9.19.2014

Weekending readings.


Stepping into this weekend excited about getting together with a great group of gal pals and soaking up some much needed time with my better half. I have a few recommended readings to keep you busy if you’re sitting poolside (lucky you) or cozied by the fire with your feet kicked up in complete relaxation (again, lucky you). 
Did you celebrate National Guacamole Day. I, for one, surely did and I ate way too much of this deliciousness
The perfect handy guide to the appropriate serving sizes for your next dinner party.  
Step into NYC for a moment while my friend gives us a little encouragement to stay on course. 
This gorgeous desk space inspiration is everything. It may have been enough to nudge me to complete my creative space sooner than later.
Green apple jalapeƱo lemonade sounds like something you might be asked to drink for a dare, but this recipe might have you thinking a little different. 
Psst. Banana Republic is tempting me with this 40% off fall sale. ...You know you want to. 
Better together, the United Kingdom remains. But did you know that we can thank the Scots for the indoor toilet? Yep, that and more. 
Ever feel like you wish you would've appreciated the recommended reading more in school? Here's a list of the 10 most unforgettable books. I may just set myself a challenge to get through them all at some point or another... without the cliff notes. Yep, that was me. 
Hands up if, you too, are a fan of sushi? Eat your heart out with this sushi review. 
I'll leave you with this, some tunes to keep you bopping this weekend if you are one of those who has to do a little weekend tidying. 
Oh and this, if you're one of those in the US of A you can take yourself down to your local Sbux and get a bogo holiday drink of your choice. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a BFF catch up to me, if only. 
The postcard above is a little sneak peek into something exciting launching soon, keep you eyes peeled. 
Happy week-ending! 
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9.17.2014

Lets tell the mirror who's boss

Mirror mirror
Image source
Sure, it's easy to say that beauty comes from within. It's easy to act like appearance doesn't matter + first impressions are superficial, and that's absolutely true. But what if I pose to you that the audacity that some have to wear that bold pout, that loud statement piece or strut that glitter combo are a sign of beauty. Not in what's being worn but how it's being worn. I often think that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. 

Beauty is made up of many component parts. On some, beauty is expressed by the confidence they carry. On another beauty shines through the sweetness that one exudes. On a fair few beauty is in the latest trend they can pull off because, the dare they have to try it, is beautiful. On others it's in the subtle smile that they lend to a stranger or the genuine good morning greeting that they give to the passer by. In some it's the way they hold their head high and shoulders back. In others it's the way they make the room light up when entering. Beauty is evident in some by the mere fact that it's as if they've never met a stranger and others express it through their ability to make everyone in a circle feel equally as welcomed. In a special few beauty lies within their triumph over great adversity. Some beauty pours out in the way they view circumstance and others it overflows through the way they stand solid amidst challenge. The way that some are so steadfast despite uncertainty and truly live each moment to the full, is beauty defined. 

Although this very word is represented differently through each and every one of us, it does has one common denominator, it's personal. It traces right back to each individual and how they first love themselves, in the most non-narcissistic way of course. If I polled a circle of my best girlfriends the majority would admit that they've looked into the mirror a time or two, or ten, and not like what they saw. They would tell you that the pressure of looking the part has left them feeling stressed and downtrodden at some point. They might even confess that they've thrown themselves a full-on pity party in their closets surrounded by all of the clothes that were all of a sudden the worst pieces that one has ever seen, that one morning not too long ago. We all feel the pressures of the world, but despite that we have a choice to make. 

We can let the worlds definition label us, or we can choose to throw off the ropes that can entangle our thoughts and live more free. 

True beauty shines when we first make a decision to love ourselves. We were created as a beautiful masterpiece, unblemished, and full of purpose. We are in this sisterhood together so it's ever-so important that we build each other up, overdose on compliments, and show an abundance of love. We are hard enough on ourselves. As sisters we must cheer each other on, walk hand and hand, express encouragement, dream together + share moments of pure laughter. We must never underestimate the power of prayer and the gesture of kindness. We must love with a mighty conviction.

And that my friends is beautiful. If we do that we can shape + change the world. We have the power. 

And then the beauty that was created within each and every one of us will shine its brightest. 
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9.15.2014

Easy Guilt Free Guacamole

I'm convinced that every day on the calendar is allotted to some sort of celebration, but this is one that I couldn't pass up. Since tomorrow is apparently National Guacamole Day I couldn't withhold this recipe from all of you fellow guac lovers out there. Best news? It's guilt free. No sour cream. Just fresh veggies.

Watch below as I show you how to whip up this delicious dip.




You can eat this with tortilla chips or opt to keep it healthy by pairing it with fresh peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and celery. Whichever you decide, it's sure to go down a hit.

Happy celebrating! 
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9.12.2014

Fancy finds

Have you ever walked into a store and within minutes knew you wanted to snatch up everything? I swear when I'm looking to treat myself there's nothing that tickles my fancy, but the very moment I put myself on a spending halt, I want it all. If you haven't concluded this already, this happened to me just the other day. Zara's fall collection is insane and I knew if I let myself splurge I would probably feel the effects of buyers remorse later. So until I can convince myself that these items are a necessity I will day dream.

Today I'm here to share what makes my fall essentials list. Obviously my essentials might not fit your style but let this inspire you to swtich it up this season + try something new. It might just open up a new realm of possibilities.


1. For those dark and cold morning a good hat will be your best friend. It can disguise those sleepy eyes while adding some sass to even the simplest of outfits.

2.. An oversized scarf will not only keep you warm and there's really no wrong way to wear it.

3. This leather pencil skirt is perfect for work yet versatile enough to switch up for a date night.

4. Be it brown or be it black, the perfect booties can be worn with a skirt, with a pair of skinnies and even paired with a tailored pair of short + tights.

5. To finish any outfit, a waterfall coat will keep you warm, leave you looking chic and add provide some room for all of those layers. 
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9.10.2014

The New Girl


Surely you've had that dream where you're falling off the cliff? What about the one when you're at the end of the aisle on your wedding day and completely unprepared. How about the one when you go to scream and nothing comes out? 

What if I told you that these have all happened to moi in real life, kinda. Well, in the form of something called 'the new girl'. Although these aren't literal scenarios that have played out before my very own eyes, after moving to a new country, I did feel like I fell of the cliff, was dropped into a completely new country, most definitely under prepared for reality and when missing home became too much all I wanted was a pair of red sparkly shoes that with a click of my heels would transport me back to sunny Florida, except nothing happened and it was as if no one heard my tears. Sigh

This past month marks two years since I settled and officially set up home in the UK, as a newlywed, and as a girl that had never really been much outside of her hometown. Sure I visited my fair share of the States, been on a mission trip to Mexico, and packed up a few things and moved into a dorm for a short stint while at university. But I never had to fully pack up everything I had ever known and transplant myself in an entirely new way of life until this time those two beautiful years ago. 

As I sit here and jot down my thoughts I'm so thankful for the wonderful people that have helped me settle in. There are those that still translate this same, yet different language, those that have let me weep when my homesickness got the best of me and those who continually help me settle into my home in the UK. I've truly been blessed with a great circle of friends, neighbors and family and for that I'm so thankful. 

However the 'the new girl' stigma was inevitable and from what I can gather from others who have moved from far away places, it's almost like a rite of passage. You can't go over, under, or around it you've just got to pull up those big girl pants and go straight in to the very thick of it. 

Oh the new girl. If I had the wit of Jess Day it probably would've eased the sting, maybe. I can look back and laugh at the moments that I mistakenly used a curse word as an adjective because I thought that's what it was. The time that I learned 'baps' wasn't just a northern slag for bread. Or the time that I sent around a 'happy hump day' email to my colleagues and to got a glance over the computer of complete uncertainty because apparently hump day doesn't translate as 'happy half way through the week' day. Sigh

I bring you all of that to tell you this. It does get better. You are new now but there will be plenty of others passing through that will make your new look like you've lived here for years. In fact, I was with a group of 'Brits' just the other day and I was the one to give someone directions. While doing so I may or may not have called the 'motorway' the 'interstate', but still, it's a sure sign of progress. 

Here are a few tips to see your way through the new girl era. 

1. Just say yes. When someone asks you for a coffee, to tag along to an event, whatever the situation - just say yes. You will probably feel like going home, cuddling on the couch in your pjs, popping in Friends, Facetiming those that are familiar and declining the offer, but by saying yes you position yourself to meet others. Sure it might be a little awkward at first, but I can still remember that the times I did say yes, I felt better for it. 

2. Get involved and start sowing your seeds. It's oh-so important when moving somewhere new to find places to get plugged in; be it a church, civic group, charity or networking circles. This will not only start to fill those empty pages in your calendar but it's a way to meet a variety of people. 

3. See this as an amazing opportunity. A lot of times changing my perspective can turn my doom + gloom into something amazing. Embrace this time and see it as a way to start a fresh, view this season as a blank canvas with endless possibility. Moving to a new city, state, or country can open up new doors and be the closing chapter to others.

4. The grass isn't always greener. This is a biggie. Social media can be a double edge sword, while it's a fantastic tool to keep in touch with family and friends, it can be the very thing that triggers that urge to hop on a plane and go back. There have been many times I've glanced, and by glanced I mean stalked, Facebook to see how life there is going. What is everyone up to? What am I missing out on? But then I'm quickly reminded that life 'over there' isn't always roses. The 'over there' life may seem amazing but there's still struggles, still challenges, and sun burns! It's so important to remember that the grass isn't as green where you were, although every ounce of you might be convinced that it was. The more you dwell on 'what was' will keep you from appreciating and trying to enjoy the place you are. 

Now that I've passed my 'Life in the UK' test, I'm preparing to send off my visa application again for the last and final time. I swear they keep testing me to see if I can give them a reason to send me back. As I reflect over my time here so far I can see how much I have grown and how much moving and being completely taken out of my comfort zone has shaped me. I can also appreciate that the journey is just beginning, that there is still so much to fulfill here and that the Lord is doing a sweet work in my life. 

My encouragement to you, wherever you might be, is to enjoy the season that you are in. Just when you want to throw your hands up in complete distress is possibly the moment before everything will soon become so clear. 

One last thing, please don't let this fool you into thinking that I've got it all together and everything is rosy pink every day, because it's not. It's life, it's taking the good with the bad and then giving myself an attitude check when need be. The beauty of this space is that we are in it together to encourage, uplift and inspire. I'd love to know what's on your heart today?



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9.08.2014

We fell in love with Cali

California road San Francisco

This time last year we packed our cases + jet-setted across the plains of America and touched down in California. We expected sunshine, good times, beaches and even breathtaking scenery but we didn't expect it to completely capture our hearts. I could upload picture after picture and describe every moment to you in its entirety but the best advice I can give you is to add this trip to your bucket list and make it happen sooner than later. If you're considering a trip to visit this beautiful state, which I vouch you should, here are some tips + a few items to add to your endless list of 'musts'.

San Francisco 

| Visit |

biking over the Golden Gate bridge


San Francisco really is a place you could leave your heart. This city by the bay is one that left me itching to return. If you only had a day to explore this city I would suggest you do so by bike, ending with a ride over the Golden Gate bridge. The sub-climates will have you reaching for your layers during the journey, but getting to the half way point on the bridge + seeing the beauty of this red structure peeking its head through the clouds is worth every second.

View of San Fran from Alcatraz


Alcatraz at night. There's just something about setting off at the golden hour to this historic island rich in history. From the island you have gorgeous views of the city during sunset. The night tours typically offer some additional access to some eerie parts of the prison that the day tours leave out. Remember to book this in advance to ensure you get your ticket to Alcatraz and don't get left behind.

Some other favorites were a snack from Ghirardelli's, a walk down Fisherman's Wharf + a visit to Sausalito.

Napa Valley

Vineyards in Napa Valley



This wine country was everything I thought it would be and so much more. Cruising through the rolling hills, of what sometimes felt like deserts, with the sun beaming down on our skin was the foreshadowing to a picture perfect holiday.


| Visit |

Relaxing in Napa


We chose the Platypus bus tour as our means of transport. This made it easy to sip our way through the vineyards and enjoy the company of old friends while making some new ones. I'm not sure if it was our tour guide or the stunning day, but all hands would agree that it was one successful trip through Napa. The tour took us to four different wineries where we quickly learned that any good wine connoisseur has a dog.

Monterey/Big Sur


| Visit |


Monterey


The first stop on our drive down the coast was the small town of Monterey where we stopped for a whale watching tour. I assumed this would be something fun to do on our journey down Route1 but I had no idea what a sight this would truly be. Seeing these sea animals put on a show in all of their glory was spectacular.

Sea lions in Monterey


| Stay |

Photo stop on Big Sur


Tree Bones Resort. This glampsite perfectly positioned on top of the cliff along Big Sur was incredible. We booked to stay here for two nights and we were all in agreeance that one more day would've been ideal. One of my favorite meals of the trip was had at the sushi bar in this resort over looking the sunset across the Atlantic. No pictures could do it justice so you'll just have to see for yourself.

Santa Barbara


| Visit |


The backdrop of mountains, lined with palm trees, set the perfect scene for this destination. We sat on the beach and watched the world go by, ate some gorgeous seaside cuisines, and did our fair share of shopping in the idyllic downtown. It was a stop on the trip that was more about relaxing than being on the go and that was beautiful.

Beaches in Santa Barbara


Los Angeles 


They say NYC is the place that never sleeps, and while that may be true, I think LA runs a close competition. It's a unique place full of a melting pot of people. There are those working endlessly in hopes of making their big break paired with those who already think they have it all. There is plenty to keep you busy for days or places like the Griffith Observatory where you can escape for a little peace + quite and the best views overlooking the City of Angels. I like to think this is where some of the most creative collide to create something beautiful. I picture those writing their first novel, those studying their first big script and those simple hearts with big dreams perching on this hillside.


Griffith Observatory


| Stay |

Before LA we had never tried AirBnB but because there was a few of us we decided to give it a whirl. The house we stayed at was beautiful and just a short drive away from everything we wanted to see + do. It was located at the foot of the Hollywood Hills + a five minute ride from the walk of fame. We will definitely consider AirBnB for future trips.

| Eat |

Beyond the actors, the singers, the socialites, and all of the other creative occupations, there are some of the world's best chefs. We ate at the renowned Mr.Chows and enjoyed an amazing Chinese cuisine. The atmosphere of this restaurant also sets the scene for a memorable dining experience. The family style table layout lining the walls and down the middle could have you dining beside the stars (literally) and the paparazzi outside make for an interesting entrance and exit.

I'm sure there a plenty of places you could choose for brunch but my favorite is the Fountain Room in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Maybe it's the fact that Marilyn + Audrey dined here, but I would give the french toast and coffee a ten out of ten. All of the food is farmer's market fresh and the meat is prepared at the on site butcher shop. Another favorite was Geoffrey's in Malibu, this seaside breakfast left us feeling beyond relaxed with our bellies full.

Looking for something sweet? The Bouchon Bakery is a must! Macaron fan? This is the place.

Newport 

| Stay |

This place has serenity written all over it. After leaving the hustle + bustle of LA we were ready for some R+R and this place did not disappoint. If you're looking for somewhere to spoil yourselves and kick up your feet you must stay at the ever-so beautiful Resort at Pelican Hill. The infinity pool is enough to make you drool and the customer service is of the best standard. Thank me after.

San Diego


| Visit |


San Diego zoo


This eclectic city is the definition of cool. The historic Gaslamp district is packed full of boutiques, places to dine + the home to many festivals. Whether we were strolling the streets of the district, heading to the San Diego zoo or catching a baseball game, this city was the perfect way to conclude our road trip down the coast.

road trip down the California coast


California is a great asset to the good ol' USA. It's packed full of diversity, creativity and has 'chill' written all over it. From the time we began our journey in San Fran until we reached our last destination of San Diego we felt so relaxed + so welcomed. It's a melting pot of dreamers + doers and a place we can't wait to revisit in the very near future.
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9.06.2014

Merging transatlantic interior design

The interior decorating cultures of both Britain and the United States are so individual that many interesting and distinctive new interiors can be created by merging the two.



US style

US style can be described as embracing several cultures due to its diverse history. Perhaps the most famous in buildings is the Colonial style, which has such Classical features as symmetry. The Victorian era has also had a huge influence on American architecture, featuring patterned shingles and elaborate external detailing. Consumerism seems to have infected the American idea of interior design, with a great deal of appliances and ornamental items on show. To British eyes, American interiors can appear a little cluttered and eclectic.

UK style

British interior design has been defined by space as much as the nation’s taste. The UK is a smaller country than America and, as such, architects and designers have had to find ever more innovative ways of decorating the home and adapting spaces to modern living. Modern British homes, therefore, streamline to create a sense of length and height, and whilst there is a fondness for original architectural features, the British are not shy of stripping these away and starting from scratch if it means they will gain more space. The British tend to prefer to hide items away behind doors rather than having a plethora of items on show.

A mix of the two

How do you combine the two and not create a visual disaster? Well, start with the blank canvas – the walls. There is no typical UK or US colour, so these can be whatever you choose. To Americanise the walls, consider putting up fabric hangings rather than framed paintings, and choose oversize clocks rather than leaving the timepieces to the mantelpiece.

The British trend is to have laminate or hardwood flooring rather than wall-to-wall carpet, which is an American favourite. If you cannot do without your carpet, keep it for the bedroom and staircase; lay down rugs in all the other rooms, but do not lay rugs over carpet. They are a trip hazard and just look wrong.

Accessorise carefully

It will be ornamental items and functional accessories that will really demonstrate the mixing of the two interior design cultures. In the living areas, keep the interior modern and uncluttered with sleek ornaments such as a contemporary vase. Many American homes have large kitchens where it is possible to keep pots and pans, utensils and gadgets out on worktops without compromising on space. Unfortunately, this is not the case in UK homes, where kitchen storage is a huge requirement. If you want to achieve a balance between the two, put the majority of items away behind doors and in drawers, and have just a few accessories, such as a utensil pot, on show.

There is a great deal of difference between US and UK interior style that is not always obvious, but by using just subtle elements of the two, it is possible to achieve a truly transatlantic style that is distinctly modern yet pays homage to the heritage of both countries.

Disclaimer - This article is a contribution post - words and thoughts are that of the author 
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