how to write with sparklers.

a sparkler photography tutorial: how to write with sparklers + catch it on camera!
{please excuse any grumpy or weird faces...I should work on my pleasant resting face!}

When we made our big announcement a few weeks ago, I promised a post on writing with sparklers. I thought it was only appropriate to share those tips in the week leading up to the Fourth of July. In typical {av} fashion, I did a fair amount of research to prep for our first attempt at sparkler writing. These five tutorials gave me the most insight into the final product: The College Prepster | A Little SussySociety Bride | Pixels & Co.This is Life? 

-This is one activity you cannot do alone. Unless you've mastered the art of using a self-timer in the dark, you are better off have a partner-in-crime for this adventure.
-You are best served buying a few packs of "Morning Glory" sparklers. These are larger scale sparklers with a longer burn time. Depending on your state's firework laws, you may have to do some digging to find this type of sparkler. Thankfully, I was able to find them in the dollar bins at my local Wal-Mart and Target. I've heard rumors about three-minute sparklers, but I was never able to find those myself.
-While you're at it, you should also purchase a real "long" lighter--not matches. Sparklers can spark {crazy, right?}, so having something which can give you some distance from the sparkler itself is key.
-Maximize the visibility of your message by wearing dark clothing from head to toe {preferably long sleeves and pants}. Lighter clothing will show up in your photos and distract from the sparklers.
-Borrow or buy a tripod. With the longer exposure, you will need your camera to stay perfectly steady in order to capture the sparklers. If you don't have access to a tripod, scout a few spots during the day where you can confidently place your camera. You wouldn't want any unfortunate camera mishaps in the dark.
-Try to stay away from streetlights and any other large light sources. This may seem obvious, but it is worth saying. It may take some time to get your bearings with your camera in the dark, but practice a bit inside before you head out into the darkness.
-As an aside, you may want to bring a vase or glass full of water outside. You can put any used sparklers inside to prevent any residual fires.

-Morning Glory Sparklers
-Large lighter
-Tripod {or sturdy surface}
-DSLR camera
-Dark clothing

-Using our DSLR camera, we shot all of our photos in manual mode. {I have a Nikon D5000.} I liked Nicole's post for technical information, though I used a different shutter speed method.
-You can gain more control with your shutter by setting your camera to "bulb" mode. It allows you to press down to "start" the photo and let up to "finish" it. This sounds really unscientific, but I promise it gives you the most control of your sparkler writing. {cv} would press down on the shutter button, say "go", then I would start writing. When I would finish the letter, he'd let up on the shutter button. We could often get multiple letters done with one lit sparkler.
-It goes without saying that you can include multiple people in the letter drawing process for a fun group photo.
-Many tutorials mention the difficulty of writing backwards. I have to give {cv} credit here: he realized it would be so much easier to write as if you were doing so on paper. {aka the normal way}. By flipping the photo, the word {or letter} appears correctly on your screen. If you don't have photo editing software on your computer, don't worry. After a quick trial, this website seems to work--just choose the left-right option. {If you have a smart phone, the Afterlight app will also allow you to flip the photo after you send it to yourself via email.}
-Have some patience: some letters are definitely harder than others. I struggled with J, R, and Y especially. Even though they seem easy, they tripped me up! 

This may seem like an intense process, but I can assure you that your first attempt at sparkler writing will be the toughest. We were able to take the photos for this post rather quickly, compared to our baby announcement photo shoot. As a point of reference, this post included 26 letters and a heart and the announcement had only three letters. It does get easier!

Apologies for the novel of a post, but I wanted to arm you with everything you need to take great sparkler photos this 4th of July--and beyond. If you've tried to take sparkler photos and have any tips, please feel free to add them below. Every little tip counts! Happy almost July 4th! xoxo {av}

where to eat: providence, rhode island.

where to eat: providence, rhode island via {long distance loving}

After living in Providence for five years, {cv} and I love many things about our little city. However, the first thing we always say when asked about Providence is that it has phenomenal food. I know Providence isn't the destination at the top of everyone's list this summer, but if only for the food, it should be. From fast fare to fine dining, you're sure to find something to meet your tastes below. I could play favorites, but for the sake of fairness, our list is in alphabetical order. 

Al Forno {577 South Main Street}: If you want Italian fare and have an evening to spare, Al Forno cannot be missed. I'm not lying when I say I dream of their spicy pizza at least once a week. It is also the place which made me a serious fan of apple crisp. Since they don't take reservations, be prepared to wait for a table. Trust us though, it is worth every minute you spend waiting. 

Bacaro {262 South Water Street}: Bacaro will knock your socks off with their Italian small plates. Their salumeria is no joke: the chef's selection of meats is worth every penny. Their riverfront location isn't shabby either.

Bob & Timmy's {32 Spruce Street}: When we lived on the West Side, this pizzeria was on speed dial.  It may not look like much on the inside, but GQ clued us into their killer grilled pizza. I enjoy the vodka sauce on their four cheese pizza...a lot.

Broadway Bistro {205 Broadway}: We spent many a Sunday night at Broadway Bistro during our West Side days. Cozy and quaint, this little eatery used to be half its current size when we first moved to the city. As they have grown, their offerings have grown with them. I love their ribs + grits appetizer so much I often get it doubled for an entrĂ©e. 

East Side Pockets {278 Thayer Street}: College-caliber fare, this Mediterranean eatery always has a line out the door. With crazy large portions, one chicken kabob pocket can constitute two meals for me.

The Eddy {95 Eddy Street}: We go for the drinks, but we always {and I mean always} get the pretzels. It may be the maple butter that accompanies them, but whatever it is, they are the best. 

Flan y Ajo Tapas Bar {225A Westminster Street}: {cv} and I had a favorite tapas place in Charlotte, so when we moved to Providence, we were disappointed when tapas was not on the menu anywhere. Flan y Ajo opened a few years back and filled that void in a fantastic way. Word of advice: arrive early or be prepared to wait. Rumor has it that they're expanding near their sister wine bar, Bodega Malasana, so things could be looking up in the wait department.

G Pub {61 Orange Street}: The G Pub is like the cool kid who moved to town in sixth grade and immediately had an "in" with the popular crowd. They opened this year and it is already in the rotation. They take pub fare to an entirely new level. It may sound funny, but I love their "You Must Be Nuts" {aka spicy pistachios}.

Gracie's {194 Washington Street}: I don't even know where to begin with a short review of Gracie's. Every visit is better than the one before. The service. The food. The ambiance. It's all incredible. If I had to choose my last meal {you know that ice breaker question}, I wouldn't hesitate to say it would be the Rigatoni Campanaro at Gracie's. We also did the dessert tasting on our last visit--and plan to do it again very soon. {You can also load up on macarons and other goodies at their sister bakery just down the street: Ellie's.}

Harry's Bar & Burger {121 North Main Street}: Recently recognized by CNN and Zagat, Harry's has been a favorite of ours since 2010. I positively love their pig pile sliders--and no visit is complete without their chocolate crack. Trust me.

Nick's on Broadway {500 Broadway}: This West Side mainstay has doubled in size since we moved to the city, but it didn't improve the wait times for their enviable brunch. If you're willing to be patient {or get up early}, it is worth the wait. I especially love their vanilla-battered, house-baked brioche French toast. YUM.

Red Fez {49 Peck Street}: Funky and fun, this hidden gem took us a few trips around the block to find the first time we visited. Vegetarians {of which I am not one} will be especially happy here, but this picky eater can still find something tasty on the menu. Their menu changes constantly, but one check of their Facebook page should give you a window into their specials of the day.

Red Stripe {465 Angell Street}: Even before Red Stripe was around the corner from our apartment, we made frequent pilgrimages to this eatery. Fantastic for brunch and dinner, it is always buzzing with happy customers. The Red Stripe grilled cheese {complete with prosciutto, pesto, and pear} is always a winner, especially when paired with truffled fries. You also can't fail with any of their mussels.

Three Sisters {1074 Hope Street}: If I could eat a Mint Oreo micro-scoop from Three Sisters every day, I would be a happy camper. All of their ice cream is made in house and you can definitely taste the difference.

Trattoria Zooma {245 Atwells Avenue}: Zooma ranks as our favorite Italian eatery on Federal Hill, which is quite the distinction in a crowded pasta marketplace. Their pastas are all handmade in the front window--and I am an absolute sucker for their Tortellini Vino Rosso {goat cheese-filled red wine tortellini, in a brown butter and orange reduction}.

This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. I would bore you to death if I included everything. If you are making a swing through New England this summer, consider saving a night to get a taste of Providence--and email me to say you'll be stopping through ;) xoxo {av}

summer mocktails.

a summer mocktail round-up!

1) Blackberry Mocktail via Running to the Kitchen // 2) The Palauxma via Confections of a Foodie Bride
3) Spicy Ginger Meyer Lemonade via Spache the Spatula // 4) Orange-Rosemary Mocktail via The Kitchen Prep
5) Mojito Mocktail via Bluebonnets + Brownies // 6) No-Stress Blood Orange Spritzer via In Sonnet's Kitchen
7) Virgin Frozen Margaritas via Taste and Tell // 8) Lavender Lemonade via Against All Grain
9) Strawberry-Lime Coconut Agua Fresca via the pig & quill // 10) Roasted Peach Lemonade via The Naptime Chef
11) The Bright & Bitter via The Kitchn // 12) Ginger Beer Lemonade via A Beautiful Mess

Summer officially starts tomorrow, as does my sixteenth week of pregnancy. {YAY!} While trying to jazz up my booze-free beverage routine, I decided to do a little summer mocktail research. Whether you're pregnant or not, these twelve refreshers will surely make any of your summer days better in an instant. The best news? These pretty concoctions come with smiles, not hangovers. Enjoy, friends! xoxo {av}

darling doormats for all budgets.

darling doormats for all budgets.

With our house build in progress, my mind is constantly running with the little details...though we have plenty of big details to choose first. Since I left the nest for college, I haven't had a doormat of my own. It seems like a small thing, but dorm and apartment living aren't exactly conducive to displaying a little personality with your doormat. This month, I devoted my Houzz ideabook to a few darling doormats which fit in all budgets. Even after doing this round-up, I still can't make up my mind about which one will grace our front porch later this year. With so many pretty options, I may have to pick a few seasonal favorites ;)

Do you have any secret spots where you find fun yet functional home goods? While I love places like HomeGoods, I don't have time to stop by weekly for new items. You never fail me with your knowledge, so I can't wait to hear your ideas.  xoxo {av}

friday's fancies: june.

summer wedding wear: buy or rent?

This weekend, we're attending the first of our summer weddings! Things are fitting slightly different these days, so the fanciful angle of this month's Friday's Fancies for me is wearing something I would have worn pre-pregnancy ;) One of my sweet friends loaned me a gorgeous Shoshanna dress for the weekend, but you know I would have borrowed from my friend named Rent The Runway otherwise. All of the "rented radiance" options above are under $65 for a four-day rental. Sadly, the "full price fabulous" are not as reasonably priced--though they are still gorgeous.

I'd be so honored for you to share your best looks from June below. The link-up will be open through the end of the month for your convenience :) With all the happy colors above, it begs the question: do you have a favorite hue to wear for weddings? xoxo {av}

barton build: the first two weeks.

Hello again! Apologies for the radio silence for the past few days...we've been going at 110mph and blogging has taken a backseat. I'm back today to share updates from the first month of our house build. I'm sure the photos from later in the project will be more exciting, but for now, you get to see lots of dirt {yay!}. 

The first few weeks of our process only brought a few surprises, the biggest of which was the "flip" of our plan which delayed breaking ground 10 days. After the lot was cleared, it became abundantly obvious that building a driveway on a slope wasn't our best plan. With New England winters in mind, we wanted something more manageable for our cars and our snow shovels. The flip was an easy switch, but it necessitated a new plan approval process from the city. We also had to shift our septic plan about 20 feet, which required a visit from an environmental services professional. {Yes, we are far enough out that we need a septic system. We are going back to our rural roots--or something like that.} These two delays aside, things have been rocking and rolling on the house. You will see the slight progression from the giant hole to foundation planning then pouring below...

It may not look like much right now, but I can start seeing little glimpses of nights spent on our front porch. I can see busy mornings spent in our breakfast nook. I can see kids playing in the back yard. Above all, I know what a blessing it is for us to be in this stage of the process. We will have a house this year! The real question for us is this: which will come first -- the house or the baby? Both are due at roughly the same time. Time will tell, but we'll be grateful in whatever order they come. xoxo {av}

how I did it: 10,000 steps for 100 days.

how I did it: 10,000 steps for 100 days.

The second week of January, {cv} walked through the door with an exciting surprise: my very own Jawbone UP24. The first day of my 100-day quest was February 2nd. I didn't set out to break any records, but I wanted to challenge myself. By the end of February, I decided to keep it up through March. When I hit my 100th consecutive day in May, I realized there was a bit of science in hitting the 10k benchmark. I haven't talked about this little mission on the blog, so I decided it was finally time to share more about how I do it--and why I keep it up.

1) The real ticket to hitting 10,000 steps is planning out your day in advance. It seems simple, but I always think through my next day {and the time I will have available} the night before. If I have a busy night on the books, I go to bed earlier to ensure I can squeeze in my steps before I leave for work. If I have a busy morning, I carve out time before dinner to knock out my steps.

2) Believe it or not, I find that the weekends are toughest to hit the 10,000 mark. I have to be much more diligent to get out the door in the mornings before things get crazy. I generally find that I have to be active for an hour a day {either walking or running} to hit the 10k threshold. It may not always be intense cardio, but I'm definitely doing something.

3) You will get to know your neighborhood {or your gym's treadmill} in a way you've never known before. With the cold winter we had in New England, I logged more steps on the treadmill than I ever imagined possible. Once the weather turned this spring, I am almost exclusively outside--unless it is raining. I have fallen in love with the east side of Providence and let myself get lost on its quiet streets.  

4) I found out 51 days into my quest that I was pregnant. There were many {and I mean many} days when I would have much rather stayed on the couch in my first trimester, but I found the walking to be therapeutic. If I didn't have energy for anything else, I could still walk. I felt better knowing I was staying active in some capacity.

5) Running has not fallen completely off my radar. In this stage of pregnancy, I am running roughly every other day. I love my runs, though they feel a bit different these days. I've learned that running three miles does not equate to the same number of steps as walking three miles. Tacking on a mile or two of walking at the end of the run normally does the trick.

6) My walks always serve multiple purposes: I call friends and family, I walk to a nearby university to grab lunch, and I listen to my favorite tunes. Like I said on Tuesday, I am soaking up the quiet before my life changes for the better in December. {I also find myself excited for the days I will get to take these walks with baby {v} next year. I can't wait to share the smell of lilacs and peonies after a good spring rain. Heaven, I tell you.}

A few notes: I worked out 5-6 days a week before, so this was a relatively natural transition. It was the time commitment which took the most work, but you also need the proper equipment. There are plenty of pedometers out there, so it really is personal preference which one you choose. I love my Jawbone UP24 {the bluetooth capable band in their collection} because it tracks both my steps and my sleep. I could log my food as well, but I choose not to do so. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you. I don't mind wearing a band on my wrist; others might like to be more discrete with a tracker hidden on their waistband.

Today marks my 124th consecutive day of 10,000 steps. I have heard many benefits in walking while pregnant, so I am going to keep it up as long as possible. I am rather competitive with myself and love the notifications that I'm hitting my steps. More than anything, I enjoy seeing a number north of 100% in my UP app. {Can you tell I was the girl who always did her extra credit in school?} With this many days behind me, I want to keep fighting the good fight. If you're on the fence about challenging yourself, take the plunge. You won't regret it. xoxo {av}

P.S. I am not a doctor and definitely consulted my physician before sticking to any exercise routine. 
My OB is behind my exercise plan, so speak to your health care provider before you begin a similar regimen. 
P.P.S. This post is not sponsored by Jawbone. I just love mine.

life by the water is always better.

life by the water is always better, especially with a few best friends in tow.
{photo + text source: my Instagram}

This past Memorial Day weekend, we had the chance to really relax for the first time in what felt like forever. With the big news we shared last week still under wraps, it was wonderful to be surrounded by a small group of friends who knew our big secret. As goofy as that sounds, it is the absolute truth. 

Being an only child, I have always placed an enormous value on friendships. I am an all-in kind of girl. I ask lots of questions and really seek to know everything I can about the people I love. Living on our own little island in Rhode Island, I crave those phone calls and FaceTime sessions with my faraway friends. The visits are even more special: we stay up until the wee hours soaking up every minute. Over Memorial Day though, I put my "FOMO" to out to pasture and went to bed at a reasonable hour. My pregnant self couldn't keep up with the late nights! 

Moving into a new phase of life, I find myself cherishing each of my conversations. There won't always be serene walks or uninterrupted chat sessions, but I will still be taking time for the ones I love. For the next six months though, I will be making the most of the quiet ;) Many thanks again for all of your love and support. I have literally been smiling ear to ear since we shared the news. Thank you so much for putting that smile on my face. xoxo {av}