Try the World :: Rio de Janeiro

And it's one of my favorite times of the month! For the past few months, Robert and I have been getting a Try the World box - a subscription box full of goodies from around the world. We've already visited Paris and Tokyo, and this time we're traveling to Brazil
In this box :: Predilecta, goiabada (guava dessert) // Madrugada, cha de erva-doce (anise tea) // Santa Helena, mendorato (Japanese style peanuts) // Santa Helena, pacoquita (peanuts sweet) // Reservas de Minas, geleia de morango (strawberry jam) // Bananinha Cremosa, banana bar // Ducoco, coco ralado (shredded coconut)

I have to say, getting this fun little box in the mail is always a treat. I haven't had the opportunity (yet) to travel much in my life, so it's nice to have a bit of the world come to me sometimes. I really loved this box, especially the jam (I love strawberry jam, probably more than I should), and those Japanese style peanuts are always delicious. It's interesting - we've gotten tea in every box so far, which I'm definitely NOT complaining about. It's just always so fascinating to see how the same concept is interpreted in different parts of the world, without ever having to leave my little apartment!

This box was sent to my home in exchange for a review and write up, though my opinions are completely my own. You can read more about my blog's policies here. As a small business owner and self-employed blogger, I always appreciate your support and consideration!


Signature Style :: a Blue Tutu

When I went out to discover my signature style a few years ago, I had only one rule: only buy things that I absolutely love. No more buying items just because they're on clearance or whatever. I wanted the things in my closet to just be me. So, when I see something that I do absolutely love, I obviously have to figure out a way to make it my own. 

I'm always browsing shops online, just in case there's something I want, and last week I saw this skirt. I bought it without a second thought, and I'm so glad I did!
Skirt :: Modcloth // Top :: Forever 21 // Shoes :: Vince Camuto via Nordstrom // Purse :: Kate Spade // Necklace :: Kate Spade // Earrings :: Forever 21


How to be Charming :: Formal Living

Like so many young women, I am infatuated with Paris. To be clear, it's a justified infatuation - I spent a summer in college discovering this beautiful city, studying art history and generally getting lost in the incredible streets of Paris. 

It was only recently, however, that I found Jennifer Scott's first book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. She brings up a lot of really good points about French living, and while I can't get behind everything I've read so far, there is one point that really intrigues me. 

Chapter eleven of the book is titled Live Life as a Formal Affair. Just the name of the chapter piqued my interest, and reading her arguments supporting living a more formal life really got me thinking about how casual I tend to live my life. 

This isn't to say that living a casual life is bad; I think it just goes back to living a life with intention - for me, at least. It's so easy for me to just throw on a pair of jeans without thinking about it in the morning, or ordering a pizza because I have nothing in the fridge for dinner. These things don't require a lot of premeditation, which essentially means that I do them without thinking, really. I guess that's part of the reason why I decided to go for my #byebyebluejeans challenge - to live intentionally, even if just in this little way. 

While the points made in the book for formal living may be slightly too formal for my Southern California upbringing (she is talking about France, of course), I think there are a few ways I'd personally like to incorporate this idea into my daily life, if possible. 
I DREAM of having a beautiful living room, like the one above, with no television or clutter.

1 // IN MY HOME. Thought I live in a little apartment now, I do have an American dream of buying a house for myself and my family. It doesn't need to be a big house, necessarily, but I've always loved the idea of having a designated space for entertaining. I grew up in my grandmother's house, and the first room you came upon when entering through the front door was a formal living room. I don't see this much anymore, but there's something appealing, to me, about having a space in my home that's for more formal purposes, such as entertaining guests. There's no television in this room, just some nicer lounge furniture and maybe a way to play music (we had a record player in my grandmother's living room - which was so fun and novel for younger me). 

2 // SUNDAY DINNER. For the past few years, we've enjoyed a slightly more formal Sunday family dinner. It usually involves a more complicated meal than normal, like roasted chicken or pot roast. I almost always spend at least a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday evenings, and will likely make a dessert to go with it. While Madame Chic served three course meals to her family (which included legitimate courses), I think I might be alright with just keeping this tradition up in my own home. We often use cloth napkins and our nicer china as well, so it feels like I'm throwing an elegant and intimate dinner party, although it's almost always just my husband and myself. 

3 // USE YOUR BEST. Jennifer has an entire chapter in her book dedicated to this, but I do think it applies to this idea of living a more formal life as well. I touched upon it above, the idea of using my best china and napkins for Sunday dinners, but I think it can, and should, apply to every day as well. It means bringing out my best crystal vase for the flowers I just picked up at Trader Joe's, or wearing my best lace underthings with a pair of jeans to run errands. I love this idea of using my best, always, because it just makes life feel more luxurious, even if it is just another Monday. 

Though I'm sure there are so many other ways I can incorporate formal living into my less-than-formal existence, I think these are a good start! It's all about just being more intentional, and creating a charming life that I love.

Note that this post includes affiliate links, which means that I may make a commission from any purchases made via these links. You can read more about my blog's policies here. As a small business owner and self-employed blogger, I always appreciate your support and consideration!


There's Always Time for Coffee

At one point in the past few years, Robert and I turned into grown ups. And as grown ups, we like to do grown up things, like host dinner parties and drink coffee every morning. We really are those people who can't start the morning without a cup of coffee.

One thing that's developed in our kitchen naturally over the years is our coffee station. Really, it's a hot beverage station, but coffee does make up 75% of our hot beverage consumption, so, well, coffee station

It's nothing too fancy, but it definitely ensures that our morning cup is readily accessible, thus ensuring that our day at least starts out right. We don't have anything fancy, just whole milk and sugar, or maybe agave syrup if we're feeling especially brave. We do grind our beans every morning, so our grinder is essential, and we still use the coffee maker I bought my freshman year of college. It's nothing much, but it's a little corner of my kitchen that I love. 
That heart mug is Robert's - it turns red as it heats up. He drinks out of it every. single. morning.

Summer Party Planning

I'm a hostess by nature. I LOVE throwing parties and having people over for dinner, but there's something about spring that really isn't conducive to entertaining. I mean, we're so busy during the holidays that I suppose it only makes sense to take a few months off after the new year, but I've been itching to get back into things. 

This upcoming Monday is Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start to summer, and I couldn't be happier! I'm so excited to spend more time outside and with friends, drinking margaritas and BBQing. Though summer isn't my favorite season of the year (that would be fall, of course), there's just something about this season that makes me so...happy

So, when I was asked to throw a summer party with Pier 1 and Spotify, all I could think was is this really my job? And then I emailed them back and said YES! Of course I would throw a summer party for my blog!

I've had a few weeks to think about what I'm going to do, and I just can't wait to see it all come together! One of my dear friends has an incredible backyard, and she was kind enough to offer it up for my party. I knew from the start that I wanted to use bright colors, so the blooming bougainvillea that grows along her fence is the perfect backdrop. Combine the fuschia of the flowers with some cobalt blue and a little tangerine for good measure, and I think I might just have a vision
1 // 2 // 3

Side note: It's part of my job, sure, but it's still so difficult for me to put together design boards sometimes. I just have this vision in my head that hasn't been brought to life yet! That's not a bad thing, I suppose. It just means this is my chance to create something new. 

I'm still in the beginning stages of planning my party, but I have a basic overview of what I'd like to do. I want it to be casual and fun, with good food and great company. I think I might just be on my way!

For those of you creating your own summer party, I put together a little Party Planner for you to print and plan with! Download it by clicking the link below.

And because no great party ever started with boring conversation (or a salad), I've put together a little summer play list to share with you as well! I'm one of those people who associates songs with moments of my life - almost every season has a song to go along with it. I knew that my summer playlist for 2014 needed to be a combination of all my summer playlists for the past...13(?) years? Enjoy!

Compensation was provided by Pier 1 via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Pier 1.

 photo Pier1Imports_Logo_zpse69e622d.png
Find what speaks to you.


Bye Bye Blue Jeans

I never really announced this little project here on the blog (it was more of an Instagram announcement), but I figured I'd share a bit about what it's been like to say goodbye to my blue jeans this month. 

As part of just...being in a rut over the past few months, I decided to change a few small things, to see if they'd make any difference in my life. One of those things was to embrace my femininity a little more.

It's an abstract concept, so I knew I needed to have a measurable way of doing this. Thus, #byebyebluejeans, my May project to only wear skirts and dresses. 

So, how's it been?

Not that difficult! I'm wearing a maxi skirt in the outfit above, and it's almost more comfortable than a pair of jeans. Sure, it isn't all that fancy, but I've realized that you can dress down a skirt just as much as you can dress up jeans. Not only that, but I actually have a lot more options by wearing skirts and dresses than if I wore pants. I really only have two pairs of jeans (I don't really wear any other type of pants anyway) that I was wearing in rotation nearly every day, so I have much more variety in my wardrobe these days.

I'm also wearing things that thave been just sitting in the back of my closet, waiting for someday to happen. Well, it's now someday and I'm wearing them! I figured if I haven't worn a dress or a skirt by the end of the month, not including more formal or cocktail wear, it's going to the Goodwill.

Just because I'm wearing a skirt doesn't necessarily mean that I'm predisposed to actually getting ready in the morning (read: hair and makeup), but it does make me feel slightly better about my appearance. If only because I'm not just throwing a pair of jeans and a tank top - I actually have to put a little thought into my outfit for the day!

I haven't been all that great about documenting this project, but I think I'll start taking photos of my favorite outfits to share with all of you. And even when this month is over, I don't really see myself going back to wearing jeans every day!

Oh, and just in case you're wondering - I've only "cheated" once, though I think my lobster shorts are a perfectly acceptable way to break the rules!


Monday's Mantra

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I actually had a pretty relaxing weekend, which hasn't happened in far too long. We saw Godzilla on Friday night (SO GOOD) and then I went to CLU's commencement ceremony to see Emily graduate. Saturday night was spent with family, celebrating my aunt's birthday, and Sunday was lazy. Much, much needed. 

Things have been...busy and overwhelming lately, so I really needed to just take a step back and focus on some other important things in my life this weekend. Namely, my home and family. And myself. 

I searched for quote for this week's mantra for a while, but I knew that this was it as soon as I found it. 
Happy Monday friends!


5 Years Later

I graduated from college five years ago this weekend. It's seems surreal to think that I've been out of college longer than I was in college, especially since school had such a big impact on my life. I suppose it could be cliche to say that college changed me, but it would be untrue to claim otherwise. 

I've told the story more times than I can count - I was a shy freshman, so shy I had zero friends. I didn't get along with my roommates because they didn't have the fear of God stricken into them every time they encountered a social situation, and college is basically one big social situation. I remember walking to the Mexican restaurant near campus every Friday night, and bringing it back to my dorm so that I could eat my burrito, alone, while watching TV. I was one of those students in the library at nine o'clock on a Saturday night, because I had nothing else to do. 

Eventually I got better. Robert followed me to Cal Lutheran a year later, which brought me out of my shell a little. I started participating in classes, and my professors actually noticed me. I made the terrifying decision to start applying for different activities on campus, though rejection was always my biggest fear.

I felt encouraged to start participating, not because my school made me feel like I should, but because they thought that I could. They were gentle with fragile me, though it was terrifying at first.

I truly believe that it was my school, my peers and my professors and the administrators on campus, that changed me. I went from shy freshman with no friends to giving a speech at my graduation. Five years later, this is the first time I've actually looked back at that speech. 

Good morning CLU family, and congratulations fellow graduates. We are here today to celebrate the achievements that we have accomplished in these past few years and look forward to the successes that we will undoubtedly have in the future. Before we look back at our time here, however, let’s thank those who helped make our education possible. Will all the graduates here join me in thanking our parents, family members, professors, and the administration and regents of California Lutheran University.

Four years ago, I was sitting in my high school stadium, watching my friends and classmates get up and give their graduation speeches. Four years ago, I was satisfied hearing them speak words of congratulations and recount the endless memories we shared from the previous years. I came to CLU completely content staying in that position of following others; however this school derailed that satisfaction when I was forced to confront the fact that every single person here has leadership qualities in them, including myself. It’s the price we pay coming to a liberal arts college: we are challenged to develop the traits within us that we are afraid of. And we have all accomplished this goal, albeit in a variety of ways.

We became leaders the moment we first stepped foot onto this campus, through community service projects and involvement fairs. In the years following we became athletes, senators, presidential hosts, RAs, PAs, club presidents, and choir members. We studied abroad and participated in Habitat for Humanity projects. Through these roles we were able to become leaders not only on the Cal Lu campus, but leaders within our community, and, essentially, the world. The opportunities for growth at this school have been endless, and we have all developed qualities through these opportunities that we may not have had we decided to go somewhere else.

For most of us, life at CLU hasn’t just been a collection of classes and lectures, but about all of the things in between. Continuing education outside of the classroom has always been a value of this university, and it has been a collection of these experiences which have allowed us to grow and flourish in a community that is welcoming of all people.

When looking back, we will remember painting the rocks, going to Chuck E. Cheese for Club Lu, and worshipping with the Lord of Life Congregation on Sunday evenings. But beyond these things, we will remember the friends that we made and the lessons we learned, because while we learned so much from our professors, we have learned just as much from each other. These experiences can’t be fully expressed through a diploma or GPA, but they will be remembered through our continual friendships and, of course, Facebook.

When I moved onto this campus as a freshman, I had no idea what I was in store for. I knew classes would be tough and living with a roommate even tougher, but I never knew that being here would change who I am. When I came here four years ago, I never imagined that I would have the confidence or opportunity to plan ASCLU-G retreats, compete with the Ivy League at Harvard National Model United Nations, or mingle with donors and regents at different events on campus. And I don’t think any of us expected the overwhelming chaos and tremendous amount of fun we would have at the indescribable I truly believe that we have been prepared by this school for whatever our futures have in store for us.

Regardless of what and who we become, we have been given the gift of integrity and hard work and have developed a passion for serving others. I think that these qualities which have been entrusted to us exemplify those required to live in our world today. So, regardless of our major or the activities we involved ourselves in while here, we have those things common. We will always be a family because of the education we received here.

Standing here is bitter-sweet because I know that I will never again have a class in the humanities building or sleep in a room in Grace hall, and if it weren’t for these things I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But I feel better knowing that I am prepared for what lies ahead, because we will not only leave this school with a degree, but with the confidence and character to continue our leadership beyond of this university. So, congratulations, class of 2009, and would you all please give each other a standing ovation.

Five years later, it still is bittersweet. I can only remember pieces now, of my dorm rooms and classes and Friday nights at Club Lu. I remember being so scared at living on my own and so nervous for my college classes. But I do believe it led me to where I am today. It's all part of the process we call life, but those four years will forever be in my heart as some of the most challenging, inspiring, and best years of my life.

It also just so happens that tomorrow will be the first commencement ceremony I've attended at CLU since Robert graduated in 2010. I am BEYOND proud of Emily, my assistant and, more importantly, a dear friend. I'm feeling especially sappy today, but I will be posting next week on what a humbling and incredible experience it has been to mentor this sweet, talented girl for the past year and a half.

Congratulations Emily, and congratulations to the class of 2014!

And now, because I couldn't not post a collage of pictures from my time at Cal Lutheran.


May Update :: Good Things

May has been good. Really good, so far. And not just because it is. Because I choose to make it good. I know a lot of people say you can't choose happy, but I'm trying. I've had a few rough patches this month, but I'm choosing to let what I can go and be thankful for the rest. What exactly am I loving these days?

1 // NURTURE. Last month, Robert and I really reevaluated our routines. We realized that we weren't really putting an emphasis on what truly matters - us. For the past however long we've been sleeping in the same bed, Robert hasn't come to bed with me. Instead, I'll say goodnight at ten o'clock or so, and he's in bed around 2 a.m. We made a rule, only last month, that we are both in bed by midnight. I find myself staying up later to spend time with him, and he's content just watching TV (Chopped is on a lot late at night) or doing some work. It's actually changed a lot - actually sleeping next to him all night. It's really nice. 

Not only that, but we've been doing a lot of mid-week date nights. Even if we don't go anywhere; Netflix has been a common presence in our living room, though I know that usually isn't anything to write home about. We tend to take a half hour after Jeopardy finishes (yes, we watch every night) and finish up whatever work needs to be done for the day - lingering emails, blog posts, social media, whatever. Once eight o'clock rolls around, we pick a movie and the rest of the night is focused on us. I can say that regardless of whatever difficulties we've experienced in the past few months, just nurturing this has been good for our souls and for our relationship. It doesn't matter that we're just watching a movie. We're doing something together. We're letting each other know that they are the most important. And that is important. 

2 // WARM WEATHER AND LONG DAYS. Though I can't say that I'm necessarily appreciating the excruciating weather we're having these days (seriously, it doesn't even get to ninety in the height of summer around here, and yesterday it hit ninety-five), I do love sleeping with the windows open and our evening walks to the park. We have a school about five minutes away from us, and we like to take Olive to run around a bit, since we don't have a yard. Yesterday, there were some kids larping (which was cute to watch because really - at least they're outside getting exercise) and Olive couldn't keep her eyes off of them! She was so concerned that they were hurting each other, she kept running back and forth, not entirely sure what to do. We didn't let her get too close, but it was cute to watch. Needless to say, I'm really, really loving the opportunity to spend more time outside these days. And it's nice to think of what this will all be like when we grow our family and take walks to park...with babies.

3 // SETTEBELLO. Robert and I have found our new favorite restaurant, and it isn't in some cute boutique neighborhood - it's actually at the brand new development that just opened up last year. But, give it a chance! Settebello has some seriously good cocktails and I've been craving their pizza! We don't usually have high hopes for places like this, so we were really surprised the first time we wandered in. We're looking forward to another date there tonight, right before we go see Neighbors

4 // HOME STUFF. There's just something about the changing seasons that makes me crave my home. I find myself reading more home and design blogs and books, not necessarily to redecorate or anything, but so that I can rediscover what my home means to me. I recently purchased the Nester's Book, the Nesting Place, and it's really opening my eyes to what making a home is all about. We're moving in only a few months, so I can't really do much to our little apartment now, but that's okay! It's not about what my home looks like - it's what's inside my home. It's the people, the meaningful objects, that matter. And I love that. 

May has been good, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year being good too. I guess this is just my (slightly random) list of what I'm choosing to make me happy these days. And regardless of difficult clients or money problems or other curveballs being thrown my way, we all deserve to be happy. Right?


How to be Charming :: Start Simple

Coming up with this concept How to be Charming was really overwhelming for me! What was I supposed to write about? What did I want to write about? How would people react? Did it really matter how other people reacted?

Anyway, eventually I realized that I just need to stop stressing and write what's in my heart. Not only that, but I think it's all about baby steps. So, here's a little bit on how I want to be charming. It's random, but I think it's these things that put me on the path to a life that I'm proud of and help me be more comfortable interacting with people (because, you know, introvert).
There's comfort in the known and confidence can change your entire outlook on life. I think that if we were more confident in our actions and our own presence, we would feel so much more comfortable in the presence of others, don't you think? That's what this is all about - creating a routine, in a way, and knowing what the next step would be before you take it. Life likes to throw curveballs and we may not always know how to respond, but at least we know how we want to be.


Signature Style :: Pink + Pearls

As soon as I saw this dress on Modcloth, I knew I had to have it. I just fell in love! Too bad wearing it was like a workout in itself - I swear I wore more spanx with this dress than I've ever needed to before. But I'll take any excuse to wear my hot pink heels

My cousin is starting to offer makeup services, and I asked her to come up one day last week to give me a bit of a retro look to go with the dress. I absolutely adore the lipstick she paired with it - but again, hot pink.
A big THANK YOU to Brooke from Project Poiema for the fun pictures! 

Dress :: Modcloth // Shoes :: Sole Society

Note that this post includes affiliate links, which means that I may make a commission from any purchases made via these links. You can read more about my blog's policies here. As a small business owner and self-employed blogger, I always appreciate your support and consideration!


Monday's Mantra

Remember my word for 2014? Yeah, I forget it sometimes too. Way back at the beginning of the year, I made it this year's mission to focus on nurturing. Nurturing myself, nurturing my marriage, nurturing my relationships. It's all important, and it's not so easy sometimes. In this business, it's really easy to focus too much on the details and not realize the bigger picture - that is, a marriage and a life. 

Thus, this week's mantra. 
So, here's to relishing in our own sunshine and just being...happier. 


Five Things

It's been a while since my last Five Things post, but that's really because it's been so hard for me to find time to actually read my favorite blogs and go through my Feedly! I had over 500 unread posts yesterday, and accidentally marked all as read (really, it was an accident), but it's always kind of a relief when that happens, right? I spent yesterday evaluating some of my processes, making my browser as efficient as possible, and putting together a few guest posts on how I stay organized as a small business owner and blogger. 

Guys, I've let April go. It's been a really rough few weeks, but as of May 1st, I'm seeing things in a different way. So, consider this weekend to be the first weekend of the better part of the year. I have a wedding with a really sweet couple at an amazing venue with two of my very favorite vendors, I get to meet with another potential client, and my husband promised to take me to see Spiderman. See, a good weekend!

Anyway, I haven't done a Five Things post in a few months, but the premise is simple. Here are just five things from the internet that I find interesting or share-worthy. They may not be recent, but they do inspire me or motivate me or just make me laugh. Here you go!
My cousin is starting to get into makeup, and so I invited her up on Monday to do mine for a shoot I had planned with Project Poiema. This is just a little sneak peek!

1 // This has been a really introspective time for me and my business, and I'm really evaluating the direction that I want to go with A Charming Occasion. This post on the difference between wedding planners and wedding designers really struck a chord with me, and I'll definitely be exploring this perspective in the future.

2 // I'm an entrepreneur, which means that I obviously watch as many TED Talks that I can. Here are three inspiring TED Talks that every small-business owner should watch.

3 // Seth Godin recently suggested that you steal some things, which goes against what most of us creative entrepreneurs believe. I was skeptical, but he has some really amazing points.

4 // Jessica's blog might be one of the prettiest I've ever seen. She shared some gorgeous digital wallpapers that she made earlier this week, and this recipe for a ginger rosemary zinger looks absolutely delicious!

5 // Two good friends of mine now have a Kickstarter for their line of sauces! They are some of the most talented young people I know, and I am so excited to see where this takes them! If you like good food, you really need to check it out.

And that's all friends! Here's to a good weekend for you all!