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At work, the gals decided to start implementing quarterly "flower play days" to help replenish and nurture our love for flowers and floral design. Our inaugural play day was a few weeks ago, and I brought my camera along to take some photos of everyone at work, including their final products. We all made several pieces and they brought us all a lot of joy; to get outside of our everyday mode of designing and working and just try your hand at something new felt really refreshing. Something outside of the box. Something you've been meaning to try. It felt really good to play uninhibited in this medium, as flowers can be so symbolic and expressive of how one feels. This post will be littered with photos from this day.

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This time of year always leaves me feeling contemplative. The colder days warm up, the sun stays out longer, the blooms start to burst from the ground. I'm welcoming my first Spring as a mother. I wonder often if my boy will like playing outside. Will he enjoy long days in the sun? Will he go on adventures? Maybe he will have allergies, like his mama and daddy do. There's always a lot of hope in this season shift in particular. There is something to inviting about the coming warmth of Spring that calls for much introspection. What do I want out of this year?

I spent the entire year leading up to the birth of my son buried deep in therapy and learning to understand why I am the way I am. While there are no clear answers to that, nor will there really ever be, accepting that I carry a lot of my emotional weight as a result of my experienced trauma was a very large part of that.

If you're like me, it took you years, maybe even decades, to realize you endured abuse or mistreatment. When even an inkling of self-compassion started to creep in, you hurriedly locked it away and said, "That's not for me," thinking no. No, there must be a greater reason I feel this way. It's me. It's my self worth. This is who I am. This is how I will always be.

Then the times comes. It was only when you reached your lowest point that you stopped, released some of those pent up emotions, and finally had a clear look at all of your trauma pieces laid out in front of you after spending days, weeks, months or years trying to unload them all. This is your first clear, unadulterated view in who knows how long, laying out all of these disordered puzzle pieces. Then the realization slowly comes to you. I was abused. I was mistreated. I was beaten down. This is not who I am but a byproduct of my experience and I am here to make amends. I accept that this took place. I accept that this happened to me. It's not who I am, it is what someone tried to make me believe I am. That liberating moment you realized you had locked away your trauma and hidden the key was the moment you felt the most free in your life. It's as if you breathed for the very first time. Everything felt new. Everything. I will remember this moment in my life for as long as I live; the day I realized and accepted my trauma.

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I spent months riding an emotional high after I faced my truth - I was free. I knew I was wronged. All of these bad feelings make sense! I am not crazy. Who wouldn't struggle in my position? I felt that now, since I had finally accepted my trauma, I was released from my burdens of shame and guilt. I knew why I felt so low and had so many terrible coping mechanisms. Someone wronged me! The answer was clear.

But I was wrong. There is so much more. I had not accepted my trauma choices.

When you learn about your trauma and accept your abuse, that feeling is so incredibly freeing. However, this action of acceptance does not stand alone. Accepting your abuse is step one. There is so much more to it. Step two is releasing the shame surrounding our trauma choices. I say trauma choices to describe the choices we made in life (that we must take ownership of) that were very heavily influenced by our low self-worth surrounding our unaccepted trauma. We make so many choices that are dissociative and act as coping mechanisms to our trauma. You lied. You stole. You cheated. You turned your back. You did x, y, and z so you could cope with how low you felt as an individual. These shame shadows will continue to follow you around until you stop, forgive yourself and release the shame around these choices.

What choices have you made that you're still clinging to? What is following you around? Write it down. Any choice you've made that you haven't released the shame of will be your shadow. A shadow translates to emotional weight. Emotional weight will keep us buried beneath our trauma. 

Don't let the fear of forgiving yourself stop you from releasing the shame. It sounds silly, because who wouldn't want to feel better? Yet our past choices are something we struggle with forgiving everyday.

If you can, write out every choice or action you've made that you hold shame around. Then, right next to it, write out why you felt you needed to do it. Understanding your WHY will help you to show yourself compassion around this decision.

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Here is a list of books/journals/meditiations that helped me, many were suggested by friends, and I want to pay it forward and recommend them to you. 

1 / THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel van der Kolk
2 / DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown
4 / #ANOTE2SELF Méditation Journal by Alex Elle
5 / TAKE YOUR SOUL TO WORK by Erica Brown (recommended by Alex Elle)

May the coming warmer, more promising days of Spring call you to get outside, work through those uncomfortable memories, and work on freeing up shame space where love and acceptance should be. It is my goal to be more gentle and accepting of myself and make room for more goodness.   


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It's been five months since my son was born. Five months of learning about, adjusting to and absolutely loving my sweet baby boy. You learn so much about yourself upon having a child -- it's like a spotlight shines greater than ever before on your strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities and you're fully exposed. It's been hard, very hard, but so, so rewarding. I never knew a love like this one, and it goes without saying that my husband feels the same. Oliver's labor was long and strenuous, resulting in a cesarean. I'll write his birth story on the blog some day, but for now, that's the gist of it. Long, intense, and physically brutal but damn, am I proud of myself! I gave it all I got and that's something to take pride in.

As soon as he was born, we discovered his bad case of reflux. I eliminated dairy, soy, eggs and caffeine and this boy still struggled with reflux pain day in and day out. I spent so much time trying to figure him out, I barely noticed that my body was sending me signals over and over and over. I noticed at three or four months postpartum that my tummy just wasn't the same. I don't mean physically (although, that's different, too!), but internally. My gut. It was different. Everything I ate caused pain and bloat. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I was always gassy and always uncomfortable. Around the clock. I am in the thick of trying to get to the bottom of what appears to be an imbalance, but in the meantime, I am loading up on pre/probiotic rich foods. I am eliminating dairy again, cutting out wheat, and becoming more conscientious of my intake.

Shortly after having Oliver, I learned about Lacy Phillips of Free + Native. She posted about an infusion of adaptogenic herbs that she likes of gotu kola, alfalfa and oat tops. Their properties are amazing and together, makes for one powerful infusion:

GOTU KOLA | strengthens adrenals. lowers blood pressure. improves focus. improves blood flow. reduces toxicity. 

ALFALFA | vitamin rich (B complex, D, K, A). mineral rich (magnesium, biotin, iron, potassium, etc.). lowers cholesterol. fortifies immune system. 

OAT TOPS | heavy in B vitamins. mineral rich (magnesium, potassium, iron, etc.). mood stabilizing. fiber rich. encourages thyroid function. 

I opted to try gotu kola and oat tops together first, as it better suits my needs, and should I have an adverse reaction to any herb, I'd rather start with less than more to easier determine the culprit. This infusion, coupled with the probiotic rich "yogurt" recipe below, is the perfect combination for a gut calming afternoon snack, with benefits extending beyond the afternoon.

If you're unfamiliar with adaptogens, infusions are a great way to introduce yourself to them. Adaptogens are not "new," but they are making a very swift resurgence in modern diets as a means of physiologically governing our cellular stress responses. They're controversial to some in the science community as solid evidence is still waiting to be found to point proof at their efficacy, but many cultures have been relying on these herbs for centuries. The choice is yours to make while the verdict on adaptogens is still out.

As a method of ensuring I ingest fermented, good-for-you bacteria on a daily basis, I've recently introduced The Beauty Chef's GLOW Advanced Inner Beauty Powder to my pantry. It is a berry flavored powder that includes 24 bio-fermented and probiotic superfoods for good health and glowing skin. I am attempting to heal my gut postpartum the natural way, and having an easy to use powder to add to meals has been so helpful in that process.

I am a gigantic yogurt fan, however I'm not a huge fan of the added sugar and preservatives found in most yogurts on the market. Here's a super easy recipe for 30-second probiotic-rich "yogurt," paired perfectly with an adaptogenic herb infusion.

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what you'll need:

- WECK JAR or heat-proof jar of your choosing (I use these weck jars)
- 1/3 c. gotu kola (I use this tea, however the looseleaf herb is available)
- 1 c. oat tops (I order these from Mountain Rose Herbs)

STEP 1 | Place 3 gotu kola tea bags (or 1/3 cup looseleaf gotu kola) in canning jar with 1 cup of oat tops.
STEP 2 | Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour into canning jar. Fully saturate oat tops and tea bags.
STEP 3 | Place lid on jar and set aside for 6 hours. After 6 hours, pour tea through strainer to remove gotu kola and oat tops and pour back into canning jar.
STEP 4 | Enjoy as-is or save for later.

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what you'll need: 

- can of COCONUT CREAM (I order the small cans in bulk on amazon. These are the ones I order. Coconut cream is full of delicious healthy fats and makes a great replacement for coffee creamer, whipped cream, and yogurt.)
- GLOW Advanced Inner Beauty Powder
- vanilla powder (I use the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla powder and it is so stinking good.)
- cinnamon
- toppings of your choosing (I like blueberries and this amazing granola.)

STEP 1 | Open can of coconut cream and put two heaping spoonfuls in a bowl.
STEP 2 | Add 1 tsp. GLOW powder.
STEP 3 | Sprinkle a generous amount of vanilla powder and cinnamon (to taste) on top.
STEP 4 | Using a spoon, stir until fully mixed and the yogurt is light purple (the GLOW powder is berry flavored). 
STEP 5 | Top with your favorite toppings like berries, chia seed, granola, hemp, you name it.

Pair with a mug of adaptogenic tea and enjoy! 

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If you are at all interested in learning any more yummy recipes featuring The Beauty Chef products and learning more about The Beauty Chef, there is a fun event taking place at TAKE CARE SHOP in Washington, DC on March 15th, 2018. Read all about it and reserve your seat here

*This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



Since we moved into this house two years ago, it has gone through so many changes. It felt like a blank slate at the time -- the kitchen needed a spruce up, the entire house needed paint, the 2nd floor bathroom needed updating, the windows needed replacing, etc. etc. We decided early on that the two places we cared about fixing up the most were the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom. We replaced all 23 windows in the house. We scrubbed top to bottom. We quickly got to work by painting and replacing some of the dated light fixtures. We painted every room except our bedroom and our living room (it's HUGE with vaulted ceilings. That was a project for another day.) Next, we moved onto bigger things! We got a quote for the kitchen from Murphy's Design in Virginia and that seemed totally doable. We then got a quote from another company for the bathroom renovation, and that was exceptionally high for what we wanted. New shower tile, new floor tile, and a new tub with a glass door for $13.5k? Hard pass. We said no thanks REAL QUICK and put the bathroom on the back burner. We moved forward with Murphy's Design on our kitchen makeover and it is by far my favorite adult purchase I've ever made. So worth it. (That blog post is coming soon. Promise.) A year after that, I got a sponsorship opportunity from a brand for bathroom fixtures, and we decided to do a mini-makeover on our bathroom, too! What did it cost us all together? About 25-30% of what we were quoted when we first moved in. YES. WIN. BIG BIG WIN. I'll show you the before and after our bathroom another day, too... with links to fixtures, tile types, and all the ins and outs. BUT FOR NOW... I'm compiling a little list with tips, as well as my favorite fixtures + products, to liven up any space. All images are clickable + shoppable.


So, yes. We've all heard it. Over and over and over. I have to get this point out of the way first because it doesn't have any fun pictures to accompany it. Paint makes the difference, right? It's so true. Not only do colors effect moods, they also completely transform spaces. HOWEVER. Not all paint is created equal. There is a reason you use flat paint in certain places and eggshell other places. Some paint finishes absorb light, while others bounce light around a room. This article from Apartment Therapy is huge in helping you decide what finish is best for your needs. Is your living room poor in natural light? A flat finish wall will not be your friend here, unless you're feeling all dungeon chic and are just into that dark life. GO EGG-SHELL OR GO HOME because a low-luster paint will give you that little bit of umph, without being too high maintenance or blinding. Stolen from the aforementioned article on Apartment Therapy, here's the gist: 

Flat — This gives most forgiving finish with the best color payout. If you want a saturated, velvety wall, a flat finish will give you rich results. If your wall has imperfections like uneven texture, patches or joints, flat paint will absorb light and make them less noticeable. However, flat finishes are not very durable and need to be carefully cleaned. Scrubbing flat paint could wear down the finish and cause sheen to appear in patchy spots.

• Best places to use flat paint: Ceilings (which tend to have flaws), accent walls, low-traffic rooms that don't need frequent cleaning.

Low-Luster — Many consider eggshell or satin finishes to be the best compromise between pigment and strength. These finishes look matte from straight on, but viewed at an angle, they have a subtle sheen. This makes them longer-lasting, but the sheen does show imperfections, especially if your room gets direct sun, so prepping the wall and using a good primer is still necessary.

• Best places to use low-luster: Living room, bedroom, dining room.

Gloss/Semigloss — The most durable finish, it holds up well in humidity and is easy to clean, but it does reflect light, calling attention to any and all minor flaws. In order for it to look smooth and even, the surface must be perfectly prepped and the paint applied very carefully to avoid streaky, uneven sheen.

• Best places to use gloss: Bathroom, kitchen, mud room, doors, baseboards.

Even if you are RENTING your space and you don't own your space, many landlords will require you paint before you leave to cover wall holes and imperfections anyway, so this is your chance to have fun!


This is another one of those give-in tips that most people would consider first but just don't do. If you don't know where to start in a room and you're feeling zero inspiration, start SOMEWHERE. One piece that inspires you will lead to the next coordinating piece and so on and so forth. Many people start with cabinet and drawer knobs/pulls because they're a cheap and easy upgrade. If you rent,  this is THE single easiest way to customize your space. Save the ugly knobs your landlord put on the cabinets for when you leave, and just put them back on like nothing ever happened. BAM. It's easier than paint by a longshot. Here are few of my favorite pulls and knobs around the web. Interested? Click any the below images. 


I believe the way to make a space feel the most spacious is to go vertical. Stack shelves, framed art, wall decor, etc. in a vertically clustered composition to create height (and in some cases, width). This can work with almost any style shelf; bracketed or floating. Shelves will always go down as a functional space-maker in homes and they have become more cost effective and aesthetically pleasing than your classic bookcase or armoire. There are lots of different types out there, but I am currently obsessing over acrylic. I'm not kidding when I say I am looking for somewhere in my home to make these babes work. For styling or knick knacks or what-have-yous, these are so fun. You can of course use any style shelf you want, but get rid of any clunky chests or large cabinets that are covering up wall space and manipulating the appearance of the height in the room. Open up the walls again! 


This is probably my favorite tip of all tips. Light fixture additions or replacements can be SO FUN. They can set the tone for the entire room. You remember how I mentioned above to just pick one thing you love (like drawer knobs, for example) and start there? It will set the course for the entire room. This applies so much ten times over with light fixtures. There are SO MANY out there to choose from. Thinking it costs an arm and a leg to do this? Don't want to pay an electrician a week's salary to swap out the light? TUTORIALS SAVE US ALL. Here is one I found super useful for hanging a pendant light (like the lights I will show below). 

If this tutorial didn't help at all (tbh I am too clumsy to do this myself and this woman makes it look so easy??!?!), there are deals on Angies List and Home Advisor all the stinking time for electricians. It's WORTH. IT. There are so many beautiful (and expensive) light fixtures out there and I know it feels like it's impossible to afford both an electrician AND the light of your dreams. I feel you. WE CAN MAKE IT WORK with a more affordable alternative. Here are two of my favorites that are comparable to some of the popular ones you see online these days, but for a fraction of the cost.

Okay. But I seriously 1) don't want to spend money on an electrician, are you crazy? and 2) my ceilings are not tall enough for hanging pendants or chandeliers. I feel you. CORDED SCONCES are 4 u. They are super trendy, timeless, and very often seen pictured at the bedside of any scene from a Wes Anderson movie. If you're renting, this is PERFECT for you because it would leave the same kind of holes in the wall as any other picture or shelf holes you leave behind. You truly don't need an electrician or tall ceilings or even lots of money for wall sconces. Some amazing, amazing fixtures out there can be mounted to the wall yourself and plugged in just like any other light.  FOR EXAMPLE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: 

Some other fun options to consider:

Buy a single light for a hallway or powder room or set of two to accent any mirror, bed, or statement piece in your home. THEY ARE SO FUN.


It can be expensive. I know. I am slowly moving toward saving money to buy art I really love from small business owners and artists I support. This means, I've cut back drastically in the last two years on random wall art purchases from Target, HomeGoods, etc. and have invested more in the photographers, painters and mixed media artists I love. What I HAVE been doing until I can save up to buy more of the artwork I really want is using reproductions of famous works of art as space fillers in my home. A few months ago, I purchased this print of a Matisse classic and put it in a $19.99 IKEA frame. It is HUGE. 24" x 36" and in a pig poster frame. The whole investment cost me just under $30. WORTH. IT. This is the print I am referring to. Click the image to explore.

It is so easy to google the names of some of your favorite pieces of art or artists you love and find affordable purchasing options through poster retailers or amazon. You can also be even more of a badass and go out and support your local art museum, where I am sure they sell reproductions for you to frame at home. This is a good route to go, if it's an available option to you. 

Some other quick and easy ideas to consider:

+ Does your space feel small? Try a mirror. Mirrors help bounce light around to open up space and make it feel larger.
+ Does your space feel cramped? Utilize any available closet shelf space by adding any items lying round that you don't use EVERY SINGLE DAY into baskets. Cube shaped storage systems with baskets at Target and IKEA are good options for this. Either way, get the junk out of your living space and organized by type in a closet or storage system. This is perfect in a hall or bedroom closet.
+ Does your space feel dark? Consider a lighter paint color (or same color with a more appropriate finish) or sheer curtains.
+ Does your space feel boring? Do ANY of your pieces go together? Do you have a brown suede couch with a purple loveseat and a white coffee table in a room with yellow walls? Let's show those pieces some love because chances are, they still have a lot of life left in them. Throw blankets and pillows can break up some of the harsh colors and lines of bold colors. Couch covers can reinvent an old couch. Google it because there are so many couch covers out there in tons of different dimensions. Also, a fresh coat of brand new stain on your coffee table can help tie lots of different elements in a room by bridge the tone gaps. 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Don't forget you can shop any item by clicking the picture, or do some exploring of your own. Happy sunday!

RECIPE | Linguine alla Carbonara

*Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by ALDI, however all thoughts and opinions are expressly my own.

Linguine alla Carbonara

I grew up accompanying my mother on trips to the grocery store. I always loved going. Riding in the cart, the endless aisles, colorful products and towering displays were a sight to behold at any young age. I didn’t know much about the different grocery stores there were or what they had to offer, but I knew as a family, we were budget conscious. My mother raised my four siblings and me on her own and that meant that every penny counted. We spent years hopping around from store to store. Eventually, we heard about a new store coming to town and mom wasted no time checking it out. When ALDI finally opened, I remember it instantly became her grocery store of choice. Once the first ALDI store in the DC metro area opened in our town, it became the place to go if you were looking to maximize your dollar. This was a long time ago, but I remember it as plain as day: being excited by putting the quarter in the cart dispenser and handing the cashier our cash at check out, excitedly counting the change after our transaction. Boxing up groceries was even fun. I have fond memories of ALDI as a child.

As a young adult, I lived for a bit in Europe. When I lived in Belgium, it was my favorite grocery store. There was an ALDI just a few metro stops from my home, so it was convenient for walking and commuting. As an au pair, I had to be conscious of my spending. Making 600 euros a month wasn’t a lot at twenty-one years old and ALDI was how I managed to not go broke month after month.

Fast forward to now and we are homeowners with a baby on the way. We are health conscious and budget conscious. I have a hormone issue, so I prefer to eat antibiotic and additive-free foods as not to disrupt my already delicate hormone balance. When I learned ALDI offered organic produce, hormone and antibiotic-free meats as well as gluten-free items, we hurriedly made a trip to our local ALDI. I hadn’t been to ALDI in such a long time that going back  felt like a whole new experience. The prices were just as good as ever, but their introduction of health-conscious product lines had my husband and me over the moon. It’s safe to say, we found our place.

I had a lot of ideas about what recipe to make for this blog post. My husband lived in Rome and, thus, is a huge fan of good pasta. When deciding what recipe to share on the blog, the choice was clear: what would make my husband happy? Linguine alla Carbonara. That’s not all: and a wine pairing. I’m just that nice.

The recipe for Linguine Carbonara is unbelievably simple, but it’s all about timing. If you time this right, you’ll be golden. In the directions below, you will find instructions on when to start cooking your bacon while the pasta boils. If you start the bacon too late and it finishes later than the pasta, the creaminess of the pasta will yield a different consistency. The trick? You will want to be sure to utilize all of the bacon fat and oil left in the pan while it is still hot and liquidy. This is why we time the bacon and pasta to finish cooking at the same time. In place of peas, I added SimplyNature Organic Spinach from ALDI because pregnant ladies need all the nutrients and greens they can get. Right?

As for the wine pairing, I’m not a huge wine drinker but I am a diehard lover of Riesling. I recently tried Landshut Riesling for the first time ($4.99 at ALDI. Yep. Yep. Don’t freak out.) and I knew this was the wine for this dish. Not to mention, the Beverage Testing Institute rated it an 88 out of 100. So yeah, I’m pretty happy about this $4.99 bottle of wine. A white wine (many would go with a Pinot Grigio for this dish, however it doesn’t suit my tastes) is ideal for a dish of this style so if Riesling isn’t your favorite, you could try any dry white wine of your choosing.

Are you hungry yet? Let’s dig in. Also, if a brand is mentioned in the list below, you can pick it up at ALDI. Find your local ALDI store here.

Linguine alla Carbonara
Servings: 4

Total time: 25 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


- 16 oz. SimplyNature Organic Linguine
- 5 slices of Specially Selected Center Cut Bacon or 5 oz. Appleton Farms Diced Pancetta, cut into ½” cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 SimplyNature Organic Cage Free Eggs
- 1 c. SimplyNature Organic Spinach
- 1 c. Priano Parmesan Cheese, grated + more for garnishing
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
- Stonmill Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
to be served with: Landshut Riesling

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

  2. While waiting for water to boil, mix 1 cup Parmesan and 2 eggs in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

  3. Chop garlic and set aside. Cut bacon and set aside.

  4. Once water begins to boil, add pasta to water and cook 9-10 minutes, or until al dente.

  5. Timing is very important here. 4 minutes before your pasta is done, put olive oil and bacon in skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes. During the final minute, add garlic and cook with the bacon. Take off heat. Your pasta should be done at the same time.

  6. Drain pasta, but reserve ¾ c. and set aside.  Return to cooking pot.

  7. Pour Parmesan and egg mixture into the pasta, along with the bacon and garlic. Be sure to scrape all the oil from the bottom of the bacon pan and mix in the pasta. Pour ¼ c. of reserved pasta water at a time into the pasta and mix well until you achieve your desired consistency.

  8. Add 1 c. spinach while pasta is still piping hot to wilt and soften spinach texture. Mix generously.

  9. Top with salt, pepper, chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese to taste. Serve in individual bowls with a glass of Landshut Riesling. Enjoy!



Maternity and More: Believing You Deserve It

 Photo by Paula Bartosiewicz

Photo by Paula Bartosiewicz

I've always wanted a son. The day I found out I was pregnant with a boy, my husband and I were on the couch watching a show and trying to decide who was going to choose what's for dinner (the eternal debate). I checked my email and there it was: your test results are in! He rushed over to join me on my side of the couch and we slowly opened the pdf. Our baby was low risk for chromosomal disorders and in big letters in the center, it read:

Fetal Sex:

I started crying. It was a strange laugh-cry sort of thing. I was overjoyed and shocked and in disbelief. Disbelief. I let that emotion sit longer than the others and it ended up saturating all the other emotions in that moment. It took away from the feelings of elation and replaced those feelings with fear; fear is home-base for sufferers of unresolved trauma.

My therapist and I have been touching largely on PTSD lately and pinpointing all the things I do that are repercussions of my trauma. Self-doubt is the biggest one. I sat staring at the results on that PDF for about 30 minutes, repeating to myself, "Something must be wrong." I couldn't believe that something I wanted so badly became something I was going to have. I started thinking of scenarios where they mixed my results up with someone else's, or maybe Peter touched my arm where they drew blood and they're really picking up his DNA and not my child's or there was just an error in the test. I went into manic overdrive.

Peter slowed me down and said, "Babe. You're doing it again."

When you are exposed to trauma, the body stores that memory in every muscle, bone, nerve that has room to spare. You avoid thinking about the experience but many things trigger responses to it. When years and years go by without visiting that trauma and facing it directly, your mind and body become conditioned to believing the trauma you experienced is an innate part of you. That's not wrong. It has become a part of you, but it's not innate. It is learned. It permeates every fiber of your being, it alters how you see and experience, it triggers physical and mental responses. Over an extended period of time of accepting your pain from your trauma as "commonplace," you make room for that trauma to stay. In it's weird, twisted way, your trauma tricks you into believing you deserved your experience and it is a part of you now. Accept it because it's here to stay.

I want you to know this is not the case. You do not deserve what happened to you. You do not deserve your fear. You do not deserve your pain. You deserve a life free from that. You deserve the very best.

In the pregnancy world, there are unspoken rules about when to share your news. Many women wait until the first trimester is over and some when they are out of the "danger zone." Many wait even longer. Some wait until they're showing. It's all personal preference. One thing is for sure: announcing too early is deemed risky because you could lose your baby. 1 in 4 pregnancies results in miscarriage and 50-60% of first pregnancies are chemical pregnancies, yielding no baby.

As someone who is still healing from past trauma and was warned by doctors that pregnancy/getting pregnant could be difficult for me (psst: aside from fertility medicine, it hasn't been hard), I felt kind of isolated by this pressure of waiting until the right time to tell people. I didn't know if my baby would keep growing. I didn't know if I'd miscarry. I had already spent years unable to process trauma from past experiences and dealing with my pain on my own, what if it happens again? I was afraid, were I to lose the child, I'd be back in that position again: suffering in silence. How do you volunteer information about you losing your baby? How does that come up in conversation? So many women don't know how to tell people. Some just aren't ready to and that's fine. There is no pressure to talk about your pain. There are women that wish they could talk about it but often convince themselves to just suffer through and try again next time. We become accustomed to that act. We convince ourselves our trauma is our own. We have to cultivate a society that feels like we deserve support and room to tell our stories; This is something we can't sweep under the rug. We need to make room for other's trauma.

I decided at 8 weeks to break the news to everyone. It was early and I knew it but I didn't care. If something were to go wrong, I'm not alone. If something were to happen, I have a support system. I won't have to suffer in silence. I have you all, my friends and loved ones, to protect and comfort me and I deserve that.

I want you to believe you deserve the good things that happen to you. Don't let your trauma or pain tell you otherwise. I want you to tell yourself that light came to you because you opened yourself up to it, no matter how dark you feel. I want you to face the parts of you that are in the dark and unhealed because they will never heal but by bringing light to them. I want you to believe the good news the first time. I want you to tell yourself every single day that all that is good is yours and you deserve it. You do deserve it.

It is important I say this to myself out loud so I grow to know it and believe it: I deserve this baby boy. I believe it through every inch of my body.  

2016: Rape, Fertility, PTSD and a Plea to Forgive Yourself

2016 was huge. We survived being homeless for two months. We bought a house deeper into the suburbs. We started trying for kids. We got raises. We remodeled our kitchen. We made more money as a couple than we have ever made. On paper, everything is on the up and up. Everything is golden and life is beautiful.

When I look back at 2016, I don't think about these things first, though. What comes to mind are the things that struck me the deepest; The emotions I experienced and how deeply embedded they are in who I am. Most specifically: I remember my deep bout of depression this past summer and how it became the catalyst for one of the most beautiful seasons of my life. I remember making poor decisions as a result of needing a coping mechanism. I remember the compulsions and how overwhelming they were. On a physical level, I experienced this depression and sadness throughout every inch of my body. I'd shake. My jaw would chatter. My sleep was light and unsatisfying. Now, this isn't entirely random. Depression is a friend of mine. It rears it's head every summer and it became something I could count on to return year after year. This year, however, was far worse than the previous years. For the first time, I seriously considered seeing a therapist. This is where my journey of self-compassion truly began.

If I've learned anything, there are very few things we can do alone. Sure, we can do menial tasks alone, but the most impactful experiences in our lives come from a collaborative effort of ideas and warm hearts. 

One August afternoon, I got coffee with a new friend who became a kindred spirit faster than I'd ever guess was possible. Our words and ideas bounced off one another like a dance and before I knew it, I was holding back tears and telling her how scared I was that I'd never live a normal life because of who I am and what sits heavily on my heart. She gave me one of the best pieces of advice that day and on top of it, she gave me the name of her therapist. She introduced her therapist and I via email, and we soon set up my first appointment.

I've been seeing my therapist for four months now. For some reason, everything else I experienced in 2016 before my therapist is a blur. I can only hypothesize that this means one thing: What I remember most about my year are the parts where I learned to love myself. Not the house we bought or the kitchen we remodeled or the things that made us feel "accomplished" or grown up. I remember the parts that tried me, nurtured me, and sustained my growth as an individual.

In 2016, I opened up to everyone about my rape. In 2016, I learned my journey to motherhood may be... complicated. And a few days into 2017, I was diagnosed with PTSD. 

All of these things tug at my heartstrings but in the most beautiful, honest way. I am free. As silly as that sounds, showing myself grace and compassion instead of shaming myself for my inadequacies or experiences has helped to get me through those times where it feels like the dark is all there is. I understand that there are things beyond my control. I understand that my not-so-desirable tendencies come from a need, not from anywhere malicious or negative. I need love. I need security. I need compassion. I have experienced things that my body and mind fought to suppress for so long that as a result, I was mentally and emotionally gasping for air for years. I've learned that my anger, compulsive tendencies, distrust and need for control is a byproduct of my PTSD. I've learned that my depression isn't a reminder of how unfixable I am but instead of how in-tune my body and spirit are: Something inside me needs my attention. Through this, and the beginning of my fertility journey, I have learned that the greatest things in life are worth fighting for: motherhood, my family, my marriage, myself. Not my business, not my income, not what I possess, not my accomplishments. I've learned that not talking about what I am struggling with and thinking I am strong enough to deal with it myself is a cop out. That is what fear is. That is shame. 

In 2017, I urge you to show yourself compassion. Forgive the parts of yourself that you are ashamed are imperfect or "not good enough." Stop with the negative inner self-talk. Find people who have been through experiences like yours and build community. These people will lift you up and remove you from your emotional isolation. Believe that the parts of yourself that you are ashamed of are rooted from a basic need that wants your attention. Your emotions are not invalid. Do not fall victim to the thought process that says, "If I speak about this, I will appear weak." Your courage in being able to talk about your suffering will move the hearts and minds of those around you and ignite a feeling of bravery and strength in their hearts. May this be your best year yet.


A Giveaway with at{mine} and Falcon Enamelware in time for the holidays

In honor of the season, and my general love for eating (especially with friends), I've teamed up with the wonderful community for home design lovers, at{mine}, to host a table styling giveaway. We are so excited to get these goodies in your hands! Falcon Enamelware was so gracious to partner with us for this... I've been using my goods constantly since I got them in the mail a few weeks ago. Their pie set is probably my favorite. The set comes with five different sizes of nesting serveware. I chose Falcon's signature color: white with a blue rim. They're so versatile and so, for lack of a better word, photogenic! I can see myself using these for years and years to come. Also, the tumblers in pigeon grey are the perfect color of dusty grey. They are so, so good!

To celebrate the launch of the giveaway, I made breakfast for my girlfriends. Eggs, sausage, cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, and an heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad (I'm pretty sure that's one of their staple meals) adorned the table. The smell of the cinnamon rolls was heavenly and filled the entire studio with excitement for brunch. The girls finished some work while I was in the kitchen preparing our meal. When I started setting the table, I realized I didn't have enough knives that matched... leave it to me to show up without flatware. So? We made do without knives. It felt like such a big blunder on my part - but I realized, gathering for meals and setting a table isn't for show. It's not about doing things perfectly, it's about doing things with heart. I wanted to treat my girls to brunch, so I'll be damned if a lack of knives was going to stop me.

So, to summarize, you (yes, you!) can style a table. You don't need all of the things you see on pinterest. Heck, I didn't have knives. You don't need expensive, designer serve ware. One of my favorite stylists used bricks once to elevate a big pot on a table and it STILL looked incredible (looking at you, Rebecca!). You don't need the finest china or silver. You need heart. Heart... and a hungry belly. You might not execute your tabletop style the way a professional stylist would, but setting a table shows intention. It is hospitable, inviting, and your guests will feel at home.

at{mine} has been such an inspiration when it comes to how I want to decorate and host guests this season. The website is full of bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining spaces decorated and designed so perfectly that I am so tempted to finally buy those last few home decor items I've been eyeing to finish our space. ;) Don't tell my husband, though. He doesn't have to know.

Onto the giveaway details! Drumroll, please...

There are two ways to enter. The first way, Instagram:

1) Follow @atmine and @morningslikethese.
2) Upload your table setting photo (upload as many as you want and increase your chances to win!)
3) Tag your image with #StyleAtMine and #MorningsLikeThese

You can also enter on at{mine}:

1) Make an account on at{mine}.
2) Follow Mornings Like These.
3) Upload your photo to your at{mine} profile.
4) Tag your photo with #MorningsLikeThese 

The giveaway runs from Nov. 1 - Nov. 30... so this means those beautiful Thanksgiving tabletops? YES! Those can be entered for the giveaway. The giveaway is open internationally.

The prizes are as follows:
One first prize winner will win a Falcon Enamelware set of their choice, courtesy of at{mine}
Two runner-ups will each win a Falcon Enamelware pie set and a set of tea towels in Pillarbox Red.

So my friends, I invite you to join your friends and family. Get in the kitchen. Make a meal with heart. Style your table. Snap a photo and give us a peek of your beautiful work. We can't wait to see how you all style and inspire this season.

The Toxicity of Placing Blame

Boy, has it been a minute. I want to say a lot has happened since July when I last wrote but truth be told, a lot really hasn't. I have made the conscious decision, as some of you may remember from my last post, to step back from constant activity with Mornings Like These to reprioritize and reassess. I needed to realign myself with my purpose and live out my truths. My husband and I have been living a healthier life. We have been spending a lot of time together and making better wellness choices. I can't tell you just how rich and full life has felt since July. That's not to say life wasn't enriching before July... absolutely not. Life has been wonderful to every degree. What I mean is since July, I have made a conscious effort to nourish myself. This not only includes my physical wellness but more importantly, getting in tune with my emotions and those scary, deep-rooted feelings. I think we can all benefit from acknowledging, honoring and exploring our dark sides. This is what I wanted to do. We have demons. We have insecurities. Why must we resent them and transfer them elsewhere in a desperate attempt to deny them? We are the final destination and the birthing place of those feelings. They are our own. When did it become customary to place blame?

I've had these thoughts on my mind for some time now. There is so much to lose when we can't honor our deeper emotions. At surface level, it's easy to look at what we are feeling and find someone or something to transfer the blame to. 

If you hadn't done this, I wouldn't have reacted that way.
If you didn't act like that, I wouldn't have said what I did to so and so.
I wouldn't have to do what I did if you would behave the way I want you to.

I'm sure you can think of tons of real world scenarios where someone had a justification for their bad behavior... or what's more, I'm sure you can be honest with yourself and think of when you justified your own bad behavior. I know I can. Truthfully, denying our baggage is incredibly damaging. By placing the blame on someone else for how we choose to behave or think, we are digging ourselves deeper into a black hole of denial. When our credibility is questioned or our relationships with others have deteriorated, our knee-jerk reaction is to blame other people. Let's just rethink that for a minute. What might we have done to contribute?

Blame is toxic. Here's why:

1) Resentment is poison / I can't think of a better way to say it. Our bodies store our energy in our bones, in our muscles, in our tissue. Repetitive spells of negativity, nay-saying and ill thoughts take their toll on the body and mind. By releasing those feelings of anger and resentment, we allow our body to release tension and heal. 

2) Negativity is contagious / It is so incredibly easy to bring others down with us. Have you ever worked with someone that made a small, honest mistake but yet they couldn't accept fault and instead had to point out what YOU did to make them slip up? Doesn't it make you feel terribly small? It's the craziest thing. We are so afraid to appear wrong that the blame simply has to be transferred. It's as if the feelings of inadequacy are absolutely frightening that in a desperate plea to keep from facing our true feelings, we pass them off to other people so they feel the weight of what we're feeling. The moment we honor and face our insecurities is the moment we start to gain control over them. Do not pass your emotional junk to other people. Just don't do it.

3) Learning opportunities are missed / Everytime we insist that someone else is responsible for how we are feeling, we shut the door for growth. It's not possible to learn about yourself and what you're dealing with if you're insistent upon finding someone to hold responsible for how you're feeling. We have a big, beautiful opportunity when we are feeling low to explore that emotion; to retrace our steps and play hopscotch around our minds until we reach the inception of that brutal emotion. We are so protective of our happiness, why can't we show the same ownership with our darkness?

4) Someone else being wrong does not make you right /I don't have anything to say on this one. It's as simple as it gets: smells like denial, folks.

I have experienced such growth in the last weeks because I've spent time invested in exploring my dark stuff. There is something incredibly brave about facing your demons. I feel like I'm wearing a suit of armor sometimes when I retreat inward and face the brutal, authentic stuff that's just waiting for me to face it. 

I know you're brave. I know you mean well. I know you get scared and want to find a reason for it so you can finally feel safe again. I know the ugly stuff isn't pretty but sometimes pretty sucks. We can't swim around in a pool of toxic emotions and upon drowning, expect people to save us. It's not their job.  You've got this.

To yourself or to others: Say sorry. Say I Love You. Move on.


Mornings Like These Spring Supper + Thoughts After Two Years

Hello, friends! I'm sorry it's been so long since I've done a blog post. Sometimes, life happens and you're busy and you push certain things to the back of your mind. I hope this blog post finds you happy, well-rested and appreciative of the day and what it brings. I felt like this post was fitting for today as Mornings Like These turned two last week and came with lots of happy moments thinking back over the last two years.

In April, I hosted the first Mornings Like These supper on Monnett Farms in Prince Frederick, MD. My grand plans for this dinner were to initially make it big, busy and act as a launch pad to share with people what's new with Mornings Like these. I had planned to round up some partners for the event as to cut costs since I had planned to use the photos from this dinner as a piece for an upcoming magazine "How To." After some reflection, I decided against this. For weeks on end before the dinner, I debated how many people to invite, what the menu should be, what partners to write for sponsorships and so on. The whole process began to get overwhelming and on more than one occasion, I recall telling my husband, "I just don't know if I want to do it anymore." Why did something that initially brought me so much joy turn into an overwhelming task?

I think this is a universal problem. We put so much pressure on ourselves to perform... and not because of how we will view our own accomplishments, but because of what we want other people to think and what we think other people expect. In my head, I began thinking of how grand the dinner needed to be, how I wanted the images to look to other people and I completely lost track of my mission. No wonder I felt so burnt out. 

When I started Mornings Like These, it wasn't with the intention to make lots of money, to accrue followers or even get ahead... it was simply to find a place in my life to ground myself again, to provide myself and many other people a place to find peace. I wanted to bottle up that hopeful, tranquil feeling that we feel some mornings when everything feels new and create a safe place for it on the busy world wide web. I wanted to capture that essence and share it with people who feel the same thing. When people ask where the "idea" came from, I'm honest: it came to me in my darkest time and made things light again. I was unbearably unhappy, the lowest I can recall ever feeling, and then boom: into my head popped MLT. 

I've begun to understand my personality type so well these last few weeks as I began reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. She explains the differences between sensitive people and others - how our emotions are felt on such a deep level that they are as powerful as they are crippling. She goes on to talk about how sensitive people need routine. We need routine because they help ground us when extra stimuli found in day to day life begins to alter our natural state. I had never realized my need for routine was so important and how fitting it is that I created a lifestyle project that celebrates ritual and personal time. Looking at this, and looking both backward and forward, I decided to stop and pause. Put my plans for MLT on hold. Fall in love with it again and the community it brings. Slow down, reel it in, take a breath.  Stop trying to have answers for people. Just be. I got too busy making a business out of my safe place. It's time to slow it down for a few months. Keep doing my freelance jobs but stop worrying about being bigger.

I ended up making the ultimate decision in April to keep the dinner as intimate as possible. I invited only a few people, purchased all of the ingredients myself, cooked the entire meal from scratch with the help of my husband (and of course, my darling Rowan assisted so much!) and brought in the help of my friend Rebecca of A Daily Something to style the table. She's been such an ally throughout this whole growing process that it felt so fitting to have her there. Her styling is so natural and full of organic elements, it only felt right to have her style represented at the farm. Plus she is one of my best friends, so that is a reason, too. :)

My sweet, selfless friend Amanda Marko lives in a property on the farm with her husband and their lively pup, Roo. We spent the entire day together in her kitchen, cooking alongside our loved ones, laughing and catching up. In the spirit of authenticity, I opted to cook some of the dishes my husband and I had been enjoying the most in our own kitchen lately. We prepared:

Pulled pork
Grass-fed beef sirloin 
Traditional slaw
Brussel sprout, almond + raisin slaw
Goat cheese and almond pasta
Green beans and shallots 
Skillet cornbread
Dense vanilla lemon curd cake with powdered sugar and berries 

It felt so good to be cooking with the people who helped MLT grow into what it is today... the people who are most vital to my growth as an individual, as well. Amanda, Rowan and Peter, thank you so much.

The dinner was held in a beautiful, century-old tobacco barn on Monnett Farms. Jamie Tiralla, who runs the farm with her husband and family, was so gracious and provided our little group of attendees their own organic eggs to take home, supplied by the chickens on that very farm. I heard for weeks after the dinner from many different people how beautiful the white, beige, green and brown eggs were and how delicious they tasted in people's breakfasts. We also used the eggs in preparing the dessert at the dinner. Jamie and her husband Benson were also kind enough to provide the pulled pork and the beef sirloin for our dinner, making it particularly special to eat meat from the very farm we were gathering at. I'm so blessed to have met them and been entrusted by them to take good care while on their beautiful piece of land. 

I wish I had taken the time to take photos during the dinner but once the food was brought out, we dug right in. The rain began to fall pretty hard and it made for a beautiful backdrop behind lots of laughter, silliness and chats. The dinner was cut a bit short due to bad weather and time restrictions, but we cleaned up in a hurry and had time to spare, sharing drinks and stories inside Amanda's living room. The sense of community and love was so genuine and so great... my heart felt very full and I knew I made the right choice. Keep the dinner small and simple. It's for us and it was my way of saying thank you.

I am so happy I made the decision to keep this dinner intimate. I am so glad I cooked it myself with the people I love the most. It was delicious and the scenery was idyllic; farm dogs running around the property, cows grazing outside the barn door, lamb crying in the distance and the smiles of friends. The smell of smoke, wet wood and grass. The soft clink of wine glasses as we cheers to friendship. 

Coming full circle, I am hoping to do another intimate dinner with friends come winter. For the next few months, my focus is on relationships, not paychecks. MLT + friends, I love you. I hope to see you in winter when we dine on more yummy things. Happy two years, Mornings Like These!


The Early Light of Day

I recently stumbled upon this beautiful photoshoot put together by some friends of mine and I have been awestruck ever since. Seeing these beautiful images makes me so happy. What a blessing it is to delight in the land and the promises of each new day. I know it sounds so whimsical and poetic, and perhaps a bit over the top, but our joy directly reflects our mindset. Our mindset is controlled by us. We can make the choice to feel joy from the moment we wake every morning. It's hard and it takes practice, but feeling joy is free and it is our most powerful weapon combatting a bad day or a negative person.

I especially love these photos not just because they are geared toward mornings, but also because of the peace represented in each moment. Alyssa Sieb did a fantastic job capturing the tranquility that AnaMichele represents so well. I hope that you find moments this spring to get out early, enjoy the feeling of grass beneath your feet, the smell of coffee in your cup, love the company you keep and the promise of the day ahead of you.

Photos by Alyssa Sieb. Modeled by AnaMichele Babyak

The MLT Guide to Mother's Day

It fast approaches. The day we shower the one who sacrificed so much to be there for us with love and adoration. In honor of the special ladies we pay tribute to on this important holiday, we made our Monday Breakfast Series a little special.

The long and sleepless nights. 
The nights she stayed in (when she just wanted to go out). 
The examples she set.
The recipes she passed along.
All the dinners, breakfast, lunches, birthday parties.
All the gifts and special tokens of love.
All the love in her heart.

Mom. My heart feels warm just thinking of mine. She taught me a lot... more than I can possibly recall. I'll always remember how she taught me to respect other people and their property, work hard and from the heart or don't work at all, and to be honest, despite how hard it is. Be brave and speak truthfully. She taught me modesty, in dress and in demeanor. She taught me to love God. She showed strength, when many around her doubted her and found fault in her. She taught me grace, despite how badly she wanted to just give in and always say what was on her mind. She is the reason I am who I am. She gave me life and that alone deserves my endless gratitude.

If you don't have a mother of your own to thank, thank the women around you who are mothers or nurturers in their own right... or honor yourself. Buy yourself a special something and eat a fancy meal. You deserve it. They deserve it. She deserves it. Many of my girlfriends exhibit the same sort of love, hard work and strength I saw my own mother share with me and it makes me adore these women even more. To live with love and grace takes practice, an open heart, and trust. I love the women in my life who exemplify this kind of diligent living.

In celebration of this coming holiday, I put together a guide. I have some favorite small brands that I have included in this round-up that I can't wait to share with you. These items are great ideas for what to get mom this year and I've even included some recipe inspiration! 

 Rebecca is slicing fresh bread to serve with eggs en cocotte. She is wearing Consider The Wldflwr's  adjustable stacker ,  bare gold stacker , and  bare gold twist stacker .

Rebecca is slicing fresh bread to serve with eggs en cocotte. She is wearing Consider The Wldflwr's adjustable stacker, bare gold stacker, and bare gold twist stacker.

  Soul Sunday  is a vegan and small-batch apothecary out of Massachusetts. Ingredients matter so we want to give mom the best her skin can have. Pictured above is  Soul Sunday 's  ricewash facial cleanser ,  multi-task body + shave oil ,  bougie facial oi l,  cool down sugar scrub , and  homestay aromatherapy roller . The natural scents of these products are heavenly and the ingredients are food for the skin. 

Soul Sunday is a vegan and small-batch apothecary out of Massachusetts. Ingredients matter so we want to give mom the best her skin can have. Pictured above is Soul Sunday's ricewash facial cleanser, multi-task body + shave oil, bougie facial oil, cool down sugar scrub, and homestay aromatherapy roller. The natural scents of these products are heavenly and the ingredients are food for the skin. 

 We decided to prepare Eggs en Cocotte with mushrooms and spring onions as a savory brunch item for mom. Our favorite ingredient in the eggs? Wine. It gave the dish such a strong, bold flavor.

We decided to prepare Eggs en Cocotte with mushrooms and spring onions as a savory brunch item for mom. Our favorite ingredient in the eggs? Wine. It gave the dish such a strong, bold flavor.

 Preparing coffee from start to finish is a delicious experience for the senses - grinding the beans, boiling the water, blooming your coffee grounds, and taking great care to produce the perfect cup. Rebecca is seen here wearing Consider The Wldflwr's  bronze bar necklace .

Preparing coffee from start to finish is a delicious experience for the senses - grinding the beans, boiling the water, blooming your coffee grounds, and taking great care to produce the perfect cup. Rebecca is seen here wearing Consider The Wldflwr's bronze bar necklace.

 After hours of cooking and cleaning, an aromatic scrub makes a world of difference for tired skin. Soul Sunday's  cool down sugar scrub  is sure to brighten things up... and it smells scrumptious. 

After hours of cooking and cleaning, an aromatic scrub makes a world of difference for tired skin. Soul Sunday's cool down sugar scrub is sure to brighten things up... and it smells scrumptious. 

 Aron Fischer of  Facture Goods  produces beautiful hand-carved pieces for the kitchen and beyond. Pictured here is his  walnut coffee scoop . 

Aron Fischer of Facture Goods produces beautiful hand-carved pieces for the kitchen and beyond. Pictured here is his walnut coffee scoop

 Rebecca is wearing Consider the Wldflwr's  double chained bar tag . 

Rebecca is wearing Consider the Wldflwr's double chained bar tag

 Our eggs en cocotte paired beautifully with fresh baguette. Wanting to treat mom even more, we prepared a lemon curd and rosemary cake inspired by recipes we found online. Add a blood orange bellini for good measure and this breakfast is heaven.  

Our eggs en cocotte paired beautifully with fresh baguette. Wanting to treat mom even more, we prepared a lemon curd and rosemary cake inspired by recipes we found online. Add a blood orange bellini for good measure and this breakfast is heaven.  

 Rebecca is wearing Consider the Wldflwr's  rose wildflower bracelet  and the  dot confetti post .

Rebecca is wearing Consider the Wldflwr's rose wildflower bracelet and the dot confetti post.

 Coffee brewing in motion. Pictured above is Facture Good's  walnut coffee scoop . 

Coffee brewing in motion. Pictured above is Facture Good's walnut coffee scoop

 Soul Sunday created an aromatherapy roller in spirit of the joy of feeling at home. This limited edition scent called Homestay is available  here . 

Soul Sunday created an aromatherapy roller in spirit of the joy of feeling at home. This limited edition scent called Homestay is available here

 Rebecca is seen wearing the Consider the Wldflwr's  slvr twist stacker . 

Rebecca is seen wearing the Consider the Wldflwr's slvr twist stacker

 Another ingredients shot of eggs en cocotte in the making.

Another ingredients shot of eggs en cocotte in the making.

 A still shot pre-brewing. A closer shot of Facture Good's delicious  walnut coffee scoop . 

A still shot pre-brewing. A closer shot of Facture Good's delicious walnut coffee scoop

 All the homemade elements of a perfect brunch just for mom: Blood orange bellini, fresh brewed coffee, eggs en cocotte with mushrooms and spring onion, and lemon curd and rosemary cake. 

All the homemade elements of a perfect brunch just for mom: Blood orange bellini, fresh brewed coffee, eggs en cocotte with mushrooms and spring onion, and lemon curd and rosemary cake. 

 Rebecca is seen wearing the Consider the Wldflwr's  rose wldflwr bracelet ,  halo necklace , and  silver cheerio earrings . 

Rebecca is seen wearing the Consider the Wldflwr's rose wldflwr bracelet, halo necklace, and silver cheerio earrings

We had such fun putting together this special morning for mom and I hope that you put together something really meaningful for whoever the special lady is in your life. People deserve to be celebrated, no matter how big or small their accomplishments are. I hope that some of these gift and recipe ideas help you create the picture perfect day for the one you love.

Thank you to Rebecca of A Daily Something for modeling and styling this shoot and a huge thank you to my intern Rowan for assisting and doing lots of the baking. Thank you to the brands - Soul Sunday, Facture Goods, Consider the Wldflwrs - for creating such wonderful product that I get excited about sharing with my followers and friends.

Don't forget that you can shop all these items above on the brand websites.  Consider the Wldflwrs put together a complete collection with all of the goodies pictured above right over THIS WAY. The whole Mother's Day for MLT collection is stunning.

Have a happy Mother's Day, folks. Give 'em so much love, they can't take it. x

Celery Root & Sweet Potato Hash with German Apple Pancake

Yes, it totally tastes as good as it sounds.

I've never cooked with Celery Root before and I never thought to until Christine of Huckle & Goose passed along this hash recipe to Rebecca and I. It only took a glance before we knew this recipe was beyond perfect for our Monday Breakfast Series. Huckle & Goose offers seasonal meal planning subscriptions through their web app, which... how have I not been using this my whole life? Being that Rebecca and I make breakfast together each week, H&G's weekly breakfast recipes seem perfect for us. They release savory options and sweet options and that's exactly what I need in my life... because who can really predict when they'll wake up with a sweet tooth?

Celery Root (or more commonly known as Celeriac) was surprisingly easy to cook with. It looks like a giant bulb with green stems. Most people overlook this giant beast of a root at the grocery store because they have no idea what to do with it. It's not the prettiest thing but it's super delicious. You can shave it, mash it, and mince it for all sorts of versatile recipes. If you could imagine a hybrid of a potato and celery, this is it. Who doesn't like starchy tasting things?

Rebecca uses the Huckle & Goose app for a lot of her cooking and meal planning so when we decided to do the celery root hash, she anxiously planned to make one of her favorite Huckle recipes to accompany it: German Apple Pancake. The pancake paired amazingly with the celery root hash and when are pancakes not a good idea? Never ever. Rebecca will have the recipe for the delicious German Apple Pancake on her blog today!

The celery root hash is a convenient hash alternative for those on specific diets. It's lactose, grain, and dairy free! Which also means: paleo friendly! Hip-hip. So, who's hungry?


Recipe by Huckle & Goose
prep time 10 min / cook time 30 min

You will need:

1 celery root, medium, peeled
1 sweet potato, large, peeled
1 yellow onion, large, peeled
1 tart apple, peeled
2 farmer's market sausages
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
4 large eggs (or up to 6)
-- olive oil
-- sea salt
-- black pepper


1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

2: Chop celery root and sweet potato into small 1/3" cubes. Throw them into a medium bowl, pour in a glug of olive oil, generously salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands. Roast on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes until soft and golden. 

3: Meanwhile, set a 12" oven-safe skillet over medium heat and pour in a bit of olive oil. Dice the onion and add it to the hot pan, stirring every couple minutes.

4: Chop the apple into small cubes, just like the vegetables. Cut up the sausage into approximately the same size pieces. Add them to the pan and stir until the sausage bits are almost fully cooked through.

5: At this point, the veggies should be about done roasting. Remove them from the oven (but leave the oven on), add to your skillet, combining everything well and adding the minced rosemary.

6: Make 4 wells in the hash and crack in the eggs. Transfer skillet to the oven for 8-10 minutes or until whites are set. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the top of the eggs. Serve right away.

Stay tuned to the MLT instagram this week for Huckle & Goose subscription giveaway. Hint-hint... A Daily Something will be hosting a giveaway on her instagram too so there are more chances to win! Let's get cooking. x

Ricotta and Sweet Potato Hotcakes Three Ways

So we did it again.

If you're not familiar with what I may be talking about, Rebecca and I have been getting together on Mondays to bake breakfast/brunch and take photos. It's become such an exciting morning ritual for me each week... getting the playlist ready for the hour-drive to Purcellville, organizing what to bring, dreaming up how we want the shoot to look. This one is definitely different... probably for both of us.

We took a different turn this time and experimented with color and lighting by incorporating a dark wall to highlight the foods we were making. What a difference a bold, solid wall can make! Each one of these shoots we do yields a new learning experience for us and as if the friendship and company weren't enough, we gather so much new information in the process.

Rebecca thought up the idea to make Ricotta and Sweet Potato hotcakes. As soon as she said hotcakes, I got really excited. Being the wife of a certified pancake lover, an opportunity to enjoy a decent flapjack is one I can't pass up... and I've certainly learned through these few shoots with Rebecca that she is no kitchen novice. I knew this would be good. I brought along my intern, Rowan, who proved to be such a help yesterday (thank you!). 

We decided to shake things up and serve the hotcakes three different ways. You can find the recipe for the Ricotta and Sweet Potato hotcakes on Rebecca's blog today, so I'll introduce you to the delicious three ways we prepared them.



- 1/2 c. butter (we used salted) at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp raw honey

Whip ingredients together with hand mixer in medium sized bowl. Top hotcakes with the butter and enjoy the melty goodness.


- 1 can coconut milk (we recommend no sugar added)
- 1/8 c. raw honey
- 1 pint blackberries

Turn can of coconut milk upside down and open bottom with can opener. Drain out liquid (you can save this for another recipe!) and scoop solids into medium bowl. Add raw honey to milk solids and while together using a hand mixer. Spoon onto hotcakes and top with blackberries. This is a tasty option for dairy-free whipped cream!


- As listed above. :) 

Place desired amount of butter on hotcakes. Slice up some yellow plums, place atop the stack, and drizzle with syrup. Enjoy!


Join us next week for more breakfast recipes! 

Broiled Winter Citrus and Grown-Up Breakfast Sandwiches

Winter is my favorite season for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons for this deep love of winter is Blood Oranges. Picking up 6 of these beauties from the market yesterday for my morning in A Daily Something's kitchen, I am reminded of one of my trips to San Francisco two years ago. Romping around the city with my best friends, I picked up a bag of a dozen of the most perfect blood oranges from Bi-Rite Market near Dolores Park. A dozen blood oranges... They lasted no more than 36 hours. I took the bag of citrus with me down the coast to Big Sur and back up the coast to SF. I took pictures of the different oranges as I ate them to compare their colors and we listened to music and sang along to some of our favorite Britpop songs on the ride. I think I ate enough citrus that winter to keep my immune system elevated for years to come. Well, atleast I like to hope so.

Being back in the kitchen with Rebecca yesterday was such a treat. This time, we planned to recipe test some breakfast foods that we loved. I brought $30 worth of citrus and Rebecca planned to supply the makings of a very serious breakfast sandwich. We've taken it upon ourselves to make a ritual of this; Mondays in Rebecca's kitchen, recipe testing and taking photos. These moments in the kitchen are so meaningful because the most excitement is never in the end result, it's always in the process: the joyful squeal from Rebecca over the beautiful colors of the grapefruit, lemons, clementines and blood oranges; the aroma of the leeks as they  sauté in the cast iron skillet; the perfect crunching sound of the bread as the first slices are cut; the endless cups of coffee enjoyed over conversation as we wait for food to come out of the oven. These moments made the food even more delicious and are so good for the soul.

I apologize in advance (except... not really) for the copious amount of citrus photos that follow.

Broiled Winter Citrus

You will need:
- citrus (pick your favorites: blood orange, clementines, Meyer lemons, grapefruit)
- raw sugar (coconut or organic cane)
- rosemary
- sage
- maple syrup or honey


- Preheat oven to broil.
- Half the fruits and place fruits on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle sugar (to your liking) on tops of citrus.
- Top citrus halves with fresh herbs.
- Broil in oven for up to 10 minutes, or until edges brown/blacken.
- Remove from oven and drizzle with honey or maple syrup.

Rebecca of A Daily Something will have the recipe for the breakfast sandwich on her blog today. Made with fresh, from-scratch bread prepared in a dutch oven, we piled the sandwiches high with so many yummy things. I hope that you are able to recreate our breakfast for yourself and your loved ones! It was so delicious and flavorful. Going forward, Rebecca and I hope to share more Monday recipes with you on our blogs. To prevent repetition, she will post a recipe and I'll post one. We hope you stay tuned!

Until next Monday's breakfast adventure. x

Food/prop styling by Rebecca Gallop. All photos by Joy Jaynes.

Saying "I Love You" responsibly

In light of many of the recent tragedies taking place overseas, I've been trying to give this upcoming "holiday" some deeper thought. Does anything I do make a difference? Who am I helping and whose lives am I touching? 

Taking this thought a bit further, I started thinking of the holidays we celebrate and the time we really take to value our loved ones and how we show them we care. Sure, an expensive dinner or a fancy piece of jewelry is lovely, but how far do these gifts go?

On a hunt to purchase responsibly, I came across Orange Harp. Orange Harp is an online shopping platform that "tells the stories behind socially-responsible brands." They feature American-made products and work with brands that give back in very a direct way. They've partnered with Not For Sale, a non-profit company fighting to end human trafficking, by donating 1% of each sale to NFS. From Orange Harp's website:

The fashion/garment industry has played a significant role in human rights violations, trafficking, and abuse of women and children. We started Orange Harp to support and bring you companies that are transparent about their labor, diligent about fair working conditions, and support communities around the world.

Inspired by Orange Harp, I decided to put together my list of favorite things from their app for Valentine's Day gift-giving. I'm hoping this helps you guys, and myself, to shop consciously and responsibly.

Take a look at my picks below. All items are available on the Orange Harp app.

 Juniper Ridge Big Sur Trail Soap - $30

Juniper Ridge Big Sur Trail Soap - $30

 Sword & Plough Leather Key Fob - $28

Sword & Plough Leather Key Fob - $28

 Juniper Ridge Mojave Trail Resin Cologne - $35

Juniper Ridge Mojave Trail Resin Cologne - $35

 Dandelion Chocolate Tasting Set of 3 bars - $20

Dandelion Chocolate Tasting Set of 3 bars - $20

 Sword & Plough The Weekender Bag - $359

Sword & Plough The Weekender Bag - $359

 Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea - $13

Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea - $13

I always appreciate when people read my blog posts, especially when it's a long list of things I like that I hope you like. I don't do endorsed posts on the blog so when I share something with you, it's because I really believe in it and I felt it was worth taking time to write about. Human trafficking and slavery effects more than 30 million people worldwide, so if we can stretch our dollar as far as we can to make a difference, I'm all about that.

Wishing you all the best today, tomorrow and always.

Dry dough and dear friends

Every winter, I hit a certain sort of creative "lull." I find myself mentally gasping for air. It's as if the busy weeks of the holiday season build and build on my spirit and then when things slow back down, I can't find my footing again. I've written about this before, probably exactly one year ago, but it still stands true; how do I deal with this? Good friends.

... and who do I always go to? Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something. She has been my creative ally and inspiration for over a year now (woohoo!) and when I feel underwhelmed by my "creative career", I go spend time with her for a boost. She lifts my spirit without needing to try. Chatting, laughing, making messes... It's where my heart feels most at home. So what did we do? I brought Rebecca on board for a sugar cookie photo shoot.

My trusty social media intern, Rowan, came across Otto's Naturals and with Valentine's Day around the corner, we decided to bake cookies to start the week of love on the right foot. Otto's has an amazing cassava flour that is perfect for paleo and grain-free baking so we decided to try out making sugar cookies. We used Organic Coconut Palm Sugar instead of regular sugar and opted for organic powdered sugar on top of the cookies instead of icing. I brought Rowan with me to Rebecca's lovely little farmhouse yesterday and spent time with her and her darling baby girls (girls?! Eek! Plural! I can't believe it!) while we made cookies and took photos. If there was once a creative lull in my life, I can assure you this shoot vanquished it.

If you are on any sort of restrictive diet, grain-free cookies are the way to go. We found that the cassava flour was easy to work with and has a beautiful texture, giving the cookies a wonderful depth. Cassava flour is an easy replacement for traditional flour in almost any recipe you find online or in your favorite book. We drew inspiration for this recipe from Real Food RN's cut-out cookie recipe and the recipe was loosely adapted here and there to accommodate less cookies. If you're interested in making grain-free cookies, I highly recommend this recipe. We did find our dough a bit dry so adding water definitely helps! 

There are also several food blogs across the web that offer up grain-free, paleo, or SCD recipes for cookies this Valentine's Day including Against All Grain, Elana's Pantry, A Girl Worth Saving, and more.

All photos taken by me and all food + prop styling by Rebecca Gallop

I encourage you, if you feel at all like me this season, to grab a friend and plan a project. Even if you have no idea what you're going to do, grab your camera, your pen or pencil, your notebooks, your favorite CD, or your favorite movie and let being in the presence of the people you love do it's work. Plan a photo shoot around your favorite object or write in that journal you've tossed to the side. Remember, this is about creative exercise, not producing professional work. Try to draw the scene in front of you or revisit an old album that reminds you of a good time in your life. I find that we come to our best conclusions when they arrive naturally, so ease your mind and be present with your friends or on your own. Sip your tea slowly and listen to what your friends and loved ones share with you. You will find your way.

Oh, and by the way, Happy Valentine's day on Saturday and eat lots of sweets for me!

The Importance of Resolving To Do

I used to say I disagreed with New Year's Resolutions. I believed if you truly wanted change, why not start at any time? Why not always resolve to be your best? It seemed a simple idea.


Well, the answer? I had a busy year. I kept going and going and going. For me, checking in on the arbitrary guidelines and loose goals I tried to set for myself never worked. I didn't have a start and stop date. I didn't have a large block of time set up to dictate when my deadline was. The wonderful reality about New Year's resolutions is that the start date and the end date are concrete. You have until December 31st to complete what you say you are going to do. To save up for that trip you've been meaning to go on, to get that raise you've been fighting for, to eat better, love more, lose the weight. Within this allotted time, you are given a huge window of opportunity to get s*** done. 


This year I got married, I started turning my Instagram project into a business (which is nowhere near it's final destination), I got a second job, we moved into a home we love, we honeymooned, I got sick, I got better.  I hosted a beautiful brunch with my dear friend Rebecca. I helped instruct at an amazing branding workshop hosted by Anna Liesemeyer of In Honor of Design called the Brand Market. I went on some fun trips. I worked with brands I really like. I wrote for a brand new independent magazine and became dear friends with the editor and publisher. I was written about in a local publication. I met a lot of really, really unbelievably special people... but I still have so much to do.


What changed? Why do I believe in resolutions? I realized that with how busy I was, if I didn't have a start and stop date, I was giving myself too many allowances and making too many justifications for not achieving what I wanted. I had a GREAT year. I had such a great year that I want this year to be better. I KNOW it can be better, so I resolve to do.

 One of our goals for the home is to get the rooms decorated exactly how we want. Our bedroom, pictured above, is a work in progress.

One of our goals for the home is to get the rooms decorated exactly how we want. Our bedroom, pictured above, is a work in progress.

My goals for this year? They're split up among three keywords:

  • Clean / Eat clean. Live clean. Keep my relationships pure and unadulterated. 
  • Organized / Organize my time better. Organize my home and simplify what needs modifying.
  • Intentional / Be attentive and aware. Make decisions because I want to and I know why. Practice good habits and know the reasons for them.

Of course, I have specific goals that tie in with these words, but those are more personal... Like specific amounts of money I want to make, goals for the home, places I want to go. Regardless of what your goals are, write them down and revisit them often. You give them power when you give them attention. When you nurture your goals, recognize where you're falling short, and keep record of your progress.

I believe 2015 will be a tremendous year of growth for me. I believe the same for you. I want to work with people more, gather more, own less, love more, worry less, and press forward. I still believe in spreading the word on the importance of mindful mornings and reflective moments. They're worth more than anything. Giving yourself a moment or two to just be as you are and how you want is invaluable. 

These are reasons why I resolve to do. Why do you?


Merry Christmas! Here is your belated Autumn playlist.

If you know me at all, you'd be pity-laughing at the title and shaking your head in disapproval. Can you believe it's been 3 months since I've written a blog post? Oh, how bad I am. I'm sorry. First things first, I owe you something, don't I? I never posted the mornings playlist for Autumn!

Without further ado, grab yourself your fuzziest blanket, your warm cup of chai, sit by the window and watch the shadows dance across your neighbor's house as the sun comes up. Get acquainted with some of my favorites (and I'm sure they're many of your favorites, too!) as you welcome your day. Let's pretend we've still got the pretty colors of fall outside the window, shall we?

Autumn Mornings, Vol. 1

1) Beach House / Myth
2) Bon Iver / Towers
3) Led Zeppelin / Going to California
4) Iron & Wine / Such Great Heights
5) Here We Go Magic / Fangela
6) Fleet Foxes / Mykonos
7) Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young / Our House
8) The Velvet Underground / Sunday Mornings
9) The Tallest Man on Earth / Love is All
10) Kurt Vile / Wakin on a Pretty Day
11) Joni Mitchell / A Case of You

Subscribe to the playlist and listen along here

Now that you've got the playlist, listen to it a whole bunch and catch up with me in a few days when I blog again about my fantastic year, what's to come in 2015, and more on January 1st.



La Soliluna

Friends! It's been a while. I still need to post about my honeymoon and summer vacation, as well as the multitude of things to come for this gal. Until then, I am so pleased to announce something we have been working on that I can't wait to introduce to you.

La Soliluna is a brand new meal series coming to the DC area. Through La Soliluna, our objective of bringing locals together to have intimate, one on one conversations with a local chef as they share their story and the tools of their craft will come to life. For our inaugural event and the first half of this series, we are bringing you a 'Brunch & Brew' style event instructed by Chef Evan Colondres of the award winning Peregrine Espresso. Chef Evan will teach you how to brew the perfect cup of coffee before he prepares for you a delicious handcrafted brunch, with fresh ingredients grown locally by farms in the greater metropolitan area. 

La Soliluna takes place on Sunday, September 21st at 11 AM. Tickets are $65 dollars and space is limited. Location will be provided to guests of the event. Purchase your tickets here

La Soliluna is presented by:

Kim Bryden

Joy Jaynes

Rebecca Gallop

Lauren Anderson & Rachel Bridgwood

and featuring the culinary expertise of

of Peregrine.

Partners to be announced.

A DC #Staycation with A Daily Something

Rebecca and I took a mini staycation in the city last weekend and enjoyed every moment of it. We were excited to stay at the Westin in Georgetown after the recent launch of their wellness program. When we arrived in the city, we were floored by our views from our (multiple!) balconies, the cleanliness of the room and how cozy the beds were. Exactly what you want when you check into a hotel, right? We were pretty satisfied. We explored the room and then set out for dinner.

We started the weekend with a beautiful walk into Georgetown and stopped for dinner at Il Canale. The service was amazing and the owner, Joe, came and spoke to us a few times about the authenticity of his business, his love for food, and the purpose behind eating well. I don't think I've ever seen someone display such romance toward their food but he did it just right. We enjoyed select meats and cheeses before our meal and that alone was enough to leave us satisfied. For our main course, we had pizza and not just any pizza, but authentic Italian pizza made in a wood-fired oven. Rebecca had the Margherita and I had the Diavola. It is safe to say we are both quite happy with our decisions. The walk back to the hotel was perfect for a summer evening in DC. When we got back to the hotel, we played pool, talked, and jumped right into those beds.

The next morning, we stayed in bed a bit before waking up and going to The Caucus Room for breakfast. We filled up on yummy omelets, pastries, and Counter Culture Coffee. The Caucus Room offers french press, too... I found that so charming. As I am, after all, a pilgrim for amazing mornings,  we made sure to take our time enjoying our food and each other's company before beginning the hustle of a day in DC.

After breakfast, we went on a long walk through Georgetown. We walked up Wisconsin Avenue to Book Hill Park and also visited the grounds of The Old Stone House, the oldest preserved building in DC. Before long, it was time for lunch so we headed to one of my favorite DC spots, Kafe Leopold. You will notice that this whole weekend was heavy on the food and we are 100% happy about that.

Pro tip: If you're at Kafe Leopold on a hot day looking for a silly time, drink the Elderflower Martini or their special Cucumber Refresh. Out of this world drinks for a sticky summer day. We started with Hibiscus-Gorgonzola Crostinis which were, hands down, the most amazing appetizer I have ever had. It was our first time eating hibiscus and guess what? Into it. After our salads, we happily dove right into desserts. Macarons, a Napoleon, Sachertorte, and apricot gelato. We died right then and there and went straight to food heaven. The service was amazing by our server, Hannah, and the manager Chantelle was such a delight. We were so fortunate to meet so many great people on this trip!

We went back to the hotel after lunch and got some work (see: napping) done. We were so full and were only two hours away from our dinner reservation. We laid in the heavenly beds and before we knew it, it was time for Founding Farmers

What can I say about the farm-to-table, locally sourced, and all around perfect brand that is Founding Farmers? Everything from the fried green tomatoes, ranch popcorn and pickled vegetables to the perfectly cooked filet, mint watermelon salad, cedar planked salmon and vegetables were just absolute perfect. They're truly onto something here. For example, the french style beignets were so ridiculous, we couldn't stop from eating them immediately once arriving to our table. They didn't stand a chance.

The next day, we woke slowly. We had breakfast delivered to the room and we took our time eating it. I'm not kidding when I say the beds are heavenly... so heavenly that we set the breakfast trolley between our beds and ate breakfast in bed. It was perfect. A pot of coffee between the two of us, seasonal fruit, eggs. Once we eventually started the day, we went to Eastern Market and Union Market. We explored the flea market at Eastern Market and the one item I wanted wasn't for sale. My luck! Rebecca did find some adorable stacking rings which I may have to go back and purchase myself. ;) They're just too cute. At Union Market, we enjoyed a stop into Salt & Sundry, lunch at Red Apron, and a pickle + kimchi haul from No. 1 Sons. Union Market is probably the best one stop shop in all of DC. The best food, coffee, and shopping in one amazing factory space. Of course, while at Union Market, we went to Dolcezza Gelato for push pops because it would be criminal if we didn't.

The weekend, as a whole, was one for the books. Being with one of my best gal pals in a beautiful space in a beautiful city leaves little room for any complaints. From the wonderful hotel to the delicious restaurants and the scenes of DC, we were blessed to have such a great weekend. I think I'm ready for my next one... who's with me?