friday's fancies #131.

Greetings from sunny South Carolina! I've been a bit MIA this week, but it's for good reason: vacation. Sometimes, a getaway means a few days away from this little blog too ;) I'm so happy to be back today for a fun round of #FridaysFancies devoted to summer whites! With Memorial Day behind us, whites are fair game all summer long--but really, who abides by the "no white before Memorial Day" rule anymore?! I intended to go full-on white, but then I fell in love with this chambray top. Can you blame me? 

Want to join in the Friday's Fancies fun? If you blogged about fashion this week, you're welcome to add your post below--you don't have to follow the theme! Click here to join the mailing list and get all the info in your inbox every Monday. You'll learn very quickly that the ladies of Friday's Fancies are the best bloggers on the planet :)

We're celebrating my bff's wedding this weekend in Beaufort, South Carolina--and I can't wait :) Amidst my bridesmaid duties, I will be soaking up the last few days of my vacation. Thank you so much for all the birthday love this week--you've made me one happy lady! I'll be back to normal programming on Monday! See you then :) xoxo {av}


anniversary gifts for parents.

Today, my parents mark 36 years as Mr. and Mrs.! Not only have they set a tremendous example for {cv} and me, they are easily the best parents around. I've been alive for 27 of those anniversaries, so creativity is a must on the gift front. Below, you'll find eight different anniversary gifts to satisfy all budgets and tastes... 

Crate & Barrel Ventana Natural Picnic Basket - fill it with their favorite goodies
Matouk Marlowe Bath Towels - treat them to a little bit of daily luxury
Nespresso Citiz Espresso Machine - they'll love you each + every morning
TableTopics What Would You Do? Conversation Starters - budget-friendly + fun for family dinners
The New York Times 36 Hours - push them to plan their next adventure stateside
concert tickets - research when their favorite band is coming to town + make their dream come true
a great bottle of wine - help them toast to the start of another year together

What anniversary gifts have been winners for you with your parents or friends?
the best gifts come from the heart--so as long as your gift includes a big dose of love, you're in the clear :) Happy 36th, {cn} + {jn}--I love you! Have a fantastic Tuesday, everyone! xoxo {av}

happy memorial day.

Happy Memorial Day--and a quick hello from the beautiful state of Texas! We make the trek to South Carolina this afternoon, so we will soak up every last minute in the Lonestar State. This vacation is off to a fantastic start :) {cv} and I had the time of our lives at {jd} + {gz}'s wedding last night--see photo evidence here + here

Many thanks to our troops--past and present--who make Memorial Day possible. As an end-of-May baby, I also thank you for making my birthday week one of the best around. See you tomorrow! xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #130.

Happy holiday weekend, friends! With Memorial Day weekend upon us, summer is finally in reach. It should be no surprise that this week's Friday's Fancies is devoted to this summery celebration. {cv} and I will be making the trip to San Antonio, Texas tomorrow for the wedding of our dear friends, {jd} and {gz}. If money were no object, I'd assemble this outfit to tour the Alamo and stroll the Riverwalk!

Whether you blogged about your dreamy Memorial Day outfit or fashion in general, your post is welcome for Friday's Fancies! Add your link below using your blog name as the title. It's easy peasy! The themes are just a suggestion, so don't feel tied down. Click here to join the mailing list and get all the deets in your inbox every Monday :) You'll feel right at home with Friday's Fancies--the loyal linkers are some of the friendliest {and most amazing} bloggers you'll encounter in the blogosphere!

I can't wait to see some last-minute packing inspiration from all of you! Thank you again for linking up in the midst of the holiday weekend craziness :) Be sure to follow along with {cv} and I on our Southern adventures over the next week via Instagram. Wherever you're spending your Memorial Day weekend, I hope it is safe and relaxing! Lots of love! xoxo {av}



In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness month, Danielle and I thought it was only appropriate to offer a sun savvy reminder as we approach the sunny summer months. When I shared my skin story two years ago, I was anxious to do it. Today, I stand firm on my choice to share my experience with melanoma in the hopes that someone else can avoid this scary ride.

When Danielle and I concocted the idea of sun savvy, we did so because knew our generation was at risk. With images all around us portraying tans as beautiful, being the pale one isn't easy. I still miss feeling tan, though I no longer miss looking tan. Though my family and friends never escape my sun savvy PSAs, I do quietly wish I could tell super tanned strangers the risk they're taking. Thankfully, this blog {and this recent article in Cosmo!} give me the chance to share my story with people who care to listen.

Being sun savvy isn't hard. In fact, it is one of the easiest adjustments you could make to your daily beauty routine. Adding sunscreen to your morning routine adds all of 30 seconds to your day. These fabulous bronzers and self tanners can also help you achieve the perfect faux glow--without suffering from the sun's harmful rays. Years from now, you'll be so grateful you took that time. In the five years since I stopped tanning, I can already tell a difference in the health of my skin. It doesn't take away the years of damage I did to my skin, but it will absolutely make a difference in my future health.

I count my blessings every day I took the time to go to a dermatologist five years ago. I shudder to think what my life might look like if I hadn't. If you have any spots you're questioning, call a dermatologist today. The peace of mind in knowing you're safe is more than worth it.

How are you being extra sun savvy this year? Share how on twitter with the hashtag #sunsavvy--or with a comment below! Danielle and I can't wait to see what you're doing to stay #sunsavvy. xoxo {av}


my 28th birthday wishlist.

In just 8 short days, I will join the world of 28-year-olds. Next year may mark my "golden" birthday, but my 28th birthday list is pretty golden. From gilded binders to custom sandals, I clearly have metallics on the brain. These six goodies made my list this year, though unlimited Rent The Runway rentals wouldn't be too shabby either. Truth be told, I get more optimistic about 28 every time I see this list...
Birthday or no birthday: what is on the top of your current wish list?
For now, I'm going to relish every day of 27 ;) xoxo {av}


attempting at-home macarons.

I may not be the world's greatest cook, but I do love to bake. For years, I've wanted to try my hand at macarons, so when a class on the subject popped up, I registered immediately! In the three hours I spent in the lab kitchen at Johnson & Wales, I quickly learned I wouldn't master these treats in my first attempt. I did pick up a thing or two which might spare you some frustration if you attempt them at home!

It isn't any surprise, but baking requires a great deal of precision. Making macarons is no different. Nailing the temperatures will determine whether your macarons rise or fall. Our instructor gave a simple formula for success, which you can see on the whiteboard below. Different types of macarons may require slightly different temperature readings, but as a whole, sticking to these numbers will ensure your success on the quest for great macarons.

With an enormous amount of devices and bowls, space is absolutely key when making macarons at home. Being a good juggler might also help you have success with macarons. {I'm only slightly kidding!} You'll be moving at a mile a minute and having everything in close reach is so important!

Don't have a big kitchen? Don't fret! You can make due, but you will need to think through your process first. Regardless of your counter space, I wouldn't recommend making macarons without first measuring out your ingredients and having all your tools at the ready.

Above all, patience is an absolute must. You may have to throw out batches {I did!}, but with each "failed" batch, you'll learn more about how to nail them with your next attempt. Speaking of patience: making macarons requires aged egg yolks, so plan accordingly. If you want to make these sweet treats, doing them last-minute isn't really an option.

Though I admired the cake decorating projects at my local 4-H fair, I never participated in the art, so when it came to actually piping out the macarons, my nerves were high. The chef made it seem so easy {as evidenced below}, but it took me piping out nearly 80 of them before I really felt like I had the swing of it. As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. Your first few of macarons may not look like they were made at Ladurée, but that's ok. They'll still taste great ;)

Remember how I said patience was an absolute must? I repeat: patience is an absolute must. Before you can put them in the oven, you need to let them rest for sixty minutes or so. After that, you'll pop them in the oven. I promise that you'll want to eat these little guys without the filling when you see their cute tops rise in the oven. Hang tight though--letting the macaron shells rest for at least 20 minutes before putting on any filling is a non-negotiable. 

While my first set of macarons may not look like those you buy in stores, I was pretty darn proud of how they tasted. See those circles? When piping out the macarons, it helps to have a guide for how large to make your sweet circles. You can do this by simply tracing a small circular item with a pencil and then flipping your parchment paper before piping your macarons. Easy peasy! It helps with the uniformity of size and shape.

Download a copy of the vanilla bean macaron and salted caramel filling recipes here!

Making macarons may be tedious, but the end result is entirely worth it. If you take the time to have all your ingredients and utensils ready, you'll save a boatload of frustration later. While I haven't attempted them at home just yet, I have big plans for future bridal and baby showers ;)

If you've made macarons at home, what other advice would you give? 
Have a fantastic Monday--and treat yourself to something today! You deserve it! xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #129.

Hello friends! I'm thrilled to kick off this Friday with a striped round of Friday's Fancies! As a lover of stripes, you won't find me complaining one bit. I'm positively pining over this striped number from Lilly Pulitzer--and if my shopping budget was limitless, I would style it just like this!

find them here:

Did you blog about fashion this week? If so, please feel free to add your link below! You don't have to follow the theme--they are only suggestions to get your creative juices flowing :) Want to be a part of the Friday's Fancies family? It's easy! Click here to join the mailing list and you'll get the themes in your inbox every Monday. The ladies of this link-up will make you feel right at home!

As always, lots of love and gratitude to the always fabulous #FridaysFancies faithful--you're the best!
I'm bound for the Hoosier State tonight--and I can't wait. I haven't been home since Christmas, so it's about time ;) You can follow along with this weekend's celebrations on Instagram. I'll be back in action
with a sweet surprise for you on Monday. Have a happy + safe weekend! xoxo {av}

P.S. Don't miss my guest posts for two of my favorite Chicago bloggers, cornflake dreams + ashley nicole catherine!

inspired by lilacs.

A few towns over from {cv}'s hometown, you'll find Rochester, New Hampshire. This little spot on the map calls itself the Lilac City, though it might stir up a debate with Spokane, Washington. Without fail, I can count on seeing gorgeous lilacs when we visit the Seacoast ever May. During our trip to see {cv}'s family this past weekend, I snapped this instagram after cutting down a few small sprigs. I only wish I could magically have a bouquet of lilacs all year round, but I digress...

This weekend's lilacs reminded me just how much I adore this light purple hue.
The nail polish and studs would be good gateway goods to this lovely shade, don't you think?
If I had an unlimited budget, I might invest in a few more of these lilac beauties...

find them here:
Gorjana Bleecker Bloom Tote
Trish McEvoy Effortless Eyes Wet & Dry Eye Shadow in Lilac
Essie Wedding Collection 2013 Nail Polish in Meet Me At The Altar
Bobbi Brown Lilac Rose Collection Brightening Lip Gloss in Pink Lilac
Kate Spade Tudor City Stacy Wallet + Small Square Studs
Superga Linen Sneakers in Lilac

What hue is catching your eye this spring? Am I the only one in the lilac camp or are you there with me?
I'll see you all for a round of striped Friday's Fancies tomorrow! Happy Thursday! xoxo {av}


weekend tunes.

On Sunday, {cv} and I made the familiar two-hour drive from Maine to Rhode Island. The sunny afternoon light, paired with the perfect company and some great tunes, came together to form an amazing ride. This wasn't our exact playlist, but these tunes are in my current rotation...

Sixty minutes of easy tunes like these have me wishing for the weekend, even though it's only Tuesday. Sometimes, the best way to make it to Friday is to break out a playlist like this one--don't you agree?

Do you have a favorite song for a lazy afternoon? xoxo {av}


cool coasters.

Today is my sweet mother {cnn}'s birthday, so I'm devoting this post to her savvy hostess skills! :) One thing I learned very early on was the importance of using coasters--to save our furniture and to bring some extra pizzazz to the party. In advance of the summer party season, I devoted my monthly Houzz board to a few cool coasters. Here are a few of my favorites...

Do you change out your coasters for company? Or do you keep the same ones in rotation all the time?
Endless birthday wishes to my biggest fan--I love you, {cnn}! Have a marvelous Monday everyone!
xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #128.

Happy Friday! Who can argue with a week of Friday's Fancies devoted to weekend wear?
I could see this easy, breezy outfit becoming my weekend uniform! Take a peek...

J.Crew Linen Baseball Sweater + Citizens of Humanity Dani Crop in Wedgewood
C.Wonder Printed Graphic Link Canvas Tote + Sperry Top-Sider A/O 2 Eye in Gold Metallic {$25 off!}

Did you blog about fashion this week? If so, your post is welcome for Friday's Fancies! The themes are only suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. Want to get those themes in your inbox? Click here to sign up for the weekly mailing list! The loyal ladies of #FridaysFancies will make you feel right at home here. By joining in Friday's Fancies, you're joining in one of the best virtual families around...

What is the one essential piece of your own"weekend uniform"? Those shiny Top-Siders are mine! I cannot wait to see what easy weekend wear you have up your sleeve. Many thanks for joining in the Friday's Fancies fun this week--your posts never cease to amaze or inspire me! A very happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, especially my own :) xoxo {av}


how to build a gallery wall.

We may not have a perfectly laid-out gallery wall, but I love it. Scenes from our life in DC and memories of wonderful vacations grace this space. It hold a few prints from my days as a 13-year-old art connoisseur on my European People to People adventure. My gorgeous grandparents even make an appearance. Best of all, it features the canvas of the gift {cv} and I serendipitously gave to one another. Did I measure out the wall before I hung each piece? No. Does it matter? Not a bit.

Truth be told, my gallery goodness pinterest board contains more than a few examples of perfectly aligned portrait walls. Does this look good? Yes. Is it attainable? Certainly. Is this the vision I've had in our current apartment? No. Some of the frames may be cock-eyed and other frames may not match, but I don't care.
I feel at home the minute I see this wall. Isn't that the point?

Here's my advice on how to build a {happy} gallery wall: save little pieces of your life along the way. Frame them. Those little moments are the ones you'll want to remember. While a beautifully assembled gallery wall is worth pinning, I wouldn't trade the one I pass each and every day.

If you have a gallery wall, what makes yours unique? xoxo {av}

the white top.

As simple as it seems, I love pairing a simple white top with a pair of great blue jeans or colorful shorts. This post may be lacking in color, but it contains the one item which is always on my shopping list: a functional white top. Dress it up or down, a white top is an easy investment in the depth of your wardrobe. As an item which transcends all seasons, it is hard to argue with a white top. Consider it a blank canvas for a fabulous outfit! All of the tops below clock below $75, but most are in the $30-$40 range. Enjoy!

top row: Topshop Floral Lace Sleeveless Top + Mango Scoop-Back Top + Oasis Elizabeth Top {all under $45}
second row: Reiss Kat Novelty Neckline Top {42% off} + Mossimo Juniors V-Neck Tee {only $8!}
bottom row: Splendid Vintage-Whisper Cotton Jersey Top + James Perse Cotton-Jersey Top + French Connection Lady Solitude Top {50% off}

What one item is always on your shopping list? xoxo {av}

psst: Do you like my new pin it button?! I'm so excited to finally have one installed! Feel free to pin away!

be in love.

Hello again! I know you've seen the quote below a million times before, but for some reason, I couldn't get it out of my head this weekend. Be in love with your life. Every minute of it. Living out this quote isn't always an easy task, but after years of trying, I recently decided to be in love with my life as it is today.

When {cv} and I were long distance, I spent the time between visits living toward the next one. The inevitable heartache with our good-byes physically hurt. Once we were finally in the same place in Rhode Island, I began thinking ahead to the day we would finally leave the Ocean State. When it became clear that Providence wasn't a short stop on our journey, it hit me that I couldn't keep living life from event to event or place to place. I needed to be grateful for the life I was living at that moment because it most certainly a gift.

The reality is that we're only blessed with so much time on this earth, so wishing it away is wasting time. {Crazy thought, right?} When I finally chose to be in love with what I had, everything finally felt like enough. It may seem cheesy, but it is the absolute truth. I get excited for life's curve balls--because as {cv} and I have discovered--those crazy turns often bring the best results.

How are you seeking peace with the life you're living today? xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #127.

A very happy Friday to you! As a May baby, I am always happy to see the calendar turn to my favorite month :) I thought it was only appropriate to ring in this month with a nod to May flowers. Since I grew up 60 minutes from Louisville, I had to give my floral-inspired outfit an extra Kentucky Derby twist. I would absolutely love to sport this outfit {complete with an enormous hat!} to a fiesta at Churchill Downs...

find them here:  Tibi Silk-Crepe Top
Lilly Pulitzer Mimosa Skirt in Fiesta Pink Pinwheel Organza
Christopher Kon Ellena Woven Clutch
KORS Michael Kors Vivian Wedges

Want to join in all the Friday's Fancies fun? It's simple! If you blogged about fashion this week, you're in! You do not need to follow the theme to participate--the themes are simply suggestions to get your creative juices going. Click here to join our mailing list for more info every Monday! Our little #FridaysFancies family will welcome you with open arms :)

How are you weaving florals into your spring rotation? Do you go for big + bold or soft + understated?

Many, many thanks to those of you linking up today! In the midst of all of our crazy schedules, it means the world that you keep Friday's Fancies in your blog plans. Have a happy weekend celebrating the Derby and Cinco de Mayo :) Be safe--and I'll see you Monday! xoxo {av}


twinkle toes.

Later this month, {cv} and I will be hitting the wedding circuit hard: we have three weddings in the span of four weeks! I want to get a pair of cute strappy sandals--without having to ditch the twinkle toes halfway through the evening. Here are eight different options which caught my eye...which is your favorite?

3) Tahari Bella Sandals // 4) Badgley Mischka Vivian III Sandals
7) Badgley Mischka Ava II Sandals // 8) Diane von Furstenberg Jujette Sandals

Comfort is my biggest requirement, but I would be willing to invest in the right pair. I can't wait to hear which pair is your favorite--or where else you'd send me for great dancing shoes! xoxo {av}