Banana Republic Sale Code!

It's been a while since I've posted some coupon codes on here, and a while since I've posted at all - so it's time to reward your patience with savings!

By the by, after a ridiculous amount of second-guessing and worry - I selected my wedding dress! And so ends the mystery of the silent blogger.


I might just have to use that code on this FABULOUS new skirt!


High five for Friday!

Taking a page from Lauren at From My Grey Desk, here are five truly smile-worthy items from my week.

1. I finally took the plunge and bought my very own copy
of Emily Post's Etiquette (large wedding section included).
2. This fab cab, that my fiancé actually ended up enjoying more than me.
3. This Christmas-scented candle. I know it's
September. Let me start the season insanely early.
4. The boy things that have come to live in my bathroom
from my fiancé. No, we do not live together. 

5. Okay, so it's from last week, but can we please savor how fantastically close I was to Sara Evans? She was delightful and sassy. Perfect combo in a woman. Also she called her sisters "hussies." Let's be best friends.

Fall Favorites

Everyone's favorite season is rolling in, and that means it's time to bring out the cooler weather clothes. Which are my very favorite clothes of all. This time of year also makes me miss where I grew up, where a nice proper fall exists. Where the leaves change color slowly, and you can call the air crisp,  and the season has a distinct, wonderful smell when you walk outside. Even though I don't live there anymore, I can lust after the clothes where cozy can be cute, and comfortable is appropriate. Join me, won't you?


Game face.

It's time to make a number of major decisions. Game face on.

Photo credit: Daily Dawdle


And so it begins

Photo credit: Someecards.com

There are various catalysts to an official diet kick-off. Sometimes it's a beach trip coming up, an awful breakup, or having hit a ceiling weight-wise that made you cringe. And then there is the old favorite: the wedding. I wish my impending nuptials were the only thing kicking my bootah into gear, but the truth is that my twin loves of cooking and eating have taken their toll. I have a particular talent. If I could take it to the bank I would be Scrooge McDuck, skiing on my mountains of gold coins. I am very, very good at gaining weight. So, I bit the bullet and joined a gym.

As a part of the new membership, I "got to" sit down with one of their trainers for a full evaluation. For an hour. Jarrett brought me into his little office and asked me why I wanted to get back in shape, why was I there? I replied that I wanted to kill the little gnomes that go into my closet at night and sew my clothes smaller. Thankfully, he laughed, and I felt comfortable with this beefed-up stranger. We talked about my job, my family, how I like to work out, if I ever work out, why am I not working out, my goals, my "support system" (basically my poor, unfortunate fiancé) and it went on. But you know what? Actually sitting down for that stretch of time and talking about it helped. Even though it also involved being told I need to take, like, 18 capsules of fish oil a day. (We'll see how that part goes, Jarrett.)

Bolstered by my bravery after having just gone with a young, muscular guy to step on a scale and let him read the number out loud, I charged into the cardio room. I got on what appeared to be an elliptical and quickly realized there were no towels. Crap. I already messed up at doing gym. Aha! A little refrigerator with cool towels in it! I put my bag on the machine and confidently swung the tiny door open and grabbed a towel. Which started dripping. Did I mention this fridge was at the very front of the room? So, now, under the 20 tvs where everyone is looking, I was pretending to wipe my hands with this scented, soggy washcloth. As if my machine had been covered in jello and I just needed to wipe up before working out.

I returned to my machine and threw the wet mess on the ground because of course I couldn't find anything but garbage cans in the room. Music on, water bottle in holder, I started to move. And instantly ached. This machine was no ordinary elliptical. I was effectively doing high knee raises. Girl, it was completely vertical. But I had been doing gym so badly that I had to play it off like this was my machine. This is where I always go, and I live on this machine, and everyone wishes they were as good at this machine as I was. But I slowly realized two things: 1) no amount of shame-induced will-power was going to keep my legs moving at this rate for long, and 2) I was the only person in the whole room on that type of "elliptical." Everyone knew about this madness but me.

Reminding myself that I was a 28 year-old woman, who had paid good money to use this gym, and had every right to misuse equipment, I got off and moved to a more familiar elliptical. Sweet relief, this one I understood. And I managed to stay on for a solid 35 minutes before my legs were all "we're stopping even if you don't and you're going to be pretty embarrassed when we make you face plant in a minute." Fully drenched in sweat, I dismounted and walked like one of those old cowboys going into a saloon, all the way to my car.

Day 1: check.


Overheard on Toddlers & Tiaras...

Transcribed without comment...

Pageant mom
     "My daughter always wanted to be in pageants. Fortunately, kids don't always grow up to be        what they wanted to be. Because my son wanted to be a fax machine."

My friend Laura, in response
     "My brother always said he wanted to be 'the curb' because he could just lay there all day."


Do you know the Beau?

Today I'm headed to the grand Beau Rivage casino in beautiful Biloxi, MS! My dear paternal grandmother is turning 90, and we are flying in from all over the country to surprise her. Gently. How should I gamble the fiancé's 10 bucks?

Photo credit: Global Giants

Photo credit: Uptake.com

Photo credit: Beau Rivage

Photo credit: Beau Rivage


Getting to know me.

Convo from today, when my fiancé saw the entire contents of my study, furniture and all, in a pile in the middle of the room with newly painted light grey walls.

Fiancé: Um, how did you move all this?
Me: I'm strong.
Fiancé : But you're injured; you have a torn tendon in your ankle and possibly ruined ACL.
Me: I'm stubborn.


Will you be my bridesmaid?

After much toil over which card to send my bridesmaids (which does not bode well for the ease of a million wedding decisions), I purchased these from Gabrielle Kearney at Practically Perfect Design on Etsy:

Absolutely adorable, right? And now that I've settled on a wedding website template to use, it turns out these are totally consistent with that design as well. Here's to happy accidents!

And, bonus, all of PPD's products are printed on recycled green seal and e-certified paper and use soy ink! Made me feel extra-good about my choice.

Will they all say yes?


Hey, you.

Waiting to board the plane in the 100 degree jetway/walkway/whatever-it's-called a few days ago, I noticed this ad for the meal service available on longer flights. But I thought it looked more like the beginning of a beautiful, modern love story. Very progressive of you, Delta. Kudos. #amiright?


Reception Rankings

I understand why people get married in their backyards, or elope. Last week, I trekked around Washington trying to find the perfect hotel, that didn't quite look like a hotel, that wasn't a ballroom, that was easy to get to, that fit our guest list size, and that didn't feel like we were attending someone else's wedding. Jumbled perspectives like this are why the wedding industry has become the bloated behemoth that it is.

See, the idea with the "reception in the main hotel" thing is to make it easier on guests. My approach to the whole wedding planning thing thus far has been - what would I think if I were attending this wedding? This has lead me to ask the hotel-person-in-charge-of-weddings questions like: How many stalls does the women's bathroom have? Where can we put a photobooth? And, so if just say that hypothetically, we wanted to bring a food truck in at midnight...

Walking into the venue, I imagine that I'm one of my friends from college, who just drove an hour into town, got dressed in my hotel room, and now wants to party. Because the thing is: to us it's our wedding, but to everyone else - it's a party.

And I haven't dreamed of my wedding since I was three. When I was three, I wanted to be an architect, not a bride. That is how much of a nerd I am. (Ps. I am not an architect.)

Fearing I would not have the "aha!" moment with a venue, especially after talking to my married friends who had... my dad (who was helping in my working fiancé's stead), our awesome wedding planner, and I went venue to venue. And then I walked in one and saw this:

Hello, pretty.

Atrium feel, beautiful light, calm, romantic, suited to exactly our size. Can it be true? That's the cocktail hour space, and now for the reception. Walk through here:

And arrive here: 

If we look up from our first dance, this is what we'll see:

The room boasts five huge skylights, five chandeliers, and with a round/clover shape, you can stand absolutely anywhere and feel you are a part of the same event. It feels cozy, almost as if it's someone's home. Granted, a super rich person. But it. is. perfect.

Praises to the weddings gods, we found it. Next hurdle: finding a date that works for both the hotel and the church...


Putting on the bride hat

In less than a week I'll be flying to my hometown to meet with our newly hired wedding planner, look at venues, and truly begin the planning. Time to Girl Out!

Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter


Wedding Planning in the Age of Pinterest

I am drowning in a sea of chiffon, burlap, unity candles, mason jars, and painted wooden signs. Is it just me, or is Pinterest's "Wedding and Events" section actually a guide to a DIY rustic wedding?

Photo credit: Style Me Pretty

            Photo credits: Style Me PrettyStyle Me Pretty

Photo credit: Style Me Pretty

Photo credit: Etsy

Don't get me wrong - PRECIOUS - but also not the only kind my dears! I know, I know, first world problems. But the gosh honest truth is that now more than ever, planning a wedding is like drinking water from a firehose.

Also, what the WHAT is this mess? On Pinterest it's titled "cute s'mores display!" ("s'mores display"?? that's not a thing.)

Photo credit: Wedding Chicks

So, I am doing the only logical thing: hiring a wedding planner. We'll be getting hitched about 1,500 miles from where we live - good reason #1. Every bride friend I have who didn't have a planner says her main regret is not at least having a day-of coordinator - good reason #2. Wedding planning with various family members in charge can be sticky - good reason #3,4,5.  I'm reminded of a great Oscar Martinez quote from The Office

"Look, it doesn't take a genius to know that every organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the popes?"

So, after interviewing five planners, and narrowing it down to three, I am in full decision-making mode.  Here are the factors I'm considering most, including questions I asked, in picking a wedding planner for full (comprehensive) services:

* How long has the planner been in business?

* Does the planner mostly do weddings or other types of events?

* How busy is the planner's schedule between now and my wedding date, especially the month of my wedding?

* Do I like the look of the published weddings by this planner? Are they akin to what we're going for?

* What do the online reviews say? How recent are the reviews?

* What do my friends say (in the case of planners who come recommended)?

* Did we have a good rapport on the phone? Will I feel comfortable being candid with this person and talking to them often for the next 8-10 months?

* Do I feel this person will be kind to my guests and family, while still keeping everything running smoothly?

* Is this planner familiar with the city where we want to marry? Does the planner have standing relationships with vendors and venues?

* Price!

I've spent a lot of time mulling over all this, because the planner will perhaps be the most important single wedding decision. Other than the groom... In the end, I think it's going to be about going with my gut, because aside from my fiancé - this is the person I'm going to talk to most about our wedding. Did you use a planner, any advice?

Whatever planner we land, I can tell you that this patronizing sign will not appear at the wedding:

Photo credit: Rustic Wedding Chic


Cow Appreciation Day

Did you know that today is "Cow Appreciation Day" at Chick-fil-a? This is the sort of thing that I love because it's silly and fun and sweet and it makes me think of simple joys, like an old man buying an ice cream cone for himself.

So dress up like a cow and get a free meal from the Chick. Don't know where to start? They provide a free starter kit to print and use: Cow Starter Kit. Eat Mor Chikin!
Photo credit: Chick-fil-a


The Engagement Chicken works.

Photo credit: Food Network

Well I've taken quite a little hiatus from blogging and for that, lo siento. But I have good news and good excuses, okay?! This week my sweet boyfriend and I overpacked our carry-ons and scooted our little behinds to the BEACH. There was sun. There was sand. There was a surprise proposal.

I was certain that, although the question was imminent, it was not happening during this trip. And I also thought that if there was going to be one - I'd be able to tell within moments of getting on the plane. My boyfriend has a terrible poker face. He can't keep secrets and he's an awful liar. In the long run - this is excellent - but it makes surprises a particular challenge for him. 

On the plane he was totally normal, and by that I mean sort of flustered by the entire process of air travel and already worn out by it on the first flight. But he wasn't checking his bags a lot or fidgeting or any of the other red flags. And in my infinite travel wisdom, I had chosen to wear what effectively turned out to be a sweater dress/muumuu that kept every ounce of heat and sweat packed in and close to my body for the entirety of the 8 hour travel day. And my hair was down and frizzy. And the sassy flight attendant sneered at me for turning off my phone 2 seconds later than I was supposed to. This is the stuff of romance, people.

Two flights, a three hour layover, three free lukewarm glasses of white wine in the Delta lounge, and a 1.5 hour car ride later - we arrived. I announced that I had to go to Walmart (at 10pm on a Sunday) so that we had milk and cereal for the morning. We both knew that meant I wanted to take a 2 hour trip to wander the store and get everything we needed for the week. He begged to just go to a little beach shop closer to the house, and despite my crazy, I knew that was a reasonable request. On the drive back from Waves, the boyfriend asked to go for a walk on the beach. I wanted a shower and pjs and Bravo. But when a boy is adamant that you go for a moonlit walk on the beach with him, you go. Girl, it can only be good.

He "went to the bathroom" for about 7 minutes (read: got the ring) while I tried to wipe the travel dirty off my face. With our glasses of wine, we walked down the beautiful boardwalk to the beach under a perfectly clear night sky. It almost felt like daytime with the full moon reflecting on the water. Almost. What you could not see, was that every bug in the entire Gulf of Mexico had shown up to feast on our weary flesh. Take one step, swat at ankle, spill a little wine, take a sip, swat at leg, step again, scratch arm - and so it went. 

What, you don't do impressions of monkeys while opening Dom on your engagement night? 
Weird. That's weird of you.

We didn't walk far before I realized his glass of wine was almost empty and he asked to stop. A little background should be given here: this is the same beach, and the same routine, where he first told me he loved me. My boyfriend has a streak of romantic cowboy Texan in him and he loves the art of the gesture. He put our glasses in the sand, and we danced a little like the dorkuses malorkusses we are. Then he turned me so my back was to him and the ocean, and paused. 

When he tapped me to turn back around, I saw him on one knee with a little black box in his hand, beautiful water and moon behind him. Girl, it was a Nicholas Sparks movie. He said the sweetest things, kept it short, and then - saying my full name first - ask me to marry him. And the bugs seemed to pause and we were the only people on the whole beach, only people in the whole world. I think I said yes, because he put the ring on me and we hugged and smooched and he had done it - he surprised me. 

As the moment of proposal haze lifted, the bugs grew angry. We had stopped fearing them and they needed to school us. My boyfriend fiancé and I were giddy, but we were also bumping our heads into each other from leaning down to slap bugs off our ankles. Running back in the house, we decided just to call family that night. I know my friends love me and would be excited, but I don't presume to be so important that they wouldn't mind being woken up at 1am on a work night to hear the news. 

So we called my parents, who were just waking up, as they were in France doing a bike tour. Because they are much, much cooler than me. They were sweet and excited and apologized for the poor cell service - because they were in a 700 year-old French castle. Way to one-up me on my engagement night, padres. 

Long story short - cook your boyfriend Ina's Engagement Chicken and he'll propose. Foolproof.

Ina Garten's Engagement Chicken Recipe:

Engagement Roast Chicken

2009, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
Prep Time:
5 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 35 min
3 servings


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.
Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.
Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.


On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

Photo credit: animalcapshunz

Tearin' up the mall and my wallet tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just go to Target. 


Daddy Numero Uno

I hope everyone had a smashing Father's Day...last week. I know, I know, beyond belated post. But I wanted to give this some real thought and give Daddy his due. Okay?!

My daddio had an absolute fantasy father's day - spent playing golf on the St. Andrews course in Scotland. For realsies. And he shot the best game of his life. God was apparently rewarding a very deserving father. 

Photo credit: thegospelcoalition.org

Let it be first noted: I am my dad's first born and his first daughter. So it comes as no big surprise that we've always been close. He's been my Yoda. From start to finish. He's absolutely always showed up when I needed him, cheered me on through everything, and gone to bat for me in the moments where I need back up. He's had unwavering faith in me and I credit much of my ambition with a desire to live up to that faith. Daddy came from a small community in the deep south, got himself into an Ivy League college when he'd never even visited, then went to law school, passed multiple bars, and decided to go into business. He still runs that business today, as well as a number of others. He. is. super. impressive. And we all know that old rule that every generation should strive to do better than the last. I better go to the freaking moon. 

But that's sort of a resume. The marrow that makes him so great is of course the intangibles and the moments. For example, when we were growing up, my dad called my siblings and me "nerdlers." As in: "What are you nerdlers doing? Why are you burning play-doh, nerdlers? Why is there shaving cream on the ceiling fan, nerdlers??" Only recently did I learn that he came up with this "nerdlers" business because he wanted to desensitize us to the term "nerd" if we were ever called that by other kids. He wanted us to be proud of being smart in school, and not ashamed. That tricky wizard.

Once, when I was in high school, my dad busted out with one of the top ten things I've ever heard him say. As background: my dad is an active Republican and very conservative (deep south, remember?) and I went to a woman-hear-me-roar all-girls' high school. While I was there he said to me, in a conversation that I otherwise can't remember: "You know, I became a feminist the day you were born." Did you just start crying? Because I did. Get this man a medal.

Now, as an adult, I've discovered the true secret of his genius. He empowered his kids. (And Mommy co-parented this way as well - she's owed the same props!) We grew up believing that we were capable of anything but inherently deserving of nothing. The rules applied to everyone and compassion should temper every interaction and decision. Work should be rewarded, not ability alone. I believe this mantra helped my brother, sister, and I avoid much of the curse of entitlement that so many of our peers have. In sum, I got really lucky with my parents and I hope my kids will think the same of me one day. Oh yeah, and Daddy is the best fudge chef in the world - when you can convince him to make it. 

Nerdlers unite!


Ding Dong the Bump-It's Dead!

Bye, bye Ryan. We all hated you always. I hope you shall never be "loved on"!

Photo credit: Glamour


Growing up, Part 142: Foundation

I taught myself how to shave my legs in elementary school. Eye liner changed my life at 17. And at 28, I have just started using foundation. Perhaps it is summer officially hitting, but I've come to the harsh realization that some of those "freckles" are actually sunspots from playing at the beach since I was a fetus. And using concealer and bronzing powder just isn't doing the job.

Me putting on makeup everyday, basically:

Photo credit: DC Rock Club

Plus, I have been aware for some time that I should be wearing at least some SPF on my face everyday, lest I look like this at 47:

So, the other day I went to Target - where you can return makeup you tried and didn't like - and spent 20 minutes in front of the No.7 section in the Boots aisle. For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, Boots is a UK store that I fell in love with when I was studying at Oxford. Target, in yet another stroke of co-branding genius, has a Boots AISLE in their stores. It's also where I buy my Rimmel products. But I'm getting off track here. Target tends to do that to me.

A little bird told me that No.7 brand is effectively Chanel by a different name, and that the products are made by the same manufacturer. Or in the same factory. Or by the same gnomes. I don't really know, but Chanel makeup products are the jam, so I baselessly believed.

I tried blending several shades on my hand and then caved and just put some on my face. I landed on a slightly darker shade, keeping in mind that it's summer. This isn't actually the shade, but here's the bottle:

Photo credit: Target

Elegant, no? Although I do have a heck of a time trying to get the cap back on every morning.

After just a few days of incorporating this into the daily routine, so far it's a winner. I don't know how much it "lifts" and "firms" but it goes on smooth without being super matte or shiny. It's definitely smooth, and doesn't cake or crack. I think adding just a breath of powder to set it would be smart, as over the course of the day the shine can crop up. As someone who has always had freckles and whose color changes dramatically each summer, I've been somewhat awed by women with consistent skin. Could I be one of those women now? Dare to dream.

But I can hardly believe that the prospect of figuring out foundation used to make me feel like this:

Photo Credit: College Candy

Next stop: pantyhose!