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 ;)