Tory Burch OUTLET, Say What?

Last week in sunny Orlando, I found paradise...

Not the palm trees silly, but the Tory Burch Outlet!

Cue the angelic voices ... aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

First item that made its way back behind the heavy orange velvet curtain with me was this poppy-colored tunic.  It was my size, marked way down, and just my style.

And boy oh boy, was it cute.

Only one issue.  The upper arms were really tight.  I think this tunic was made for all of those skinny-armed mamas that live off of chardonnay and Goldfish alone.  Which is not me.

I tried to make it work, I really tried.  But it was also fairly sheer (you can see the top of my leggings in these photos) and I didn't want to have to always layer it with a long tank.  I sort of had my heart set on a bag, anyway.

But it WAS cute, right?!

So at first this bag had my attention.  It was classic-looking and good for the summer.

But it's not the one I ultimately came home with.  What's in the bag below, you ask?

This precious tote!  It is patterned in purple/lilac hues, and you can't even see the best part in this picture.  A long, purple, suede tassel.  It hangs from one of the tote's handles.  In this picture it is not showing because it was still wrapped up in tissue paper and I wanted to protect it for my plane flight.

I love my new little tote, and it's also fun having a reminder of my time in Orlando.  I worked hard on that trip, but I believe it's always important to find a little time for yourself!

Click here for a recap of my trip to the same Orlando Tory Burch outlet last year.

PS - Love sale shopping like I do?  If you haven't joined Rue La La yet, here's your special invite.  I absolutely love RLL.  In fact, just recently received a Lilly cardi-sweater that I couldn't keep myself from ordering!  Join before February 14th and they'll add a $10 shopping credit to your account that you can use until March 14!


Weekend Wrap-Up

So, a strange phenomenon has happened recently -- I think I've flip-flopped my philosophy on the weekend.  After graduating college, I liked going out both Friday and Satuday nights (and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and ... you get the point).  But since getting older, and --ahem-- wiser, I have bought into the whole "relax on Friday night after a long workday, and go out Saturday night" way of thinking.

Only in recent months have I started realizing that if you rally on Friday night and go out, and then save your relaxing evening for Saturday night, in some strange time-warp way, it makes the weekends feel so much longer!

At least, to me.  You might think I'm a little crazy.

So we did just that this weekend.  Friday evening wasn't looking too good for going out because Ian was going to have to work late, but things fortunately wrapped up earlier than expected, and next thing you knew, I was throwing a bottle of cabernet into my Vineyard Vines wine tote and we were out the door.  We celebrated a friend's new job at his house with pizza, salad, lots of happy dogs, and adult beverages.

Saturday, Ian and I tackled our office.  After painting our dining room recently, we realized a gallon of paint was an  inexpensive and relatively quick way of giving a room a complete makeover.

We painted a few swatches on the wall and made a unanimous decision -- the middle swatch!  It has a touch of green in it, which compliments our area rug in the room and a green leather chair. 

We're still waiting on the crown molding to be put up this week, but here is a sneak peak of the room with a larger reveal coming soon:

Between painting the first and second coat, we got outside for some much-needed fresh air.  We went on a run and then looped back by our house to pick up our dog Drake and take him on a walk.

That evening I cooked a great meal that I pinned on Pinterest -- recipe to come soon.  Ohhhhmygoshhhhhh it's good.

Yesterday afternoon, Ian and some of his guy friends went shooting out at a farm and I got chores done around the house (read: 10% paying bills and 90% catching up on blogs).  Later we relaxed with friends at nearby Selwyn Pub and had a few beers.  Our favorite Sunday afternoon tradition.

And on an unrelated but equally fun note, a big thanks to Hopsy of Monograms and Manicures for introducing me to the fabulousness that is Red Stamp.  I downloaded the app immediately on my iPhone and have had so much fun playing with it.  With this app, you can create invitations and cards (and even include photos!) and send to people via email, text, Facebook, and Twitter.  There is even an option to have your design turned into a paper postcard and have it mailed.  Too smart, too smart.

Those are cards that Ian and I sent to my cousin and my aunt for their recent birthdays.  With my hectic travel schedule, it makes remembering someone's special day or sending a quick, casual thank-you that much easier.


A Challenge, But Not Impossible

If you don't mind me painting with a slightly broad brush, you could quickly sum up what I do for a living by saying it is in the health and wellness field.

And you all know that I travel quite a bit for my job.  In fact, yesterday was the first day I've been back in the office in the last two and a half weeks!

When traveling, eating healthy can be a challenge.  Not impossible mind you, but not the easiest.  When you're dining solo and missing home, it's easy to justify a comfort meal like creamy, cheesy pasta.  With bread.  And wine, of course.  If nobody is there to witness it, did it really ever happen at all?  :)

But in order to practice what I preach, and also to make up for the fact that I pretty much detest hotel gyms (treadmill snob here) -- I make it a point to eat healthy.

Clockwise from top left: dinner, dinner, lunch, dinner

Clockwise from top left: dinner, dinner, lunch, breakfast

My go-to staples for travel meals are salads, soups, and wraps.  They aren't as costly as sitting down to a filet, and they are more like what I would eat on a regular weeknight at home. 

I don't mind dining in restaurants alone, but my favorite thing to do is sit at the bar and sip on a glass of wine while they fix my to-go order.  That way, I get a little bit of social time, but I can eat my meal alone in my hotel room without having to make small-talk with the bar-flys. 

Another trick of mine is to find a nice grocery store.  Whole Foods, Earthfare, Fresh Market -- I love these.  The prepared foods area is an easy way for me to get vegetables and fruits in my diet.  While in Portland recently, I stopped in for dinner at a local co-op where there was a plethora of healthy choices ... raw, vegeterian, and vegan. 

What are your tricks for eating healthy while traveling?


Frank's Pizza Chicken

The first boss I ever worked for is a family friend, and he is a dang good cook. 

One of my favorite go-to easy weeknight recipes comes from dear Frank.  It's simple to put together, inexpensive, and a total guy-pleaser.  And because you can make it as healthy as you wish, it's a winner in my book! 

(We splurged by adding pepperoni ... worth it, duh)

Frank's Pizza Chicken

3 chicken breasts or 6 chicken tenderloins
Pizza sauce or a can of tomato sauce
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Desired pizza toppings (pepperoni, onions, green peppers, black olives, turkey sausage, etc)
Dried oregano

Edit: A few people have asked about whether to use raw or cooked chicken -- you do use raw chicken.  I work from bags of frozen tenderloins that I thaw overnight the evening before.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper.  Place in a 9x13 glass or ceramic dish that has been coated with a very thin later of olive oil.

Top chicken with pizza sauce or tomato sauce (I also sprinkled a little garlic powder on at this point).  Add on your desired pizza toppings.  Sprinkle with oregano.  Top with cheese and cover with foil.  Bake at 350* for approximately 25-30 minutes or until done.

Serve with a big green salad and perhaps some sauteed green beans -- an easy, delicious, and low-carb dinner.


In Love With A Chandy

I love, love, love our dining room chandelier, and after my recent post about our dining room updates, a few of you left comments or emailed me regarding the story on it.

When we were planning our wedding and I found our reception site, my eyes immediately latched on this gorgeous wooden staircase that connects the upstairs (where we got married) to the large room where we hosted our wedding reception.

I knew I wanted to have a beautiful cake there for us to cut under a sparkly chandelier!

When we started pricing our chandelier rental options, I quickly realized that it might not cost too much more to actually purchase a chandelier and then just pay to have it professionally hung.  I found this beauty -- which, sadly, does not seem to be available any more -- at Home Depot.  It was the Heritage 6 Light Chandelier.  It was listed for $169.00, and I found a $10 off coupon code online on one of my fave sites, Deal Hunting, and also initiated the purchase through Ebates (which currently offers 5% back on Home Depot purchases).  So yeah, I scored quite a deal!  Plus, I read every single review on it, and it was rated really highly by its owners. 

So, for the ultimate sentimental purchase, I ordered the chandelier that we would cut our wedding cake under -- and we even signed our marriage certificates under it, too -- and my father put it together for us.  After we were married, we carefully brought it to our new home and have it hanging in our dining room.  It will always move with us whereever we may go. 

It will be an important reminder in our lives of the vows we made on the most important day of our lives together.

If you love this chandelier and would want one similar, here is a smaller one and a larger one, both of which are currently out of stock, but you can stalk them until they are (hopefully) available again.  :)


A Beautiful Hotel Stay

So, during this week I have been in the following airports:

* Charlotte
* Minneapolis
* Seattle
* Portland
* Sacramento

And today I will be in the following:

* Oakland
* Phoenix
* CHARLOTTE!  Home sweet home.

Yes, that is an insane amount of airports.  And, I've also been on one train and I've stayed in five different hotels.

The travel can get a little crazy, and the days have been long.  When I was booking hotels for this trip, I found a great hotel in Lafayette, California.  I typically stay at the same brand of hotel, but this one was only about $10 more and they were running a promotion where a spa service was included.


The Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa is just beautiful as you drive up.  I checked in right in time for my facial.  Stephanie was my aesthetician and she introduced me to Pevonia products.  Rather than using a scrub or brush to exfoliate my face, she used this amazing pineapple and papaya enzyme peel.  My skin was so smooth the next morning.

The Lafayette Park Spa

Definitely one of the best facials I've ever had!

The rest of the hotel is just beautiful.  I snapped a few more pictures on the way out to dinner, which was a separate adventure in itself.

Definitely a lovely time, but I am so very happy to be traveling back to Charlotte tonight!


Say Hello To My Little Baby.

In my shortened weekend at home, I spent some quality time at one of my most favorite areas in our house -- my jewelry table.

This pretty is now done and will soon be making her way to my Etsy shop.

Ladies, I introduce to you ...

She said she is pleased to meet you, too.

PS - Hi from California!


Veggies For Breakfast

After being gone almost all of last week in Rochester -- and knowing I was about to spend another week on the road -- all I wanted to do when I had a little time at home was COOK.

I wanted to be standing barefoot in the kitchen, happily swirling my wooden spoon around a skillet.

Sunday morning, before leaving for the airport, I cooked us a little breakfast.  It was one of those meals where you just open the fridge, see what's fresh, and start throwing something together.  Not only did we get in a veggie serving first thing in the morning, but we loved it!

Open-Faced Veggie English Muffins

Serves 2

One English muffin, split
1/2 white onion
1/4 green pepper
Black olives, sliced
2 slices Muenster cheese

Preheat broiler.  In a skillet, saute onion and pepper with a little olive oil.  Add black olives and heat through.  Toast the English muffins place face-up on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam.  Spoon veggie mixture on top of the English muffins.  Top each with a slice of Muenster cheese and stick under the broiler until melted and slightly bubbly.


Snow Galore.

Good morning from Seattle!

It's 4:41am here and I've already been up for an hour.  I am doing my best to keep myself on Eastern time for this week on the West coast.  We'll see how that goes.  :)

Lately I've been dealing with something I don't have to deal with a lot as a Carolina girl ... SNOW.

In Rochester last week, we had unseasonably warm weather until Friday -- my departure day -- when the snow came down in buckets.  I laughed when I originally saw my rental car came equipped with long-handled ice scrapers (so not something I'm used to seeing in the South) but I was so happy at that moment to have them.

After removing about 6" of snow from my car, I made my way to the airport.  I was dealing with a majorly delayed flight that was supposed to leave at 1:00pm.  Long story short, US Air was able to book me on a 9:25am flight (mind you, this was around 12:00pm, and that flight still hadn't left the ground) which ended up finally getting the go-ahead to depart around 1:30pm.  I missed my connection in Philly and had about 3 hours to kill before the next Charlotte flight, and there were definitely some tears shed in the airport.

I hate being that girl who is crying in the airport, but sometimes you just want to be HOME. 

Ian consoled me and told me to go pick out something from an airport gift store and put it on our joint bank account.  It worked; I smiled. 

At 10pm I got home Friday night, and we had dinner together -- Chinese take-out and red wine.  It was perfect. 

So then I got ready to start packing for my next trip to Seattle.  One glance at the temperature to know how to pack, and what do you know -- snow!

My flight yesterday was long, but I had these to get me through it.  Nothing like a little airport treat!

And I got to the hotel last night right around my East coast bedtime.  A quick chat with Ian and then straight to bed!  I did snap this photo for him of the Mariners stadium that is directly across from my hotel.  Pretty neat view from my hotel window, right?

Time to get ready for the day!  I've got a busy day ahead of me -- working with a client and then taking a train down to Portland. 


My Wegman's Adventure

If you've ever known someone who has shopped at Wegman's before, they've surely raved about it.

And if you've ever been, then I'm sure you've raved about it.

Wegman's is a grocery store, but not any ol' grocery store.  Ohhhh, no.  Not even close.

While in Rochester, I decided to give it a spin.  I had about 90 minutes to kill for lunch and thought surely a grocery store trip couldn't last more than 20 or 30 minutes.  Wrong-o.  I was there for the entire time.

I was directed to go to the Wegman's in Pittsford, NY -- a short 15-minute drive from my client's office, but the best one according to them.

Opon entering I was greeted with beautiful yellow tulips ... some of my favorites.  (Sidenote: is there anything more endearing than a guy walking through a grocery store holding a bouquet of flowers for his special girl?)

The produce section was amazing and they had these precious mini-apples.  It's difficult to gauge the true tiny size of these unless you see the medium-sized green apples to the left.

My mother loves orchids, so when I saw this beautiful display of phalaenopsis, I thought of her.

I loved the idea of this rose and baby's breath bouquet being surrounded by cotton at the base.

A trail mix bar ... ingenious

And candy galore.  This is just a portion of the candy aisle.  This bulk candy always gets me in trouble.  Gummy Coke bottles and those round peach things ... you know what I'm talking about, right?!

And a great M&M display, too!  I'd be here each weekend of a sporting event getting a selection in team colors for tailgating.

If my husband lived close to a Wegman's, no doubt he'd hit up this wing bar daily and pair it with a salad (the salad bar was also out of this world).

The seafood area -- which was breathtaking -- also featured fresh oysters.

And if you're looking for some fine caviar, they have some black imported caviar at a $69.99 pricepoint.  I'll take 4.  :)

We love bringing home goodies from our local grocery store's olive bar to snack on before dinner, and this one was pretty magnificent, too.

Pick up & go cheese and dried fruit plates for $25 that even come on a nice wooden serving board.  Just remove the cellophane and you're good to go.  

And it wouldn't be New York without a great bagel selection!

I ended up going for the Asian hot bar for lunch upon the very strong recommendation of my manager (who is from upstate NY).  I had Chinese green beans, a pork bun, various dim sum, and some of that wonderful deep fried saucy chicken that is going to have me hitting the gym.  Well worth it, though.  Upstairs is a seating area where you can take your food and eat while overlooking the beautiful store.

So, have you ever been to a Wegman's?  Did I do it justice?  There were so many great things about it.  Wegman's, please come down to the Carolinas!


Dining Room Makeover: In Progress!

Ian was still feeling badly on Sunday but after a trip to Urgent Care we decided that the best thing to do was to take his mind off of feeling puny and get knee-deep in a project.

We painted our dining room!

This room is a total work in progress.  Since we use other rooms more, we've prioritized finalizing those rooms.  Our dining room and a guest bedroom of ours are still needing a little TLC.

We'd been deciding on colors for a few days based on paint swatches.  On Friday night after dinner, I painted a few samples on the walls and we monitored them in the natural light and also in the evening lamplight.  We both fell in love with the same color -- Valspar's Wet Pavement. 

The walls were a basic ivory.  When we bought the home, we liked that it had neutral walls, but after a while we got tired of how "vanilla" it all was.  Time to spice it up.

Taping off the molding took a while, but we're perfectionists.

And then the paint started going on!  I did the detail work and Ian rolled the walls.

Almost done - just need to let it dry and take the tape off.

We love the final product!

Now we can start searching for art for the walls.  The console table below with the lamps will probably have to go -- we'd like to get a large and tall piece to display all of our nice crystal in along with nice platters, bottles of wine, etc.

And in a few months, we're having a white chair rail added around the room.

I can't decide whether to recover the chairs yet again -- I'm kind of digging the taupe with the grey though, and we'll keep green accents.  Plus the window treatments coordinate well with them.

These keys will be hung on one of the small walls.

And we'll be framing a picture to put in this large frame.

The large frame above will be placed on the wall above this antique green chest.  We'll also do some more styling of the tray on it since it's looking pretty boring.

So - lots of work still, but we're so happy with the paint color.  I fell like it's lit the fire under us to get the room finalized now.  Time to shop for ART!
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