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}

blogger chain mail.

{photo by Kate Headley}

Last week, Elizabeth and Heidi tagged me in what I am affectionately calling blogger chain mail. I sat back and realized I haven't done a post like this in years. I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for one, right? {Just kidding of course!}

FAVORITE FLOWER? Without a doubt, lilacs. Hydrangeas are in a close second. {See evidence from my wedding bouquet here.}

MOST / LEAST ORGANIZED SPACE IN YOUR HOME? My closet is definitely the most organized, except when we've traveled two weekends in a row. My pantry, on the other hand, is always in disarray. Weird?

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU READ RECENTLY THAT REALLY MOVED YOU? I'm going to make a big admission here: I've struggled to continue Lean In. Most of the books I find myself reading these days are pretty mindless--mostly because I haven't had the bandwidth for something deeper. Even if she didn't "move" me, Gillian Flynn keeps me on the edge of my seat.

WHAT DISH ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AT THANKSGIVING DINNER? The cliché of all Thanksgiving dinner clichés: my mother's turkey. She actually stuffs the bird and the flavor is out of this world. 

HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE? I don't. If I need caffeine, I reach for an ice-cold Diet Dr. Pepper--preferably of the fountain variety. 

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL? To be frank, I don't miss much. I was a crazy lady in high school. I miss small town life but not the small town rumor mill. My days were filled to the brim with cross country, music theatre, AP classes, youth group, and life. I do miss the simplicity of life: one without college debt, one without a full-time job, one without adult decisions. While I didn't feel carefree during those four years, the cares I had then pale in comparison to the cares I have today.

MOST MEMORABLE CONCERT? July 27, 2004. John Mayer. Bonner Springs, Kansas. SECOND ROW. We even locked eyes during my favorite song, Split Screen Sadness. I had repeat second row seats for the tour he cancelled in 2012. I'm still not over missing it.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND BEFORE BED? While I'm terrible at unwinding, {cv} is great at it. He is the only person in the world who gets me to slow down. At the end of a long day, we end up on HGTV watching a House Hunters episode with our cuddly cats. We are clearly the epitome of cool. 

DOTS OR STRIPES? Stripes. Since I moved to New England, the volume of stripes in my wardrobe has more than tripled. Oops?

Any other burning questions for yours truly? Since this has been floating around a bit, I'm sure I'm tagging someone who has already been tagged but I'll give it a go. CaitlinJillian, Melissa, Natalie, and anyone else--these questions are all yours! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies #154.

Hello again, friends! It is officially sweater weather in New England. Though I may not love the cold come February, I do love donning sweaters at the start of the season. Whether you blogged about sweaters or an outfit you'd love to wear, your post is welcome for #FridaysFancies. There are no other rules to participate! It's easy to add your link below and meet some amazing bloggers in the process. I can't wait to see what you came up with this week :) As always, endless thanks to my loyal linkers--you make my world go round. Have a happy + cozy weekend! xoxo {av}

P.S. Thank you so much for your comments, emails, and tweets this week. Your good vibes and prayers were much appreciated. Though I may just be a girl behind a computer screen to many of you, you truly made me feel loved. I stick with blogging because of you. 


In thinking about this post, it struck me just how much of my life doesn't make this blog. After nearly three years, I deem a few things "blog-worthy" but plenty of others don't make the cut. While I desperately want to pour out my heart with the events of the last week, I need a bit more time to process.

Last night, {cv} and I discussed calling 2013 the year of curveballs. As I've learned after recent Red Sox games, curveballs are pitches intentionally thrown to catch the batter off-guard. In the last few months, the wild pitches of life have made {cv} and I stronger and more connected than ever. Even if the circumstances weren't always what I wanted, I can't help but think God had a hand in all of it. 

I don't talk much about my faith here, but it doesn't mean it isn't a major part of my life. Faith is a very personal thing, so I try to respect each of you--whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, something else, or nothing at all. For today, indulge me in this particular Bible verse. Paired with prayers from our family and friends, this passage has provided a great deal of comfort in the last few days. Regardless of whether you pray or mediate, I think its message is universal.

Please be patient with me in the coming weeks and days. I plan to stick with Friday's Fancies because it brings a bright spot to my week. I promise I'm not going anywhere, but I just need to take a little extra time for myself. With all my love, Alison

friday's fancies #153.

Loren Hope Carina Necklace {a Providence designer!}

Happy November! I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. For Friday's Fancies this week, we're channeling the style of our respective cities {or towns}. My version of the style in Providence, Rhode Island? Classically preppy with a little something special {in this case, an incredible Loren Hope necklace}.

Whether you shared a fashion post or showcased your city's style this week, you're welcome for Friday's Fancies. I hope you'll add your post below and check out the amazing women who make up the Friday's Fancies family. After nearly three years, your creativity continues to amaze me. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to link up! Enjoy your weekend... xoxo {av}