, simply because I saved it for a more optimal "viewing window". If I pin after 9 or 10pm, I can almost guarantee these pins will get more love. The day of the week you pin also matters. Imagine the days you procrastinate most (and are close to a computer). In my experience, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are my best days for repins.

4) Be pinnable. You really, really need to have a Pin It button installed on your blog. I shared some tips on this very topic a few months back (see here). Plain and simple: if people cannot easily find a way to pin from your blog, they won't

5) You need to know what's winning--or pinning, as the case may be. Pay attention to what people are pinning from your blog, so you can tailor your future content. Once your blog is verified, you can track your analytics to maximize your Pinterest potential. I do not advocate spying, but you can do an easy case study to check out how your favorite blogs are being pinned. Simply visit their source page ( and get some insight into what is striking a chord with their audience. While you should not copy their content, you should use your findings to build your Pinterest awareness.

Truth be told, I still have a lot to learn. I am also a firm believer that the best teachers we have are one another. I would absolutely love for you to share your own findings in the comments section below. The blogosphere (and our Pinterest feeds) will be better because of it! (If you feel so inclined, pin this graphic so you can come back and take a peek at the full conversation in the weeks and months to come.) I can't wait to hear what else you have to add! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #157.

holiday party perfect via {long distance loving}!

We're nearly a week into December now and the holiday party circuit is in full swing! This week's round of #FridaysFancies is centered on getting party perfect for this cheery month. Want to join in the festivities? You're absolutely welcome! Add any fashion-related post from the last week below--and click around to find some fabulous new bloggers in the process. Click here to join the mailing list for info on future weeks of Friday's Fancies! Whether you're a new or old linker, I'm so happy you're here. Your creativity inspires me week after week.

How do you manage your holiday party attire? Do you bank on attending parties with different people or do you rent your dresses? I'm a frequent renter, but I've also scored a few fun dresses on eBay as of late (including this one). I am hoping to survive the holidays with a mix of both rented and repurposed dresses. We shall see how I fare ;) Have a fantastic weekend! xoxo {av}

the best $32.50 you'll spend all winter.

After the cold weather started to rear its ugly head in the past few weeks, I found myself digging around for all my winter weather gear. With four New England winters under my belt, I feel a bit more prepared for the inevitable chill. I've always preferred mittens, but with the advent of smart phones, mittens weren't ideal for answering texts or following that blue dot on Google Maps. 

Cue the glitten--a combination of a glove and a mitten. Trust me--it's nothing all that new, but I just finally joined the glitten club last week. After I scored a pair of these $32.50 beauties (on sale!), I knew my perpetually cold winter hands would never be the same. I've passed on similar gloves for years, but I'm kicking myself for not taking the plunge any sooner. These glittens from J.Crew will certainly be the best money you'll spend all winter.** Say sayonara to those smart touch gloves (because those never really worked anyway)--and treat yourself to glittens.

Want to take the glitten plunge? Here are a few other options (across the price spectrum) if you want to stay cozy with me this winter. What other cold-weather gear is a must for you? xoxo {av}

**Note: "the best" may be an exaggeration, but my warm and cozy fingers would tell you otherwise ;)

12 must-serve sips for the holidays.

It's far from five o'clock and I'm already dreaming of a cocktail (or two). I don't know what it says about me, but my "sip sip" Pinterest board gets a lot of re-pinning action. With the holidays front of mind these days, I thought it was only appropriate to round up twelve must-serve sips for this festive season. From cranberry coolers to mommy mocktails, there is definitely something for everyone on this list. Pin this post to help you plan your ugly sweater party or whip up something fancy for an unexpected guest.

What's in your favorite holiday drinky drink? Share your favorite recipes and spread some holiday cheer! xoxo {av}

CRANBERRY COOLERS: Cranberry Mojitos {We Are Not Martha} // Cranberry Margaritas {Confections of a Foodie Bride} // even more Cranberry Margaritas {Gimme Some Oven}
CREAMY CONCOCTIONS: Creamy Peppermint Punch {Celebrate Mag} // Christmas Cookie Ice Cream Shots {Sugar & Cloth} // Eggnog Shooters {Best Friends for Frosting}
PRETTY COCKTAILS: Cherry Whiskey Smash {How Sweet It Is}  // Peppermint White Russian {A Beautiful Mess} // Frozen Raspberry Pomegranate Cocktail with Fresh Lime + Vodka {What Katie Ate}
MOMMY MOCKTAILS: Pomegranate Spritzer {White on Rice Couple} // Ginger Gem {iVillage} // Winter Berry Splash {The SoHo} Disclaimer: I am not announcing any pregnancy here, friends. Don't get too excited! I just want to help out those ladies with a bun in the oven--or those who like their drinks without booze ;)


I stumbled upon this quote recently and knew it would be perfect for this pre-Thanksgiving Day post. The hopefulness and kindness which always seems to spill out of the month of November is incredibly refreshing. This season of gratitude begs the question about why we wouldn't continue it all year long.

Even though this year has been a bit more challenging than others, I look around and see all the amazing things I do have--and feel even more grateful for the life I am living. Be it the roof over my head, the food in my pantry, or the love of my family and friends, I know there are many who don't have all of those in their lives. My goal for the coming year {and the rest of my life} is to live with gratitude in my heart all year long, rather than just this celebratory month. How much better would life be if we did?

I'll start this thankful movement by sharing my gratitude for each and every one of you. You challenge me each and every day to be better than I was before. I have learned so much in the three years since I started this blog--all because of you. Wherever you are, I hope you are surrounded with family {or friends that are like family}. Thank you for sticking with me :) Have a very happy Thanksgiving! xoxo {av}

treat yourself for less than $75.

Double-Zip Sweater in Colorblock {$73.50--now $68.60} | Zigzag Stripe Scarf {$51--now $47.60} | Stripe Painter Tee with Jeweled Brooch {$37.12--now $34.65} | Lace Peplum Top {$73.50--now $68.60} | Calf Hair Pouch in Leopard {$58.50--now $54.60} | Classic Link Bracelet {$66--now $61.60} | Skier Socks {$10.87--now $10.15} | Smartphone Wool Gloves {$24.37--now $22.75} | Glitter Belt {$24.37--now $22.75} | Star Necklace in Black Diamond {$66--now $61.60} | Crystal Venus Flytrap Earrings  {$37.50--now $35.00} | Colorblock Leather Passport Case {$34.50--now $32.20}

I'll admit it: when I'm buying gifts for others, it's hard to pass up on a few deals for myself--especially when it involves a 25% off discount at J.Crew. All of the goodies above are under the $75 threshold and can help make your holidays a bit more cozy and festive. I may or may not have added a couple of these to my shopping cart this morning after the sale email came through...

How do you balance shopping for yourself and for others during the holidays? I set a budget for all of my holiday spending, including what I should {or should not} be spending on myself. It helps to take the stress out of gifting when I know what my target limit is :) It seems simple, but it works.

This is also your LAST day to enter my Moon & Lola Monogram Giveaway! There are plenty of easy ways to win, so hop on over and enter :) Have a wonderful start to your week, friends! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #156.

shop it here: Maison Scotch Drop Waist Dress // Spanx Dotted Lines Shaping Tights // Joie Hadie Booties // Loren Hope Gwyneth Necklace // Kate Spade Beacon Court Angelica Leather Crossbody Bag // Dior Diorific Lipstick in Minuit // Essie Holiday Nail Polish in Hors d'oeuvres //  Moon & Lola Metal Cheshire Script Double Chain Bracelet

Did you blog about fashion this week? If so, your post belongs here for Friday's Fancies. Everyone is welcome! FYI: this week's Friday's Fancies link-up will stay open through the Sunday after Thanksgiving. While I love hosting every week, I think it's important to spend a week focused on our family and friends! Never fear: Friday's Fancies will be back in its normal glory on Friday, December 6th. You can click here to get more info in your inbox every week!

If you linked up this week, don't forget to snag your extra entries in my Moon & Lola Giveaway! {If you didn't link up but blogged about fashion, consider this a friendly reminder to add your link below to get your entry!} I can't thank you enough for taking the time to be a part of this fashion-forward family. It means the world to me! {cv} and I are headed west this weekend--and I can't wait. Thanksgiving break has officially begun for me! Keep tabs on our whereabouts via Instagram, if you feel so inclined. Have a fantastic weekend! xoxo {av}

holiday sparkle under $100.

With the holidays on the horizon, I've been poring over Rent The Runway for the parties on our calendar. {cv} and I are keeping our commitments low-key, but it doesn't mean I'm not eyeing the holiday sparkle popping up all over Rent The Runway. These eight options all clock in under $100, a steal compared most of the other holiday dresses on the market. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, this gold and silver goodness is sure to brighten your holiday season--and make for great Facebook + Instagram photo ops.

Where do you find your favorite holiday sparkle? Do you recycle your holiday outfits for different events or change out your outfits for the whole season? While we're on the topic of sparkle, make sure you've scored all of your entries for my Moon & Lola Monogram giveaway. There's some sparkle to be had--for free! See you tomorrow for another fun round of Friday's Fancies! xoxo {av}

P.S. I am not sponsored by Rent The Runway, but I am certainly an avid user. I even went Pro last month. This service costs $29.95 and guarantees free shipping and insurance for an entire year. If you have more than two weddings to attend, it is a no brainer. Extra bonus? You even get a free birthday rental! It definitely makes turning a year older a bit more tolerable ;) 

your one-stop shop.

I know every blogger on the block is doing holiday gift guides, so I decided to do something a little different here on {long distance loving}. I created one landing page on my blog to go to as a one-stop shop of sorts for holiday gift guides. Whether you're looking for a lady, a gent, or a babe, I've got you covered. There is even a "cost-conscious" section--with gifts under the $30 mark. 

What additional topics would you like to see in my holiday gift guide? I'm here for you! I will constantly be updating these over the next few weeks--to keep content fresh and relevant. This will be the only post I'm devoting to this gift guide, but you can always access it on my sidebar. My goal is not to bombard you but keep you inspired! xoxo {av}

P.S. Don't forget to grab your entries for my Moon & Lola monogram necklace giveaway! It's too good to miss!


moon & lola monogram giveaway.

On a very rainy and cold night three years ago, this blog was born. Little did I know that my spontaneous foray into blogging would turn into this amazing adventure. I can't wait to see what my fourth year of blogging brings...

The best part of this milestone? One of my favorites, Moon & Lola, kindly offered to help me celebrate this third anniversary with an amazing giveaway! {If you don't know Moon & Lola, you definitely should: they are the talented folks behind the original acrylic monogram necklace.} You can win one of your very own acrylic monograms below--there are plenty of ways to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to each of you for making this blogging journey worthwhile! A big thank you to Moon & Lola for helping to make this little anniversary special :) You can get all the specifics for this giveaway in the Rafflecopter widget, but you have until next Monday, November 25th at 11:59pm EST to enter. I will announce the winner on Tuesday, November 26th. Best of luck--and thank you form the bottom of my heart! xoxo {av}

psst: If you enter on instagram, simply take a screenshot of my instagram and share it like you would if you took a photo with your phone outside of instagram. Don't forget to include the hashtag #moonandlolamonogram and tag @amv529 and @moonandlola. If you tag three friends in your picture, you can also earn another entry :)

friday's fancies #155.

Want to join in the Friday's Fancies fun? Please do! Any and all fashion posts are welcome. Whether you shared an actual outfit post or a dreamed-up ensemble like the one above, it is fair game for this link-up. Simply add your link below! {Click here to get more info in your inbox every week!}

Even after three years, I get excited with every post added to the #FridaysFancies mix. It means the world that you took the time to link up! {cv} and I have another family weekend on the horizon with a visit from his parents and a baby shower for my sister-in-law. Whatever you're doing, stay cozy--and rock that plaid! xoxo {av}

europe at the holidays.

{photo sources: Amsterdam | Bruges | Paris | London}

A few months back, I mentioned that {cv} and I had our sights set on a fall trip to Europe. Life got in the way a bit and we put the trip planning on the back burner. Last week, {cv} and I finally pulled the trigger and booked our holiday adventure--literally. We leave on Christmas night and fly to Amsterdam! We are spending two nights there before taking the train to Bruges, Belgium for a night. From there, we make a stop in our beloved Paris for two nights before we end up in London for New Year's Eve. We will spend four nights there before flying back to the US of A. It'll be a bit of a whirlwind, but we can't wait!

We have all of our hotels booked, but I'm looking to you world travelers for advice on what to see and where to eat. {I'm also anticipating that I'll need lots of help packing for this little adventure, but I'll save that for another post.} While the touristy stops are unavoidable, we love finding spots off the beaten path. Many, many thanks in advance for all of your sage advice. {cv} and I are all ears. I have every confidence you'll help make this trip even more wonderful with your insight.  xoxo {av}

P.S. While I'm at it, we will be visiting Denver for a friend's 30th birthday in a little over a week. Suggestions for our visit to the Centennial State are also very welcome :)

holiday sparkle for your home.

Confession: we put up our Christmas tree this weekend. I am far from ashamed. Growing up, we waited until Thanksgiving before the holiday decor came out of storage. This year, {cv} and I are traveling the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I decided to reclaim those missed weeks and bargain with {cv} to put up the tree early. I'd say that's logical, right?

Since the holidays will be here before we know it, I decided to devote this month's Houzz ideabook to some sparkly touches for any home. The best part? Many of these goodies can outlive Hanukkah or Christmas. Consider these ten sparkly options to be your ticket to a glammed-up holiday season--and beyond. How do you like to add sparkle to your holiday decor?  xoxo {av}