So Many Apples!!!

While hiding out from Irma, Andy and I had the opportunity to get a jump on fall activities and go apple picking with my mom. While there are literally dozens of orchards within a hour’s drive of her house, we ended up at Mercier Orchard, a wonderful place that we have been visiting for years now. Usually, we are just there for lunch and to load up on baked goods since we’ve never been in town during apple picking season.

Now there wasn’t hay involved, but we did load into a wagon pulled by a tractor to get out into the permium apple picking are of the orchard. The guide hanging onto the back of the wagon told us that they grow 53 different varieties of apples on the property, along with other fruits throughout the year.

I have a sneaking suspicion that our trip was as much for my mom as it was for us. I’d jokingly mentioned apple picking in passing and she latched on to the idea and made. it. happen.

We picked either 6 or 8 of the varieties currently available, and I wish I could tell you their names, but they all sort of looked the same in the bag. The only ones I remember for sure are Red Delicious, Candy Crisp & Macintosh. Andy heard the name Candy Crisp, and he was back and forth checking every single row until he tracked those babies down.

I was also surprised how athletically my mom hiked around. Not that she doesn’t walk every morning, but damn, you should have seen that woman practically sprinting when she spotted some especially vibrant purple-y red apples.

We ended up with almost an entire bushel of apples. I thought my mom/extended family would want some, but they decided we should take them all back to Florida. It filled the entire bottom drawer of the fridge.

I’ve managed to use about a 1/4, but I am thinking I am going to have to up my baking game to get through everything while it’s still at peak freshness. Andy has valiantly offered to eat as many cinnamon apples as I care to make. He’s a giver like that.

Disney Springs Mini Vaca Recap

Before I get into the recap, I have a quick question for you guys: Is it possible for women to get “man flu”? I’ve been sick the last two days, but in a way that has me feeling really pathetic and sorry for myself. I am trying to keep it at bay, but the urge to suffer dramatically is strong. So very strong.

Anyway, fortunately, my dramatic illness did not strike before our day trip to Orlando, and we had such a good time. I got to have face time with Verhanika, one of my favorite people, and bond a little more with her little guy. Seriously, the kid is going to be a heart breaker. I love few things in life as much as I enjoy getting to be “Aunt Julie”. Andy was completely cool following us around and participating in any shenanigans we decided to indulge in.

 That’s right, bask in the awesomeness that is our friendship. Also, I was very pleased that I didn’t end up with all of those lines sunburned into my chest. Thank god for travel sunscreen and cloudy days.  With a lot of the state still dealing with the fall out from Irma, I was a little concerned that Disney Springs wouldn’t be its usual magical self, but of course, things were running smoothly, and with the exception of some decorative construction walls here and there, you’d never even know that there were repairs still being done.   Verhanika and I decided that this would be an excellent place for a “mermaid grotto”. I bet there are any number of girls who’d be completely happy to rock a tail and leisurely brush their hair for photo crazed tourists. Heck, if they didn’t mind chubby pink haired mermaids, I’d sign up for the job!Seriously swoon worthy gelato: Black Cherry on one side; the best Pistachio EVER on the other.   I fell in love with this shop. I mean, come on guys, they’re “dealers in whimsy”, and I am all about the whimsy! I picked up some cute little baubles for stocking stuffers, some I may end up keeping for myself. I am regretting leaving these gorgeous shades behind at Anthropologie. I checked online, but they aren’t available. (sigh)  After half a dozen visits, I finally broke down and tried the little Micky Butt cake at Amorettes. It was really good, and I can see why it is a fan favorite. Andy’s little lemon blueberry cake was pretty great too.  Despite the temperature being securely in the 90’s, most of the shops were sporting all the traditional fall favorites. I think poor Andy was half deaf from all the excited squealing going on (on my end). So many lovely items, so many reasons I need to make a lot more money than I currently do. 

Verhanika and little guy had to say goodbye to us about midday on Friday; it was his nap time, and he’d been such a trooper, definitely earned a nice air conditioned car ride home. Andy and I walked around a bit longer, but the sky turned grey and we had diabetic fur babies that needed their evening insulin shot, so we bid a reluctant farewell to the Disney magic and headed home. I already want to go back.

Friday Link Love

Hey guys! As you read this, I am running around Orlando with my west coast bestie. Last month she told me she was going to be in Florida for about a week visiting family and we decided immediately that we had to work out a way for us to see each other. Orlando is a good half way point, so here we are. Unfortunately, the trip is too short for us to work in any theme park time, but we are hoping to make it over to Disney Springs to soak up a bit of the Disney magic and probably take in some of the excellent baked goods offered all over the shopping/dining mecca. If you feel like following along with this little adventure, you can always check out my Instagram page. Usually I am pretty good at posting, provided I don’t forget my charger or something like that. Keep your fingers crossed for a safe drive, and I will see you guys back here on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Crepe paper always seemed a bit…well…meh as a decorating option, but this tutorial has given me a whole new respect for the humble roll of crepe paper, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Scented candles are a constant in our house, but I’ve never really considered rules or guidelines for how/when/where to burn them. Fortunately, this lady has.

This is so our house, it’s scary.

For the first time since 1972 snow leopards are off the endangered species list! Here are some cute photos to celebrate.

I’m a pretty big fan of glitter, but the first look in this trio is a bit much even for me. The other two however, are right up ally.

This article about pumpkin spice immersion had both Andy and myself laughing so hard. So much spice!

I am so in love with this top, and it’s so cool that they offer the option of purchasing starter collections to help you build your wardrobe.

These modernized illustrations of Disney princesses are beautiful, and they’ve given me some style goals.



Image from here

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 🙂


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!


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.


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!