Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013.

I don't even know where this year has gone. It was full of ups and downs, and has certainly kept me on my toes. I feel that I have really gained a strong sense of self, and I am thankful for that.

Some of the highlights?

|| january ||
I rang in the new year and celebrated my Quarter-Century birthday with my best friends.

|| february ||
I saw Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan in concert with the parentals.
While the venue was beyond disgusting and awful, they never fail to put on an amazing show!

|| march ||
I spent an uneventful weekend in Massachusetts, but did get to see Bill Cosby live, which was pretty great.

|| april ||
I visited Popop in Florida with my Mom. We celebrated his 90th Birthday (a little early), and spent the week lounging by the pool soaking up the sun. 

This little blog was born as well!

|| may ||
I traveled to Colorado for the first time and fell head over heels in love with the state. It was hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and am already counting down the days until I can go back again. I loved exploring a new area, spending a ridiculous amount of time with family, and relaxing.
Popop met his great-grandchildren for the first time.

I also visited DC and spent a weekend being a tourist and seeing some of my best friends!

|| june ||
June was fairly uneventful. I saw Rascal Flatts with the famjam and ventured to Chipotle for the first time (yes, my mind was blown and I'm officially addicted).

*seeing this picture again makes me miss summer more than anything

|| july ||
This was probably my favorite month of the year. My family had our annual reunion. My store moved locations and we got a fabulous new upgrade. We packed up and headed out of the country for our family vacation! We enjoyed our all-inclusive resort, zip lining, dune buggying, and being unplugged for 7 days.

|| august ||
The weekend after returning from Punta Cana, we saw Kenny Chesney, Eric Church & The Eli Young Band at MetLife Stadium. Hands down one of the best concerts that I have ever been to (and that includes all of the Jimmy Buffett concerts I frequented as a young child).

We loved the Eli Young Band so much that we headed to the county fair for corn dogs and another concert!

|| september ||
Labor Day weekend was spent with Angie, and The Zac Brown Band.
In the middle of the month, my family (and Josie) headed down to ECU to visit the little brother. The weekend was complete with Chick Fil A, Hokie Football, sunburns, too much liquor, and a tour of their XO Chapter house.

I received a promotion at work, and was so excited to be moving up!

|| october ||
Our annual family reunion happened in Florida, and it was the first time that my favorite babies got to see the beach.

I celebrated Kristen's birthday at The Village Pourhouse and watched my poor Hokies lose to Duke. Certainly not my favorite moment of October...

|| november ||
I spent a few weekends with Josie screaming over football. Most importantly, we watched VT kill Miami. A few weeks later, we celebrated a glorious Auburn win over Alabama with drinks and a late night tourist sesh in NYC to take advantage of what few weeks she had left in NYC (for now)!

Thanksgiving was a small affair this year and we were lucky to have Angie join us for a few days.

|| december ||
This month started out in a blur. Dad and I did our annual Christmas shopping for Mom.
Momma spent a few days in the hospital with a yucky blood infection.

Christmas came and left quickly, but I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with family and stuffing my face with delicious food.

Josie and I kicked off birthday celebrations with appointments at drybar, a super fabulous hotel, and an overload of best friend time. It was the perfect way to end the year and kick off our 26th year of life!

What were your favorite moments from 2013?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Weekend Shenanigans!

This last week has been a blur. I blogged right before Christmas about my awful attitude, and since then, I haven't even really had time to be thinking negatively like that. I had a great holiday with my family, and have already begun the celebrations for birthday month. I had the best weekend with my best friend to celebrate, but I'll share more of those details later. They deserve their own super fabulous post for a super fabulous weekend!

For now, here's what I've been up to for the last week...

Miss Olivia (the Basset Hound) was adopted and spent Christmas with her new "forever family" and her new Boxer brother. She has obviously settled in quite nicely, and the Boxer doesn't even seem mad that she stole his bed.

I spent Christmas eating tons of Christmas cookies, monkey bread, and homemade pizza. We slept in, opened tons of presents, and spent the afternoon playing games!

Miss Maddie came into our lives as our latest foster pup. She is just the sweetest, and might be one of the best cuddlers in the world. I forgot how fabulous snuggling with a pup at night is!

Josie came back from VA (YAY! Even if it was just for the weekend), and we spent Friday evening having margaritas with my Momma.

#leatherandlacepartyoftwo started off with a bang and our first trip to the drybar. Guys, I'm in love. If I could put one of these stylists in my bag and take them home with me, I would.

This week, it is back to the grind. Long hours at work, new shipments, and trying to find a theater that still is showing Catching Fire at a reasonable hours are things that need to be done this week!

How was your Christmas!? What are your plans for the New Year!?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Manic Monday.


This is how I feel right now. The last few weeks, I've been so exhausted, that the thought of even walking upstairs to get into bed seems daunting.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. I loved spending a ridiculous amount of time with my family. I loved the joy of baking all day in a warm kitchen having a sing-along to Christmas music with my Mom. I loved trekking to Stew Leonard's to pick out the perfect Christmas trees. I loved getting up early on Christmas morning and making breakfast with my brother before we opened presents. I just loved that Christmas meant family time.

Working retail has killed all of those joyous moments for me. I no longer get that cheery feeling when we go pick out trees. I don't get the time off to bake endless cookies with Momma. I do all of my shopping online because the thought of being at a mall on my day off is disgusting. I'm too tired to sit up and watch old Christmas movies with my family. It makes me sad.

This year though, seems to be a little different. There was no time to even let myself get excited for Christmas. With Thanksgiving falling so late in the month, Christmas really crept up on me. Then Momma landed in the hospital and any and all preparations were put on hold. The Christmas trees were undecorated for over a week. Zero presents had been purchased. Dad and I shuffled back and forth to the hospital before and after work. Even when she was released, no one would let her lift a finger, and Dad and I took on all of the housework, as well as lending a much bigger hand with the Christmas prep. I was in overdrive. I would get in the shower each morning and couldn't believe how quickly each day had gone by, and I felt as though nothing had gotten done.

Today is Christmas Eve Eve. Tomorrow, I will get up before the sun, and be at work to help everyone else pick out the perfect gifts for their families. Around dinner time, I'll finally be able to go home and spend a mere 24 hours with them before being back at it at 7am on the 26th. I find myself wanting to cram so much into that time. I want to be excited about waking up on Christmas morning and cooking. I find myself scrambling to get into the holiday spirit this year, and the only way that I think I can overcome this is to immerse myself in Christmas themed things constantly for the next 72 hours.

Elf is about to enter the DVD player on a 24 hour loop. I will be eating Christmas cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and be hitting the gym hard on the 26th). I'm going to deck myself out in tartan for work. I am going to be excited to wake up on Christmas. 

I am not going to let working retail ruin Christmas again!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift Guide: Perfect Stocking Stuffers

I think that stocking stuffers are the most fun things to buy for people. I pick up little trinkets here and there, and stash them away. I'm even surprised when I look in my storage spot and remember what fun things I picked up throughout the year. If I had to make a list of what I wanted to find in my stocking this year...

What do you buy as stocking stuffers?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gift Guide: Splurges

There is always something "big" on my Christmas list each year. This year, I asked for new bedding, but certainly in years past electronics, fancy clothes and jewelry definitely made the list. If I could make a list of entirely "splurge" items, here are my top favorites!

|| concert/event tickets ||
For the last few years, we've gotten concert tickets in our stockings. Last year, it was Kenny Chesney/Eric Church tickets, and not only are they a fun surprise, but our family goes together, so these events are things we look forward to for months! Most of our events have gone through Ticketmaster or LiveNation.

|| jackets ||
I have searched high and low for the perfect quilted jacket. LL Bean has been sold out of theirs since September, and I couldn't ask someone to buy me a Burberry one that I have coveted for years. This Barbour one would make the perfect middle-man. It is even on sale! It is classic, adorable, and would look perfect with all of my Lilly outfits!

|| fancy bracelets ||
I'm a sucker for any fun bracelets to add to my daily stack. Of course, this David Yurman bangle would be perfect (and of course be a perfect match with my Albion Ring), and since I'm making a serious effort to invest in more yellow gold pieces, I would love this cutout cuff from Design Darling.

|| a little black purse ||
I think that every girl needs the perfect little black bag. I love anything from kate spade, but this cross-body is the perfect size, and the bow detail is too darling for words! I think anyone would love to see this under their tree!

|| pretty flats ||
I love me some Tory Burch flats. My feet on the other hand, hate them. A co-worker of mine shared some wonderful secrets about how to get them to stretch to fit (and not murder) your feet. Since my current flats have already torn up my feet, and are on their way to the trash pretty quickly, I am dying for a new pair to try out all of her secrets. I've been searching for a pair of quilted black flats, and these most certainly fit the bill.

|| an iPad ||
I bought my iPad as a gift to myself for my 25th Birthday. What can I say? I love the thing! The only thing I use my computer for anymore is blogging, and storing my music. I love the convenience of having a portable device that I can read on (that is bigger than my iPhone), watch movies on, and being able to travel without lugging my laptop around is truly a game changer. I've heard great things about the iPad Mini as well, but I personally wanted something a little bigger!

If you had no limit on gifts, what would be on your list!?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift Guide: Under $100

I'm totally scrambling right now to come up with the perfect gifts for my friends and family. So many things I just waited too long to order, and there is no way I'll get them by Christmas. Better keep them in mind for birthdays throughout the year! It has been a crazy few weeks and I'm just now getting into the Christmas spirit! I'm hoping that by the end of today, I'll have a better gameplan, so here are some of the things that I may be picking up for my loved ones!

|| subscription boxes ||
I have been dying to try out BirchBox for a while now. However, I've read several negative reviews on the types of products that they have been sending, so my new mission is to try out BeautyBox5. If you pay for a yearly subscription up front, the price is under $100, and you save a boatload of money. Don't know what to get someone? This would be the perfect gift! 

|| personalized homegoods ||
These trays from AModernStyle are great for an entertainer, or even better as a hostess gift. I love anything monogrammed (duh!), and to be able to customize every aspect of this gift makes it so personal! The perfect accessory to go with these trays? Personalized coasters from Haymarket Designs.

|| scarves ||
I've found a ton of fun scarves from every vendor under the sun. I tend to stick with the tried and true Lilly scarves. I love both the Murfee and the Riley Infinity Loop, but these Riley scarves are literally the perfect price point for friends and family! I have a closet full, and can't wait to share them!

|| tech clutch ||
I am simply loving all of the kate spade accessories that have all of these fun sayings on them. I know that one of the items on my Christmas list was an iPad cover that said "Stepping Out For Lunch. #manipedi." They're fun, cute, and of course add a little sparkle to your life!

|| personalized jewelry ||
Most cut-out necklaces that I have found run around, or above $200. This one from BCS Designs though, really surprised me. I've had a few friends order from them, and the quality is just as amazing as those I've seen at the higher price point.

|| fuzzy slippers ||
Who doesn't want these on their chilly toes throughout the winter!? I have had a pair like this on my list for a few years, and I'm personally hoping that they'll make an appearance under the tree next week! The best part about them? The rubber soles that will make them socially acceptable for me to run errands in!

|| college gear ||
Last year under the tree, almost half of the gifts I opened were Maroon and Orange. I love having more "grown up" pieces to showcase my school pride. These wooden plaques are the perfect way to show your school spirit in a more appropriate way than ridiculous banners/flags/etc. Other things I've picked up have been Jack Rogers in college colors (although those don't fall under $100), cell phone cases, and fun diploma frames!

|| travel gear ||
I have been using Vera Bradley luggage since I went to college. The cotton bags are washable (super important), sturdy, and in these bright prints, you an never mistake them for someone else's in the airport. The long straps make them ideal for traveling, and I personally can pack for an entire weeklong vacation in one of these babies. Another bonus? They fit in the overhead bin with no problem, so you don't even need to worry about those checked baggage fees!

|| ballet flats ||
I'm a sucker for ballet flats. Granted, I usually get them from Target, but I came across these on Pinterest (go figure), and think they are so unique. The shoes are totally reasonable, and you can purchase these fun snap-on embellishments. How amazing would it be to have that one pair of black flats that you wear all.the.time and no one has to know because you can switch out the snaps!

What is on your must have list that is under $100!?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift Guide: Under $50

It's that time of year where we are all scrambling to get together last minute gifts for friends, family, co-workers, and our favorite hostesses. I know that I myself have a few deadlines, and one that is rapidly approaching is for our Secret Santa gift exchange at work. It has been quite the challenge to find fun gifts under our $30 price limit, but while I was searching high and low, I found some awesome options that fell under $50. They make the perfect gift for everyone on your list!

|| paper goods ||
I'm especially loving these bow notecards from Design Darling. Everyone appreciates a handwritten note, and what would be better motivation than these cute cards!?

|| sweet treats ||
This Christmas classic from Williams-Sonoma is one of my favorite wintertime treats. Peppermint Bark always seems to make it's way into my life at some point. I would love nothing more than having a few pieces in my stocking!

|| iPhone case ||
Who doesn't love changing out their iPhone case every few weeks months? I really love this festive (or maybe just celebratory) one from kate spade!

|| mini emergency kit ||
These are the best things ever created. Everything from a mini sewing kit to band aids. Perfect for the girl on the go! And, who wouldn't love this sparkly one from J. Crew!?

|| umbrella ||
Rainy days suck. Having an ugly umbrella sucks even more. I have a collection of bright prints from Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer, but this kate spade umbrella from Lifeguard Press caught my eye immediately!

|| photo calendar ||
I make these for my Dad every year, and my favorite place to get them is directly from Apple. iPhoto makes it so easy to drag your pictures into the template, and the price can't be beat. They ship quickly, and it is almost guaranteed that someone else will not be giving the same gift!

|| all purpose zip pouch ||
Mark and Graham is one of my favorite places to find gifts. Almost everything can be personalized, and the quality can't be beat. These monogrammed leather zip-pouches are perfect for storing electronics, accessories, or really anything. 

|| printed plates ||
C-Wonder always has great options for affordable gifts, but these monogrammed plates make it a little extra personal. These bright colors are super fun, and are much more personal than a generic serving platter.

|| pajamas ||
Who doesn't love new PJ's to wear for the holidays? These gingham flannel shorts are perfect (and they're on sale, and you can add a monogram for $10), and they're certainly on my Christmas list as well!

|| Christmas tree ornaments ||
My family collects all sorts of ornaments. We have so many that a few years ago we started getting 2 Christmas trees to accommodate for how many we own! The Lilly Pulitzer ones certainly stand out, and this glass one is so fun!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Save or Splurge: The Perfect Holiday Outfit

I have become SO obsessed with tartan this season. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it's the classic colors, or the Christmasey feel. Whatever it is, I'm lusting over it, and need to have some in my wardrobe, asap! Since my family doesn't get all dolled up for Christmas Eve, or even Christmas Day, I have a hard time justifying splurging on an outfit to wear while plopped on the couch.

Now, do I splurge and have the outfit for years to come? Or, save a few pennies and buy some extra holiday gifts?

What are you wearing for the holidays?

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

With the holidays quickly approaching, I'm obviously scrambling to make lists of all that my heart desires on top of getting a list together of gifts to purchase for all of my loved ones. These are the items at the top of my wish list this year!

Monogrammed iPhone Case ($44): Haymarket Designs
Hokie Coffee Mug  ($15): Swanky Press
Tri-Strand Pearls ($98) & Infinity Scarf ($68): J. Crew
Chanel Perfume ($68): Nordstrom
Sparkle ($35) & Monogram Pillow ($29): PB Teen
Monogram Bracelet ($110): BCS Designs

What are your favorite things this holiday season?

Friday, December 6, 2013

5 on Friday!

Linking up with Christina and friends for 5 on Friday!

|| one ||
Y'all, I had the best weekend ever last week. It involved nearly all of my favorite things; besties, college football, and bar hopping in NYC. When I left the city on Sunday morning, I just kept wishing that the weekend would never end. My Hokies took home the Commonwealth Cup for the 10th year in a row, Auburn had the most beautiful victory in the history of college football, and I had entirely too many Cranberry Vodkas. We went "sightseeing" at 1am, and ordered the most perfectly timed pizza in the world.

|| two ||
Momma and I picked out our Christmas trees last night! It is one of my favorite traditions to go to Stew Leonard's and drive the workers crazy trying to find the perfect ones. We got lucky this year, seeing as the rain was coming down and the tree area was pretty empty, and found our trees very quickly. Now, we can spend the weekend decorating the house and the trees!

|| three ||
The Sound of Music last night?
So, I haven't watched it in it's entirety, but what I did see, I loved. While Carrie's acting skills may be sub-par, I thought that the singing was on-point, and I loved it. I can't wait to sit down and watch it from start to finish. Did any of you watch!?

|| four ||
This little baby is finally mine. I took serious advantage of Cyber Monday and got 30% off. Now, I am impatiently waiting for it to ship, hopefully within the next week. I have been eyeing this bag for a LONG time, and I just couldn't resist the deal.

|| five ||
I joined a gym on Monday. I know that I really need to get my life together, especially during the holidays, so I found the perfect gym that I can literally walk to from work. My membership included a free 30 minute personal training session. On Wednesday I took advantage of that. It is Friday, and I literally cannot walk up and down the stairs. What a rude awakening that was. I have found an adorable little calendar that I've finally put a training plan into, starting on Sunday. While I am dreading getting back into a routine, I know that it will be the best thing for me come spring/summer!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Staying Healthy During The Holidays in Retail.

If I've learned anything in my 2 years of retail management, it is that staying healthy is a must during the holiday season. The hours are long, the days are crazy, and there is little time to rest. We don't get weekends off, so having two days in a row off is a hot commodity, and taking care of yourself definitely gets put on the backburner. Last year, I think I finally perfected how to keep myself protected from germs, sleep deprivation, and the holiday blues.

Stay hydrated.
I'm lucky enough that we keep water bottles readily available for customers, so it is acceptable for us to keep water on the selling floor. I usually keep my Tervis Tumbler water bottle in the closet so that I can sneak some water between clients. I think we all know the importance of water in our diets, so making sure that we are hydrated at all times is a must.

Always have a stash of healthy snacks.
When things get crazy, there isn't always time for a proper break. My first year in retail I did not wise up and keep healthy snacks in our breakroom, so I was leaving work starving and stopping at the drive through on the way home. I have already started stocking my cabinet full of healthy choices that are easy to grab and go. I've got a box of Clif Bars (these are my favorite), mixed nuts, and at the beginning of each week will stock the fridge with apples, yogurt, and baby carrots.

Splurge a little.
All of the girls that I work with are super generous and always bring in fun holiday themed snacks. There is never a shortage of cookies, candy, or cupcakes around to tempt the tired, starving staff. While 95% of the time I skip the treats and head for my "cabinet" of healthy snacks, once a week I'll grab a cookie or cupcake instead. I mean, we all have to enjoy the holidays (responsibly, of course), right?

Get enough sleep.
This is so essential. I feel like sleep is at an all-time low during the holidays just because there is so much going on. I feel like we are all running nonstop trying to cram everything in, and sleep definitely is low on the priority list. While I know it is certainly not realistic to shoot for 8-9 hours a night, making sure that you get a minimum of 6 hours seems attainable. I know that I've started to turn off my television before I start my bedtime routine, and that helps me fall asleep much faster (and I generally can stay asleep all night).

Stay organized.
Working weird crazy hours may seem like a burden during the holidays, but, I've found that it is a blessing in disguise. If I make my holiday shopping list early enough, I can get my shopping done on my random days off (there is no one at the mall on Monday mornings, or Wednesday nights). By not having to push my way through crowds, and being able to take my time, I am much happier. Also, during these weird times, the sales people are usually able to help me and give me the personalized attention that makes shopping that much more enjoyable.

How do you stay healthy during the holidays?
Anyone else out there also working ridiculous retail hours!?