two weeks.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know just how much I love Rent The Runway. No joke: I tell people at the grocery store and the dry cleaners about my little secret. With Valentine's Day just two weeks away, I thought there was no time like the present to share a few red + pink looks for this lovey-dovey holiday. I rented this dress for the Saturday night after Valentine's Day. {cv} booked a lovely dinner for us up in Boston and I'm already counting down the days!

It may be the princess feeling which inevitably accompanies a Rent The Runway rental, but whatever it is: you cannot go wrong. Don't have a date for Valentine's Day? No sweat! Convince a small pack of your single girlfriends to have a fun night out on the town in some snazzy dresses. If the bachelorette party experience I had a few weeks ago was any indication, these dresses turn heads.

If you've been scared to Rent The Runway in the past, Valentine's Day is the perfect time to finally try it! All first-time renters get 10% off with the code JAN10OFFif you rent today. If you're a repeat renter like me, any V-Day rental {with delivery between 2.11 and 2.15} gets you a full-size Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. You don't even need a promo code. I'll take that!

Scared to take the plunge? The "Our Runway" feature eases my fears by seeing other ladies in the dresses I'm considering. The second "back-up" size is also a fabulous insurance plan. Still nervous? Email me. I'll convince you otherwise.

Are you already plotting your Valentine's ensemble? If so, what is on your radar?
Sharing is caring! xoxo {av}


P.S. This post is not sponsored by Rent The Runway--I just love them that much. I used to be quiet about it. Today? Not so much!

how to furnish your first home.

I lied just a little bit when I titled this post--will you forgive me? Here's the truth: {cv} and I are feeling pretty clueless as we look to furnish our home this fall. I know it may seem like a long way away, but time is flying. {It's already the end of January...when did that happen?} We're doing our best to budget for what will be an inevitable blow to our savings, but it's much easier said than done. Most of the furniture in our loft will not translate into our future home, so for all intents and purposes, we're starting from scratch. Writing that again just gave me the jitters, but I digress...

We've been told a few things:
1) Don't try to furnish the house all at once...
2) Empty rooms are ok in the beginning--it will come together over time!
3) Focus on the rooms where guests will be; there are doors for a reason.

Homeowners {of any variety--be it a house or condo}: please give it to us straight! How long did the process really take? {Does it ever really end?} Where did you find some of your favorite pieces? 
We need all the advice we can get. 

In the future, I'm hoping this post can help other first-time homeowners in their quest to furnish their first homes. The best part? {cv} was the one to suggest this post because you have all been such a fantastic help in the past. Rock on, readers. My husband believes in you--just like I do! 
Many thanks for your help :) xoxo {av}

marvelous monograms.

Happy Monday! When I shared this photo on Instagram last night, I had no clue it would inspire today's post. I have long been a fan of monograms, but until this fall, I'd never had one of my own. A few years ago, I uncovered one of my grandmother's monogram necklaces--a gift from her sister's wedding in 1961--and I have been wearing it ever since. {You can see it in here and here!} Last October, I caved and invested in this Moon & Lola Block Monogram Necklace. I smile every time I put it on and know I'll wear it for many, many years to come. Here are a few other marvelous monograms to make your heart go pitter-patter...

find them--from left to right: Moon & Lola Large Block Monogram Necklace + BaubleBar Large Monogram Necklace + West Avenue Jewelry Block Monogram Earrings + Moon & Lola Metal Boyfriend Signet Ring + DKM Accessories Engraved Monogram Necklace + West Avenue Jewelry Medium Circle Monogram Necklace + Moon & Lola for BaubleBar Acrylic Block Monogram Necklace

I am personally partial to the "block" monograms, but truth be told, I love them all.
Do you wear a monogram? If so, where did you find yours? Let's share the monogram love!
xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #113.

Happy Friday! I don't know about you, but I'm a perennial fan of black and white. When I saw it was "hot" for spring, I knew we had to devote a week of Friday's Fancies to this classic combination. After spying this amazing blazer on the Saks website, I realized it was my ideal ensemble. I found a few extra pieces to help make it my own--and here's how it turned out:

find them hereTheory Yaisa Stripe Blazer + NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave + BaubleBar Pave Tab Strand Necklace + Citizens of Humanity Elson Skinny Jeans + Botkier Valentina Mini Convertible Bag + J.Crew Martina Patent Wedges

Want to join in the Friday's Fancies fun? It's as easy as clicking here and joining the weekly mailing list. You're welcome to link up any fashion post below--the themes are only a suggestion to get the creative juices flowing. In other words, if you blog fashion, link it here :) We'd love to have you!

Oh! I forgot to mention something exciting last week, mostly because I hadn't done the math. This marks the 105th round of link-ups for Friday's Fancies. Do you know what that means? This is the start of the third year of fancying. I'm beaming to think this little series has grown into a vibrant community--and not just something a few bloggers do on Fridays. Thank you so much for making it a part of your routine ;) All my love to you today--have a super happy and cozy weekend! xoxo {av}


the c word.

It's been a long time since I posted about the c word. I don't like it, but then again, I don't know anyone who does. So when skin cancer became a part of my life in July 2008, I became all too acquainted with that ugly word. Thankfully, I've had some time to process it--and while it's never "normal" to say I had skin cancer at age 23, I don't hide it like I did in the early days.

Since my melanoma was removed that summer, I have visited my dermatologist every few months without fail. After a biopsy at a routine visit in July 2011, my dermatologist removed a precancerous mole from my abdomen. For the first three years after my initial diagnosis, some part of me believed my melanoma was an isolated event. When I went into surgery for the second time, I quickly realized I would be fighting a lifelong battle with the c word. 

Let's face it: celebrating our third anniversary in April will be infinitely more exciting than my fifth melanoma "anniversary" in July. In my book, the word "anniversary" should never be used with sad events because it takes away from the good ones. As that fifth year mark came into view this year, I received another reminder that the c word will always be in my vocabulary.

Two weeks ago, I went to my dermatologist for my six-month check-up. I don't think I'll ever grow to love the process, but I slipped into my gown so she could do an examination of everything. {In the chill of winter, it feels slightly like you're in a bad dream in which you wake up in the middle of a football game without your clothes. Lots of fun, right?} One mole on the right side of my chest had been worrying me and she affirmed those worries. She wanted a biopsy. Though I have never much cared for the b word, I had mentally prepared myself for this one.

What I wasn't prepared for was the biopsy she wanted to take from a mole on my back. My back has always been a scary place for me because a) I can't really see it and b) I can't keep close tabs like I can everywhere else. {cv} keeps an eye on my back, but with my sea of moles, it is tough to pinpoint new ones. After a few quick swipes of a scalpel, it was all over. I just hated the odds that something might come back cancerous. All of my previous biopsies had.

I left the dermatologist's office feeling deflated, anxious, and seriously ticked at myself for ever caring about being tan. As life would have it, these biopsies kicked off a week of pure craziness in my personal and professional lives. The chaos helped keep my mind off of the impending news, but it didn't always do the trick. I've never been good at the waiting game. 

After eleven days of waiting, many prayers were answered when I heard my dermatologist say I was in the clear. I walked out of the office with an enormous smile on my face. I climbed into my car and cried a few happy tears. Though I know melanoma will always be a part of my life, it isn't time for me to fight it again. My relief can scarcely be put into words.

I may not blog about it often, but the sun savvy pledge that Danielle and I created in June 2011 is still very much alive. If you have any stories to share about how you've changed your sun habits, I am all ears. Please email me and they might find their way into a future post. 

If you're still reading, thank you. I choose to share this experience with you because I feel an obligation to confront the c word head on. The sun is still shining and it means we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. I pray this post might encourage one of you to make an appointment about your mole that looks funny. I cross my fingers that it reminds you to wear your sunscreen--all year round. Above all, I desperately hope this post will serve as reminder that being tan isn't everything. Being healthy is. xoxo {av}


the best way.

Though it may feel like Monday for some of you, it definitely feels like Tuesday in my neck of the woods. Yesterday was non-stop, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I count my blessings every day for the craziness, as weird as that sounds. Robert Frost always has a way of saying things which makes perfect sense. {He's the quintessential "quote guy" in my book.} The quote below is totally true--and helped me remember to keep my eyes on the prize and not get bogged down by the clutter this week...

In thinking about what gets me through, posts from fabulous bloggers definitely help. I love seeing "link love" posts on other blogs, so I wanted to start sharing some of my own. These are just a few of the links which caught my eye in the last few days. If I tried to capture them all, you'd all get tired of scrolling. I promise more posts featuring other favorites soon :)

Anna from {dear friend} spent some time in one of my favorite New England haunts:
Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Christmastime. Trust me, you'll want to visit too.

Ashley from a {little} dash of ash got me prematurely excited about spring with all of
the colorful Sperrys now available at J.Crew. I still can't decide which ones I want!

Carly from College Prep explained about how she is keeping her new year's resolutions alive.
I love how much she is aiming to make goals manageable and attainable. So spot-on.

Christin from with a c.h. posted an amazing recipe for sweet + salty curried almonds
I've been trying to find healthy snacks with a twist--and these totally fit the bill!

Grace from Stripes + Sequins shared news about an amazing initiative + fun contest to raise 
heart health awareness. I'm already crafting up my #showusyourheart instagram...

What links have been inspiring you lately? Share the love, friends! Inspiration helps us all :)
Stay cozy today... xoxo {av}


how to make great dough.

Though the title of this post may sound like a get rich theme, it is far from that ;) {cv} and I made our way to Johnson & Wales over the weekend for a cooking class all about pizza. While making pizza isn't super technical or healthy, we had an absolute blast learning the in's and out's of pie making. 
I adapted the recipe below with my notes from our class...

Traditional Pizza Dough (makes 10 servings)
-two pounds of all purpose flour
-two and a half cups of cold water
-two tablespoons of salt
-two tablespoons of olive oil
-one ounce of compressed yeast

Combine dry ingredients into a mixer.
Add liquid ingredients and then mix on slow for three minutes.
Slowly increase the speed until gluten is formed.
Let rest for at least two hours. Overnight is better if you have the time.
{If you refrigerate the dough, give it at least two hours at room temperature before working with it.}
Cover it in plastic to prevent a "skin" from developing.

Other notes...
You can also add some flavor to the dough with herbs like rosemary or thyme. 
Substituting the olive oil with infused oils can also give some great flavor.

My best advice is to be patient with the dough. It's more finicky than I ever imagined. Working slowly but deliberately also helps. Staying focused on the outer edges--rather than the center--will help prevent tears and holes. When doing the traditional pizza toss, use "claws" rather than flat hands. It will help to stretch the dough--rather than shred it.

I am no dough expert, but I loved the whole experience. I've taken a cooking class by myself before, but this was the first time {cv} and I had done one together. We have another class coming up in March...and I'm already counting down the days! If you're in Providence {or close by}, join me for the macaron class in May. I. am. SO. excited. for that one :) {Email me for details!}

Do you have any other tips on how to make great dough? xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #112.

How many times have you seen an outfit and longed to make it your own? This week's Friday's Fancies are all about these little outfit crushes. Inspired by this pin {of a gorgeous coat from Boden which is no longer available}, I crafted a sassy little ensemble of my own. 

find them hereKate Spade Estate Garden Studs + Romwe Lace Hollow Apricot Shirt + Dior Addict Lip Polish in Fresh Expert + Topshop Faux Pony Hair Stud Belt + True Religion Halle High Rise Velvet Skinnies + Orla Kiely Half Milano Coat + Manolo Blahnik Patent Leather Mary Janes

Join the Friday's Fancies mailing list here and you'll get the themes in your inbox every Monday! The themes are only suggestions. You're welcome to create any outfit you choose and add it below. Consider Friday's Fancies your one-stop-shop for fabulous fashion links to round out the work week. Should you have any questions, please feel free to email me--I'm here for you!

I am crossing fingers your Friday flies by...if you're like me, you're aching for the weekend!
It's been a long week in these parts and I am thoroughly looking forward to some down time.
Stay cozy, friends--see you on Monday! xoxo {av}


running + sunshine.

After waking up to snow yesterday morning, it's hard to believe I ran in the 60º sunshine on Monday. It had been much too long since I'd seen the sun--and seeing spring-like temperatures in the throes of winter made this runner very happy. 

It wasn't my fastest run by far, but those six miles renewed my faith in so many things. After my marathon last fall, I hadn't felt "normal" on the road. My longest run since 26.2 had been 5 miles, so it reminded me what it felt like to get some distance in again. The quiet and solace gave me a fifty beautiful minutes to get my head on straight. It was just what I needed in the midst of a crazy week.

Running and sunshine just do it for me. Those of you who think running is a form of torture may disagree, but it is truly my respite. I am beyond grateful for legs that finally feel strong again {following my issues in September and October}. Monday's run also reminded me that spring will come--and I'll be ready for it.

 In my book, good runs are seriously good for the soul. If you're not a runner, I'm sure you have some other formula for happiness. What is your recipe for a stellar day? A good meal? Friend + family time? Whatever it is, I want to hear it :) Have a happy Thursday! xoxo {av}

P.S. What are you crushing on these days? Make sure to add your link for tomorrow's Friday's Fancies!

how to pack for a work trip.

A month after I graduated from college, I started a job in sales. Six and a half years later, I still work for the same company and have mastered the art of packing for our two to three-day meetings every quarter. I learned quickly that going with a basic color palette was key. Work adventures are also recipes for terrible eating, so I began to pack my normal breakfast bars and made sure I had a water bottle on hand. I may not own the specific items below {though I wish I did}, but my version will be finding their way in my overnight bag for my meeting today.

find them hereFoley + Corinna FC Lady Tote + Bobble Water Bottle + Spanx In-Power Line Super Higher Power Tummy Control Shaper + Clif Bar Energy Bar + J.Crew Pearl Twisted Hammock Necklace + Michael Kors Oversized Watch + Kate Spade Allie Wedges

From my experience, the basics are always best when it comes to work trips. I pack lighter + smarter!
What tips do you have for traveling for work? What always makes your suitcase?
I'll be nose down in my meeting today and tomorrow, but I'll be back with bells on Thursday!
See you then :) xoxo {av}


ohana means family.

When I married {cv}, I joined a fun and crazy Italian family. As an only child, I never had siblings, so gaining a sister-in-law was an amazing bonus. The truth is that I have many more sisters now :) Seven members of the {v} clan converged on Connecticut to celebrate my beautiful sister-in-law, {kv}. With her wedding three months away, there was no time like the present to celebrate her bachelorette

Words can't really describe what it feels like to be welcomed into a family with open arms. I will always love the family I was born into, but marrying into one so loving and supportive makes it even sweeter. This quote from Lilo & Stitch summed up the weekend pretty perfectly...

Family laughs together. Family cries together. Family makes everything better. No matter how many miles lie between us--a text or a phone call makes distance obsolete. I count my blessings for my "original" family and for the {v} family that {cv} gave me on April 10th, 2010. I am beyond excited for a lifetime of memories with both of our families. Ohana to the max ;)

Oh--and remember disposable cameras?! We used two. When we handed them to people to take our photo, they joked about the clock rolling back to 1998. Truth be told, I cannot wait to see what comes from those little guys. Seriously--let's bring back disposables. Who's with me?! I can't wait to share more details of the night with you soon! I've got a crazy work week on tap, but I promise updates as often as I can handle. Have an amazing week, friends!  xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #111.

A very happy Friday to you, friends! Last September, I shared the full Pantone Color Report for Spring 2013--and already had a crush on the lush emerald green tone. When Pantone announced that emerald was the color of the year, I knew we had to devote a week of Friday's Fancies to this luscious shade. As a May baby, I'm partial to emerald because it is my birthstone, but I can't wait to see so much more of it this year. Here's how I'd love to wear emerald, if money were no object...

find them here: Aspesi Velvet Dress + Tory Burch Megan Shoulder Bag and Pietra Doro Earrings + J.Crew Knot Bracelet + Pure & Good Opaque Tights + Jessica Simpson Audrina Booties

If you've blogged about emerald green since Pantone's fun announcement, you are more than welcome to add your link below! If you blogged about fashion this week, the same thing applies. Friday's Fancies is all about using fashion to help us get through the longest day of the week. Click here to add yourself to the mailing list to get future themes in your inbox!

This weekend will be a busy but very fun one! I have a belated work holiday party tonight and my sister-in-law's bachelorette tomorrow. Sunday will be a nice quiet day to recover ;) Enjoy your weekend--and many thanks to those of you linking up today! You're the best, hands down. xoxo {av}


knock, knock.

This week, I received the sweetest gift: a perfectly perky lobster door knocker! With our new house becoming more of a reality every day, I couldn't help but smile when I thought of this little man hanging from our front door later this year. I'm tempted to hang the lobster on our apartment door, but our management might not understand how amazing it is ;) Until then, I'll dream of him and the other fabulous "friend greeters" below...

find them: pineapple + starfish + lion + anchor + whale tail + lobster + bulldog + A

Door knockers provide endless character to a home before you even walk in the door. Even though I see our house being rather traditional, you better believe we'll be adding our personality throughout--starting with our lovely lobster! {You can see even more door knockers on my Houzz board for this month!}
Do you have a "run of the mill" door knocker or one with a a bit more charm?
xoxo {av}


small victories.

Back in August 2011, I confessed a deep, dark secret with all of you. I am about the pickiest eater out there. When I wrote that post nearly 18 months ago, I had never really eaten a real salad. I am happy to report that I'm working on those new beginnings I mentioned yesterday: I have had a salad for a meal four times in 2013. This may not seem like much, but they are certainly small victories for me. These salads may have some cheese and dressing, but it's a start. 

Though it hasn't been easy, I know that challenging myself is worth it. In the last year, I added spinach and arugula to my repertoire. I would have never been able to imagine it years ago. My best friends and family still look at me in shock when I order "normal" things--outside of macaroni + cheese and a big juicy burger. I simply had to make the decision to take these greens from a side to a main course. 

For people who've eaten salads their whole lives, I'm sure you're laughing at this post. Go ahead and laugh. Here's the reality: it is incredibly difficult for me to share this side of myself with all of you. Why? I'm flat-out embarrassed. I hate being the one at a restaurant who asks questions about broccoli and onions--and everything else. With time though, things have become easier--and I have high hopes that I will continue to make strides in a healthy direction.

I've always said that one of the best things about blogging is the accountability. When I share big decisions with people outside my "inner" circle, I know I have to deliver--even if it takes time. I don't do things halfway. Do I think that I'll be able to eat broccoli tomorrow? Not quite. I do have hope that I'll tackle it one day at a time.

If you're a fellow picky eater, what have you done to change your habits? How have you done it?
If you're a "good" eater, do you have any suggestions for starting small? 
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love + support!
xoxo {av}


every new beginning.

I'm sure the second you see the quote below you'll sing the song. This weekend, the song Closing Time came to mind as I put more thought into my hopes for 2013. I may seem counterintuitive that a seemingly depressing song is what popped in my head for the start of a new year, but hear me out...

The reality is that much of what I am working on this year revolves around changing old habits. In my blog life, it started with my #getreal2013 post last Thursday. In my "physical" life, it started with a re-dedication to gym time and a commitment to really trying to step outside of my food comfort zone. In my "intellectual" life, it started with the decision to really read more. In my personal life, it started with an honest investment in my friends and family--and the choice to show how much I care.

These may all seem simple, but I'll make the cliché statement about it being easier said than done. The truth is that I'm an OCD blogger, a tremendously picky eater, a "I have too much else to do than read"-er, and a continual over-committer. This year, I'll make the step toward new beginnings and watch those old "beginnings" fade away. I'm praying {cv}, along with my friends, family, and all of you, notice these happy changes :) What new beginning are you seriously committing to in 2013? xoxo {av}


friday's fancies #110.

Happy Friday to you! I'm so excited for the first round of #FridaysFancies this year :) When I picked the "new year--new you" theme, I took it literally. I'll admit I often get scared of mixing certain prints and colors. In 2013, I am going to take risks and push certain rules aside in--within reason of course. Pairing blue + black used to make me cringe and now I'd love to rock it myself! The same applies with those bold sequined leggings. They're a risk, but 2013 is my year to try it...

find them here: Madewell Silk Peplum Top + Kate Spade Electric Gardens Necklace and Plaza Athenee Drop Earrings + Reiss Carrie Sparkle Sequined Leggings + Vera Wang Lavender Laetitia Flats + Annabel Ingall Small Isabella Tote

If you blogged about fashion this week, then you are absolutely welcome to add your link below. Friday's Fancies is for everyone--you don't have to adhere to the theme. If you'd like more info about this fun Friday tradition, click here to join the Friday's Fancies mailing list

I can't wait to see what everyone has up their sleeve this week--I'm certain it will be extra-fabulous :) Thank you again for taking the time to link up! Much love to all of you who commented yesterday...I'm so glad I'm not alone. Have a phenomenal weekend, friends! I'll see you next week... xoxo {av}


P.S. If you can't see the linky, please add your link in the comment section below. I will add it once the linky is back up and working...technical difficulties on their end, not mine! So so sorry!

get real.

Happy 2013! On New Year's Day, {cv} and I made the trek back to the Northeast after a few glorious days in the Midwest. We finally made it back in the early hours of the 2nd. If I had been on my game, I would have had a post ready to go for the morning but I soaked every minute out of the holidays instead. I was exhausted and I knew the quality of what I could blog would be less than my standards. I tweeted that I wasn't blogging that day--and the responses encouraged me beyond measure. 

Truth: After nearly 600 posts, there are just some days when my brain doesn't have the creative space to make something truly wonderful. If you're a perfectionist like me, mediocre just doesn't cut it. For the first time in 25 months, I let myself "slack off" over the holidays. While I missed blogging, I finally let myself be fully engaged in the present--and not worrying about my next post.

Since I started blogging in November 2010, I feel like my brain has been on overload. I have a potential post list which continually ebbs and flows. I am always on the look-out for new Instagram shots because I'm downright picky about what I share. I refuse to pin anything without finding good sourcing. I am constantly evaluating my wittiness level on Twitter. It's kind of exhausting. Ok, I lie. It's really exhausting. 

While some people are lucky enough to make a living through blogging, I never intended to blog to make money. The truth is that I started blogging to find a community--and find a community I did. I have made lifelong friends from this little adventure. I have met some seriously amazing people. It also goes without saying that I love the ladies who link up for Friday's Fancies with all my heart. If I came to blogging because of the community, I should respect your time {and mine} and avoid clogging your readers with useless posts. I decided over the holiday break that I will now only share posts I feel worthy of your time.

I feel a bit like 2012 went by without me truly getting to appreciate it. In 2013, I will not let the "I have to blog every day" feeling get in the way of more important things--like standing up in weddings for my best friends or building our house. I'm not going anywhere, but when you do see me pop up in your reader, please know I thought long and hard before pressing publish.

Our time on this earth is too short to waste our years in front of a computer screen creating mindless content. Let's use our brains for something better this year. Take the pledge to get real in 2013. I think we'll all be happier for it. xoxo {av}

P.S. If you're on board, let me know below--or on twitter with the #getreal2013 hashtag :)