Friday loves: monograms, Bikram yoga, Hunters + more

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hello, Friday! First of all, let's clear the air: I see white and gold on the dress. Glad that's out in the open.

Anyway. We're not here to argue, are we? Back to the business at hand.

One. I bought a circle monogram for our front door from an online shop that shall remain nameless because I definitely ordered it in November and received it in February. After reporting them to the BBB, I (shocker) finally got my monogram! It was black when I got it but that wouldn't cut it on our black front door. Enter seafoam green spray paint and burlap ribbon. Love how it turned out - even if I had to wait 3 months to get it. 

Two. I went to my very first Bikram Yoga class on Sunday night and wow. If you've never been, Bikram Yoga is typically 105 degrees for 90 minutes (my class was a private class for Junior League, so it was only 60 minutes) during which you go through 26 different positions twice. I was truly scared to try this and there was a point during the class that I thought I might actually die - but then the instructor said "Do you feel your heart pounding? You're getting a great cardio workout right now" (oh good, so that is normal). And then I thought: wait - yoga? Cardio? Sweating bullets? This is actually pretty cool (ha). The heat also allows you to get deeper into stretches than you think is possible and you will be sore the next day! On top of it all, I had SO MUCH energy the next day it wasn't even funny. 

Three. Do y'all get the Skimm?? I signed up a few months ago and it is hilarious way to get the news. I love that it takes me 5 minutes to get up to speed on the most important world news of the day. And I feel smarter. At least once a week, I actually laugh out loud while reading. Sign up here for free. 

Four. I finally pulled the trigger and bought some Hunters! I've been going back and forth for oh, about 2 years on what style and color I wanted. I landed on the Adjustable Back - so I could actually fit them over jeans - in Black Gloss. So excited to have them in time for the rainy spring! Is it wrong to hope for rain for fashion purposes?

Five. If you need some inspiration, watch this clip from the Today Show this morning. This precious  91-year-old woman decided to become a tech designer in Silicon Valley - proving you're never too old to go for the things you really want in life! She actually told a guidance counselor when she was young that she wanted to be an inventor or designer, but he told her that was a job only for men. I love this story: we can all learn a lot from her. 

Y'all have a wonderful weekend full of your favorite things! Stay warm out there. Might we even see some warm-ish weather next week?? 


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

Five on Friday: all-new 4 day work week edition!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hello, friends! Today is a very special Friday because it's the first Friday that I am off of work as part of my new 4-day work week schedule! I feel very blessed to have a boss that has accommodated this request and idea that I had. Here's how it happened: when I came back to work after a month off around the holidays (mainly due to this, as well as Christmas vacation), I realized that my current work load was lighter because of the seasonal nature of some of my projects. Since we bill all of our projects individually and most are on retainer, I would actually need to overservice my current projects (read: do work we're not getting paid for) AND bill more time than usual to nonbillable overhead just to log 40 hours a week - which is crazy, because I am ALWAYS at the office past 5:30! (Sometimes I wonder if I'm that bad at tracking my time, or if I just waste a lot of time at work - I digress). My doctors were also encouraging me to take as much down time as I could and not stress out - easier said than done, right? So I talked to my boss about scaling back my week to a 32-hour work week for all of these reasons and he went for it. I am so, so blessed to have a truly awesome boss man! While I am losing 20% of my salary - which is slightly scary - I am SO looking forward to having every Friday off to enjoy with the ones who matter most and to have time for the things I really enjoy.

So the question is: what have I done with myself on this frigid Friday?

ONE. I had a coffee date with a new friend this morning, and I have to say that it was nice not to fight for a table at Starbucks like you have to on Saturdays! And having the time to actually enjoy my creme brulee latte - as opposed to gulping it down in the car or in front of my computer - was nice, too.

TWO. I returned the blender that we got for a wedding gift (almost 4 years ago!) because it has never worked right and has always leaked. I took it back to Bed Bath & Beyond because I'd always heard they had the best return policy for damaged or malfunctioning goods and let me tell you, they do! They barely asked any questions and were able to look up on my old wedding registry to see how much the blender cost in 2011, then I got to pick out a new blender! I chose this Ninja - not one of the super-duper Ninjas but it happened to be the same cost as the blender I was exchanging, so it cost me nothing. And while I was there, I picked up a new toaster. Because I heart you, BBB. You da best.

THREE. I picked up an order from Handpicked that was my Valentine's Day gift from Alex (that I picked out and ordered myself - it's just easier that way, ladies). This had been done and sitting there for a few weeks but I'd yet to pick it up. Can't wait to snuggle in these Comfort Colors shirts!

FOUR. I went grocery shopping...with the 70+ crowd, which is apparently the clientele at Publix on Friday afternoon. Much different than the after-work weekday crowd I'm used to. While it was less crowded, my fellow shoppers were much less in a hurry than I'm accustomed to...

FIVE. To satisfy my gluten free sweet tooth, I made GF rice crispy treats! You would think that Rice Krispies would be GF, but nope - you have to get the ones that are marked "Gluten Free." So I was excited to see that they were on BOGO at Publix (I heart you too, Publix) so I picked up a box and some marshmallows and whipped these puppies up in 5 minutes.

I'm sure I'll find some other things to cross of my list today, too - I'm feeling so productive! Anything I can do to stay inside and away from the below-freezing temps is a good thing!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and STAY WARM!


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

The couple that jumps together stays together

Monday, February 16, 2015

I just love when Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday! It just makes for so many good options for having a memorable love day. This year, Alex made dinner reservations at an awesome restaurant that we'd been wanting to try since we moved to Columbia. Since he made plans for the evening, I told him not to make any plans on Saturday morning because I had a special date in mind.
Getting ready to get our jump on!

Face it: nothing says "I love you" like a a trip to the trampoline park! I'd been only one other time with my work peeps, but A had never been. As you can imagine, the place was crawling with kids. And we were definitely the only adults there who were not supervising their children. Luckily, our "flight time" was early - 10:30 - before the absolute gaggles of children arrived. However I still managed to knock down one small child. (Gotta learn at a young age to stay in your own trampoline square, kid!)

Taking it back to my cheerleading days

A trampoline makes you feel like a kid. Very therapeutic!

Catching our breath
Free jumping: so fun!

After we jumped for a solid 40 minutes, we were wiped! It is a huge workout that will leave you out of breath. Or maybe that's just any rate, I was sore the next day in my shoulders of all places! Even though our tickets allowed us to jump for an hour, 40 minutes did it for us! We left just as dozens of kids were piling in - good timing!

We grabbed a post-workout (since that's what it felt like) lunch and did some errands before heading home. Our dinner reservations were early (6pm) since A had to leave earrrrrrrrrly on Sunday morning to go to Florida on a recruiting trip. We laid around the house and recovered from our jump session until it was time to head to dinner

Columbia skyline from across the river, where the restaurant was

Dinner at Terra was absolutely divine and mad props to my husband for calling more than a month in advance to get us reservations! You don't understand: we've tried to eat at Terra several times for different special occasions, and we've either tried to go on a day they were closed or we couldn't get reservations. So the hubs didn't take any chances, and I'm glad he didn't!

When we came home from dinner, we opened gifts and toasted to each other: prosecco for me, espresso for him.

And of course, Valentine's Day wouldn't be complete with snuggles from Penny and Ellie. These girls make me smile every day, and nothing makes me feel more loved than when they greet me at the door!

Alex and I had such a fun day together. I love that we both planned parts of our date day, and the fact that it was Valentine's Day made it even more special. So blessed to have a husband that is not only my Valentine, but my best friend.


Bella And The City

Valentine's Day is for lovers

Friday, February 13, 2015

V-Day. Love Day. Single Awareness Day. February 14. Whatever you call it, I love Valentine's Day as (sometimes) overrated, (almost always) cheesy, and (often) expensive as it can be. I love that it is a day dedicated to celebrating those you love. And the flowers and candy don't hurt, either. 

Here are five things that will make Valentine's Day 2015 extra sweet:

ONE. Dress up in a cute date night outfit
I am so excited and VERY impressed that my husband got Valentine's reservations a full month ahead of time. Way to go, hubs. You get an A++ just for the planning! We're going to a restaurant that we've been wanting to try since we moved here 18 months ago. It's not a super, extra fancy place - not many places in Columbia are - but I still want to get a little dressed up and wearing pink and/or red is a must!

Valentine's Day

TWO. Make a decadent dessert, like this flourless chocolate cake
Because when you're gluten-free and want V-day baked goods, it does not get any better than this! I found a recipe on Pinterest for a flourless chocolate cake and I made a few tweaks and came up with this one. You can easily double it for a "normal" size cake - but this one will make it just the right size for two (and still have some leftover). 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 TB Sugar
  • 10 oz. 60% cocoa chocolate chips (like Ghirardelli)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 TB cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the HECK out of the 5 eggs. If you have a stand mixer, beat them on medium-high for 5 minutes (just set the timer and walk away: let that Kitchenaid do its thang). When the 5 minutes are up, add the sugar and beat until mixed. Meanwhile, line a springform pan with a round of parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides with butter. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each time. Once melted and smooth, add the cocoa powder. Then, fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture slowly until mixed (but don't get too aggressive with the mixing). Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. After it cools, flip onto a platter. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. SO EASY and so delicious!

THREE. Know your Love Language
Alex and I never have read this book, and what better time of year to do it? We just did the assessment to figure out our love languages and it's really eye-opening! I highly recommend!

FOUR. Make the house feel festive
Love is in the air when you've got an XOXO banner across the hearth. And fun Valentine-y candles. And a big bowl of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses. And y'all know by now that I love me some throw pillows. I switch them out for different holidays and seasons - it makes me happy! 

FIVE. Dress up your dog
You can't help but feel the love when this little cupid shows off a "Little Valentine" shirt (which has gotten a little more snug over the years...) or a heart sweater. Penny has some great wardrobe options for Valentine's Day!

And with that, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with a lot of love. Take the time to tell a single friend that you think they're amazing. Call your grandpa and tell him you love him. Text your brother. Take your pup for a walk. Send a stranger a smile. Share the love!


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

Five on Friday afternoon

Friday, February 6, 2015

What a week! I feel like death warmed over right now. The hubs brought a sickness into our home earlier in the week and I was hoping to escape it. But yesterday in the middle of an all-day work event, I felt that telltale tickle in the back of my throat. Now I'm pounding the OJ and Airborne but I think it's too late. Hopefully this thing will not ruin my weekend! 

One. Last weekend, I reorganized my tops using a trick I've always wanted to try: hanging items backwards until you wear them, then hanging them back up normally in order to see what you did and didn't wear over a given time period. I started this on February 1 and I'm going to give it to April 1, at which time I'll probably be switching everything out for spring anyway. I bet I'll be surprised at how many things I didn't wear over 2 months! Which will tell me what to get rid of. So cleansing! 

Two. We gave the girls new collars for Christmas and recently swapped out their old ones for the new ones. I love them they look like bowties instead of bows?? I had this moment of "Oh crap! Did I buy BOY collars??" Ha! Anyway, theyre still cute and the black and white is so posh on my little lovelies. 

Three. I had a work event for one of my clients yesterday in Charleston and it was on a boat. Yes. On a boat. A meeting, panel discussion, tour of the Port and then...a booze cruise. It was awesome. The sunlight was gorgeous and it was so nice to be out on the water! 

Four. I am so happy to report that I am making progress of my overall goal for 2015 - "Stress less, relax more" - by hiring a housecleaner!!! **Happy Dance** I came home on Wednesday to a sparkling home that smelled amazing and I wasn't the one who cleaned it. This was the first time I've ever hired a cleaner and it was worth every dime. Plus, she is a super nice person whom the pups love :) She'll be coming once a month. I can already tell this is going to be a very smart investment. 

Five. Alex gave me Bean Boots for Christmas, but apparently thousands of other people gave them as gifts too because Bean Boots were so ridiculously popular this year, there's a huge backorder. Alex knew they were backordered (until March!) when he ordered them (in December!). But the Best Customer Service award goes to LLBean, who sent us this teeny, tiny, cutest-thing-I-ever-did-see Bean Boot with a letter explaining that they appreciated our patience while they worked to produce my boots. How great is that?! Customer for life right here! 

That's all, folks. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that I don't spend mine on the couch in sickness!


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

It's good to have goals! {2015 Resolutions}

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nothing like waiting until the last day of January to post my 2015 Resolutions, huh?

To be fair, I've had these written down since the 2nd. It's just taken me 29 days to get them up here.

The overarching theme for this year? Stress Less, Relax More. After the ups and downs of last year, my focus is to enjoy the little things and be thankful for what I have without causing myself undue stress (it's just my personality; I totally do this to myself.)

What do I want to do, remember, practice and make a reality this year?


  • Read from a daily devotional or scripture-based book to start off each day. Make this part of my routine, like coffee. [I started Jesus Calling in January and really love it. It is such a nice way to start my day.]
  • Find a church home for Alex and I: even if we don't officially transfer our membership from our old church in Greenville, I want to have a church that we call home here in Columbia.

Health and Wellness: 

  • Go gluten-free for 30 days to see if it helps control my Crohn's Disease. If it does, keep it up! [Started this January 19 - so far, so good!]
  • Do a 30-day yoga challenge in a quest for better physical and mental health. And better flexibility (I'm getting old). Again, if it helps and I feel better, make it a part of my regular routine. [Did this for January and LOVED it. Plan to continue!]
  • Take matters into my own hands with my doctors. Be aggressive in being my own advocate for my health. 
Do things that I love:

  • Leave (most of) the cleaning to someone else: use the Christmas money from mom for housecleaning to hire a monthly cleaning service so I can relax on the weekends! [Hired someone! She comes first week of February and I am SO EXCITED.]
  • Do more things for me: take a break when I need one. Say no when I want to. Say yes when I want to. Take more bubble baths. Actually sit down and watch a movie now and then. 
  • Get my craft on. I love getting crafty and don't make enough time for it. 
  • Reward myself in healthy, productive ways (like a peaceful walk versus a snack). Make a concerted effort to relax in my "me" time. 

Things to check off the list:

  • Take a vacation. Doesn't have to be anywhere crazy or grand, but taking some time to get away and recharge my batteries with Alex by my side will be nice. And who knows: it could be the last true vacation we take for a while, depending on how the baby thing goes!
  • Get caught up on my scrapbooks! This means finishing my wedding event/party book (from 2011...), our Italy vacation book (from 2013...), our 2013 Year in Review AND our 2014 Year in Review. Whew. 
  • Organize my life. I'm an organized person, but certain areas of our home (A's hunting closet; my craft stuff) could use some WORK. 


  • Be a better wife: be more patient. Help Alex pack his lunch for work. Write love notes. See movies he wants to see. Give him words of encouragement. Love him harder. 
  • Call my grandparents, parents and brother more often just to say hi. I wish I could pop in to see them but I live 2 states away so the phone will have to do. 
  • Start a family. Really, this is not in my control. This is all the Big Guy upstairs. But it's still a goal, a hope, a dream, a plan of mine. It's highly likely we won't have a baby in our arms by the end of the year but I do hope we'll be on our way to a family, one way or another. Take baby steps - literally. 


  • Don't take anything for granted. If I learned anything from 2014, it was that life and everything in it is fleeting. What's here today can be gone tomorrow; what feels permanent is only really temporary. Spend quality time with my grandparents. Call my brother more to chat. Write more "just because" notes to people I love. Appreciate the job that I have. Enjoy the beautiful home we've created. Walk my dogs. Spend more time outside (but wearing sunscreen, of course!). Notice the small things and be thankful for them all.
Happy 2105! Now I'm going to get after the remaining 11 months ;)


My decision to go without gluten: Day One

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'll be the first to admit that I think cutting out any whole food group sounds ridiculous. I firmly believe that the things we consider part of our food supply were put on this earth for our nourishment...and enjoyment. One of the best things in life is a good meal.

I've been perplexed by the gluten-free trend since I first heard of it. The whole gluten-free thing has been gaining traction for a few years and I've continued to think, WHY would anyone willingly go without cupcakes, bread and pasta?? (Unless they have to for allergy reasons). And aren't whole grains supposed to be good for you?? Then I started hearing - from people I know and trust - how removing gluten from your diet can make you feel better, help digestive issues, reduce swelling in joints, and make you less mentally "foggy." And the more research I've done, the more I've come to understand that gluten is linked to many autoimmune diseases, including Crohn's Disease. Huh.

So I'm here today to say that I am joining the growing number of people who have given up gluten in hopes that it will change my life. Gosh, I hope it does. 

I am actually really excited to start this experiment. After a terrible flare that lasted nearly two months and the constant fear that any old meal will make me sick, I'm willing to try anything. Even giving up cupcakes, bread and pasta - arguably three of my most favorite things on earth.

I've had a few weeks to mentally and otherwise prepare for this lifestyle change. I decided around Christmas time that I'd try it in the new year for 30 days - the length of time it might take to see if it's making a difference. This gave us (yep, hubby's joining me for this experiment!) time to enjoy our favorite foods containing gluten "one last time," clean out the pantry, read up on making the switch to gluten-free and stockpile gluten-free staples.
Left: pantry before the Gluten Purge of 2015
Right: what remains! 

I am so, so optimistic about this change. But I'm also scared out of my mind. What if it works and I'm stuck in a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life? What if I can never again carelessly eat off a buffet at a Super Bowl party or baby shower? You know what? It will be worth it. I pray this works and my biggest worry becomes how to perfect a gluten-free pizza crust rather than how I'm going to manage to get to work when I can't even keep food down due to Crohn's.

Have you tried gluten-free or are you currently living a gluten-free life? What are your favorite resources, recipes, tips and tricks? I would LOVE to hear your advice as I make this change for the next 30 days - and maybe forever.

Wish me luck!


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