Because the temperature and humidity outside has to be some kind of sick joke, I've been laying low in the A/C and "surfing the web" (as C. puts it) for fun little tidbits. Simple diversions are the best.

One of my all-time faves, Colbie Caillat, singing covers of three great songs (that, conveniently, I also love to death). Thanks to EA for the tip-off on this one!

I really, REALLY love the look of an army-green utility jacket over a super feminine dress. There's something about that thrown-together, offbeat stylishness ala J.Crew that I completely adore. I can't wait for fall to get here, whenever it decides to show up, so I can start playing around with clothes and layering again (hey, 101-degree weather, how about you take a hike so I can give it a test run?) I spent yesterday afternoon with J.Crew's fall catalog and it's chock full of looks just like these two. If I wasn't running the risk of death-by-heatstroke, I'd have one of these bad boys on right this second!  
(images via The Sartorialist)

While I'm on the subject of clothes (and when am I ever not), I have to say that I'm completely obsessed with Olivia Palermo's style. Please note that I said style, and ONLY style. I could do with a little less of her eye rolling, hair flipping, and condescending Connecticut clip (yes, I do indeed catch "The City" from time to time. Or every week. Whatever.) Attitude aside, the girl knows how to dress and mix things up in unexpected and gorgeous ways. For the time being, I can look past the fact that she might be the human incarnate of Regina George, and focus on her impeccable taste. A few more rolls of the eyes though, and I may be singing a different tune. (images via WhoWhatWear)

Amen, Karl L. I've taken it upon myself to lead the charge against electronic books (a horrific oxymoron, if you ask me) and try and remind people of the simple pleasure of reading an actual book. Now, I'm not going all Carrie-Bradshaw-sniffing-books kooky (remember the scene from the first SATC movie when she takes a big whiff of a library book while reading poems to Big? WTH?) but there's just something about holding a book in your hands, turning the pages, and dog-earing your spot for next time that just can't be replaced. Keep your Nooks and Kindles and give me a hardcover or paperback.

Everyone knows the value of a good personality and kind spirit, but I love the way Terri Guillemets so eloquently puts it.

One more fantastic quote for good measure. In layman's terms: Don't sweat the small stuff.

if heaven was on earth

Un-be-lieeeevable news: there is a 2-story Anthropologie opening in New Orleans in a few weeks, and it's bound to be the most glorious place on earth (complete with a suspension staircase, WHAT?!?!) Even BETTER news: I'M WORKING THERE! I have the good fortune of being hired to work full-time in quite possibly one of my favorite environments e-v-e-r. For me, it's not just the clothes that make Anthro fabulous, but the whole atmosphere and the idea of a whimsical, unique, and beautiful lifestyle conveyed by the company. I was chosen as one of only 6 full-timers (out of 70 total employees) so I'm feeling incredibly blessed, as well as encouraged by the kind words and motivation passed my way. I'm beyond excited to contribute to such a wonderful company....and, let's be honest, for my employee discount.

This is the Rockefeller Center store in NYC....aren't the floating marshmellows dreamy?

it's a mad, mad world


MAD MEN IS BACK! In tribute, I took the liberty of "Mad Men"-ing myself (thanks for the link EA!)

be the one


Some famous faces have banded together for a PSA encouraging people to sign a petition to restore the Gulf Coast. You may not have a million voices, but you do have one. Sign the Petition to Restore the Gulf

CRAVE [kreyv] –verb 1. to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly


This bed-bedding-wall color-bedside table combo is perfection.
 So infatuated with this piece from Restoration Hardware. It would look fantastic in the corner of my bedroom and would be the perfect spot to curl up with a good book! 
The "Capri" bed from Blueblood Living might be a smidge girly for Mr. Ben, but he would still look outstandingly adorable perched atop this cute little cushion.
The epitome of pared-down chic. I love everything about this ensemble. 
If only America would strategically place these uplifting signs at crucial junctions (specifically those locations frequented in the middle of the day when almost everyone is in need of a pick-me-up) morale would surely skyrocket.
Mental note: keep eyes peeled for fabulous vintage trunks.
I would do unspeakable things to have a closet/dressing room just like this one. For now, my tad-bit-bigger than a shoebox closet and spare hanging rack in the hall will have to suffice. But a girl can dream, right? 
I love Gossip Girl. There. I said it. I will admit though, that about 85% of my love for the show stems not from their juicy story lines, but from their to-die-for wardrobes. When I saw this shot of S & B in Paris looking all kinds of adorable, I got a little too excited (almost as excited as when I realized Little J was nowhere to be found. Take your bad Muppet weave and raccoon eyes elsewhere!)
Jewelry armoire. This is more than a want, this is a full-on need. 
A sweet parting thought.


collaboration at its finest


The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Art House Co-op is a group that creates massive, international art projects that tie thousands of artists (and regular ol' people) together--opening participation to anyone and pursuing the goal of bringing art to the masses. Their mission is simple and direct: the desire to create art and share it with each other. Created by Art House and returning for its fifth year is The Sketchbook Project--a collaborative, traveling exhibition of sketchbooks created by thousands of people around the world. After the tour, the sketchbooks enter the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library, where they are barcoded and available for public viewing. 

For a fee of $25, each artist is sent the same blank Moleskine sketchbook and over the course of a few months, they fill it with anything and everything their heart desires. When you're finished, just postmark your book before the required date and send! Each book will be given a barcode so it can be easily cataloged into The Brooklyn Art Library system. Once it is cataloged, artists will be able to track where on the tour their book is viewed and how many times someone pulled it from the shelf--very cool! 

Click the "Sketchbook Project" link above to find out more, and enjoy these examples of past books:

today's the day!

After three weeks in Europe, Corey finally comes home tonight! Everyone told me "Oh yeah, it's going to fly by...he'll be home before you know it." WRONG. They were the longest three weeks ever and crawled by. I can't wait to have this guy back stateside!
C looking adorable on a boat in Venice...the only thing missing is me!

be kind


nothing is greater than this


Maybe it's because I've been receiving a landslide of (much appreciated) wedding/marriage advice lately, or maybe it's due in part to the horrible understanding of love and commitment in today's mainstream consciousness ('The Bachelor's' Jake & Vienna, anyone?) but I've been thinking a lot about the role of love in relationships. Of course, we've all heard, and at some point undoubtedly championed the ubiquitous Beatles adage "Love is all you need," swayed along to Nat King Coles "L-O-V-E" at a wedding or five, and secretly let a few tears slip into our tissues at the end of countless Romantic Comedies when the protagonist male makes his grand gesture of affection towards the leading lady. But are these sugar-encrusted representations of "what love is" affecting the way we approach relationships and marriage?

While I'm not discrediting the importance of love and romance AT ALL (or trying to downplay cultural icons like the Fab Four, for that matter) I don't think it's far from the truth to say that many people today, particularly of my generation, have a very jaded outlook on relationships and marriage. We've undoubtedly all seen the classic signs: meet someone, fall into a starry-eyed frenzy brought on by first dates and sweaty hand-holding at the movies, claim to be uninhibitedly enamored, and then, when the cherubs no longer sing each time you embrace, chalk it up to the relationship having "lost its spark." Now, I'm not saying people should stay with someone totally wrong for them just to prove that a relationship can survive without genuine affection or attraction to someone. What I am saying, is that this fictitious "spark" is where many people founder in their notions of what a lifetime should be built upon.

Remember when I said I wasn't discrediting all lovey-dovey wedding songs and mindlessly entertaining Romantic Comedies? I'll prove it. There is one particular line from the movie He's Just Not That Into You (I know, I know...the benchmark of RomComs...but stay with me) that illustrates what I'm trying to get across: "Guys invented the 'spark' so that they could not call, and treat you kind of bad, and keep you guessing, and they convince you that that anxiety and that fear that they're throwing at you is actually, just a 'spark.' And you guys all buy it. You eat it up. And you love it. You love it because you feed off that drama. You all love that drama." (*disclaimer--I am not placing all the blame of the whole 'spark' notion exclusively on one gender) I think more than anything, this quote highlights the problem with trying to build something lasting on the misconception of relationships as a constant fireworks display of romance and the idea that if there isn't a continual push-and-pull of emotions and overwhelming feelings, that it's fizzled out for good. If there's not that drama, that "fight-and-make-up" mentality, many people (to be perfectly honest) seem to get bored and move on. I think  because so many of us have this idea that things should always be exciting, stay interesting, etc. etc., that if there isn't a constant exchange of emotions, extreme or otherwise, we think the relationship has fallen into complacency, or "a rut."

When it comes to the concept of love, I don't think it should necessarily be categorized as an emotion or even compartmentalized into sets of emotions. Emotions are, of course, completely necessary--they're feelings that allow us to gauge our reactions, understandings, approaches, and outlooks towards people and situations--but emotions fluctuate. Love, in its truest form, is a constant, unseen presence--an amalgamation of God's principles of character, respect, and grace. If we look at the untouchable gold standard of what love really is, compared to what love is commonly understood as today, it's easy to see why so many things can go haywire from the very start. Today's definition of love may read something like this: "Love is chocolate and roses. Love is continual grand gestures. Love is a roller coaster of emotions. Love is butterflies in my tummy. Love is beach photographs in matching khaki-and-white ensembles. Love is a Facebook relationship update." Compare that to this: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

Consider this passage by St. Augustine:

 Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away. Love itself--patience, kindness, grace, respect, compassion, and affection--is what we should all strive for. THIS is what relationships and lifetimes should be built upon, because when the rose petals whither and the jewelry tarnishes, what will be left over? Genuine commitment takes courage and patience. One of my favorite Patty Griffin songs elucidates this with these lyrics:

But if you break down
I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy

I'll be there when you need me. I'll never let you forget my love. I'll stand by you always. That's what love is. 

I recently discovered this song by Brandon Heath which has to be the most beautiful expression of what love truly means, and how God's demonstration of this love serves as the perfect example for us all. Enjoy:

my heart


I may be in New Orleans, but my heart is halfway around the world in Florence with Corey. Today is his 25th birthday, and I wish I could be there to celebrate another year gone by with him. Happy birthday to the kindest, most genuine, and loving person I know. I'm blessed to have you in my life--I love you!

i give myself permission


love this. particularly #s 1, 6, 12, 14. i do wish i would have given myself a little more of #19 while i was working on my master's...think my thesis chair would have understood?

(via Just Be Splendid)

happy nola-versary


Today is my two year anniversary with New Orleans, and what a fantastic two years it has been. I think about how much has happened and changed over the past 24 months, and about the person I was when I moved here: fresh out of college, knowing nobody, and completely unaware of the possibilities waiting for me in this city. Looking back now, I can't believe it has only been two years. I feel like I've already spent a small lifetime here, full of happiness, adventure, and discovery...which is a promising sign of things to come. I love you, New Orleans. Happy Anniversary!

A few highlights:

A few days after moving here, I met Melissa. She and I both went to TCU and had loads of mutual friends...yet never became friends ourselves (we think we may have met once or twice?) Thankfully, she had the courage to email me (pretty much a perfect stranger) when she heard from one of said mutual friends that I was moving to New Orleans. It didn't take long for us to become the closest of friends, and we still wonder to this day why we never hung out in college. These days we live together, along with another dear friend, Jenn, and are almost inseparable. I don't know what I would have done without her! She also introduced me to this guy:

I met Corey almost a month after I'd moved to New Orleans, when Melissa invited me to go out with she and a few friends. I couldn't help but notice his sweet demeanor, wonderful smile, how handsome he was, and his fun personality. Within minutes of meeting, we were attached at the hip...talking, laughing, and dancing all night. We ended the night knowing that we had to see each other again, and we did...the very next day. And then the day after that, and the day after that, and so on and so forth. It was over the course of the next few days that we both realized we wanted to be a part of each others lives, and it only took a few weeks to get the feeling that this was going to turn into something B-I-G.

As much as we both talked about easing into things, taking the relationship slow, (and all those other cliched things people tell themselves when they realize how quickly they're falling for someone and can't really believe it's true and think that slowing things down...whatever that means...is the most "rational" decision) we couldn't help it. We knew we were supposed to be together, and trying to detour that fact was like trying to stop a freight train. We were understandably a little nervous, since we'd both recently come out of long relationships, but it was a risk we were willing to take. (I'd say it paid off pretty well, too!) I didn't expect to meet him, fall in love, and get engaged within two years, but that's the thing about life...when you're not expecting anything to happen, that's when something does happen. I think about what things would be like if I had never moved to New Orleans, and I can't imagine that I would be this happy, this content, and this blessed.

Through Corey and Melissa, I met some wonderful friends who have enriched my time here more than they'll ever know:
I've had two Carnival seasons as a local, caught countless shiny Mardi Gras beads, tailgated for Saints games at the Dome, watched pigs fly when the boys brought home the Lombardi Trophy (!!!), met the Unknown Who Dat, rode bikes, watched the sunset, and caught rays at The Fly, run around the French Quarter in a red tutu for Red Dress Run, visited plantations, boated the Tchefuncte River and Lake Pontchartrain, and probably consumed more than five times my body weight in crawfish.
I have to admit that I have been incredibly blessed over the past two years. I've met the love of my life, made some incredibly sweet friends who make my life so full and happy, and have been immersed and welcomed into the beautifully unique culture of New Orleans with open arms.