you are never too old.

C.S. Lewis nailed it with this quote, eh? The ending may sound a bit like Les Mis (which is never a bad thing), but I believe it wholeheartedly. When someone asked how old I was last week, I couldn't remember. It took me ten seconds to remind myself I was 28. I don't know when that happened really. The good news? 28 is just a number and I still have plenty of life ahead of me. (Leave it to Buzzfeed to nail it with this list about your late 20s.) 

Here's the thing: my dreams at 28 are infinitely more exciting than the ones I dreamed at 18. The difference? I didn't know what my life would look like at 18, but I have a pretty (happy) idea of what my future looks like. Today's post may be short and sweet, but my hope is that you'll pin this quote and remember it when you need it most. Dream that new dream, folks. You've got this. xoxo {av}

P.S. Are there any other quotes you'd like me to bring to life? Share them with me here or comment below!

it's time to plan ahead.

1) Erin Condren 2013-2014 Party Pops Life Planner {$50 with a 2-week lead time}
2) May Designs Notebook {starting at $19 with a 2-week lead time}
3) P.S. #Stationery - 15 flat A6 white cards with envelopes {$29 with roughly a 3-week lead time}
4) Jennifer Ann Style Personalized Double-Sided Blanket {$84 with a 4-week lead time}
5) Design Darling Monogrammed Coasters {$40 with a 3-week lead time}
6) Swanky Press Striped Monogram Cell Phone Case {$40 with roughly a week lead time}
7) Moon & Lola Acrylic Block Monogram Necklace via BaubleBar {starting at $58 with a 4-week lead time}
8) Mark & Graham Linen Satin Stitch Dinner Napkins - Set of 8 {$99 with only a week lead time}
9) Mark & Graham Rustic Leather Tray {$99 with only a week lead time}
10) Design Darling Navy Cuff with White Monogram {$54 with a 3-week lead time}

Though it is difficult to believe, the holidays are sneaking up on us. With a month until Hanukkah and eight weeks until Christmas, there are bound to be a flurry of gift guides coming soon. The one I realized I needed this weekend? A guide on how long it takes to get the best personalized gifts for your friends and family! 

Whether you're shopping for your impossible-to-buy-for dad, your picky teenage cousin, or your sister who just had a baby, the ten options above meet a variety of budgets and tastes. The best part? Your loved ones will know you really planned ahead with these gifts. (Ok, maybe they'll think you paid crazy overnight fees--but let's be honest, no one loves those rush fees.) 

What gifts do you struggle with finding? Have you found any other great personalized gifts? Even if it is a few weeks in advance, it's time to start sharing the holiday love. Have a great Monday! xoxo {av}

P.S. Don't forget about J.Crew's lovely monogram shop -- their options are endless!

friday's fancies #152.

In true Friday's Fancies fashion, we're concocting some boo-tiful ensembles in preparation for the upcoming festivities. Halloween is less than a week away, so this is perfect inspiration for all the procrastinators out there ;) Even if your post isn't spooktacular, any fashion post from this week is absolutely welcome for Friday's Fancies!

As always, much love and gratitude to everyone linking up today! New and old, I'm so lucky to have you for Friday's Fancies. Have a happy weekend, friends! xoxo {av}

how to make time to read.

Warning:  this post highlights my extreme nerdiness. I hope you'll accept me all the same ;)

I grew up a voracious reader. I sometimes attribute it to my inner only child, but once you handed me a book, I couldn't put it down. I was the girl who rode her bike to the library and would spend hours combing through the shelves. Weirdly, this memory made me realize how much things have changed. What parent would allow their child to just ride herself to the library at age 12? I digress. 

The same thing happens when I pick up a book today. I literally get engrossed in whatever story I'm reading, so much so that {cv} would rather me finish the book than put it down. The only problem? Since I started blogging, I have noticed my free time to read has diminished greatly. I love traveling because I actually have time to read. Much like eating better, I know reading is good for me--and I desperately want to do more of it.

I'm being sneaky with the title of this post because I'm really coming to you for advice: What in the world can I do to find more time to read? While I was in Jamaica, I breezed through two books and realized just how much I missed it. I really want to make the time to read--without feeling like I'm missing out on something in the blog world. (Hello, FOMO.) As a blogger, I am the first to admit that I have a hard time shutting down the computer. By the time I crawl into bed after a long day, my eyes are already half-mast. Any help for this nerdy girl would be very much appreciated! Have a great Thursday! xoxo {av}

when in doubt, monogram it.

I don't know about you, but seeing a 25% off email from J.Crew is pure torture. I'm no stranger to their Monogram Shop, but sales like these encourage me to actually pull the trigger on the best $10 treat from J.Crew. This summer, I pulled the trigger on this nightshirt during a similar sale--and treated myself to a sweet little monogram.

It may only be October, but my mind is already in holiday gift mode. I may have treated myself this summer, but it is time to think of others ;) With a little sale encouragement, those gifts are coming together. When in doubt, monogram it. Right? Right.

Are you a classic block or diamond insignia fan? Where else do you like to see monograms?  xoxo {av}

snapshots from jamaica.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a splendid weekend! I got home late last night from a perfect girls weekend in Jamaica. I met two of my best girlfriends, {jt} and {kw}, in the Charlotte airport early on Thursday and we jumped a plane to paradise. Since the wifi wasn't incredibly strong, I wasn't able to share much on Instagram. Thankfully, I packed my DSLR and snapped a few non-cellphone shots to share...

The sunset from our last night was pure magic. I love cloudless skies, but a few clouds make a sunset way more colorful.

{jt} took a little sunset swim--and reminded {kw} and I of the Little Mermaid ;)

In true best friend fashion, we all packed one yellow dress--without consulting one another. We may have received a few confused glances, but we didn't mind. (Oh, and please excuse my crazy awkward arm. This is what happens when you ask a busy waiter to take your photo.)

In looking back at this photo, it looks like we were celebrating the 4th of July--which is only fitting considering we were all American Studies majors back at Georgetown ;) 

This past weekend was a reminder that being disconnected isn't a bad thing. From Thursday morning until Sunday night, my internet connection was less than stellar--and it was such a blessing. In the midst of all our crazy schedules, the three of us had every opportunity to catch up. I read two books from cover to cover. I got a little vitamin D (safely, of course). As a blogger, I love the internet, but I'm the first to admit social media can get in the way. Though {cv} was jealous of my time in paradise, I know I'll treasure the memories and the snapshots from this girls' weekend forever. 

When was the last time you really disconnected?  xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #151.

Greetings from Jamaica! The sunshine greeted us yesterday when my girlfriends and I landed in Montego Bay. It may not be super cold in New England yet, but I'm still relishing every warm minute here in the tropics. While I'm away, I thought it was only appropriate to spend a week of Friday's Fancies on travel chic attire. I would wear this little get-up in a heartbeat on my trip home this Sunday!

J.Crew Classic Merino Long Cardigan // Mossimo Supply Co. Junior's Boyfriend V Tee {$9!}
J.Crew Factory Waffle Infinity Scarf // L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag, Zip-Top
Loren Hope Zoe Studs // Mark & Graham Colorfield Passport Holder
Beats by Dr. Dre urBeats Earbuds // Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Citizens of Humanity Avedon Ultra Skinny Jeans // Sam Edelman Petty Booties

If you blogged about fashion this week, Friday's Fancies is fair game! There are no rules to participate. Everyone is welcome :) A big thank you to those of you linking up this week! Whether it's your first time or your 100th, it still means the world to me that you take the time to link up. I'll be back on Monday with some vacation snapshots, but until then, enjoy your Friday--and have a great weekend! xoxo {av}

how to pack your carry-on.

Earlier this year, I felt like I lived on a plane. We were in the thick of wedding season and I rarely unpacked my carry-on bag. As I prep for my first plane ride in a few months, I realized I should think long and hard about keeping that carry-on manageable. There is truly nothing worse than walking off a plane with sore shoulders! If you can swing checking your suitcase, these tips will simplify your ride in a serious way.

Pare down your make-up bag. I know you're thinking that a make-up bag is definitely not the bulk of your carry-on, but hear me out. Unless you're going straight from the airport to the club, you don't need  an eyelash curler or your palette for your smoky eye. Get down to the barebones (i.e. what you'd need if you weren't reunited with your checked bag for a day or two). 

Make friends with the staff at your favorite make-up counter. Places like Nordstrom often have samples of the products you use all the time. When I purchase my Clarins moisturizer and cleanser, I always ask for a travel-sized sample. It never hurts to ask!

Leave your laptop at home. I know I have bold plans of blogging while on vacation, but let's face it: it is vacation. If you're looking for the easiest way to lighten your load (literally and figuratively), this is your best move. Your smartphone works wonders these days ;) Stepping away from the computer isn't always a bad thing. You'll also save yourself loads of effort in the security line...

Pack a Hanky Panky (a.k.a. a discreet pair of underwear). I don't think I have to go in-depth to explain this one, but believe me, if you need a pair, there is nothing worse than knowing they're under the plane and you're in your seat. One pair would add virtually no weight to your bag, but the peace of mind is priceless.

Don't bring your entire library with you. If you're lucky enough to have some sort of electronic reader, this point is moot for you. If you're not, consider how much time you'll actually have to read on the plane. If you have an hour flight, you won't need three books! Books are best left for your suitcase. If you must, you can make your suitcase your traveling library. (Trust me here: Growing up, I was the girl with the crazy large backpack--stuffed to the brim with books and schoolwork. My shoulders got a daily work-out.)

Be a big girl: leave your crazy large purse at home. Ok, ok. Your massive purse can often help you circumvent the "one carry-on and one personal item" rule. I pushed the limits (to the max) during my college years. As a somewhat frequent flyer, I can tell you this: nothing annoys me more than a woman with a huge tote as a "purse" and another large carry-on. When I said you should pare down your make-up bag, the same applies for your purse. You don't need all your rewards cards, ten cases of mints and four lipglosses. Most of the time, I pack a small purse (sans valuables) in my suitcase and put my wallet in my carry-on. One bag is so much easier to manage than two.

What other tips would you add to the mix? I could go on for another ten paragraphs, but I'll leave it at that. I've learned a lot over the years (especially when {cv} and I were long distance), so I hope these takeaways help you save your shoulders and back the next time you fly! I can't wait to see your travel chic Friday's Fancies :) Follow along with our girls' weekend via Instagram--we land in Jamaica tomorrow! xoxo {av}

one month of pure barre.

A month ago, I started my Pure Barre journey. I shared my thoughts on how to survive your first barre class a few weeks ago. My goal with my unlimited month was to attend as often as possible. In that month, I averaged a class every other day. While I am no expert after a month of classes, I can certainly attest to the magic of Pure Barre. Here are a few of my takeaways from my first month...

#1: When they say small movements, they mean it. For the first few weeks of class, I couldn't control my movements to "just an inch". I don't nail it every time, but I spend more time focusing on this control with each exercise.

#2: No class is exactly the same--and that's great! I loved having classes with a multitude of instructors. Each instructor teaches the same movements slightly differently. In doing so, I was able to learn the movements a little better. When I got deeper in my "tuck", I realized why the small movements  (from #1) mattered. During class (and the morning after), I definitely felt the difference.

#3: It gets harder. Really. I truly believed that after a month, I would be a Pure Barre rockstar. I like to master things. After this humbling month, I knew more about the flow and speed of a class, but I could never predict which exercise would "get" me on any particular day. 

#4: Pure Barre helped my running. After my stress fractures in the 2011 and 2012, I was forced to run every other day--rather than every day. By integrating Pure Barre into my workout routine, it sometimes meant that my running took a backseat. When I did run, I looked forward to my road time. I ran a 10K and I felt stronger than I have in years. 

#5: You'll see changes in places you don't expect. My legs shake each and every class--and I love it. I definitely see the change in my legs and butt, but the place I see the most change is my arms. As a runner, I never spent any time focused on my upper body. The Pure Barre warm-up makes sure I devote time to my entire body. I love seeing little bitty biceps in the mirror!

#6: I stopped looking around the room--and focused on myself. As a competitive person, I found myself frustrated after the first few classes because I wasn't able to lift my leg as high or nail the "bend stretch" movement. I decided to find a place in the studio where I could always see my movements in the mirror. By doing this, I focused on my movements--and no one else.

Are you a devoted Pure Barre fan? If so, what have you learned from your time at the barre? This month of Pure Barre convinced me to stick with it. I feel stronger--and I'm so happy I gave Pure Barre a chance. Many thanks to the ladies of Pure Barre Cranston for encouraging me each and every class! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #150.

Today marks my 150th Friday's Fancies post! A party girl outfit was only fitting for such a celebration. In my head, I'm wearing this to a little soirée with all of you ;) Wouldn't that be fun? I think so...

It's never to late to join the Friday's Fancies family! If you blogged about fashion this week, your post is absolutely welcome. Simply follow the prompts below--and voilà! You're in :) Thanks again to all of my Friday's Fancies faithful for staying with me all these years. You're the reason I keep up with the craziness every week. In a crowded blogosphere, it means the world to me that you stick with Friday's Fancies! Have a phenomenal weekend, friends--and here's to 150 more! xoxo {av}

mirror mirror.

1) Rope Framed Mirror from Furbish Studio  //  2) Songe Mirror from IKEA
3) Levanger Mirror from IKEA  //  4) White Mosaic Mirror from Serena & Lily {20% off}
5) Montara Mirror from Serena & Lily {20% off!}  //  6) Tortoise Mirror from Furbish Studio
7) Hemnes Mirror from IKEA  //  8) Sullivan Mirror from Serena & Lily {20% off}

As we attempt to round out the purchases for our apartment, I find myself struggling with my decisions on mirrors and lamps. I worry about the placement height. I worry about the size. Ok, ok, I generally worry a lot. Though I have taken an interior design class or two at RISD, I am the first to admit I am not a full-fledged interior designer. I know I need to trust my gut here, but when mirrors shine right back at you, I put more weight in the choices behind them.

The other limiting factor with mirrors? Their cost! Thankfully, these eight options hit a range of budgets. I never expected something so seemingly simple to be so...expensive? In fact, cost is the reason we passed on this incredible sunburst mirror in July. Our current mirror collection isn't shabby, but I'm aching to add a piece with a bit more interest. We own the IKEA Hemnes Mirror, which worked well in our previous apartment. I am tempted to paint it, but I know it will require more than a few coats. The other mirrors in our current space come from the mecca otherwise known as HomeGoods. I say it each time I write a home decor post, but I know patience is the best virtue in this situation.

Where do you find your favorite mirrors? What other home decor decisions frustrate you? I'm hoping I'm not alone in my battle with mirrors. I can't wait to see you back here tomorrow for the 150th celebration of Friday's Fancies! xoxo {av}

10 bold brownie recipes.

Brownie lovers rejoice! This round-up stemmed from a recent flurry of brownie pins on my "sweet tooth" board. No, it isn't my time of the month--I just love brownies. The basic chocolate brownie is fantastic, but adding a little life to the gooey goodness makes for a fun twist. Here are ten examples of bold brownies which are now on my must-make list...

left column from top: Cookie Dough Brownies from The Hub of Our Home // Ooey Gooey S'mores Brownie Bars from The Comfort of Cooking // Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies from Oh Sweet Basil // Gooey Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies from Dodgy Dumpling
middle column from top: Peanut Butter + Fleur de Sel Brownies from Love & Olive Oil // Chocolate Chunk Brownies with Salted Fudge Frosting + Pistachios from Dagmar's Kitchen
right column from top: Cadbury Egg Brownies from Pixelated Crumb // Pumpkin Fudge Brownies from Heather Christo // Peanut Butter Brownies via Averie Cooks on A Cup of Jo // Chocolate Cream Pie Brownies from Handle the Heat

Do you have a favorite type of brownie? I'm partial to the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate box mix {oops}, but these recipes give me faith I might be able to tackle something a bit more advanced ;) xoxo {av}

life lately.

Happy Monday! I'm back with a few Instagram-updates from the month of September. I feel like I blinked and last month was over. Considering we are already a week into October, this month is going to fly by just like the last. Though we spent all of our September in New England, October promises more travel--including a fun girls' trip to Jamaica in ten days. This girl needs it.

Thankfully, {cv} and I got a lot done in the month of September. We finally feel settled in our little apartment, as evidenced by the photo of our closet above. Fun fact: I can now build an IKEA Malm dresser without the instructions. There is still more to do to polish it off, but when is decorating ever done?

I made a few fun purchases for fall in September, which are already on heavy rotation. I opted for these loafers, this sweater, this sweatshirt, and this necklace--most of which I found on heavy sale.

What are you looking forward to in the month of October? Have a wonderful start to your week! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #149.

Happy Friday! Every season, we devote one week of Friday's Fancies to our color crushes. My favorite hue this fall? A rich shade of burgundy! I loved it last year--and thankfully, the trend is holding out for go-around. Wouldn't this cozy ensemble be perfect for apple picking or leaf peeping? I think so!

If you blogged about fashion this week, share your post below for Friday's Fancies! Click here to join the mailing list to get updates in your inbox every Monday. Everyone is welcome :) Many thanks to those bloggers linking up today, whether it is your first time or 100th! You're the reason I keep this link-up going. My parents are in the Ocean State this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. I hope you have a phenomenal weekend as well! xoxo {av}

stellar stacks.

Hi, I'm Alison and I have a magazine hoarding problem. {I hope I'm not the only one!!} When I spied these magazine stacks in the portfolio of Elizabeth Newman Interior Design, I realized I wasn't alone. They also made me realize magazine stacks don't have to look cluttered. VICTORY!

I have every Martha Stewart magazine since the day {cv} and I got engaged. They have wonderfully uniform spines. Before I spied this photo, I hid my collection away. With this photo as inspiration, I plan to share these issues much more prominently.

There is definitely a very fine line between chaos and style. A few tips from the resident magazine maven:
1) Consider the number of subscriptions you have and keep. I still subscribe to quite a few magazines, but I only tend to save the home magazines. I've decided to save myself the extra cash {and clutter} by cutting down on the magazines I receive every month. 
2) Force yourself to sort your magazine loot through every month. When we're traveling frequently, I end up with mile high stacks of magazines because I'm not taking the time to make my way through them. This seems like a no-brainer, but it often gets thrown on the back burner.
3 If you keep a wide variety of magazines, it doesn't exactly spell "pretty" stacks. Think about what you'll use the magazine for in the future. If you don't have a solid answer, you should place it in the nearest recycling bin. I keep my Marthas because they're timeless--and are always chock full of fantastic ideas.

Are you a fellow magazine hoarder? How do you keep your "collection" organized? xoxo {av}

12 sweaters for all budgets.

It may not feel much like sweater weather these days, but when J.Crew runs a 25% off sweater sale, it's hard not to pay attention. I started noticing that I was gravitating heavily toward grey sweaters this fall, so it prompted further investigation beyond From $35 to $230, one of these twelve options will surely make a great addition to your fall and winter wardrobe.

SECOND: Soft Joie Avette Sweater {$88} | TOPSHOP Knitted Crystal Stud Jumper {$92} | J.Crew Merino Pocket Tunic {$110 -- on sale for $82.50}
THIRD: TOPSHOP Knitted Brush Funnel Jumper {$100} | J.Crew Elbow Patch Sweater {$98 -- on sale for $73.50} | Joie Anelia Sweater {$198}

Which color is calling your name this fall? {Psst: You can channel your color crush in a post for this week's Friday's Fancies!} Have a great Wednesday! xoxo {av}