do something.

Leave it to good ol' TJ to remind me that I can't just sit around expecting change to happen. Consider this quote the fuel for the fire of a great week. So many times, I sit around expecting things to come to me. As much as I'd like it, the truth is that most opportunities don't fall squarely in my lap. Hard work is required to achieve a different outcome. In other words, keep your eyes peeled. {long distance loving} turns three in November--and I want to bring you the best content yet. Many thanks for sticking along for the ride!

What will you be doing differently this week? This week and beyond, I want to invest the right energy into the posts I create for you. Is there anything in particular you'd like to see on {ldl}? I am all ears!

Thank you, Thomas Jefferson {and my sweet reader, Amy}, for inspiring this post today. Let this simple reminder help guide your week--I know it will be guiding mine :) xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #148.

Hello again! Friday spells happiness and brings with it another round of Friday's Fancies here {long distance loving}. For this week, I focused on an office chic ensemble. This outfit may be a bit conservative, but it is just how I operate in the office. I did try to bring in a little flair with my footwear ;) 

Zara Shift Dress   |   J.Crew Collection Cashmere Cardigan in Heather Neon Peach

Did you blog about fashion this week? If so, your post is fair game for Friday's Fancies. You don't have to follow the theme to participate. With nearly three years of Friday's Fancies in the books, this link-up is one of the longest-running in the blogosphere. There are no requirements other than to share the link to your post below. The amazing group of loyal linkers will welcome you with open arms. Click here to join the #FridaysFancies mailing list and get more info in your inbox every Monday. Many thanks to those of you linking up today!

Do you invest in your work wardrobe or keep it simple? 
Do you have any new ideas for Friday's Fancies? I am all ears!
Have an amazing weekend, friends. See you Monday! xoxo {av}

my new england portrait.

In early 2009, I stumbled on the blog of a photographer named Kate Headley. She was the only photographer I even considered using for our DC wedding. When she shot our big day in 2010, I knew we were in incredibly capable {and talented} hands. After our wedding, Kate and I never stopped chatting. I'm so lucky to now call her a close friend. When Kate booked a wedding in Connecticut, we plotted a little rendez-vous. We ended up in the quaint town of Stonington, Connecticut, where we spent the perfect late-summer afternoon. Kate kindly snapped some photos along the way...

Over the years, Kate and I have had a few other fun shoots. {You can see those here + here.} I'm not the most comfortable lady in front of the camera, but with Kate behind it, I somehow loosen up. She gets me to belly laugh and "pose" like a pro.

We even wandered over to the boatyard for a few photos by the fishing boats and lobster pots. 
New England at its finest.

Tory Burch 54mm Sunglasses  |  J.Crew Bracelet {no longer available online}

Many thanks to Kate Headley for these fun photos--and for setting aside a few hours for me every time she's in New England. You can see a few more photos from this shoot on Kate's blog here

I would ask if you wanted more outfit photos, but it would require me finding another photographer I trust half as much as Kate ;) See you tomorrow for another round of #FridaysFancies! xoxo {av}

my curl evolution.

 While it still surprises me that people want my curly hair advice, I am here to share a few of my secrets. In the last year, I have worn my hair straight for less than 10 days. I am about as low-maintenance as they come. This post contains some embarrassing early-in-life photos to show my curl evolution and a handy guide to the morning routine I've used for more than 12 years.

From start to finish, my entire morning hair routine takes me less than three minutes. I could dedicate more time to perfecting my curls, but I find the more time I spend, the less controllable my curls become. Some days, the process works better than others, but it still works. Though I'm sure my younger self would cringe at the thought, I have come to accept a bit of volume as a badge of honor.

a curly girl's guide to easy curls--in less than three minutes a day!

As most curly haired women do, I have a love-hate relationship with my crazy locks. My mom "straightened" my hair every four days or so until fifth grade, when I took control of my own curl destiny. After finally growing out my bangs in sixth grade, I discovered those magical accordion-like hair contraptions which helped me keep things somewhat contained. The best discovery though? MOUSSE. Over the last 15+ years, I have tried countless other remedies...and nothing seems to work quite like mousse. For your viewing pleasure {and amusement}, I present to you my very own curl evolution--complete with American Girl dolls, braces, and blown-out bangs...

Since I was 16, I have used some variety of Pantene Pro-V Mousse and Detangler/Leave-In Conditioner. While I have tried curl creams and potions from my salon, the volume of product I require keeps me coming back to my old staples. These products are also easy to find when we travel, which makes it easier to travel without checking my bag. I just make a quick stop at a drugstore when we land. {The $8 investment is much cheaper than checking a bag both directions!} In the last year, I have added a bit of Moroccan Oil hairspray to my routine for long days. I think any hairspray will do, as long as it is of the light hold variety.

My process may sound crazy, but it is tried and true. The towel really helps prevent me from touching {and frizzing up} my curls. Brushing curls may be a hairstylist's worst nightmare, but it works wonders for my curl definition. Though I can't promise to create curls for straight-haired ladies, this is the process I use to tame my curly mane on a daily basis...

If you're a curly girl, what products do you use? 
I may have my own routine, but I always love to hear what works for others.
Cheers to my fellow curly girls out there! xoxo {av}

fun shades for fall.

Last Thursday, I allowed myself a rare manicure and tried out Cashmere Bathrobe from Essie's fall collection. The cuddly name had me at hello! This steely gray with the slightest metallic touch is definitely darker than I normally wear, but I have really enjoyed it over the last few days. I also spied the newest Essie shades coming to life elsewhere. Here are a few of my favorite fun shades for fall 2013--in nail polish, eye shadow, and earring form!

Earrings {from Loren Hope}: Crystal - Pine - Midnight
Eye Shadow {from Bobbi Brown}: Rockstar - Forest - Midnight

What colors are catching your eye this autumn?  Have a great Monday! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #147.

A very happy Friday to you! With autumn arriving on Sunday, it is only appropriate to devote this week's Friday's Fancies to our fall wish lists. Take a peek at what I'd love add to my wardrobe to weather a crisp New England fall--if budgets were out the window!

Madewell The Transport Tote in English Saddle

If you need to refresh your fall wardrobe, you're in luck...
J.Crew = 25% off through 9.25  ||  J.Crew Factory = 30% off through 9.24  ||  Gap = 35% off through 9.20
Macy's = 20% off through 9.22 with code VIP  ||  Ann Taylor = 40% off two or more items

Did you blog about fashion this week? If so, you should absolutely add your post below. The only requirement for Friday's Fancies is to share a fashion-centric post :) Click here to join the mailing list and find out more! The ladies of Friday's Fancies {and me!} will welcome you with open arms :) Many thanks to those of you linking up today--I'm so lucky to have you. Happy {almost} fall! xoxo {av}

what to know before your first barre class.

When I learned there would be a Pure Barre studio opening a short ride away, I knew it was finally time to give in to the craze. After consulting a few of you on Twitter, I took the plunge and purchased their opening special for a month of unlimited sessions. I am only a few days into my package, but I am happy to report that I am still in one {sore} piece. As a newbie, I wanted to share a few of my takeaways for surviving your first few barre classes.

1) Don't come without socks. If you're willing, ante up a few dollars to buy their "sticky" socks. As a less than graceful person, the grips made me feel sure-footed and a bit more confident walking into my first class.
2) Everyone is going to SHAKE during a few of the exercises. No one is immune. It is proof the exercises are working. Even though I have strong{er} legs as a runner, I still shake a lot.
3) Don't be intimidated. There will be seasoned veterans in your class, but there are sure to be new students as well. I struggle a lot with my upper body strength and my flexibility. I'm hoping barre classes will help with both of those things. I learned very quickly that there are others more skilled at this than me--and I'm okay with it. I will get there eventually.
4) If you can't make it through an exercise, don't be afraid to readjust. You can catch back up. It takes time to get the hang of the movements! The instructors may say differently, but I'm of the opinion that you can't build Rome in a day--or master barre in your first try.

For barre veterans, what other advice would you give to newbies like me? 
I'll be sure to give an update at the end of my unlimited month. I doubt I can continue at the unlimited rate when next month rolls around, but I can certainly see the value in barre--even after only a few classes! Many thanks to those of you who convinced me to try it! xoxo {av}

pantone color report: spring 2014.

Pantone recently released their Fashion Color Report for Spring 2014. It is starting to feel like fall, but this in-depth report already has me dreaming of next spring. I had so much fun pulling together a visual for last year's report that I had to do it again! In my {humble} opinion, Spring 2014 is a bit richer than Spring 2013. I'm definitely not complaining about it. See for yourself!

Want to have the Spring 2014 Color Report close at hand? I made it simple with a free printable!


Which is your favorite? If you're a color lover like me, it is next to impossible to pick just one.
My current crushes include Cayenne and Dazzling Blue, but tomorrow it may be Hemlock and Paloma!
Be sure to add your two cents below! xoxo {av}

inviting entries.

Happy Monday! After spending much of the weekend working on our little apartment, I decided it was time to let you in on another design dilemma: our entry way. If my "inviting entries" Pinterest board is any indication, my entry inspiration is pretty eclectic. I even decided to dive a little deeper with my Houzz ideabook for this month. An entry is the first peek anyone gets into your home, so I feel extra pressure into making it great. {I hope I'm not the only one!} These photos are a few recent favorites...

from top:

My design dilemma is a funny one: our entry is essentially a circular space. Each of the walls are curved! I'm having a hard time committing to a piece of furniture that works perfectly in this space but may not down the road. I want to make sure we are buying pieces which will stand the test of time. With this in mind, I found 20 stellar statement pieces for an entry--six of which you see here. I can't pull the trigger on any just yet, so I would certainly love your input :)

from top:

What type of furniture do you have in your entry? Any advice on decorating curved walls?
As always, I can't wait to hear your insight! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #146.

Happy Friday!! We have a fun round of Friday's Fancies on the docket today: Friday Night Lights! {cv} cheers for the Patriots, so my home state loyalty causes a bit of rivalry in our apartment ;) Though the Indianapolis Colts may not play on Fridays, this "tailgating chic" outfit makes me wish they did. I'd like to think I took a basic t-shirt and jeans combo up a notch. 

If you blogged about fashion this week, please add your link below for Friday's Fancies! Unlike many link-ups, there are no other requirements :) All you need to do is follow the prompts below, but if you have other questions, email meClick here if you'd like to join the #FridaysFancies mailing list to learn more!

How do you stay chic when you're at a sporting event? 
 Whether you link up every week or every so often, I'm so grateful to have you for Friday's Fancies. For even more gametime inspiration, take a peek here + here. Have a fantastic weekend, friends!  xoxo {av}
P.S. You can also find me on cornflake dreams + something charming this week!

love is: changing together.

After a long hiatus, I'm back with a new spin on my long distance series. This one features Megan {from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life} and Jonathan, a pair of high school sweethearts who weathered their college years apart. They are now reunited in the same city and engaged! Their story is definitely worth the read...

What one piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your long distance days? 
Talk on the phone more. I’m not a big phone-talker, so we usually only talked on the phone right before we went to bed to say good night. We texted and emailed throughout the day, but I wish I would have set aside more time to have a genuine conversation on the phone and not just “love you, good night.”

How did your communication change over the years?
The frequency of our communication depended greatly on our school schedules. Between our classes, part-time jobs, our extracurriculars {football for him, sorority for me}, there were times we didn't actually talk on the phone for a week or more. As we got older, we discussed what means of communication worked better for us. We found times that worked for both of us, even if I had to write "Skype with Jonathan" in my planner. Our communication definitely became more of a priority as we matured and grew in our long-distance relationship.

Because you attended different schools, what helped you survive the "3/5/7-wheel" situations?
Luckily, I have pretty cool friends, so they dated pretty cool guys. They would always be sure to include me in conversations and activities when I was the odd woman out. It also helped that my friends all loved Jonathan and wanted to introduce him to their boyfriends when he visited. There was always plenty to talk about when Jonathan was in town!

Anything else you'd like to add? 
Many people have said that high school sweethearts can’t work because people change. They say that no one is the same person they were in high school. Of course, Jonathan and I have changed since we began dating at 14, but we’ve changed together--and that’s what makes it work.
A big thank you to Megan for sharing her story with all of us! I love the concept of changing and growing together. After eight years with {cv}, I can definitely echo this sentiment :) If you would like to share your story, you can submit yours by clicking here and it just might end up here on {long distance loving}. I'll keep sharing stories in the coming months :) See you all tomorrow for some football--I mean, Friday's Fancies! xoxo {av}

store your stacks.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're familiar with bracelet "stacks". I remember seeing my first stack over on College Prep way back in 2010. Ever since, I've been slowly growing my bracelet collection. Organizing bracelets used to be a serious frustration, but these Container Store Acrylic Jewelry Stands make it easy as pie! For only $15, you can take the mess out of your jewelry box and make it easy to reach for your favorite bracelets.

Trust me: you will not regret the $15 investment in one of these acrylic jewelry stands. If you're like me, being organized is always better. What jewelry organization makes your life easier? xoxo {av}

where to go.

I don't know about you, but I have the travel bug something fierce these days. Weddings ruled our travel budget earlier this year, so we haven't taken any actual vacations together in 2013. With {cv}'s work schedule, we're limited on the number of days we can jet set. Rather than spread ourselves too thin, our plan is to focus on one city. These cities are topping our list, but we can't seem to narrow it down!

Since I know I have some amazing travel vets out there, I'm intrigued to hear your take on where to go with our five days. We would likely travel in late October or early November. I know many people will be inclined to say we should hop down to the tropics, but I want an adventure--not a beach ;) Though we love Paris, we've been there twice in the last three years and want to see somewhere new!

Which of these cities would you recommend for a five-day vacation? Or are there any options missing from this list? Anything with reasonable accessibility to the Boston area would be lovely. {In other words, we don't want to spend our entire vacay in an airport!} I cannot wait to hear your suggestions! Many thanks in advance for your travel wisdom... Happy Tuesday!

  PHOTO CREDITS: Venice: Jim Richardson | Quebec City: Bill Heinsohn | London: Will Van Overbeek | Barcelona: Michael Cowell | Madrid: Guido Cozzi | Rome: Bob Krist | Amsterdam: Ripani Massimo | Prague: Heimo Aga

friday's fancies #145.

The seasons are definitely starting to change in New England. I felt a little chill in the air on our walk to the grocery store last night. Like I said on Tuesday, I'm learning to accept that summer is leaving us ;) The first step in that acceptance? Learning which pieces from summer can transition easily into fall! This week's #FridaysFancies is devoted to making that transition a seamless one. I may not own this sweater, but if my budget was unlimited, I'd own it in every color.

Frye Paige Trapunto Boots in Redwood {35% off!}

Many thanks to those of you linking up today! With nearly three years of Friday's Fancies in the books, it is so nice to have you sharing your posts here on {long distance loving}. Any and all fashion posts are welcome--you don't have to follow the theme to participate. Join the mailing list by clicking here!
Have a fantastic weekend, friends! xoxo {av}
P.S. Thank you so much for your love on this post from yesterday! Life's too short not to eat the cupcake :)

why you should always eat the cupcake.

The day I got married, I weighed ten pounds less than I do today. Everyone always warned you about the "freshman 15", but I don't remember any warnings about the "marriage 10". I'm here today to share why those last few pounds aren't worth worrying about for another second.

{one of our engagement photos from 2009 - courtesy of Kate Headley; see more here + here}

The reality is that as hard as I try to get back to "wedding shape," I never get there. Recently, I finally accepted it is because I am not supposed to get back there. In the months leading up to our wedding, stress may have aided in my petite size for our big day. {I was working out, but no more than I normally do.} Our wedding day was an absolutely wonderful whirlwind. When we left for our Parisian honeymoon, I gave myself the green light to finally relax and enjoy. 

In the three years and some odd months since our wedding, I made the decision to keep enjoying life like we did in Paris. I love running and going to the gym, but I also love to travel and eat cheese. Finding the balance of these loves is certainly key. There have been times in the last three years when the equilibrium was off {thanks to a stress fracture from marathon training}, but I got back on board as soon as I could.

Thanks to #tbt, I find myself looking at pictures of myself from my early 20s and wish I had that body back. On the other side of the coin, I realize I am much kinder to my body today than I was at age 21. I eat real meals {because I can afford to go out to dinner and not to the dining hall}. I exercise five days a week. I sleep like a semi-normal person. The difference? I let myself have the cupcake today when my younger self would have passed. Does this mean we have the green light to eat whatever I want? No. Everything in moderation, of course. I simply mean that I no longer deny myself the right to enjoy life with food.

I tentatively asked {cv} the other day about this topic. The thing he said which stuck {and actually gave me the courage to finally write this post} was this: We've lived. We've traveled. The weight doesn't make me like you any less than the woman I married--it only makes me love you more.  In hearing that from him, I realized something big: those last few pounds are just the last few pounds.  {cv} isn't going to run for the hills because I weigh a few more pounds than I did on the day we got married. I "earned" that weight over marvelous dinners with my husband, fun nights out with my best friends, and big Italian family dinners. 

At 28 years old, it is pretty weird to look in the mirror and see a body that isn't like the one you had ten years ago. I'm certainly much less tan. I'm much more womanly. I have hips. I no longer have 18 year old boobs. {I said it, not you.} I have a few wrinkles--or as {cv} calls them "smile lines". I'm also old enough to finally accept that I'm not going to have a six pack. {Kudos to those of you who do, but I'm happy in my one-pieces.} I'm not perfect--nor will I ever be. I'm okay with that. I'm making the decision from here on out that what I am is enough. Life is too short not to eat the cupcake {or brownie or ice cream} placed in front of you. 

I'll admit: this was a pretty big topic for a random Thursday. This post has been lingering in the back of my brain for a long time. I always back off out of fear that someone might judge me or say that I actually do look better ten pounds lighter. I don't know what gave me the courage to write this today, but I hope you'll be kind in your comments and give your two cents on the topic. If you take away anything from this post, let it be this: always eat the cupcake. xoxo {av}

DISCLAIMER:  I'm not writing this post to get the "oh, you're so thin" comments. I'm writing this post 
because I think we all deserve a break from the weight rat race--and a cupcake when we want one.

your best blowout.

I've had crazy curls my whole life. {You can see early evidence here.} Growing up, my mom attempted to tame my locks, but it wasn't until I discovered mousse in 1999 that I came to embrace my curls. Truth be told, I am still clueless about how to straighten my hair. I only own a blow dryer because I know our female house guests might need one. I've never used it. 

{cv} fell in love with me with curly hair, so thankfully, he prefers my hair the natural way. I do too. It's easy and low-maintenance, which is a lot like my beauty routine. When I do want a change in pace, I rely on the professionals. I got my first "blowout" in November 2011 and loved the results. {cv} didn't mind them either. My "straight" hair is definitely different than what I wear on a daily basis. After an experience at a few different salons, I have a few tips for your best blowout...

1)  Think through what else you have on the docket for the week you book your blowout. If you're training for a marathon, a blowout may not be your best investment. Sweat {or any kind of moisture} is a blowout's biggest enemy. Be realistic: you want to make your blowout last--and if it can't, it may not be worth it.
2)  Double check the weather forecast. If the weather would breed frizziness, you're almost guaranteed to have double the volume when it is blown out. {This goes hand in hand with #1.}
3)  Go in with an open mind. They're professionals. Let them give you a little body or volume. In the days after your blowout, you'll be glad you did. This extra oomph will keep it from looking flat and dull.
4)  Even though you'll want to, don't touch your lovely tresses. I can vouch for this. Too much touching is a recipe for fluffy locks. 
5)  Just say no to hairties: I'm a big topknot fan after a long day at work. For the days after your blowout, do everything to resist the urge for a bun or a ponytail!

{Dress: Rent The Runway | Necklace: Moon & Lola | Phone Case: Kate Spade | Watch: Michael Kors}

Speaking from experience, I simply cannot say enough good things about Be Styled. Not only is their facility gorgeous and inviting, their staff knows how to make a girl feel pretty every day. {Isn't that a great concept?} If you have the chance to visit Be Styled or another blow dry lounge in your area, take it. You'll feel like a queen for the day {or two or three}. I was able to stretch out my Be Styled blowout for three full days! {I know people who are able to stretch it even longer, but I'm not that brave!}

What other tips would you give to make your blowout last? xoxo {av}

NOTE: I was given a free blowout to sport at our Boston Bloggers event in August. I was not required to write a post for their services. I simply liked my experience and wanted to share more about a curly girl's perspective with blowouts.

a little bit of summer.

Somewhere along the line, the calendar turned to September. I'm still in denial, but fall will be here before we know it. Growing up in Indiana, I loved autumn. It was by far my favorite season. The leaves, the bonfires, the sweatshirts, the football games. Everything. I loved every minute. 

For most of the year, I can look past my homesickness, but something about fall makes me miss the quiet life in my hometown. Life in New England has me hanging onto every minute of summer--because fall signals an impending winter. When I first heard John Mayer sing Wildfire, this line in the song struck me to the core. As simple as it is, this line made me remember another summer will come around again...

{cv} and I pack so much into the summer months. Travel is more reliable {without snow in the forecast} and the days are longer. Whatever it is, I am learning to savor the craziness. The fall and winter months signal a quieter existence for us--and you won't find me complaining. I can still be homesick, but I need to soak in the beauty of fall in New England. There's no reason to dread it anymore.

What's your take on fall? What song do you have stuck in your head as of late?
This autumn, I'm going to keep the hope. After all, there's always next summer...
Thanks for that reminder, Mr. Mayer. Enjoy this short week! xoxo {av}