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Autumn To Do List

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaar! I mean sort of, I love fall/autumn, and while I am by no means basic (the Buzzfeeed quiz proved it) if I was ever tempted to be, it would be now. I like doing fall things! A lot. And though the thermostat is holding at the low 90’s, and I’ve lived in Florida long enough to know better, my little cinnamon sprinkled heart hopes that it will magically drop to allow me to enjoy what others refer to as “sweater season”. I got the apple picking part of things out of the way early this year, but here are some other things I’d like to do before the winter insanity sets in.

  • Wear all the plaid
  • Shun the PSL enthusiasts
  • Stomp in large piles of colorful leaves
  • Burn something cinnamon scented
  • Decorate pumpkins

  • Sip some spiced cider
  • Wrap myself in a really cozy scarf
  • Find a pair of boots to rock
  • Buy an autumnal lipstick
  • Make spice cookies

  • Make s’mores
  • Use the fireplace
  • Don an over-sized, crazy soft sweater
  • Paint my nails burgundy or copper
  • Warm my cold toes on the back of Andy’s perpetually warm calf

  • Watch Practical Magic, Sleepy Hallow, The Craft and The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Make a seasonally appropriate wreath for the front door.
  • Use some of my handpicked apples to make apple crumble
  • Go to a harvest festival
  • Enjoy a warm beverage outdoors (if it dips below the mid 80’s that is)

What’s on your fall list? Are you ready to basic it up with me?

 

Images from here


Long Distance Coffee Date

As September draws to a close, I want to introduce you guys to a new monthly segment I am starting here called “Long Distance Coffee Date”. Every month I’ll pose a question to myself and three of my dearest friends and we’ll share our stories and hard won wisdom. Some months will be more serious than others, but these women have been with me through so many ups and downs in my life and I am better for having their insight and guidance to help me navigate this crazy thing called life. This month I wanted to do a bit of a meet and greet, have the ladies introduce themselves and share a little bit about how we met and the course of our friendship over the years. I’ll admit they got me a little misty eyed this time around 🙂

Rebecca:

I’m a Florida native, where I married my college sweetheart, John; received my Masters of Public Administration from Florida State University; served children and families as a substitute teacher and Children’s Ministry Assistant Director at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church; and adopted a rambunctious, but sweet yellow lab. Since moving to Charlotte, NC four years ago, I’ve welcomed my most important role as mom and decided to embrace home making for a season. My husband and I are raising our two daughters, Abigail (4) and Claire (2) through Christ’s love. I enjoy reading, travel, artsy-craftsy adventures, the beach, and grilling out with friends and family. I’m a member of Fort Mill Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS), Harrison UMC, and the YMCA.

I’m thrilled to be a guest with you! I met Julie as a freshman in the study of FSU’s Smith Hall. She was one of the first people I met in our new home away from home. We lived in that study for several nights with the water fountain and wall of windows until dorm rooms became available to us. I wish I could say it was a “meet cute” if I may reference The Holiday; where she was looking for a bottom bunk and I a top bunk. It was not. We were both emotional messes! Lol! I can say that encounter was a blessing! We were fast friends.  We even chose to rent off-campus housing together (with Octavian 😘) the following year. I miss our craft nights and  Project Runway marathons! Julie and I had each other’s backs no matter what, then and now. I just love her and that we’re friends!

Verhanika:

My name is Verhanika and I’m a work from home mom to my one year old son, Ronan. I live in the Emerald City, Seattle, Washington and spend most of my days chasing around my toddler, working with organizations as a consultant through my business, Willhelm Consulting, and spending as much time as I can with my husband, who is a stagehand at one of the big theatres in town. I’m really into fitness (as I type this I’m dressed for a workout I’m going to do while my son naps) and then moving as little as possible by reading a lot. I love a chocolate chai latte and a pastry as a mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or evening treat. I work hard to love my body for exactly as it is and am active in the Health At Every Size movement. My biggest goals in life are to be happy and healthy, raise my beautiful son to be a caring, compassionate, strong man, and to make work a place most people want to be by making organizations function better.

When I think back to the day I met Julie I get a little embarrassed. It was the first day of a Sociology class I had signed up for as a freshman at Florida State University. I walked into a giant lecture hall and saw a sprinkling of people already inside. Rather than find an empty seat far away from anyone else, which is what I would have normally done and would probably do today, I sat right next to Julie. I think we sat in silence for about 2 minutes before I turned to her and said, “Hi, I’m Verhanika.” If that’s not what actually happened, then Julie can totally correct me, but I remember feeling brave at the time, when now I realize I probably came across as a total weirdo.

Fortunately, Julie is forgiving of weirdos and it started one of the best friendships I’ve had in my entire life. I call Julie my best girlfriend to anyone I talk to about her. She is my go-to for seriously girly things like fashion, make up, boy trouble (because you can still have boy trouble when you’re married) and part of my board of advisors for really tough choices.

We’ve shared many meals together, she made my veil for my wedding and fixed my bustle on my wedding gown when it wasn’t laying how I thought it should on the day of my wedding. Hell, she even literally zipped me into my wedding gown when my other helpers were panicking that it wasn’t going to zip. I remember being really nervous since I had gained about 10 pounds since I had bought my dress and it was feeling really tight at my last fitting. When the friend who had her hands on the zipper said, “It’s not going up,” Julie hip-checked her in the most polite way possible and said “Breathe in…and out,” and zip! Just like that I was dressed for my wedding.

I would take her into battle with me. She is amazing in a crisis both for her ability to make stuff happen and because she knows how to cut tension with a well-executed sarcastic comment. Since she wants the world to be pretty, she also knows how to find beauty in the things I overlook and is frequently reminding me that I am a badass and that I can always afford more time for stopping to smell pretty flowers.

I miss her so much some times living in opposite corners of the country. It’s always during my almost-weekly calls with her that I remember how badly I want a teleporter made so we can have tea together and go lipstick shopping.

Stefanie:

Hello friends!

I am so excited – and SO grateful – for the opportunity to contribute to this space. It really is surreal waking up one day and realizing you are 31 years old, and your closest friends (you included) are fully functioning adult people with awesome jobs, hobbies, families, etc. We are finally past the stage of “planning” for the future and on to the “doing” of life. What else can we focus on but pure delightful gratitude? Gratitude for life, gratitude for lasting friendships, and in this crazy competitive, judgmental, often unkind world, gratitude for simply having what we need – and most times even a little more than that. 🙂

For me, there are few things higher on my gratitude list than this amazing friendship that Julie and I have. It has survived distance, diversity, and now 26 years of growth/change/metamorphosis into what I know will undoubtedly be a lifelong sisterhood. I do not take it for granted, as I know that MOST people grow into adulthood without the anchor of a lifelong friendship. There is so much value in having that one person that is, has, and will always be there. Here are 3 Lessons in Friendship that I learned from my BFF…

  1. Share: Share everything. Share your best ideas, your deepest secrets, your talents, etc. I can’t begin to say how many of our weekly phone conversations have been spent emptying our minds of every fantastic idea that we have (and even the ones that haven’t been so great – I.e. that relationship I let go on way too long, or those jeans I shouldn’t have bought that made my butt look flat as a pancake… hey, live and learn right?) I still remember when Julie told me she wanted to start this blog space – and the countless hours thereafter spend discussing ideas, angles, post topics… And the time I decided (quite literally on a whim) to quit my job and move 300 miles away to pursue my life dream of teaching/living/breathing Yoga full time. Every major decision I have made in the past 10 years has been filtered through the eyes and ears of my BFF, and her unfaltering support has brought me farther than my own timid heart ever could.
  2. Be There: This one is super simple. Friendship is a full-time job… Make the time! Whether we were living across the yard in the same apartment complex, or 300 miles away, there has never been a time that I needed guidance or support that she wasn’t there. When I call, she answers. Every time. Granted, probably wondering if I am going to be eager to share a funny story or crying hysterically over some ridiculous life drama (what can I say, I’m a crier!) but nevertheless READY to put on that BFF hat and jump right in. Unfortunately, due to my ridiculous need to keep my phone volume off, I miss way more calls than she does, but I always try to get right back. It’s never kind to keep a good friend waiting.
  3. Show GRATITUDE: My favorite, always! A good friend will go out of their way for you at every turn – and you should do the same! But just like in every relationship, showing gratitude and appreciation is key. It’s the water that keeps the soil moist so that beautiful flowers can grow. Julie has supported me in every way possible over the years – emotionally, spiritually, sometimes financially (has YOUR BFF ever held a mini bake sale to collect funds for your corgi’s ridiculously high vet bill?) and it is so important to me that she knows how much it means. Sure, our birthday/Christmas gifts are often times on a 6-month lag, but we always take the time to think of each other in the most caring and thoughtful ways.

So now here we are almost 3 decades later. Julie is a lifestyle blogger with an amazing husband, a beautiful home, and a gigantic heart. Her creativity far exceeds that of anybody else I know and she shares it with the world daily, changing every person she comes in contact with for the better. And I am living a true dream teaching Yoga full time, working with children, building an awesome family, giving back to my community whenever I can. At this point I can’t recall where we actually met… The bus stop? The cafeteria? Outside our kindergarten classrooms? But I can say with complete confidence that we would not be as bold, outgoing, adventurous, and all around confident in this journey to finding our BEST lives if we hadn’t had the love and support we’ve provided each other over these years.

If you have a lifelong BFF, give them a call right now and tell them you love them and you couldn’t do this crazy life journey without them. If you haven’t found that soul sister companion just yet, don’t fret! It’s never too late. And to my BFF, let’s chat this week about what baked goods we can create that will best kick off the holiday season when I come up that way in the next few weeks. I’m thinking spiced pumpkin bread… 😉

Namaste, Vylette readers!


Keeping Time with Olivia Burton

This may seem a little strange, but I haven’t worn a watch since high school. It started with art class and having to remove it and any other jewelry from my wrist while painting or whatever since I tended to be a little exuberant (aka messy) when it came to the creation process. Furthermore, it drove me nuts to have something clicking against the desk while I was writing. I tried wearing it on my non dominant hand, and that was a little better, but then I took typing and well… that requires both hands so you can guess what happened next. In a world full of cell phones, it seems like the timepiece is more of a luxury rather than a necessity, the way it once was.

Recently however, I have found myself in a few situations where neither my cellphone nor a wall clock wasn’t immediately available to me. It got me thinking, maybe, just maybe I should give this whole “watch” thing another shot. It’s been many years since high school, and my financial resources allow for something other than the $9.99 Walmart special that I rocked back in the day.  While I am nowhere near making my final selection, I did want to share this amazing company I stumbled across called Olivia Burton. Classy, feminine, and understated, these watches give you an accessory you can wear with almost anything, while still being a little something special. Even better, they have vegan options that are every bit as lovely as their less animal friendly counterparts.

While the flowers are probably what I would ultimately choose, the idea of a gilded little bumble bee or a delicate little bunny being the focal point really appeals to me. Probably because it’s a sophisticated version of something that would usually be found in the children’s section. While I was perusing options for myself, I was making mental notes of things I think might be nice for various gift giving occasions. For example, the watch above with the lovely pastel blooms and butterflies and the perfectly coordinated sage green band? Perfect for my mom. Oh ,and she likes rose gold, can’t forget the rose gold.  

Really lovely options, but I am still not quite ready to bite the bullet and make the purchase. Besides, there are a couple of gift giving holidays coming up in the next few months (ie. my anniversary and Christmas) and generally Andy is willing to spend more on me than I am on myself, so if I hold out who knows what I might end up with 😉

 

All images from Nordstrom.


Instagram and Ads

I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube in the last couple of months about the ads that are popping up all over Instagram. Supposedly these ads are selected based on your posts and interests. Perhaps, but how well does Instagram really know you, and how worth while are the ads that we are being bombarded with? So like the YouTubers before me, I decided to purchase items from the first ad that showed up on my feed when I opened Instagram for the day, over the course of three days. I quickly had to narrow down the parameters after the first ad was for fine artisan jewelry, starting at $100+. So I settled on under $25 (including shipping) and preferably with a PayPal payment option. Here’s how it went:

Colour Pop

Color pop was the first ad I selected and was also the first to arrive. I’ve heard about the brand before from a number of YouTubers, and I was excited when it worked out for me to have an excuse to try them out. Virtually everything on the site is under $20; heck, most of it is under $10. I ended up picking out four of their Super Shock Shadows (Cricket, Nillionaire, Prickly Pear, and Tea Party). Not the most diverse purchase, but they were shiny. Like I said, they were the first item I ordered to arrive (about a week), and they were just as lovely IRL as they were online. Now, having tried them a variety of ways, I will say they don’t play well with other shadow brands. I tried blending and it was a no go, but on their own, these guys hold up pretty well, and I love the shimmer factor. Well done, Instagram; I give these an 8/10, would buy again.

The Enchanted Forest Shop

The Enchanted Forest Shop was another ad I was excited popped up. I am always curious about the “just pay shipping” ads. Are the products great? Do they overcharge on shipping to compensate? Trying to be as close to the spirit of “what Instagram picked for me” as I could, I of course ordered the “wish” necklace, but since I was already clicking around, I added a pair of pretty floral earrings, just for funsies. It took them about a month to get to me, which I guess is pretty standard for international shipping. They were shipped separately, a little annoying, and arrived about a week apart. They’re pretty much exactly what I expected. I’ve worn the earrings several times already, but the necklace is a little bulkier than I tend to go for, so it will probably get a new loving home or come to live on the rear view mirror of my card. Was the shipping a little high? Yeah, but I’d still use this service again, just not for anything I needed right away. 6/10.

Our Galaxy, The Milky Way

You may notice that unlike the first two ads, I have not linked the website for this product. There is a reason for that. They suck, like whoa, baby, big time. It took them over two months to get my single item, the necklace pictured, to me. First, it took forever to ship, then it was held in Miami for over a month; when it finally showed up, the package had been destroyed, and I got the #sorrynotsorry letter from the post office. All this wouldn’t have been too big an issue, except I tried multiple times to contact the seller about what was going on and I heard NOTHING back from them. A total waste of money, 0/10, two middle fingers and a will not buy again. Lesson learned.

 

Verdict: I think Instagram is doing a pretty good job matching the ads to the individual. I’d absolutely be willing to check out a company based on their recommendation. I will, however, probably do a little more research next time before I purchase.


Buttercream Artistry

When Andy and I were planning our wedding, one of the things  we surprisingly didn’t agree on was the cake. I thought a cupcake tower would be a fun idea, but Andy had a rare diva moment and proclaimed that cupcakes weren’t an acceptable option, he wanted a cake, a three tier cake to be specific. I let him have his way, largely because I didn’t care about the cake, but I had one stipulation, I did not want something covered in that ever popular substance, fondant. It makes for some truly gorgeous cakes, but it doesn’t taste good and flavor is infinitely more important to me than style, which ended up being a good thing since (I think) our cake turned out hideous, but it tasted great. One of the excuses the baking staff gave for the monstrosity was that the floral accents we’d selected were simply impossible to create with mere frosting. Well, I am calling bullshit on that. I saw this article on Bored Panda about artist Atelier Soo and the gorgeous buttercream creations coming out of the Seoul based bakery.

Insane, right? I’ve seen some sugar paste blossoms that couldn’t even come close to this!   I’m not even sure it should be legal to eat these creations. They’re so painstakingly crafted and meticulously detailed, it breaks my heart that their one clumsy fork swipe away from being destroyed.   

I apologize for all the pictures; there were just so many beautiful creations, and I had the damnedest time narrowing them down. Now I am not saying that the bakery here in Tally dropped the ball, or that I’d expect this level of mastery for your average cake decorator, but I am saying if I ever find myself in that situation again I am going to be a lot less accommodating when they try to sell the “gum paste stamp” idea to me again. And for the record, dogwood blossom and cherry blossoms do not look exactly the same. Clearly, I’m not bitter about this at all, right?

 

Images from here