For a few weeks now, I've just been feeling...off. Like, I'm spinning in place while the rest of the world continues to move in a more linear fashion. I haven't wanted to put this on my blog, in fear of what my clients or those who know me personally would think or say. I want to assure everyone that I'm taking the necessary steps to right myself, whatever that means. 

One of those steps has been joining the Council, an online forum of like-minded women who hold each other up while working on their own personal goals, whatever they may be. The program started yesterday, and I'm already seeing so much incredible love and encouragement from these women that I don't even know in real life (well I do one one of them, and I'm so thankful to have her in my support system - thanks Ashley!). 

For the next twenty-one days, we've been given the assignment to work on two goals, one small and one big, and I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you on what my own goals are, and why I chose them. 
1 // I haven't been closed off about the fact that I have fibromyalgia, but I don't think I've mentioned it in a while either. I was diagnosed almost two years ago, and I've been fortunate enough not to struggle with it too terribly, until recently. For the past month or so, I've been exhausted constantly, and everything is absolutely draining. While there is no cure, really, there are definitely steps I can take to get it in check. For me, that means being more active, even if in small ways. I can't go out and just run a mile, because I would be out of commission for days after, but I can take my dog on a walk every morning. She wouldn't mind that either, I don't think!
2 //  One thing that I haven't talked much about on the blog is my anxiety. Honestly, it's a recent development, something that I'm just now coming to terms with. As a wedding planner, I'm great at coming up with plans A through Z, but I'm constantly terrified that something will happen that is out of my control. Not only that, but no matter how organized I am, how on top of my work I am, I'm always afraid that I'm going to miss something. But the thing is, I've never missed anything before! I don't actually have a reason to feel this way! The result is a constant fear that I'm doing it wrong, when in reality, I've received nothing but praise from my clients. This fear causes me to close up, and put off working on important things just because I'm afraid that I'm not doing it right, but then I feel guilty for putting it off. It's a terrible, terrible cycle that I really want to get under control. 
So, there you go. Those are the two goals that I plan on working on for these next twenty-one days, and I so hope that I have good news to share with you in three weeks. I knew as soon as I found Molly's blog that I needed to work with her in some capacity, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to fix myself. Okay, maybe I don't need fixing, but I definitely need to change some of my habits and my mindset. Hopefully making small changes will mean a more relaxed, and much less anxious Joelle. 


{monday's mantra}

I'm not going to lie, it's five minutes before nine o'clock and I'm just now sitting down to post this week's mantra. I've been pretty lazy all weekend, got to hang out with friends and basically sat around all day doing nothing of importance. That being said, this week officially marks the beginning of my wedding season, and I'm 75% excited and 25% stressed. Regardless, I'm so thankful for everything, and I'm so looking forward to helping my clients with their weddings. I'm truly blessed, no matter how anxious or overwhelmed I feel at any particular moment. 

If you would have told me last year that I would be where I am, there is no way that I would believe you. I feel like I've come so far, and yet I have so far to go.
This is from one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, one of the first that I listened to and it was because of this song that I realized my love for T. She obviously holds a special place in my heart, and I want to share why. Just listen to these, in this order.

Tied Together With a Smile
Love Story
Long Live

If you love Taylor Swift as much as I do (unlikely), I have a few freebies for you.
Download the 1600 x 1200 desktop wallpaper HERE.

Download the iPhone wallpaper HERE.
What's your mantra this week?


{five things}

I'm getting a late start this morning because I woke up to a text from Chase saying that there were unauthorized charges on my debit card. I looked at my account, and someone is apparently staying in Italy on my dime at the moment (must be nice). Thankfully they are really good at warning you, figuring out if it's fraud, and refunding your money ASAP. It's actually the second time in a year that this has happened, and it isn't near the nightmare it could be. So thankful!

Anyway, I'm so glad it's the weekend. It's actually the last free weekend I have for a while, so I'm taking advantage of my time off. My first wedding is next week, and after that I have meetings and more weddings for the rest of the summer. Obviously I love what I do, but we all need a break sometimes! I'm planning on cleaning a little around here, and hosting a little get together with my friends tomorrow night at our place. We may even break out the BBQ for the first time this year!
I've been meaning to blog about the status of our studio, but in the meantime you can check out Emily's post here!

As always, since it's the end of the week, I wanted to share some of the links I've found over the past few days with all of you. Enjoy!

1 // I really love this article from Entrepreneur magazine on how to be a leader online

2 // Do you know how ethical your favorite brands are? This post from Refinery 29 might surprise you!

3 // I might be over mason jars for a lot of things, but I am most definitely trying this tutorial on creating colored glass mason jars. They're so pretty!

4 // If only I had an extra 1.8 million lying around... (P.S. I just found this blog and I'm kind of obsessed).

5 // Would you ever pack your family up and live in your (admittedly adorable) trailer? I'm excited to follow along with this family's next chapter!

Happy weekend everyone!


{comparison or a lesson}

photo by Lavender & Twine // flowers by Stella Bloom Designs

One of the most popular quotes I see these days is "Comparison is the thief of joy." I agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly, but that doesn't mean I don't fall into the comparison trap every single day. It's inevitable. There's always someone who is better than I am in some way; they're prettier than I am, they have better style, they are farther along in their careers than me.

I'm constantly on Pinterest, seeing the best work from the best people, and I always get a little sad that I didn't create it. It's a terrible, terrible way to live! But I think I realized a few things recently:
1 // I just can't be the best at everything. 
2 // Instead of comparing my work (or lack thereof), I need to start admiring and appreciating their work. 
3 // Seeing something beautiful should be an opportunity to learn. It should be my chance to understand a little bit more about the creative process, and it should be a lesson on how I can become a more creative person. 
There are so many people that are amazing graphic designers or interior designers or cooks or crafters, and I want to be amazing at it all! But obviously, that's impossible, and having that mindset really just zaps my own creative spirit. I need to take a step back, consider what I do have to offer the world, and then just appreciate the contribution of others as well.

I want to know, how do you deal with comparison? Do you have any tips for those of us in this creative industry?


{the bag fund}

I'm trying something today that I've never done before, so bear with me...I see a lot of bloggers doing the whole "shop my closet" thing, and I thought I might give it a shot!

I have a few purses hanging out on the top shelf of my closet just collecting dust, and I was hoping some of you might be willing to take them off my hands. Anything I make off of these items will just go back into my bag fund, since I'm due for another purse soon. Take a look, and email me if you're interested!
This was actually the first designer bag I ever bought for myself, and I loved it so much! It's still in really good condition, and is a good size.
I don't wear much brown anymore, but I would totally keep this bag if I did. It's the perfect size for a laptop, and I used it as both a computer bag and purse for a long time.

Here are a few policies that I'm implementing for these pretty bags:

1 // I can only ship within the US, sorry! Shipping is $15 for each bag individually or both together. 

2 // Payments will be made via PayPal, and I can only ship the items once payment is received. 

3 // I'd be happy to send more photos of either bag, just let me know if you're interested!

I'm selling them first come, first serve, so email me ASAP if you want to snatch one (or both) up! 

I have lots of other clothes and shoes and accessories that I'm looking to get rid of, so if this works out, I may start selling here rather than taking all my stuff to Buffalo Exchange. Crossing my fingers that it does work out!


{that time i got bangs}

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I was more than a little excited last week when I decided to chop off my hair. Well, I didn't chop it off, per say (last time I did that, I cried), but I did take the plunge and got bangs! It's not the first time I've done it, but every time I do, I realize again how much I love having them.
blazer // lipstick in lickable

Thanks to Emily at Anna Delores Photography for indulging me any time I need/want photos taken of myself!


{get it done}

One of my very favorite series on any blog is Meg's GSD posts, where she shares how other creative entrepreneurs and young women get shit done. I'm constantly looking for ways to improve my own organization and processes, and it's interested to see how other people use technology to their advantage. 

I know I've shared some of the tools that I personally use to GSD, but it's been a while and I've definitely changed a few things since my last post. I thought you might be interested in learning a little bit more about what my day looks like, and how I keep myself and my work organized. 
My Day

I try to wake up around seven a.m. and immediately put on a pot of coffee. Sometimes I get myself ready, sometimes I work in my pajamas, but I always try to get to my desk before eight. My first priority is always to get my inbox to zero, though it rarely happens. If I do empty out my inbox, I don't feel so terrible about ignoring it the rest of the day!

While drinking my coffee (and listening to Ryan Seacrest), I read my favorite blogs, check all of my stats and social media sites, and schedule out my day. The rest of the day is dedicated to blogging and working on client stuff and other miscellaneous projects. I try to prioritize my to do list, but it doesn't always work that way. I prefer to work on one client at a time, so I don't have to bounce back and forth. 

I usually take a break from about noon to two, for naps or reading or walking the dog, and come back to the computer to work until six, or whenever Robert gets home (sometimes that isn't until nine at night!). 

Once Robert is home, I get dinner on the table and work is put away for the rest of the day. I try really hard not to check my phone for at least an hour before I go to bed, so I can sleep peacefully (and not stress about all the things I didn't get done during the day). And our cell phones stay out of the bedroom.

Tools I Use

I've learned that technology can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to keeping myself and my work organized. It's really easy to overwhelm yourself with all the tools and programs out there, but the key is to find what works for you. I always sign up for random stuff, and I'll know within ten minutes of playing around if it's for me or not. That being said, here are a few tools that I've learned are perfect for me:

Highrise // I've been using Highrise for at least a year now, and it's really the best contact and basic project management system I've found. I can create deals for my client leads, mark them as won (which is really exciting), track all of my vendor contacts, and assign tasks by project to myself or my intern. It's one of the two to do lists that I do use, since I can organize tasks by type, project, and date. 

WorkFlowy // I may have just found WorkFlowy last week, but I can already tell that it's the perfect project manager for me. The outline style is great for organizing multiple projects and tasks, and it's easier to add notes this way. The only problem I have with it is that I can't add due dates to my tasks, but I can tag them as #highpriority, which is good enough for now. 

Evernote // I know that everyone and their mother uses Evernote, but I'm just now admitting that the functionality is exactly what I need. I used to be stubborn, and tried to use Word documents for everything, but it's so much easier to keep track of notes in Evernote. All of my clients have their own folder, and I record all of my phone calls and meetings in different notes that are tagged. I also keep track of my processes and templates in Evernote, which is easier than trying to flush through a massive Word document. 

Gmail // Labels in Gmail are my life saver. To be honest, I wish I had the ability to flag emails like you can in Outlook, but it's a small price to pay for the convenience of using a browser based email system. I use the priority inbox, but only mark wedding clients as "Important" so that I can clearly see what is  and isn't project based. I also have "Follow Up" and "Task" labels that I look at every morning to see what needs to be worked on that day. All emails stay in my inbox until they are dealt with (i.e. answered, or a task is completed). 

Google Docs // I use Google Docs for collaborating with people, though I rarely use it with clients. Typically, I create Google Docs for design projects and photo shoots that I need to collaborate with other vendors on. 

Google Calendar // There's something glamorous and somewhat nostalgic about using a paper calendar, I get it, but these days it's just not practical. I have about a thousand calendars that I use for a variety of different things. Appointments, client payments, client deadlines, project deadlines, and even my editorial calendar are all in Google Calendar. 

Google Drive // I know a lot of people use Dropbox to keep their documents and files in the cloud, but I prefer Google Drive, since it syncs with my Google account. I do use Dropbox to exchange files with other people (such as wedding pictures, etc.). 

Excel // I think this might be an obvious one, but Excel is my best friend. I always have my Projects spreadsheet open, which has every wedding, calligraphy project, and miscellaneous project I've ever worked on. I have a status label for the table so I can sort by whether a project is open or closed, and I have a clear idea as to what is being worked on at the moment. I also have an editorial spreadsheet where I keep track of all of my ideas for blog posts, and all of my wedding budgets are tracked in Excel. 

Microsoft Word // To keep track of the actual tasks for my clients (as in, everything that needs to be figured out for a wedding), I use Word templates. I've created my own specialized Word documents with everything I might need to coordinate for a client, and update it accordingly. About once a week I'll go through this document for each of my clients, and figure out exactly what we need to work on next. 

Pocket // I like having all of the articles and posts I want to remember in one place, which is why I love Pocket so much. I have the extension installed for Chrome, so I can literally save any post or article straight from my browser. 

Chrome // Please, if you haven't switched to Chrome yet, do it now. Extensions allow me to tweet or pin directly from my browser bar. I can save links via bit.ly, or view my blog's stats for the day without even having to check Google Analytics. And, I can keep everything consistent by signing into my Google account in Chrome on my computer, iPad, and iPhone. It doesn't get any better than that!

Feedly // We all know the drama surrounding Google Reader, so I've officially switched to Feedly. The only issue I'm having right now is that it doesn't recognize some of the smaller blogs that I want to follow, and it keeps adding random blogs that I used to follow via GFC. Strange. 

Here are a few other apps and programs that I use:

Wow, so I don't know that I even realized how many apps and programs I use until I just wrote them all out like that. That's crazy! But looking at them all, I really have taken the time to figure out exactly what I need to use to make things work for myself. There is wedding and event planning software out there, but I much prefer keeping track of everything on my own. And there's a big difference between what I prefer to use when I'm working on something on my own, and what is easier to use when collaborating with other people. It's all about trial and error, I suppose!

So tell me, what do you use to get **it done?


{monday's mantra}

Hope you all had a great weekend! We went to Malibu Wines on Saturday to celebrate my friend's birthday, and then came home to watch Tangled on TV. Seriously, that movie makes me bawl like a three year old. We worked on the office a little today (Sunday) and hopefully I'll be able to show you some updates soon! It is most definitely coming along. 

I don't have too many meetings or anything this week, but I definitely have a lot of work to catch up on. Design proposals, rental worksheets, budget tracking...I'll be sitting at my desk for twelve hours a day for the next few days. Wish me luck. 

As always, I wanted to give you all a little inspiration to start your week off right. I really love the band Fun. and have been listening to a lot of their songs on repeat. This one is definitely one that I can relate to, and I just love the idea behind it. 
If you're lost and alone 
Or you're sinking like a stone 
Carry on 
May your past be the sound 
Of your feet upon the ground 
Carry on

If you're interested, I've created this week's mantra into a desktop and an iPhone wallpaper for you all. You can download them below!
Download the 1600 x 1200 desktop wallpaper HERE.

Download the iPhone wallpaper HERE.

Have a great week everyone!


{five things}

Oh Friday, thank goodness you're here. It's been a trying week, that's for sure. I'm looking forward to relaxing this weekend, with only one client meeting and my good friend's birthday to celebrate tomorrow. Sunday we should be getting the studio almost ready to go, so I'll be back next week with some photos!
As always, here are five things for your week!

1 // My favorite wedding from the week! It has a flower girl, in a tutu, with wings!

2 // I finally found my perfect to do list

4 // An interesting post from the NYTimes on living with less (a more radical take on my mantra this week). 

5 // If you have a second, would you mind voting for me for a 2013 Wedding Industry Expert Award? I would really appreciate it!

Happy weekend everyone! What are you up to this weekend?


{color me lovely v.1}

I think it's safe to say that it's been a pretty shitty week all around. The world is a pretty broken place, but it's hard for me to dwell on the sad sometimes.

I've seen a lot of comments this week, implying that those of us who continue to live our lives in the wake of tragedy are somehow insensitive. I think it's important to remember that we all mourn differently. I may live my life on social media, but you only see what I put out there. You didn't see me sitting in front of the television on Monday in shock, or crying when listening to our president speak that afternoon. When disaster strikes, obviously my first instinct is to burst into tears (and I definitely cried my fair share this week). But I don't like to wallow. Or I try not to, at least.

Instead, I remember only what a blessing my life is. I've been given the gift of living another day, and I want to appreciate that. I never want to take that for granted.

Even during a week like this, I see the beauty in the world. I see the good in people, who far outnumber the bad, and I see what an incredible place we live. It's how I celebrate, but it's also how I mourn. 

I've been wanting to start a color series on this blog for a while, because I think in colors. I spend my time thinking of color combinations and how one element would pair with another. And this week, despite the black and grey and red, I want to see bright. I was to see beautiful, and I want to see the good.


{five things...about me}

So, I have a weekly series called Five Things and there is another series going around called Five Things, so I don't want to get them confused. I was tagged by Lexi in her Five Things post, where she shared five random things about herself, and so I want to share a few things that you may not know about me!

1 // I'm a trivia nerd. 

Robert and I are complete trivia nerds. We listen to the Good Job Brain podcast while on road trips together. We try to watch Jeopardy every night. We go to trivia nights at local bars. And the couple that Sporcles together stays together. I know all 197 countries in the world, and usually get all the questions right under the law, politics, or history categories in Jeopardy.
2 // I'm multi-ethnic.

Is that the PC way to say that? I don't even know.

I get asked a lot what ethnicity I am, and I never mind telling! My maiden name is Cortez, and I think people automatically assume that it's hispanic. My mother is actually 100% Scandinavian, and you would never know looking at the two of us together that we're related (think, blond hair, blue eyes). My grandfather on my father's side came from the Philippines (so I got my maiden name from him), and my grandmother is Puerto Rican and Cuban. Needless to say, we have good food on that side of the family. 
Not only that, but my (step)dad (above) is Japanese, which makes us an even more diverse family. And that is my Swedish mother. Not only that, but Robert is German, Native American, Mexican, and Danish. Our kids are going to be crazy cool.

3 // I'm afraid of everything.

It's really not something that I'm proud of, but I'm honestly afraid of a lot. Like, the dark. And the beach. And sleeping at home by myself. One thing I'm not actually afraid of, however, is spiders. I laughed when I saw this on Twitter yesterday because it's basically my life. 

4 // My mom married my teacher. 

He was my sixth grade teacher, and they started dating when I was in the fifth grade. I couldn't tell anybody they were seeing each other, and we would get dinner and go out on the weekends at least a half hour away from our house because he always sees someone he knows! He's kind of a local celebrity in my hometown. 
5 // I have a brother. 

I know that's not exactly news, but I don't talk much about him on my blog. He's only fourteen months younger than I am, and actually older than Robert (who is eighteen months younger than I am). We have always been very close, and he and Robert are best friends, which makes things easy when we go home to visit! He's also kind of crazy, but I love him so very much.
Okay, so I hope you guys learned at least one thing new about me. I don't lead a very interesting life, and I'm actually pretty open about things on my blog. Don't get me wrong, I definitely have private issues that I don't feel are appropriate to discuss here, but that doesn't mean I don't try to be as open as possible!

That being said, now it's time to tag a few more people! And I choose...Lauren, Lisa, Aubrey, Megan, and Emily!

{the perfect wedding gift}

Last week I was asked to put together the perfect outfit for a spring wedding, and this week we're continuing with the spring wedding theme. I had a lot of fun coming up with my perfect gift for a spring wedding!
Now, I could have easily taken a few pictures of my precious Kitchenaid (her name is Scarlet), but I wanted to be more creative than that. Sticking to a registry is probably a good idea if the couple is only an acquaintance of yours; some people just prefer to get the dishes and bed sheets that they picked out! But if your best friend is getting married, and you know them well, then why not gift them an experience or tradition?
Now, a little background on this bottle of wine idea...for our honeymoon, my husband and I went wine tasting and picked up a bottle of wine to drink on our first anniversary (with our In N Out). On our second anniversary, we drank the wine, and went back to wine country to pick up another bottle for our second anniversary. You get the idea, but basically we are on our third bottle of wine this July!

There are a few different ways you can gift a bottle of wine to friends. You can tell them to start a tradition, like we did! You can give them a little note telling them to drink it on a special occasion (like after their first fight...). This isn't just limited to wine either. There are plenty of different ways you can gift an experience in an item.

Other ideas include finding out where they are spending their honeymoon and gifting them an experience there (couples massage? scuba diving? okay!), getting them private cooking classes to take together as a couple (you can include the gift card with a whisk), or buying them a picnic basket with a gift card to Trader Joe's. Whatever you decide to do, I'm always a fan of making the packaging look pretty though.

You can see what the other ladies above chose as their perfect wedding gift by visiting their blogs!

Elisabeth :: Bella
Lauren :: Style Elixer

What would you consider to be the perfect wedding gift?


{coffee talk}

I'm a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink in the morning. Do they go to Starbucks and order a grande soy skinny hazelnut latte? Do they refuse to go to Starbucks at all? Do they stay home, brewing their freshly ground beans in a French press? Do they drink tea? 

In the years that I've been drinking coffee, my own order has changed a lot. Like most teenagers, I appreciated my full-fat white chocolate mocha on occasion when I was young, though I didn't drink coffee every day. Now that I do drink coffee every day, I don't even think of ordering a mocha. Too much sugar! I tend to stick with coffee, anywhere I go (including my house), with a little milk and sugar. Easy peasy. Sometimes I'll splurge and get a chai latte, but that's typically saved for cold afternoons. On warm days, it's all about the iced coffee with some sugar in the raw. I'm a simple girl when it comes to my coffee, I suppose. 


{the things i love giveaway}

Other than the Shabby Apple giveaway I participated in last week (there's still time to enter, by the way), I haven't actually held a giveaway in a while. I've been playing around with the idea of offering one to all of you, but I wanted to make sure that it was perfect. Not cash, or a gift card to the store of your choice, but something that actually reflects who I am, as a way to say thank you for supporting me!
For this giveaway, one lucky winner will receive a few of my favorite things. I haven't actually figured out exactly what's going in the prize yet, but that's all part of the fun! It will be valued at around $50, though I'm always so terrible at sticking to a budget (so it'll likely be more than that). After collecting all of my favorite things from around the house to take a picture of, I have a feeling that the package will be Kate Spade inspired, so be warned. Think, hair bows, gold glitter, and more bows. I promise, it'll be fun. 

To enter, all you need to do is be present! The rest of the entries are completely optional and up to you. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

{at the moment v. 2}

At the moment...

READING :: Matched by Ally Condie. Actually, I'm reading the second book in the series, but I did just finish the first one on Saturday. I've had this book on my iPad for a while, but I just couldn't get into it. Eventually I decided to keep going, and got hooked. 

EATING :: lots and lots of saltwater taffy. We have this old fashioned candy and soda shop in town, and I always have to grab a bag of taffy whenever we go. The orange cream is my weakness. 

PLANNING :: a giveaway. Something authentic. Like my favorite things, or something like that. 

COOKING :: with fresh herbs from the plant on my windowsill. It's still too cold out to plant my favorite herbs out on my porch, but I couldn't help but grab one of the potted herbs from Trader Joe's the other day. It has rosemary and mint, and something I don't recognize but am going to look up soon because it smells wonderful. 

WRITING :: a lot. I have three calligraphy projects going on right now, plus keeping up with the online class I'm taking. It's just so much!

What are you up to at the moment?


{monday's mantra}

Oh goodness, what a weekend! We had Robert's little brother over for the past three days, and while we had a great time, I am so exhausted it's ridiculous. As I type this, both Robert and Olive are dead asleep on the couch next to me, and I have a feeling I won't be far behind.

Before I pass out, however, I wanted to stop by to share my mantra this week. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all the busyness that is life right now, and I have this strange desire to go off and start over in some small cottage in a little town, with few belongings and just my family. Do you ever feel nostalgic for the simplicity of life like that? Obviously that won't happen, but I can at least live a little more simply this week, and see if that helps.
This is definitely a reminder I need right now, especially whenever I get the desire to go shopping or overthink something. I really just need to breathe, and remember that life really doesn't need to be so complicated.

I've made this week's mantra into both a desktop and iPhone wallpaper for you as well, which you can download below.
Download the 1600 x 1200 desktop wallpaper HERE.

Download the iPhone wallpaper HERE.

What's your mantra this week?


{five things}

It's been a few weeks since my last Five Things post, but I always love doing these. I like promoting other blogs, and sharing my favorite things from the week with all of you!

Robert's little brother is staying with us for the weekend, so I see a lot of eating and beach time in the next few days (and maybe even a trip to the zoo). I'm looking forward to taking a few days off, though you know that I can't stay off Twitter or Instagram for long!
Did you see my feature up on Ruffled this week?

1 // Did you see that Snippet & Ink is hiring? This is a great position for anyone looking for experience in the blogging and wedding industries!

2 // Lexi finaly shared her wedding on her blog, and I kind of love everything about it. They brought all of their guests for a weekend away at a resort in Maine, which just sounds so romantic, don't you think?

3 // I finally signed up for Melissa's I Still Love Calligraphy class, and I'm already learning so much (like how to properly load my pen). I'm really excited to learn calligraphy with a pointed pen; it's just so pretty!

4 // I just saw the photos from Kate and Andy Spade's Southampton home, and of course I'm smitten. The bathroom kills me!

5 // Have you had a chance to download Olive's new font? And don't worry, I fixed it so you can actually get it for free now. 

Happy weekend everyone!


{what i'm reading v.4}

So it's that part of the month where I admit to you that I have absolutely terrible taste in books, because I know you all secretly love them too. I also have to give you an update and let you know that I've read 17 books toward my goal of 52 books for the year. That puts me 5% ahead of schedule, thanks Goodreads!
I've actually read more than this since my last post, but two of the books were so forgettable that, well, I forgot what they were even about.

Anyway, so I've been reading the Mortal Instruments series for a few months now, but I've been having to take breaks because I just can't read them all in one sitting! The first three were great, and this one was good too, but seriously? I'm just so over the drama between the two main characters. Can't they just make out, be together, and get on with the rest of the story? There's so much other content that could be addressed there, but the author just keeps dragging out the reasons why they can't be together. It's getting old.

I like to read lots of random books that I find on Goodreads, and I was actually pleasantly surprised with Sempre. I just happened to stumble across it, and downloaded it with a whole bunch of other books at the same time, but this one really stood out to me. Be warned: it's long. And really sad and pretty melodramatic (but I love those angst-ridden dramas, really). Though it does compare to the typical story I'm drawn to, this one definitely had a twist. I liked it. 

Okay, and now onto Walking Disaster. Sigh. I don't know if you've ever read Beautiful Disaster, but it is basically the epitome of a bad-boy-meets-good-girl angsty new adult fiction novel. As much as I didn't want to like Beautiful Disaster, ohmygod it drew me in and I haven't been able to let go. Walking Disaster is the same story as the first, but written from Travis's point of view. I usually like sequels that are the same story, just written from a different POV, but not really this one. I found that it was really just a lot of the exact same dialogue interspersed with some of his thoughts, though not nearly enough to make it much different than the first. Eh, maybe it's just because I've read Beautiful Disaster too many times, but this just didn't have a whole lot of new to keep me interested. I actually felt myself skipping over a lot of the parts that I already read in Beautiful Disaster.

And that last one on the list? It comes out at the end of April, and I'm so excited to read it! If you haven't read Slammed yet (and the sequel, Point of Retreat), I highly recommend them both. They are some of my favorite new adult novels, and Colleen Hoover's other novel, Hopeless is just as good (if not better). Definitely go read all of them, and then get This Girl at the end of the month! I just know I won't be disappointed in it. 

So, what are you reading these days? Do you have any recommendations for me?

{olive charming: the font}

You all know that I put out a font a few weeks ago with my "fake calligraphy." I had so much fun doing it that I decided I needed to create another one! It's crazy seeing your handwriting as a font, let me tell you, especially when I've been seeing it used on other blogs and websites. I just love it.

I wanted to create a print one for all of you this time, so here you go!
***Update November 4, 2013 :: I'm not currently selling all of my fonts through Etsy, so you can view and purchase them all here!***

{spring wedding attire}

I'll be the first to admit that I am not a fashion blogger, but that doesn't mean I don't have fun dressing up sometimes and taking pictures of myself! So when Elisabeth invited me to participate in her spring wedding blogger collaboration, I jumped at the chance! Especially when I found out that I not only get to work with Elisabeth on this one, but two other fabulous fashion bloggers as well!
I knew immediately what dress I would wear if I were going to a spring wedding. Spring and summer weddings evoke a more casual feel to me, especially if it's during the day, which is why I thought my polka dot dress would be perfect. I paired it with a pair of nude flats and my signature bun, since both are much more conducive to dancing (of course). 
dress :: Forever 21 // earrings :: LC at Kohls // shoes :: Ivanka Trump at Nordstrom

You can check out the other outfits that these ladies put together on their own blogs!

Elisabeth :: Bella
Lauren :: Style Elixer

Oh, and before you go, the four of us have a fun giveaway for all of you! Shabby Apple is offering $100 to one lucky winner! I just know that you'll be able to find the perfect dress for that spring wedding this year (plus a few accessories). Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


{featured on ruffled}

Ruffled caught me by surprise today when they posted this funky hot pink + blue ombre shoot that I did last month! My style is usually pretty subdued and classic, so it was fun for me to think outside of the box for this one. Thanks to Leo Evidente Photographers for the beautiful pictures, and to These Buds a Blooming for the flowers! Everything turned out to be just perfect!
You can check out the full post here.


{the vesper martini}

A little known fact about me is that I love Casino Royal. It ranks as my third favorite movie (yes, I have a list), right behind Gone with the Wind and Pride and Prejudice. Not to mention, I have just a little crush on Daniel Craig. James Bond may be a man, but I can't help but feel the adrenaline rush after watching him beat down all the bad guys (and in a suit, nonetheless). 

The Vesper martini is the cocktail invented by James Bond in the original Casino Royale from 1953. It's not just a regular vodka martini, like you might think JB would ask for. 

When I was at BevMo the other day, I decided to grab something special for Robert (since, you know, he is a mixology nerd). I remember him mentioning Lillet, and though I had no idea what it was at the time, I thought I'd pick him up a bottle. Of course, when he came home and saw the bottle sitting on the table for him, he had a history lesson ready to go. 
Lillet is a type of French sweet wine, made from Bordeaux blends and liquors. The original recipe for the liquor was more bitter, but it's much sweeter now and can actually be sipped chilled, on its own. In the US and UK, however, it's most commonly used in martinis, including the Vesper, made famous by James Bond.  
Three parts (ounces) gin 
One part (once) vodka
Half part (ounce) Lillet Blanc
Lemon peel

Of course, you have to shake it with ice (don't stir) and it's typically served in a martini glass, not a champagne glass like James Bond originally asked for. And though he asked for Gordon's in the original recipe, Tanqueray (what I used) is a perfect substitute. You'll want to stay away from something like Bombay Sapphire, which is much more floral and herbal tasting (and tastes like a forest, so I've been told, though it is my favorite gin...). 

I typically drink a glass of wine with dinner every night, and rarely do I venture far into the land of cocktails (at least since college), but this definitely is one of those drinks that makes me feel like a badass. Even if finishing one would land me on my face for the rest of the night...

Would you ever try a Vesper martini? Have you?

{at the moment v.1}

I've been wanting to share more of my life on this blog, but in a positive way (i.e. no more whining about nothing in particular). Now, I know that the title of this new series isn't exactly original, but I think it encompasses what it's all really about. 

So, at the moment...
Reading :: this issue of Vanity Fair. It may be cliche, but Audrey Hepburn really is such an inspiration to me, and I couldn't help but pick up a copy when standing in line at the grocery store the other day.

Listening :: to Just Give Me a Reason by Pink featuring Nate Ruess. I really love Fun. Like a lot, and this song is just so pretty so me. 

Planning :: three photo shoots, seven weddings, and a launch party. 2013 is a busy year you guys.

Watching :: Lord of the Rings. My in laws finally convinced me to watch the Hobbit, and now I'm looking forward to watching the entire LOTR trilogy this week. I haven't tried watching since high school, and I fell asleep in the theater...

Wearing :: my new hair bow from the Icing. Yes, I shop at the Icing, but only for hair bows. It's the only place I can find them!

Drinking :: Stella Artois. I've never really been a big beer person, but I am seriously craving it these days. 

What are you up to at the moment?


{monday's mantra}

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! I got to spend almost the entire weekend with my husband, eating and watching movies. It's going to be a busy week, but I think I'm ready now. 

Like always, here's some motivation to get you through the week, and this time, I've created a wallpaper and an iPhone wallpaper to use, if you want. Just click the links under the image to download them!

What's your mantra this week?


{stuff for april}

Every once in a while, I look back on my goals for 2013 and get a little overwhelmed. I have a hard time keeping track of things like that, when I don't break them up into smaller pieces. Also, I've been seeing a trend toward using values or things that you want to focus on during a particular time, and I really like that concept. To say that I want to focus on my relationship with my husband or making my house into a home really isn't exactly a tangible goal, but it's something that I can reflect on and create my own definition of "success" for.

I used to really love putting out my goals and resolutions here on the blog, but I feel like that's taken a back seat to other topics and conversations. I'd really like to bring that back as well, if that's okay?

Here are a few things that I'd like to work on during the month of April...

1 // I posted recently about how I felt like my blog was in the middle of an identity crisis. I'd really like to start brainstorming and coming up with ways that I'd like to work on my blog. A stringent editorial calendar may or may not be for me, but a consistent blogging standard is essential if I want this space to be successful. I also want to start answering comments again. Believe me, I know that I'm behind on this, and I'm trying! I'll try even harder from now on, I promise. 

2 // Our office is actually coming together! I'd like to really focus on getting it ready to go by the end of April, so I have it during my busy wedding season (twelve weddings from May to October!). 

3 // I don't know how I ever thought that I would have more time once I quit my full time job in December, but I am seriously overwhelmed. I'd like to start figuring out ways to be more efficient with my time in both my business and personal life. 

4 // And finally, my home has always been important to me, but I've let it slip behind in these past few weeks. I really need to start enforcing my office hours, and really focus on my family and my home when I need to. Robert is also much busier with school right now, and I want our home to space of comfort and refuge for both of us. 

What are your plans for April? Do you have any tips for me on how I can reach my own goals?

{nine years is a long time}

Nine years ago today, this guy asked me to be his girlfriend. We were in high school, so obviously, to make it official, he literally had to ask if I would be his girlfriend. I guess the rest is history. 
I actually don't have any photos from before 2005, because I got my camera for my high school graduation. This photo was taken at Robert's senior prom, in May of 2006. That's still seven years ago! Crazy sauce. 


{signature lips}

I've always thought that red was supposed to be my signature lip color. No matter how many times I put it on and realized I looked like a clown, I never thought that maybe it was supposed to be something else. It never even occurred to me that I should be wearing a different color; something just as bold
I think I may be wearing pink for the rest of my life.