All The Things She Wants for Christmas

Gift Guide 2017 - Her

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I have a confession to make. Even though I’m almost thirty, I still make a Christmas list each and every year. Last year, I happened to share my digital Christmas list with my girlfriends when we were out shopping for the holidays. I’d recently started making my list in Google docs and adding pictures and links so my family and friends could easily shop my Christmas list. You see I just don’t see the point in having someone spend hours during what’s already a stressful time of year picking out something they think I might like only to have me go and return it a week later.

This year, I’ve decided to share my Christmas list a little more broadly with not only my family, but those of you who might be looking for great gifts for your loved ones this year. This first gift guide is really focused on clothes, shoes, and accessories for the women in your life, and I hope to include similar ones for home, travel, and beauty before it’s too late to ship presents in time for Christmas.

One theme you’ll notice about my gift guide as it includes not only my love for all things simple (that white coat) and the things you might want to pair with it to give it a little oomph, but it also showcases my love for an incredible pattern (that bomber jacket). Speaking of that white coat, when I was in college, my dad offered to buy me a dressy coat for Christmas very much like the one pictured. Unfortunately I turned him down because I didn’t feel grownup enough or responsible enough to have a beautiful ladylike coat (hello frat basements), but if there’s one thing I could go back and change now it would be saying yes to that coat even if it hung in my closet for the next ten years. You see I think that’s the beauty of buying something classic. While you might not wear it everyday, over the course of many years, it’ll really begin to payoff. That being said, while I love going for a classic gift for the holidays, I think it’s also really fun to give something that’s really unique and special and not at all practical that the receiver probably would never buy for themselves. Ultimately, I think that’s the fun of the holiday season, it’s a time when it’s completely appropriate to spoil those you love just a little bit whether it’s with something you know they’ll love for years to come or something they are dying to have right now.

I’m curious though, what’s on your Christmas list this year? What kind of gifts do you like to give? Are you the classic gift giver or the completely impracticable, but amazing gift giver? I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comment below.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Holiday season filled with lots of cheer!

The Thanksgiving Table of My Dreams

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For the last couple of years, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving by taking a trip with family. It’s a surprisingly wonderful time to travel as you don’t encounter many long lines while exploring a city since the bulk of humanity is sitting on their grandmother’s couch watching football. While I absolutely love this new tradition we’ve started, the one thing I miss about Thanksgiving is having the opportunity to design a beautiful Thanksgiving table.

Since I won’t be able to put together a real Thanksgiving table this year, I decided to share with you the Thanksgiving table I’m currently dreaming of. When I started to brainstorm what my ideal Thanksgiving table would look like, two things immediately came to mind dutch tulip vases and Richard Ginori’s Oriente Italiano dinnerware collection. I first fell in love with delftware tulip vases when Tom and I saw the dutch flower pyramid or “Bloempiramide” at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. On a recent trip back, Tom brought me home a kit to build my own flower pyramid. Mine is made of plastic, but it’s still super cool. Ever since, I’ve wanted to design a table with a Bloempiramide as the centerpiece. Now on to those pink plates. I first saw one of Richard Ginori’s Oriente Italiano plates at Forty Five Ten in Dallas. I awkwardly took a picture of the back of the plate in the store because I knew I would want to remember who made it. I think what I love about these plates is that the simultaneously seem traditional and modern at the same time, but in all reality, it was probably just the millennial pink that caught my eye. I built the resulting tablescape around these two pieces and hope it inspires you to make a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape of your own. Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

The 12 Dinner Napkins We’re Craving for Thanksgiving

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I can’t believe the holiday season is upon us. We didn’t really have our traditional Fall weather here, so the fact that it’s almost Thanksgiving is really surprising. Maybe it’s the fact that this year feels a little “off”, but when I was thinking about how to set the table for Thanksgiving this year, I was drawn to things that didn’t look too “Thanksgiving.” While having a theme can be nice, sometimes I feel like it ends up looking too kitschy.

This year, I’m really craving adding some color to my table. I have beautiful white dinner plates and napkins, which I use for practically everything and it would be nice to have an alternative. I also really like the idea of buying something that can be repurposed for other dinner parties throughout the year so that whatever I buy will get used more than once.

I think when it comes to holiday decorating often times we feel like there’s a right way to decorate. For Thanksgiving, your need warm colors – reds, oranges, and yellows and lots of gourds. But I don’t think you need to be overly formulaic. When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s all about getting your favorite people around the table and enjoying a delightful meal. It’s also one of the two times per year that you will probably actually set the table and use real napkins and fancy china. The objective for setting the table is really to make the people you have invited to your home feel special. By just by being thoughtful about how you set the table, you will set the tone for the day. Whether you use a pumpkin or a gourd or some metallic napkins, is totally up to you.

It’s All In The Mix

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I’ve always loved this image from Veranda – I love the choice of art, the colors, the textures, and especially the mix of styles. I think there are two reasons why mixing styles works so well in this image. The first is that pairing the antique dresser with a bright, colorful piece of contemporary art breathes life into the dresser, which could have a tendency to be overly stodgy or too precious. The second is that there is a tension created by placing two contrasting items next to each other that is much more interesting than if you didn’t.

I have a somewhat similar antique dresser that I absolutely love, and I’m dying to get a great abstract painting to go above it. If I did, this is how I would style it.

The gorgeous painting is by Michael Manning on Artsy, which is a great source of contemporary art, and I paired it with a wonderful occasional chair from Jonathan Adler, a unique lamp, and a simple box.

I also found several other options, below, that offer a similar take on the idea:

fhikes

I am lucky to live in Virginia, where I’m a short drive from the Blue Ridge Mountains and some of the best hiking in the country. This past Sunday, I was finally able to get back out to the mountains, which got me thinking about my favorite hikes in the area. After hiking for the past ten years in Virginia, if I had to pair down my favorite hikes to just five, these are the one’s that would top the list.

  1. Old Rag – My husband and I hiked this mountain on our first date, and he later proposed to me here. It’s a seven mile hike complete with a rock scramble and 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside.
  2. Cold Mountain – Can’t make it to Ireland? Go on this hike, which has a vast open meadow at the top. The parking area is also close to the meadow, so I suggest packing a nice picnic and enjoying it at the end of your hike.
  3. Bear Church Rock – The high canopy and stream that follow you on the first part of this hike remind me of a rainforest. If you go when the Rhododendron is blooming, it’s absolutely stunning.
  4. McAfee Knob – Make this a day trip and have lunch at The Homeplace afterwards. Don’t forget to hang your legs over the edge and get the iconic picture.
  5. White Oak Canyon – Great for dogs or when it’s hot and you want to take a dip in a nice mountain stream along the way.

What are your favorite hikes in Virginia?

A Pop of Primary

Shiraleah Clutch//Sachajuan Spray//Rebecca de Ravenel Earrings//Milly Dress//bkr Waterbottle//Sophia Webster Shoes//Katie Kime Elephant//Oliver Peoples Sunglasses

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Rachael + Logan (+ Max!)

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve obviously got love on the mind. I recently had the opportunity to take a few shots of my friends Rachel and Logan and their beautiful pup, Max. One of the things I loved about how these turned out is that you can obviously tell how much these two care for each other. I think it’s funny how in today’s world pictures are so ubiquitous, yet often we don’t take the time to take a few portraits with the one’s we love. That’s why when Rachael asked me if I’d be willing to take her and Logan’s picture, I jumped at the opportunity. Even though I had never really done portraits before, I thought it was a great way to stretch myself as a photographer, but I must say, when you have subjects as good looking as this crew it’s hard not to end up with some great results. I hope you enjoy their portraits, and that you think about getting some pictures of you and your loved ones made this Valentine’s Day.

 

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Kir Impérial

If, like me, you plan to stay home of Valentine’s Day, but still want to feel festive, there’s nothing better than a Kir Impérial. There’s just something about adding a dash of color to your favorite Champagne that makes it just that much more special. Since this drink is all about being over the top, pull out the fancy Champagne flutes that you never use, and make a toast to your health. Santé!

Kir Impérial Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes // Cook time: 2 minutes // Total time: 12 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2 oz. Chambord

1 Bottle Champagne

Instructions: 

Chill Champagne flutes and Champagne. Once chilled, fill each flute with 1/4 oz. Chambord. Top with Champagne. Enjoy!

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Pop of Color

 

 

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Paz Collective Scarf// Ann Taylor Funnel Neck Coat //  Franchi Clutch (similar here and here) // World Market Earrings (similar here) // Frame Denim Jeans // Joe’s Jeans Heels // Loft Tee

While dressing for winter can be quite pricey, it’s also relatively simple. You really only need a great coat and great accessories that you mix, match and wear on repeat. That being said simple is not always easy, as I can attest. It takes some time to find a great coat. I had thought I wanted a camel wrap coat, but considering the one I want is WAY out of my budget, I started looking at alternate options. I found this great grey coat quite randomly at Ann Taylor. I love the silhouette, color, and collar, which can be worn several different ways. However, when I bought it, I realized I didn’t really have a scarf to wear with it. I think a beautiful scarf adds just the pop of color you need near your face when you’re wearing a neutral ensemble. I found this one by Paz Colllective at the Menil Collection in Houston. Museum gift shops are always my favorite as you can find really unique things that you can’t find anywhere else. I really love all the different colors in this one and the fact that the base is grey and there’s a little black means I can wear it with just about anything.

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On Chasing Antelope

Let’s face it. We’re humans and we’re flawed. We can set goals, ideas, and values for ourselves, but if you’re anything like me you regularly fall short of those things you would like to accomplish, do, and be. And when you do fall short, your first instinct is probably to beat yourself up, to wonder why you fell short of your ideals. As far as I know, we are the only animals that do this. I don’t think the lions on the savannah beat themselves up when they fail to take down the antelope. They just try as hard as they can, and if they don’t get the antelope, they try again next time. The beauty in the lion’s mentality is that it lives in the moment. It tries as hard as it can today to be the best lion it can be, and then it goes home and takes a nap. Either way getting the antelope or not getting, the lion unbeknownst to itself is becoming a better lion everyday. 

Take meditation. When I started meditating for the first time, I thought it was all about clearing my mind of thoughts. Yet the more I sat with my body and my mind, I was able to slowly, slowly come to an understanding that the mind was a thought generating machine. I really had no choice in whether there were thoughts in my head or what the content of those thoughts might be, but the ability I did have was to recognize those thoughts and then choose how much attention I wanted to pay to them. Yet oftentimes, even when you know this basic fact, you find yourself deep down a rabbit hole of thoughts without realizing how you got there. Here in lies the opportunity to ask yourself is this the direction I want to go or would I prefer to watch my breath in the belly or the nose or pay attention to my left foot.

Often times, we are lured into thinking that life is about getting the antelope or having a calm mind. And unlike the lion, at the end of the day, we come home and beat ourselves up for not having gotten the antelope today of for getting lost in our thoughts too many times. However, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we had a little less focus on outcomes coupled with a little more compassion. Rather than thinking, I’ll be happy when (insert outcome here) occurs, and I’ll be upset until it does we can rejoice daily in the fact that we chased the antelope or we watched our thoughts.

Perhaps then life is not so much about getting the antelope, but the practice of trying to catch the antelope. Getting the antelope is merely an occasional happy by-product of putting in the effort to chase the antelope.