{a googly eyed monster}

Happy Halloween everyone!


{fall, fall, fall :: styled shoot}

Just stopping in to let you know all know that a certain adorable little boy and a certain amazing assistant are going to be featured on a certain wedding blog soon. Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook for the details as they happen!
Photos by Anna Delores Photography // Flowers (and cute kid) by Stella Bloom Designs


{life, lately :: nesting}

To me, nesting is an umbrella term I like to use for just...enjoying home. It can mean actually redecorating or cooking or whatever I need to do to enjoy being home. It means creating a sweet, comfortable place for my husband and I to live. Our lives can be crazy, and I want our home, even if we just live in a little apartment, to be a place of happiness and respite. Fall always makes me want to fulfill that need even more. I cook more, I keep things cleaner, we drink more wine and yummy cocktails, we cuddle more, we just spend more time together as a family. It's kind of fantastic. 
Now that I don't have a ton of meetings to go to and errands to run, I'm spending the week at home, calling in sick to life, if you will. Everyone always gets Robert liquor for his birthday (he's an aspiring mixologist-by-hobby), so we're pretty much stocked for a while. I may need to leave to get my fill of Chick Fil-A fill, but definitely not my fill of cocktails. 


{local vc}

I grew up in the fairly infamous well-known area of Southern California known as Orange County. I didn't get out much when I was young, mainly because the OC can be kind of isolating, you know? I mean, I didn't drive until I was eighteen, and my family didn't go to Los Angeles too often (if ever), so almost my entire life occurred in a relatively small area (North OC, or Fullerton, if you want to get specific). 

When I started applying to college, one university stood out to me. Not only was it near(ish) to home, but the community looked amazing and I could a great scholarship. So, obviously, I made the easy decision to go to Cal Lutheran

CLU is located in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles (one of the first cities you'll encounter when you drive north of the Valley). There's not a whole lot there; it's a pretty sleepy city, and our bar options were kind of limited to TGI Fridays and the local pub. After we graduated, I ended up moving back to OC with my family, but a lot of my friends decided to stay in the area. About a year later, when Robert found out he was going to UC Santa Barbara, we ended up moving to where we are now. 

Ventura is a small-ish city, about a half hour north of Thousand Oaks and a half hour south of Santa Barbara. We live less than five minutes from the beach, but beach-side houses here don't cost half of what they do in Orange County. I could go on and on and on about Ventura, but it's pretty much my perfect place. I want to stay here forever.
photo by Anna Delores Photography // can be found here for purchase

There's a point to this story, I promise.

A few weeks ago, I went to an ISES dinner that took place at a flower farm in Carpinteria (about twenty minutes north of where I live). The speaker was all about local - locally produced food and flowers and products and wine. There were over one hundred of us sitting at a long table in a greenhouse, and I couldn't help but think how incredible it was that we were all there for the same reason, eating food that was grown in our community, drinking wine produced by winemakers in the next town over, networking with businesses that work in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. 

I never had that feeling of community when I was in Orange County. There was no community pride; not the way there is here. Almost every person that I've met who lives here, loves it here. There's an intentional decision to stay local, to promote our neighbors and just be proud of our community. I'm constantly amazed that I can walk into the Whole Foods in Oxnard, and buy produce that was grown in Oxnard. I can walk to the industrial area ten minutes from my apartment, and drink beer produced right there. Not only that, but I can go eat downtown, and see the same local beer on almost every restaurant's menu.

I don't know that a sense of community is something you really understand until you've actually experienced it. I never realized the power of community when I was younger, that's for sure, but I have no doubt that I want to settle down and raised my family in a place like this. I mean, I have no problem saying that I would be perfectly happy staying in Ventura county for the rest of my life.

I'd love to know the story behind your home! Do you get that community feeling from your city or town?


{happy sunday + happy birthday}

Today's post is coming early today for quite a few reasons. First of all, yesterday was my last wedding of the season (and I survived! can someone please grab me a glass of champagne now?), and second of all, it's my darling husband's birthday today!

I'm not usually one to post stories that are too personal (at least not of me), but I thought I'd make an exception today. It is his twenty-fifth birthday after all, and Robert's story is more than a little inspirational.

I don't know that I've ever told this on the blog before, but both Robert and I were raised by single mothers. To say it that way doesn't really give my mother-in-law due credit though (we'll talk about my own mom another time, don't you worry), because her story isn't a typical single-mother story. You see, my mother-in-law was only fourteen when she got pregnant with my husband. I'll spare you all the gory details, but know that this wasn't a romantic teenage love story. It was only because of her love for her son and sheer will that got her from soup kitchens to where my family is now. It took me a while to understand when I was younger, but I have no doubt now: what she did was incredible and I have only the highest love and respect for her. She also had to put up with a romantic teenage love story when Robert and I started dating, when he was only fifteen years old. I can imagine how terrifying that was...

Robert was the first person in his family to graduate from high school, and now he is not only a college graduate, but has a Master's degree, and is currently a PhD candidate. In less than two years, he will be my Dr. Duff. Oh, and did I mention he's turning twenty-five today? I love him, more than anything, and I am so blessed to have such an ambitious and compassionate husband. 

I wanted to use this space for a special mantra this weekend. To celebrate all that my husband has accomplished in his twenty five years, all that my mother-in-law has done, for herself and her (our) family and save a little bit for all I've done too. Last night was my last wedding of the season, and I'm honestly not quite sure what to do with myself just yet. But I know that this next year is going to be just amazing. I can feel it. 


{five things}

It's Five Things guys! Five Things. So excited to actually have...time, you know?

Tomorrow is my last wedding of the year, and Sunday is Robert's birthday. I'm really, really looking forward to some Korean BBQ on Sunday with close friends to celebrate my husband's birthday. And then I have a thousand fun projects to work on. Big things are happening friends. 
Posted this yesterday, looking back three years before I had a blog and when I was Betty Boop and Robert was Freud. We almost always celebrate Robert's birthday with a Halloween party, minus this year since his birthday falls on a Sunday.

Now, here are five things for your weekend:

1 // I've always been convinced that I'm not supposed to be from California (though I do want to stay here forever). This little quiz confirmed it. 

2 // Done with Allegiant like I am? Here are a few more books to try. Hopefully they end better.

3 // Wedding season is almost over, which means that work is slow (thank goodness). Here are a few things I'm doing to stay busy these days.

4 // This is from May,  but I just recently saw these photos of a girl growing up with animals in Africa. Incredible.

5 // Interested in getting into the wedding industry? Networking is everything.

Happy Friday friends!


{what i'm reading v.8}

I haven't had a What I'm Reading post in a while because, well...I haven't been reading. Before last week, I hadn't even picked up my iPad since the summer. Things have just been too busy, so obviously I'm excited to start back up toward my reading goal for the year. 

As soon as I found out that Allegiant was out on Monday night, I had to buy it right away. Let me tell you, I almost wish I didn't. 
The Divergent trilogy is actually one of my favorite series in the past few years. Dare I say it? I actually may have liked them better than the Hunger Games. But then the last book came out and I found myself crying at eleven o'clock in bed, all by myself. Like, ugly face crying. For those of you who've read it, you know why. I might write more about it when more have read it, I just don't want to give anything away. I'm honestly really disappointed, and it doesn't sound like I'm the only one. 

I think we should probably form a support group.

Up next? Under the Never Sky. Here's to hoping it isn't as...heart wrenching as the end of Allegiant was. I need a new heroine, and love story, to invest myself in completely now.


{currently coveting v.2}

I made the big mistake of walking into the new Kate Spade NY store that just opened in Calabasas. Big mistake, you guys. You already know that I have a serious KSNY problem, and seeing all their pink and bows didn't help much. At all. A few things I'm currently loving from this season's collection?
1 // 2 // 3

That bag up there? It needs me.


{life, lately :: fall}

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Does the season seem to be passing too quickly for anyone else? I feel like I've been moving non-stop these past two months, and now all of the sudden it's almost November. I just wish time would stand still for a bit so I can enjoy all there is to enjoy about October. There's just something about fall that makes me want to stay home and cook comfort food and light candles and drink apple cider. I made pot roast last night, and while that isn't all that exciting, it was really nice. Sundays are usually reserved for family dinner, and family dinners in the fall just feel so much more sweet. It made me so happy to just be able to do that.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to more blog reading and evening walks with my dog and husband. I haven't had much time to browse Pinterest lately either, so I just had to put together a little fall collage. It puts me in the fall spirit, you know?


{words with bloggers :: onward}

One of my favorite parts about the blogging community is how we all just seem to...get each other. Life isn't an easy thing, but it's almost better knowing that there are so many other people out there experiencing their own hardships and triumphs, you know? We definitely are not in this crazy thing called life alone, and I think that's why a lot of us blog. It gives us a way to connect with each other.

That's probably why I love this girl's blog so much. Her life seems glamorous, but she's so down to earth at the same time. I've been reading Aspiring Kennedy for years now, so obviously I had to ask her to come share her word this week.

Name :: Lauren // Blog :: Aspiring Kennedy

What does the word "onward" mean to you?
People always say that I have the dream job. I agree. I get to direct study abroad programs for American students in the UK & France, and it's as amazing as it sounds. However, one thing that most people don't realize is that it's a 24/7 job while they are here. With having a baby, a husband, a blog & a full-time job, it's can often feel overwhelming to look at my calendar. It's so full each & every day in efforts to keep all aspects of our life moving… and to cram in the necessary catch up with friends & family. So each day, I wake up and look at my calendar with fresh eyes. I read it like a script. I start with the first thing and keep moving until the day is done. Always moving forward. 
Whether I'm with my students and exploring or simply trying to get groceries, right now I'm in a period of constant "go." I thrive in it. I love to see where we will be at the end of each step, and gosh dang it- it feels good to use your mind & body up. Don't get me wrong though, once the semester is over, the only word I'll have on my mind is SLEEP.
Happy Monday friends.


{nine days + happy weekend}

Nine days, you guys. Nine days until I can start reading blogs again and share my five favorite things from my week. Nine days until I can actually sleep in! It's been one amazing wedding season, but in nine days it'll be over. I'm so, so very thankful for each and every one of my clients and my weddings, but I'm ready. It's the home stretch. Wish me luck.


{on marriage :: selflessness}

I'm not sure what I think about the term "marriage advice." I mean, people ask me what I have to say about marriage, but it's really such a personal thing, you know? Something that works for one couple may not work for another, and figuring out what does and doesn't work is a big part of what marriage is all about. 

My best friend got married on Saturday, and I was terrible enough not to send in my RSVP card with my own bit of marriage advice on it. When I was writing my toast on Saturday morning (which I pretty bawled over my computer for...while Carrie was sleeping in the next room), I figured I probably should say a little bit on marriage. It was a wedding, after all! So, here it goes. 

Marriage is a lot of give and take, so be willing to give when your partner needs it. But more than that, be willing to take when you need it. That’s what a partnership is, and that’s what a marriage is. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need something, especially if it’s support. There will be phases in your lives and in your marriage where it seems like one of you needs more than the other, but don’t hold it against one another. The best part of marriage is having someone on your side, all the time. Marriage takes a lot of selflessness, but it also takes a little bit of selfISHness.

I'd love to know your thoughts on being selfless in a marriage. I think there is a lot of "advice" out there, suggesting that a marriage relies on two selfless people coming together, but I don't buy it. I am a self-employed, small business owner and my husband is a graduate student. If we didn't think of ourselves sometimes, I highly doubt we would be where we are. We are individuals, after all, and we both need to be willing to accept the support of one another when needed. That's all. 


{swifty love + freebies}

I love T. Swift. That's no secret. I keep saying that if I ever get a tattoo, it would actually say "Long Live." Crazy? Perhaps. But does it make sense for me? Absolutely. 

One of my very favorite things to do is just write out my favorite lyrics and sayings. It's how I practice my calligraphy, so obviously I had to use my favorite Taylor lyrics. And then, of course, I need to share them with you all. You're welcome. 

These are actually available as 8x10, if you're interested. You can use it for your desktop, or to even get printed. Just click the link below each image!


{signature style :: tutus + bows + a giveaway}

I've always wanted to be a ballerina. I'm a terrible dancer, so even though I've tried (desperately), it's just not meant to be. I think it's their grace and femininity, but it's also probably for the best. I do like having pretty toes, and I can always just dress like one!
Photos by Alyssa Armstrong Photography

Skirt :: Fossil // Jacket :: Nordstrom Rack // Shoes :: H&M // Purse :: Kate Spade

I got this skirt like, two years ago, and I've NEVER worn it. I haven't had the heart to give it up, either, so it's just been collecting dust in my closet. I finally decided to bring it out last week, and I'm so glad I did. Here's to hoping I have a few Christmas parties I can wear it to this year!
And now, sponsor time! I am SO excited to share an absolutely adorable designer with all of you today! Katie creates the sweetest hand-illustrated cards, and I just can't get enough. Seriously, if you want something unique for any occasion, you should definitely check out Katie's Etsy shop, currently stocked full of the cutest paper goods you ever did see. Oh! And she's offering one lucky reader (and future bride) a hand-illustrated "Will you be my bridesmaid" card! Enter below, and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


{happy monday + a winner}

I made it! I actually made it. My best friend got married on Saturday, and it's been go-go-go for the past week or so. But she's now a Mrs. and her wedding was epic. I don't usually use that word, but it's so true. I didn't have much time to post many photos, but I do have a few up on Instagram, including a few of the gorgeous bride. Seriously, they make me cry just looking at them. 

I have a wedding these next two weekends, and then I'm done. For the year! I am seriously looking forward to taking a few months off, to say the least. It's been an incredible wedding season, that's for sure! And now I get to take some time to work on a few different projects.
I hosted a different type of giveaway a few weeks ago, one where you get to keep a gift card and give one away. There were some amazing comments left on the giveaway post, so it was impossible to pick based on the reasons given. That being said, the winner chosen at random for this giveaway is...Jennifer Blake! Congrats my dear, and feel free to email me so we can get you your gift cards!


{ladylike :: classy + cursing}

There's always been this kind of battle in my mind. 

If you know me in real life, you know that I don't have a clean mouth. They are just words, right? It's more the meaning behind the word that's important. I always say that when I have kids, I would much rather them come home from school dropping the f-bomb than calling something gay. It's kind of a no-brainer in my mind. 

That being said, I try to be a classy lady. Obviously I don't always succeed (and being classy really is subjective), but at least I try. I mind my manners, always say please and thank you, and hold the door open for people. I love entertaining in my home, and try to send thank you notes (when I remember). But does my potty-mouth negate all of these ladylike qualities?

I tend to think not. I don't curse much on this blog, though I have been known to show my true colors on Twitter. I stay far, far away from words that may offend someone in a very legitimate and raw way, since I really don't believe that shit can hurt someone's feelings in the same way that calling something retarded would. 

For me, cursing is a way that I communicate my emphasis on something, whether it be because of anger or excitement or stress. It's not me being crude on purpose; it's just a part of who I am. And I tend to think that the lack of cursing in the blogging community is just another way that bloggers try to sanitize their lives (i.e. try to make them seem as perfect as possible). I don't like that. 

What are your thoughts on cursing? Do you think it's possible to be ladylike (we can chat about the sexist sentiments in that word another time) while still swearing? And do you agree that too often we are afraid to use our true language online because we want to seem perfect and better than the rest?


{signature style :: fall + zebras}

First off, a note about Wedding Wednesday...

When I started Wedding Wednesday back up in August, I was really excited to start talking about weddings here on the blog again! But honestly, I'm a little burnt out from weddings. I've been updating my Wedding Blog regularly, and I'm now contributing to Every Last Detail once again. Not only that, but I just haven't gotten a ton of good feedback from my readers about the series, and there haven't been a ton of link ups. I thought I would have the time, energy, and passion to restart this series, but I think I might want to stay away from weddings on this blog here, if that's okay. At least weddings on a weekly basis. I spend almost all of my time working on weddings, and I think I just need a different creative outlet!

Okay, now to the real post! I have to admit that I'm kind of spoiled when it comes to my "office" dress code. I pretty much lived in maxi skirts over the summer, and I've been finding myself wearing my boyfriend jeans and slouchy sweaters, along with my loafers, almost every day these days. It's hard not to, when they're all so comfortable! I don't exactly need to dress up when I'm working from my couch, you know?

I also have this weird thing for clothes with animals on them right now (which explains my hedgehog sweater) so I obviously had to get this zebra scarf when I saw it last week. Duh.

Jeans :: Citizens of Humanity via Nordstrom // Sweater :: Nordstrom Rack // Scarf :: Charming Charlie // Shoes :: UGG via Nordstrom

Yeah, I'm definitely nowhere near ready to let this outfit go yet. I actually bought the sweater last week for a photo shoot I did, and now I want them IN ALL THE COLORS. Hands-down the most comfortable sweater I've ever owned. It's that good.

What are you living in this fall? Sweaters and loafers and comfy jeans, like me?


{easy entertaining :: pumpkin spice russian}

Oh, how I love fall. There's the food and the weather and the colors. And then there's the COCKTAILS. Please tell me I'm not the only one who likes to come up with seasonal cocktails? I've shared a few fall cocktails on the blog before (namely my caramel apple martini and pumpkin pie martini), and now here's another one to add to the list!
I remember making fun of a friend in college because he drank white Russians and they seemed like such an old man drink to me. But seriously? White Russians are the shit. They're like a boozy iced coffee. I mean, it's vodka, Kahlua, and milk. Can't really go wrong. Add in a little pumpkin spice syrup and BAM. You got my new favorite fall cocktail. 

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Kahlua
1/2 oz. milk
1/4 oz (or a dash) of pumpkin spice syrup (like this one)

Just put it all over ice and add a dash of cinnamon to the top and enjoy! I have a feeling I'll be drinking my fair share of these over the next few months...


{words with bloggers :: begin}

Happy Monday friends! It feels like it's going to be a good week, doesn't it? There's just something in the air today that makes me think everything is going to be good this week. I mean, my best friend is getting married on Saturday, so that's definitely something for me to look forward to! I made really good pumpkin cranberry scones (from a box), so there's another plus to my week. And my house is clean! Here's to looking on the bright side of things right now, even if some of them are just the little things. 

I'm excited to be bringing you another edition of Words with Bloggers today, featuring one of my favorite bloggers and someone that I've been following for quite a while now. Her words are definitely inspiring this week, and I'm sure you'll love her quote too. 

Name :: Megan // Blog :: Freckled Italian

What does the word "begin" mean to you?
It's a reminder to get started. As a writer, I often struggle with square one, as though the first sentence owns the rest of my work. Sometimes you have to lower your standards and edit later--just get some words down and go from there.
Why did you choose this word for your week?
I quit my job to move to Minneapolis and live with my fiancé. I decided that I would take this next year to grow my small business and write regularly, which has always been a dream of mine. But after taking so much time away from true, inspired creativity, I've found that it takes a lot of work to get back into it. Maurice Sendak has always been an inspiration to me, and from now on, I'm hoping to be more aggressive about the time I spend moving back and forth between where I am and where I want to be.
Megan is a perfect example of the creativity and drive that inspires me so much in the blogging community. I mean, dedicating a year of your life to writing? And I know that she's an amazing writer too. It does take a lot to just begin, to start back up where you left off, but I always say that if you have the passion, the talent will follow. You just have to try!


{happiness hack no.7}

{october thoughts + goals}

I don't know that I've shared some of my goals with all of you in a while. I have my fall bucket list, for sure, but that's a bit different. I'm coming toward the end of my busiest, craziest, most overwhelming and stressful wedding season to date, and I've finally had a bit of time to reflect on what it all means and what I'd like for my future. I think anybody, regardless of whether you are self-employed or not, should take time every once in a while to look back on their goals, and reevaluate the direction that they want to go in, both personally and professionally. So, here it goes. 
I've been working on a Project Life-type project lately. It's kind of amazing at forcing me to take an honest look at how wonderful my life truly is. I'm so thankful for that.

1 // I want to be more supportive of my husband in all that he does. 

A marriage is a lot of give and take. For those of you who don't know, my husband is a graduate student (officially a PhD candidate now). Going through a doctoral program is rough. Like, seriously rough, on us as individuals and on our marriage collectively. Robert has always been so supportive of what I do and my dreams, but I just can't help but feel like I can be more supportive of what he does. Obviously I believe in him, and I do what I can to show him that, but I could be more understanding of where he is in life and be more patient with his own process. I love him so, so very much, and it's important to me that we live our marriage together.

2 // I want to take my business to the next level.

But not in the same way that I thought I did. At the beginning of the summer, I did a lot of soul searching with my business. I thought I wanted to bring someone else on to take over, to train my assistant to be more hands-on so that I could take more of a hands-off approach. Last week, I unfortunately had to let my associate coordinator go, the one that I brought on back in July, and it really forced me to take a good, hard look at what I was doing to and for my company. 

Right now, it's going to be really difficult for me to trust anyone else that I bring onto my team. I have Emily (thank GOD - I don't know what I would do without that girl), and I have another incredible assistant coordinator that I know has the potential to add a lot to my company in the future. Thankfully they both share the same vision and values that I have, which makes it so much easier for me to let things go with them. Other than these two girls, however, I just don't know that I'm ready (emotionally) to bring someone else on, not when I was treated so unprofessionally and immaturely, and honestly hurt, by someone that I trusted with my business (aka my child). 

That being said, I'm ready to bring my business to the next level. If I'm being honest with myself, I already am well on my way to being at the next level, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I need to have another coordinator working under me (not now, at least). I think what it means is that I need to be more particular with the weddings that I take on, and that I can't be afraid to charge what I'm actually worth.

3 // I need to start holding myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. 

Okay, so I stole this one from Emily, but it's pretty much exactly what I need right now. I'm probably in the norm when I say that I am really hard on myself. We really are our own worst critics. But if I've learned anything this year, it's that I can't control everything. In business and in life, we have to be dependent on others as well, regardless of whether we trust them or not. Sometimes they'll screw up, and sometimes it may have an impact on our lives and our reputations. 

If I'm going to survive this crazy thing called life, I need to stop blaming myself for anything and everything that goes wrong. Sure, we all make mistakes and I try to always take responsibility when I do make a mistake, but sometimes I just can't keep thinking that everything is my fault. It's not. There are people out there who are selfish and have only their own best interests in mind, and I can't change that. I need to start forgiving myself when something goes wrong, and stop dwelling on it. Because I am a good person, and I'm good at what I do. There are going to be people out there trying to derail me, but I have an amazing group of people who know the real me and honestly believe in what I do. I should probably take a cue from them, and start believing in myself too. 

I know these are abstract goals and concepts, but I really just needed to get them out. I'm sure I'll come up with specific things I can do to work toward these eventually, and I don't know that I'll share them with you necessarily. I just need someone to hold me accountable. Think you can help with that?

Thanks for letting me get it all out friends. I love you.


{wedding wednesday :: trust your vendors}

Sorry for the disappearance of Wedding Wednesday last week; something came up, and I basically fell off the face of the planet for a few days. I'm happy to say that Wedding Wednesday is back up and running with a really important topic that we really need to talk about. 

I wrote about this topic on Every Last Detail this week, but I wanted to talk about it over here as well. 2013 wedding season is nearly over for me (only two weddings left!), and I've learned a lot this year. I learn something new at all my weddings, for sure, but something I've realized is how essential it is that you trust your wedding vendors. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to help you! We know what we're doing, and we want to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. If you are too busy worrying about the small details that should left up to your vendors, then you aren't going to be enjoying your day, or the planning, as much as you should. You can read more of my thoughts on this subject on Every Last Detail!

So, tell me. How did you know that you could trust your vendors when you met them? Or were you one of those who struggled giving up control? How did you overcome that when your wedding day finally arrived?

Now it's your turn! Link up your Wedding Wednesday posts below! 

The rules for Wedding Wednesday are simple: All posts must be recent (within a month) and wedding related. You can post about your favorite current wedding trends, photos from your wedding, your wedding planning experience, etc. That's it! 

Obviously I would love it if you would visit the other blogs that are linked up, and I would SO appreciate it if you would link back to Something Charming in your post or use my button. Happy Wedding Wednesday everyone!
Something Charming