2018 // Happy New Year!

photo by my talented bff j parker photography

Happy New Year! I cannot believe we are in 2018. I feel old! I remember the year 2000 when the world was anxious about Y2K; I was only 12 years old and just didn’t get it. Here we are almost 20 years later, and I’m ringing in the new year with two of my favorite people, my sister and Andrew (+ all the dogs, of course!). This year, we decided to keep it really low-key and celebrate with Mexican food and soft clothes. We watched an old childhood movie (Camp Nowhere), and we have the ABC Rockin’ New Year’s Eve playing in the background in another room for check-ins and for when it gets close to midnight. I’m thinking of what a great year 2017 was – and how great I hope 2018 will be!

In 2017, I finished my eBook with my buddy Tony and we got it up for purchase on Amazon! That was a HUGE life goal of mine. I got to start wedding plans and help find a wedding dress for my best friend Whitney, I finished and got to start out two fantastic school years, got to see Andrew every day at work, and got to teach so many amazing teenagers. Almost all of my best friends turned 30 years old, I turned 30, and some of my favorite people got engaged, got married, got pregnant, or had babies! Andrew and I moved into the same apartment complex, did a lot of grilling by the pool, went to prom together (so nerdy), I got to watch him coach his first season of baseball at the high school, we celebrated 2 years together, and most importantly, we got engaged!!! I got to be roommates with my sister, cheer her on through her first fitness competitions, had a lot of good eats, and an amazing trip to Arizona with my mom. I spent so much special time with friends and family, and the list could go on and on.

In 2018, Andrew and I will be getting married! I can’t believe it. Whitney will get married, another best friend Kelly will have her baby, and Andrew and I will go on our honeymoon and hopefully buy our first home together! Big job and life things are happening for a lot of people I love. Maybe it’s just that time of life for me, but I’m so excited to experience my own and share in joy with others!

I love setting goals and making plans, so a new year is just a naturally great time to do just that, and to look ahead at your big overarching goals for the upcoming 12 months. I have a few resolutions for 2018 and I’m sharing them here so I can speak them into existence and hold myself accountable!

1. I mentioned the Year of Cozy book in a previous post, and I got it for Christmas! I plan to make my way through it, month by month. I am not going to tell myself I’ll do everything in it, but I do want to follow along and pick some crafts, recipes, and ‘do’ items from the book! I’m really excited to work through it!

2. I plan to kick my rear into gear (#shreddingforthewedding), and work out at least 4 times a week. That is doable, and I know once I really commit and get back in the swing of it, my body will remember how much it loves to exercise and I’ll start seeing some progress! Walking, get back into my yoga, lift weights, whatever I feel like that keeps me active.

3. Get back to – and stick with – my Weight Watchers plan so I can feel better, look better, and confidently walk down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams!

4. Skincare, hair care, self care. I want to be consistent in my morning, night, and weekly routines to get in some ‘me time,’ and really take care of myself and my skin. I ain’t no spring chicken!

5. I wrote an entire blog post about my Passion Planner  a couple of years ago, and I have mentioned my shameful obsession/addiction love for planners in general and Type A personality several times on the blog. I don’t need any judgment, but I bought a new 2018 Passion Planner for all my exciting 2018 plans! I want to stick to the goals and to-dos I put in there, and create weekly grocery lists, workout plans, and whatever else I need to keep myself on track.

the year of cozy & my 2018 passion planner

I tried to keep my goals simple and realistic. I think looking ahead and mapping things out is a great way to reach important goals, but you also have to keep it within reasonable limits and make goals that you know you can achieve. I think 2018 is going to be a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to celebrate so many important milestones in my own life and huge life events for my best friends and family! 🙂

What are everyone else’s goals this year? I hope everyone had a safe and happy NYE, and cheers to 2018!

Gettin’ hitched!

We are engaged!!!

I wrote about our story/how we met a little while back, and Monday was the 2 year anniversary of when Andrew asked me to be his girlfriend. On Tuesday, he asked me to be his wife! It is so surreal to even write this post, and it has only been a couple of days, but the week has been packed and full of emotion and excitement!

Tuesday at school, Andrew told me he had made us reservations for Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Raleigh, and so I was already excited and looking forward to a fun evening out together. We were getting ready to leave for dinner, and he stopped me in front of my Christmas tree and said he wanted a REAL reason to celebrate, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so shocked I asked him if he was serious or if it was a joke! We were so excited and all of a sudden the shock wore off and I started boo-hooing (of course!). I made Andrew tell me all of the details of how long he knew, did anyone else know, allllll the questions! We headed to dinner and he told me all the things he had rehearsed in his head all day to say – when he actually proposed, he was so nervous he forgot everything he wanted to say! We had such an exciting and happy dinner. The manager brought us a glass of champagne, and we just enjoyed ourselves so much!

at sullivan’s after our dinner!

The ring was Andrew’s mom’s. His dad gave it to her for their 30th wedding anniversary, and with his dad being gone now, it is such a special reminder every time I look at my ring. It is beautiful and exactly what I wanted! I was giving Andrew a hard time because I have been getting regular gel manicures for months, and the weekend I decided to do my own nails and stop going to get them done professionally, he proposed! That’s how it goes, right?

Hopefully soon, we’ll be picking a date and starting to nail down some details, but for now, I am just so excited and trying to soak it all in!

We’re getting married! 🙂

FriYAY feels!

Another week of non-fall weather here in Raleigh. As always, as soon as we think it’s finally time to pull out the scarves, chunky sweaters, and boots, the temperatures go back up again! It is messing with my wardrobe, but more importantly, my allergies and sinuses! I mean, it’s December first!

Enough complaining. Last week, I was getting an oil change for my drive home to Asheville, and the man that checked me out reminded me that every day is Thanksgiving – every day that we wake up, have love, food, clothes, and air in our lungs, it’s a day to be thankful for. It was a nice reminder that I’m trying to hang on to as we get into this time of year when people can be so focused on things, or checking items off a list just because.

This week, I tried to be really productive and get things done at home and at school so I could enjoy the weekend and set myself up to be prepared next week. I’m excited for the weekend:  Decorating for the holidays, going to a Christmas party with some friends from school, and spending a little time with my sister!

I got paid this week, so obviously I had to go to Target to re-stock on some vitals, like my favorite pens and my daily moisturizer. I’ve used the moisturizer for years, but if you are any kind of pen fanatic like I am, these are your last stop. They are so smooth, they don’t smear (I’m a lefty so that’s important), and they come in such pretty colors! My students are constantly borrowing mine to work on their class projects.

I’m thinking about this tinted moisturizer for lighter makeup days. I mean, it’s called complexion rescue! Add some mascara and a tinted lip balm like this personal favorite, and you’re good to go!

I recently switched back to an old favorite shampoo and conditioner. My hair stylist recommended it years ago, and when I asked her for another recommendation, she still said it was her favorite, so I re-ordered it! It does such a great job on my fine, thin hair! Squeaky clean, no build up, I love the smell, and my hair dries silky smooth rather than fuzzy or fluffy like some shampoos and conditioners can do.

Although it was warmer this week, I’m looking forward to more chilly days and bundling up a little bit! I got a really beautiful pink winter coat last year, but I’d also love to have a puffy one for running around town, snow days, and when I’m not as dressed up. I love the look of this and this!

Everyone enjoy the weekend! Only a few weeks until we all (hopefully) get a few more days off and we’ll be celebrating a new year again!

 

 

 

‘Tis the season

deck the halls

There are two kinds of people in this world:  People who get ready for Christmas well before Thanksgiving, and people who follow the “after Thanksgiving” rule. I am with the second group! I absolutely love Christmas time, but I also love Thanksgiving, and I like to keep things in their boxes!

I had a great time with my family for Thanksgiving. We always go to my aunt and uncle’s house in South Carolina, and we have a big, loud, crazy group! There are always about 12-15 of us, and now we have some young ones again in the family running around, which always makes everyone happy! We eat a ton of delicious traditional Thanksgiving food and we are champion snackers. This year, my family brought a huge cheese platter and it was a big delicious hit!

I got sick over the holiday and then my car broke down when I tried to come home, so I spent an extra day in Asheville than originally planned. Luckily, I’m starting to feel better and my car is fixed, and there is still a lot to be thankful for – a warm home, loving and kind family and friends, Andrew, food in my belly, and two sweet and crazy pups! But I had planned on decorating for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, so that had to wait.

This weekend my sister comes home from her clinical rotations (she’s been staying in Asheville with our mom), and we will deck the halls of our 2 bedroom apartment together! We won’t get a real tree, which is of course always best, but less convenient in a 2nd floor apartment. I love decorating for Christmas and baking yummy treats for the holidays! This year, I plan on making these pretzel rods, Christmas Crack, and the always classic Chex mix. A few things keeps it simple and then I can divide it out in little goodie bags or small mason jars that can be reused! I love to just burn a holiday scented candle, put on the Christmas tunes, and get to it! I can’t wait.

What are your holiday traditions? I always love to learn what other families and people do. One of my students said for Thanksgiving, they always have an annual party on Friday afternoon and everyone brings their Thanksgiving leftovers to share. What a cool idea!

Before we get super caught up in the next few weeks, I wanted to say thank you to all of you guys who read my blog regularly! Several of you have stopped and told me in person, left a comment here or there, or written me to let me know you’ve enjoyed a particular post. It means the world to me and I appreciate it more than you know! This has always just been a hobby and a happy place for me to be creative and hopefully spread some cheer. That’s what life is all about! So, thank you. Enjoy the holiday season and hold those you love close; we never know how much time we have. Focus on what’s important, treat yoself with some yummy holiday food without judgment, and enjoy each new day as it comes.

 

Trying to do it all

I’m currently sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee, candles burning, and all the windows and patio door open to let in the crisp fall air. It’s a perfect morning. I’m making a list of all of the things I need to get done today, like laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning the apartment, and thinking of ideas for lessons/better seating arrangements in my classes. I am also thinking of how I would really love to just sit here all day and hang out with the dogs and put everything off until next weekend. I recently had a chat with a friend at school about trying to do it all in life. I guess I could make this post short and sweet and just say, “don’t,” but I think we all know me a little better than that.

I’m not sure why, as humans, we feel like we have to go, go, go, until we get ourselves into a corner that we can’t get out of. We have so much trouble admitting that we might not be able to handle everything, or that we may need a hand with something that we’ve committed to. “Too much on my plate,” “Burning the candle at both ends…” We sprinkle around these cliches like confetti, peppering our conversations with superficial statements to sweep under the rug the hideous reality that we are secretly flailing around and gasping for air. We act like we have it all together and cover up our stress with a smile and a winning, can-do attitude, when really if someone would just ask us what’s really going on, we might be able to say that we’re only human, and we can only take so much before we drop something or stop taking care of ourselves.

Here’s something I think we all need to hear:  Let something go. Feel good about taking something off of your clichéd plate. Here’s permission to fail. To say yes to too many things and then realize you may have taken on too much. Permission to say out loud (or at least to admit to yourself with zero shame) that you need help, or a break, or some time for yourself. We are only human, after all.

The more we try to fake happiness and act like we have all of our ducks in a row, the more power we give to the idea that we have to be successful and happy at all times. To admit that life is tough, that we can’t be good at everything or have everything together all of the time, that is where the power lies and where we can share a human trait together. No one’s life is as perfect as their social media newsfeed; we have to be empowered to admit defeat, to ask for advice or help, and to proudly face the fact that we are not perfect.

For someone who is about as Type A as it gets, I have a really hard time with saying no. I’m a control freak, so I find myself saying yes to so many things because I can’t stand to think that they wouldn’t be done “the right way.” In addition, I have a hard time saying no to things because I have a terrible fear of letting anyone downBut at some point along the way I’ve had to admit that it’s better for me to preserve some of myself than to drive myself into the dirt by trying to please everyone else or make everything perfect.

Sometimes, we need the reminder that we’re all in this together. It’s not a competition of who has a better job, a cleaner house, or a fatter bank account. This isn’t about the latest clothes, or the newest line of makeup. It’s life. It’s messy and complicated and we barely make it – but we do make it, and it’s so much easier if we do it together and stop competing with each other and comparing ourselves to everyone else.

I hope everyone takes some time this week to just focus on you. Take a walk, take a bath, do some yoga, read a book, whatever it is that helps you decompress. Soon it’ll be the holidays, travel, more to-do lists, and stress, whether good or bad. Take some time in advance for some self-care, and maybe practice admitting to yourself that you don’t need to do it all.

Andrew + Julia

boo thang & a picture within a picture

Two years ago today, I met Andrew and had no idea it would turn into anything other than just an introduction. My friend Kelly is married to his friend Tyler, and both of us were single at the time. One Friday night, I had plans to go get Mexican with Kelly, and Andrew had invited Tyler to a basketball game. Kelly came over to my apartment before dinner and casually asked if I’d want to meet up with the boys after dinner once the game was over. I wasn’t sure if it was a setup or not, so I asked if Andrew was single – and she said he had asked the same about me! So we all met up after doing our own separate things, and the rest, as they say, is history! I thought Andrew was funny but spent most of the night acting totally aloof and uninterested- that’s how you get them, right? So silly. The craziest part is that we had actually met a couple of years before at Kelly & Tyler’s wedding, but didn’t even realize or remember because at the time we were just not interested in each other (I was newly engaged at their wedding so obviously not looking for anyone!). Andrew likes to remind me  how purple my lipstick was that night we met. I had been trying a new bold color by MAC and was kind of feelin’ myself.

the purple lipstick that started it all (kelly & me)

Somehow Kelly found a reason to put Andrew’s number in my phone that night, but I didn’t do anything with it. I’m a little old fashioned! The next day, he added me on Snapchat and sent me a picture of his dog (obviously the way to my heart). He asked if he could see me again and we planned our first date for the upcoming Tuesday. Andrew lived in Greensboro at the time, so he drove to Cary from Greensboro for our date! I had planned for us to go get some tacos at Chubby’s tacos (they changed their name to Guacamaya, but you can’t change a name like that and expect everyone to just fall in line, am I right?). I actually think they’ve closed since then, which is a little sad but just one of those things. We finished dinner and came back to my apartment and watched one of my all-time favorite childhood movies, Heavyweights. Such a classic. Andrew said that’s how he knew I was pretty cool, haha!

We became serious really quickly and about a month later we had the official talk about being together. For the longest time, we were traveling back and forth between Cary and Greensboro, transporting dogs and planning dates around work schedules and life events. An hour and a half is juuuust far enough to be really, really annoying. I knew Andrew had always wanted to teach, and had gone to school for education originally before working in the golf industry. When I found out there was a position at my school, I talked to one of my assistant principals about the chances of Andrew getting it. It seemed like such a far-off maybe, but Andrew took the Praxis, interviewed, and got the position. He moved to Raleigh in September and started working at my high school in the Special Ed department, and was re-hired for this school year. It has been so fun getting to work together and knowing who each other is talking about when we talk about work at the end of the day. The kids all love figuring out that we’re dating, and I’ve been able to make some great friends in the Special Ed department that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know so well if it wasn’t for Andrew.

For so many reasons, I’ve realized in my relationship with Andrew that timing is everything. We met each other and started dating at the right time in both of our lives. He’s my best friend and the person that I can laugh for hours with (and at!). Being with Andrew is like coming home. Even though neither of us is perfect, we are a really good team and can just be ourselves without any explanation, expectation, or apology. I am so thankful that Kelly and Tyler introduced us that night two years ago and that other things didn’t work out so that this could. Here’s a little picture montage of our two years together:

our first picture as a couple – look at oliver trying to sneak into the shot

happy plaid couple

looking like little babies

at a greensboro grasshoppers baseball game

prom night! forever a chaperone

always super serious

date night for my 30th birthday

Two years has flown by so incredibly fast. Here’s to many more with my main squeeze in the future! 🙂

Arizona trip recap

grand canyon at sunset

Finallyyy!!!

I have been wanting to get this post up for a couple of weeks now, but I needed the time to give it justice. I just saw my mom this past weekend, and we were still talking about how great our trip was. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to some amazing places in my life, but Arizona has easily made its way to my top five! The weather was amazing and the scenery was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Mom and I stayed in wonderful places, met some cool people, ate great food, hiked a ton, and got to relax and pamper ourselves, too. It was the perfect mix and I still can’t believe I got to see the Grand Canyon!

I spent a ton of time researching what to do, where to hike, where to eat, etc. in Arizona and how to make the most out of just a few days there since I’d be missing school (and because $$$). It’s tricky to get to Sedona because you have to fly in through Phoenix and rent a car – it’s about a 2 hour drive. So over the summer, I had planned everything out and we got it all booked. Here’s a breakdown of our amazing trip! Get ready to tuck in for a long post and lots of pictures!

Day 1

After school, I met mom at my apartment and we headed to the airport. We were able to get a non-stop flight (it’s about 4.5 hours). We landed in Phoenix and got our rental car; we were both starving and I had been dreaming of an In-N-Out burger for weeks, so that was our first stop and Mom’s first experience with In-N-Out! I don’t know if we were that hungry or if it’s just because it’s that good, but I felt like it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten (of course we got everything animal style with 1,000 island dressing, grilled onions, and melted cheese!).  If you ever make it to the west coast, you HAVE to make this a priority.

We drove for what seemed like 18 hours (really about two and a half) and finally made it to our perfect little Airbnb, which was a guest house with a rooftop terrace overlooking Thunder Mountain! It was the perfect location and our host had thought of every little detail. We were so tired from traveling so we just went straight to bed!

Day 2

On our second day, we woke up early so we could have coffee on the terrace and watch the sun come up over Thunder Mountain. It was so beautiful! Afterwards, we got ready and headed out to our Pink Jeep tour! We chose the Red Rock Tour and had such an amazing tour guide. We got to stop off at a few places for pictures, and the tour lasted about two hours.

After our jeep tour, we spent a few hours hanging around in town in Sedona. We had lunch at Wildflower Bread Company, which has a patio with a great view of Snoopy Rock! We walked up and down Main Street and went into some shops to look for souvenirs.

Afterwards, we walked back to our car and drove to Cathedral rock. It was a really great hike and makes its way all the way down to Oak Creek if you take a side trail. We didn’t make it all the way down because it was getting late in the day and we had other items on our agenda! We drove to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was such an amazing and beautiful sight.

Finally, we rounded out our day by doing a quick hike of Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset. It was incredible to see all the rocks turning more and more red in the orange/red sunlight!

We showered and got ready for dinner! We ate at Elote, a place I had read rave reviews about. We had a delicious and fresh margarita on the patio while we waited, and they handed out little bowls of popcorn for people to munch on while they waited for a table! The food and atmosphere were both great.

We made it back home late, but took a few minutes to sit on the terrace and look at all the stars before bedtime! There is very little light pollution in Sedona, so the stars were incredible, even with a full moon!

Day 3

We woke up on our third day in Arizona and checked out of our Airbnb. We were so sad to have to check out because it was a perfect place to stay, but it was already booked for the following night! We ate breakfast at The Coffee Pot, a local favorite and a cool little diner with a gift shop attached (there is a rock formation called Coffee Pot behind the restaurant).

coffee at the coffee pot – see what i did there?!

We had a big day ahead of us with a lot of driving to do! At first, we had decided just to head to the Grand Canyon, but our Pink Jeep tour guide convinced us to drive to Page, AZ to see Horseshoe bend and Antelope Canyon. I am so glad we took his advice! It was a long day – four hours driving there and four hours back – but so worth it. We got to Page and stopped at Horseshoe Bend first. It’s where the Colorado River makes a horseshoe-shaped turn (hence the name!). Pictures of it are amazing, but I can’t explain how incredible and massive it was in real life. The colors are unreal. This was one of my favorite things about the entire trip.

We drove to Antelope Canyon which is supposed to be incredible, but there was such a wait to see it and we still needed to hit the Grand Canyon, so we had to pass on that. But we were so excited from Horseshoe Bend that it was okay! We had a little picnic in the car and headed back to stop along the way and see the Grand Canyon.

fancy whole foods rental car picnic

We had originally planned to do the South Rim entrance of the Canyon and do a couple of small trails I read about, but with our detour to Page, AZ we came in on the east entrance at Desert View. There weren’t any hiking trails, which was a little disappointing to me, but we did do a 25 mile scenic drive with overlooks along the way, and we got to see the Canyon as the sun was setting and with the huge orange harvest moon. Pictures do nothing to truly capture this; it was such an incredible sight! I can’t explain the feeling of being so small in such a vast world. It sounds nerdy, but it was just a really crazy feeling and experience.

After our big day to Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon, we drove back to Sedona and checked in to our second hotel, Amara resort!  They had left some champagne and treats for my 30th birthday, which was a thoughtful touch! The hotel is gorgeous and tucked away off of the main street in downtown Sedona.

Day 4

This was our big spa day to pamper ourselves after all of our adventuring and hiking. Our poor feet definitely needed it! We had breakfast in the room from room service (Amara’s restaurant is SaltRock and it was all so delicious). Then, we walked to the spa to check in for our appointments! We both had relaxation massages and facials, which was so divine. The entire spa was so cute, relaxing, and the staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. We had hot tea and a sparkling pomegranate juice toast afterwards and hung out in the relaxation room for a while.

We spent the rest of our day by the infinity pool overlooking Snoopy rock formation, sipping margaritas (and water!!!), having lunch from the hotel, and reading/floating/lounging. It was the life! Then we went back to our hotel room, showered and got ready, and went down for the manager’s wine hour (Kimpton hotels do a complimentary wine hour every day from 5-6pm). We sat out on the hotel patio/lawn under the market lights and just chatted and enjoyed ourselves! We ended the night with a long, late dinner on the patio at the SaltRock kitchen restaurant with absolutely delectable food.

hotel pictures + pool overlooking snoopy rock formation

Day 5

Our last day in Sedona! I will forever miss this quiet little town. We woke up and had breakfast at the resort right next to ours. Their restaurant is called Cress at Oak Creek, and we sat at a table right by the water. It was honestly one of my favorite experiences of the trip! So beautiful, and different scenery than the red rocks and desert we had been seeing the entire trip. We had the best time at our breakfast, and the food was amazing, of course.

We checked out of our hotel and headed out for a last hike before driving back to Phoenix for the night. We hiked Baldwin trail to Templeton trail to Oak Creek! This is the creek we hadn’t made it to the day we did our Cathedral rock hike, so we were really glad to be able to feel like we completed that! It was a beautiful hike, perfect weather, and the creek was so peaceful. After our last hike, we ate at Open Range Grill and Tavern for a late lunch in downtown Sedona. We had a cactus cheese dip which was so delicious, and we each got a prickly pear margarita! The prickly pear cactus is everywhere in Sedona so we felt like we had to! They were just okay, haha – a little sweet for our liking.

After lunch, we drove back to Phoenix where we had to fly out from. We stayed at the Hotel Palomar (another Kimpton Hotel). They had another celebration package for me on our arrival – more champagne and a delicious peanut butter chocolate mousse cake! We packed up to be ready to leave the next day, ordered room service for dinner, showered, did face masks, and relaxed because we were so beat from our trip!

Sunday was basically just a travel day. We woke up, had coffee and breakfast, and drove to the airport to return our rental car and fly home! We had another non-stop flight, but this time we lost 3 hours going back home, so it was late by the time we got in and we had dinner with Andrew and then pretty much fell right to sleep! My only regret from the trip is that I didn’t follow my friend’s advice; she lived in AZ for a while and told me to hug a cactus for her – but that wouldn’t be safe, so I had to make a smart personal decision 😉

flight home! (sorry guy)

Those are the most basic basics of our trip! I would love to make my way back to Arizona again, because there’s just so much to do there that 5 days barely even scratches the surface. But my mom and I packed in as much as we possibly could, and we had such a blast together. It was one of those “life”  moments that I’ve mentioned before where you just really feel alive and appreciate everything so much. I’m incredibly lucky that she gifted me with this trip for my 30th and couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Fashion that gives back

The Flourish Market

the flourish market website

I have a great find that I want to share! I received a gift card to The Flourish Market a LONG time ago from my friend Cassie, and just never used it or was able to check out the store until recently. One lazy day recently I made my way over to stop in and see what The Flourish Market is all about. My co-worker at school loves it as well, and I have heard only great things.

My favorite part about the store is that every single piece you buy, whether it’s a candle, necklace, clutch, or clothing item, gives back in some way to people who need it across the globe. You can read more about their mission and story here. The store is incredibly cute, and the owner has such a friendly and passionate vibe that you feel as soon as you walk in. She told me that they get new shipments in every week, so the inventory is always fresh!

Even though some of the items at The Flourish Market are beyond what I would normally pay for my clothes or accessories, I know that my purchases there go towards a fulfilling purpose. I was able to find a couple of pieces I loved, like this shirt with a faux front-tuck twist (so flattering and my new favorite wardrobe item!). I got it in the color Rosewood. I also got a gift for my friend Kelly’s birthday party (some earrings that were made by a girl who will be the first in her family to go to college!).

my top! jeans are from express (on sale!) & necklace is a gift from whitney

I highly, highly recommend checking out this store or at least doing some online shopping if you can’t make it in person. Their site is super easy to use. I was in no way asked to write anything about this store, but I just really loved my visit and the whole meaning behind it and thought it should be shared – that’s how we make small changes that create big impacts, right?! I will definitely be hitting this place up when I need new clothes or accessories, and especially for gifts that have a meaning behind them! There is also a $30 and under category. You can’t beat that!

Happy shopping!

Sur la table cooking class

It has been a few weeks now, but I wanted to finally post about my amazing birthday surprise from my sister! She put in so much work to plan a surprise cooking class for us at Sur la table at Southpoint Mall, and she secretly got two of my best friends in on it! It is one of my absolute favorite experiences, ever. I can’t describe the happiness and excitement I felt the entire evening. She put so much thought into every single detail, from balloons to decorations and champagne, to having my friends block off the night as well!

Emily had asked me to block off September 21st weeks earlier; I figured it was for a birthday surprise but had no idea what exactly it could be. I am a person who loves the idea of a surprise, but if I know one is coming, my mind goes crazy trying not to obsess over it, which makes me obsess over it even more! Am I alone in this?! So I was reallllly curious about what she had up her sleeve! I thought maybe a wine and design class, a concert, a festival or something…I never would have guessed a cooking class! We both love to cook, and I am such a fan of the gift of an experience you can share! It is so meaningful and something you can always keep as a special memory.

Emily drove us to Southpoint and tried to tell me my gift was dinner and shopping for a birthday outfit for that coming weekend celebrating with friends, and as bratty as it sounds my heart kind of sank – if you know me, trying on clothes is not necessarily my ideal time because I am so picky and hard on myself – but I tried to sound upbeat about the surprise. (Actually, no, I didn’t; I mean, I tried, but what came out was something like, “Oh, well…I mean, I’m not sure if I’m in that kind of a mood to try things on…and I told you I was planning on wearing Whitney’s floral dress…but we can see after dinner!” I felt like such a brat). Then we turned the corner, and there were Whitney and Kelly holding pink 3-0 balloons, wearing aprons, and yelling surprise! I was SO overwhelmed I just immediately started to cry (imagine that:  Me, crying). Like, couldn’t stop crying with joy pretty much the entire night! I just felt so special and loved, and it was one of those memories where you just remember feeling alive, like when you go to a great concert or a big life moment happens.

during the cooking class, chef-ing it up and having so much fun

We made the most delicious meal together, and our chef/instructor helped us through every step of the way. It was so much fun to see everything come together, and to have everything already pre-measured and planned out was an added bonus. Not to mention that all of the cooking equipment we were using was high quality and what kitchen dreams are made of! We sipped champagne while we cooked and I just felt like a lucky and happy gal the entire time. Our final meal was champagne butter shrimp, a surprise lobster tail that our chef made for us, zucchini fritters with a garlic-basil aioli, a red wine risotto, and a caramel pear torte cake – all from scratch! Our instructor also made me a surprise happy birthday plate with truffles for dessert.

the finished plate – amazingly delicious!

Like I said already, it was just one of the best nights, ever. When we were done, we all signed up for another cooking class during the holidays to spend some time together and re-create this fun evening! My sister gets maaaajor props for this gift, and I will always remember how special it was! Here’s how you can schedule your own cooking class. I would definitely recommend it for a gift, or as an experience to do together with a friend, group of girls, or even a double date!

with our instructor after our class!

Arizona!

For the next five days, mom and I are vacationing and adventuring in Arizona to celebrate my 30th! Can’t believe what an amazing trip I have been gifted.

I’ll do a recap post eventually – of course – but in the meantime, you can follow along with me @missjweaves on Instastories! I’ll be blowing it up.

view from our air bnb – thunder mountain 

Vacation mode:  On. Later! ✌🏼