{Bougainvilleas in my mom's garden... }

I hope you all had a great weekend! While George Clooney was off in Venice getting married, I was home organizing photos that were taken over the summer. Oh the different lives we lead... Anyway, my camera got quite a workout this summer, so there were several photos that didn't quite make the blog. I thought I would share a few of them to you today... Even though my summer didn't consist of stereotypical things like European or beach vacations, these photos remind me of some little moments that serve as great reminders things that make me really happy. I loved being around family in a home that is surrounded by amazing gardens that have been curated by my mom, spending time with good friends who just happen to know how to take good photos, walking the rows of fresh vegetables at the farmers market, and cheese... Ha. I hope your week is full of little things that make you smile... :)

{A photo from my favorite outfit post of the summer taken by my friend and photographer, Paula... }

{ A patriotic view from my parent's front porch... }

{Big beautiful eggplants at my local farmers market... }

{Scrabble on my Kindle - something I spent a lot of time playing over the summer. I ended up beating "Al" that day...}

{ A quick appetizer: Put about a tablespoon of blue cheese on the tougher end of an endive leaf. Top it with a leaf of parsley. Arrange them neatly on a platter. I know that is a strange combination of ingredients, but they taste amazing together... }

{A lone calla lily in my mom's garden... }

{ Cheers to the end of summer and the beginning of fall... :) }
Photo by my friend Paula... 

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So it's Thursday night (last night) and I'm perched in the middle of my bed in preparation for two hours of fall premiers on TV. Scandal & How To Get Away With Murder are on tonight's agenda. So excited! Indulging in TV coupled with early bedtimes is what I have been doing every night this week which is a little out of character for me on weeknights, but being lazy and giving my brain a complete break from its normal activity is just what I have been in the mood for lately. I'm loving The Voice - a show I have NEVER watched before. The judges are hilarious and have great chemistry together. I also caught up on Married At First Sight. When I watched the first show, I couldn't imagine myself doing what those couples did. By the last show, I was considering it... So good. Have you seen it?? Would you do it? Anyway, the plan for the next two days is to work a little, work out a little, and carry on with this relaxation... I hope you have a great weekend!

I had these for my Sunday dinner last week. Then I had them again on Monday & Tuesday. Easy and delish!

I LOVE Ellen because she makes me laugh when I really need a good laugh. This made me laugh...

must read if you are a blogger or if you are thinking about becoming a blogger. So real...

I love a good article or blog post about almighty introverts (like me)...

The girl has great style. Her home proves it.

Cute flats for fall that won't flatten your budget...

And the cutest $149 bar cart...

42 healthy & packable lunches for work...

What a beautiful surprise...

Image via Vogue Russia

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No. 1: Zara Wool Camel Coat | No. 2: Victoria Beckham tote | No. 3: Serena & Lily Sconce | No. 4: Kate Spade Sailor Knot Stud Earrings | No. 5: Commodity Goods "Mimosa" Perfume | No. 6: "Elements of Style" by Erin Gates | No. 7: 'Andora' Over The Knee Boot | No. 8: Bionda Castana d'Orsay Pumps | No. 9: One Kings Lane Brass Bar Cart

Many of you sweet readers have asked me if my Lust Lists have died... It's almost been a year since I posted Number 16, so that question is so relevant! The truth is that I haven't had made the time to create one during the past year. They are SO fun to put together, but take a little time to do. I'm going to try to be a little more consistent going forward, so cheers to a new start!

I love everything here, especially the boots, the sconce, and the book. The boots remind me of these, but are WAY cheaper, which I love. Those sconces are in the running for my bedside lighting for my master bedroom. Once a sale hits, I might be there... In all honesty, I've already pre-ordered Erin's book and will be in line when she comes here on her book tour. If the book is half as good as her blog, then I am in for a real treat... 
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Hi there! I hope you had a good weekend! I made a great cake this weekend. And I ate a big piece of it, so that is one good thing I have to report from the last two days. So I had this goal over the weekend to not spend money on anything other than food (from the grocery store) and shelter (paying household bills). No purchases of clothing, decor for the house, or anything extra was allowed. My bank account needed a little breather... So to make sure I didn't get bored (because I shop more when I'm bored), I decided to bake a cake. Baking a good cake, especially one I've never made before, is usually a two-day process for me. So I figured that would be a good option...

I love a lot of different desserts and carrot cakes are one of them. They have this warm flavor about them that is complex and incredibly satisfying at the same time. They can be made in so many different ways - with or without pineapples, raisins, coconut, maple syrup, etc... This is the first time I've ever made a carrot cake and I chose a recipe that had some of everything. This is Ina Garden's recipe and it is DELISH! I was honestly skeptical about including pineapples in the cake, but they do add this amazing sweetness and freshness to the cake. The cake is incredibly moist, the frosting is amazing, and the coconut shavings on top are the prettiest garnish that add a nice crunch. It's really the best carrot cake I've ever had. I could see myself making this again for Thanksgiving and/or holiday parties that will commence in t-minus 2 months. So excited!

Here is what you need and what to do:

The Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
Shaved unsweetened coconut, for garnish

The Frosting:

2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners sugar

To make the cake...

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8x3 in round cake pans (I use and LOVE these). An 8x2 in pan would work, but higher sides ensures that most cakes won't spill over as it rises. I speak from experience... Anyway, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the pans.

2. Add the sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until the mixture is light yellow - about a minute. Add the vanilla and beat again.

3. In another bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups of flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 batches. Add the raisins, walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of flour to a small bowl and stir. Fold in the raisin mixture into the batter. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Mix well.

5. Divid the batter equally amongst the cake pans. Bake for anywhere between 30 and 55 minutes. I know that is a strange bake time, but per my experience and the reviews of the original recipe, the bake time can vary that much. The original recipe says to bake the cakes for 55 minutes, but it only took about 40 for my cakes to bake. So start checking your cakes around 30 minutes. Your nose will tell you when they are done. You will also know when they are done when they start pulling away from the sides of the pans and when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

6. Set the cake pans on top of a wire rack and allow them the cool completely in the pan. If you are making the cakes a day ahead (like I did), store them in a cake holder that has a lid. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge overnight.

To make the frosting...

1. Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until combined, about a minute. Add the confectioners sugar in 3 batches and beat until well combined.

2. Place one layer of the cake, flat side up, on a cake pedestal. Frost the top of the layer with about 3/4 cup of the frosting using a knife or an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top, round side up. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and the sides of the cake.

3. Top the cake with the shaved coconut.


Images by me

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How incredibly powerful, yet simple is that statement?? I shared this via Instagram earlier this week and I thought I would share it again here today. This is from Oprah's new book. It's really one of the best books I have read in a very long time - which is why I keep sharing it. I'm in the process of making some big decisions in my personal life and this book came along at just the right time. This particular paragraph and chapter has helped me really focus on why and how I am making some of these decisions. It reminded me that I need to make these important decisions for myself without any regard to how anyone else is going to feel or think. That's so much harder to do than it sounds sometimes, but life is so much more real and meaningful when you doing things that truly and solely represent what is in your heart. It just is... Anyway, that's my two cents for today! I hope this is as helpful to you as it has been to me... Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!

I'm still working on the art of meditating and I have found this app to be INCREDIBLY helpful. I do the 5 minute session each night before bed and once during the day. It's getting easier ...

I added this classic pencil skirt (in black) to my fall wardrobe this week. It fits perfectly! It's now 25% off along with a few of my other classic favorites like this, this and these...

I had the pleasure of sharing the vision of my blog here with some other talented bloggers who also shared theirs...

As a woman working in corporate America, I pretty much identified with every single thing in this wonderful series...

I featured her in last week's links and I just had to feature her again. Here is why. So pretty.

Forget more... Such a great reminder.

14 simple weeknight dinners...

Seclusion at its finest...

Image via Instagram: @savorhome

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I love Sherry Hart. Sherry Hart is one of the most talented and funniest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. If I ever need some design inspiration and a good laugh, I know I will get both if I just go to her blog. She is an interior designer here in Atlanta who designed this rustic-modern gorgeous bathroom. Sherry is very good at details and mixing textures in her spaces and her talent really shows here. The design of the space started with that glamorous little soaking tub and it took off from there. I LOVE the mix of the dull grays with the shiny grays. I love the rustic wood mixed with the modern tile. I especially love that little niche in the shower under the shampoo/soap holder. That niche is for the homeowner to put her foot on as she shaves her legs. Genius... The whole space is just different and really beautiful and I just had to share it with you...

Photography by Bill Evertt
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Well friends, it's 8:30 PM on Sunday night (last night) and my Weather Channel app says it is 68 degrees outside. Fall is near. Praise the Lord!! I'm so excited. Even though I'm excited, there are a few things I will miss about summer. I'll miss fresh summer fruits and vegetables (there's nothing like them...), long summer morning walks, dining al fresco, and dresses. Summer dresses...

You might have noticed that all of my outfits in these last few outfit posts have been dresses. I love them. I love that they comfortable. I love their versatility. I love that wearing them allows me to sleep about five minutes longer on days that I wear them. It takes less time for me to get dressed on those days... This dress is one of my favorites. I thought it was the cutest thing ever when I saw it in the store, but hesitated to try it on because wearing a bra wasn't optional. I don't have "wearing a bra isn't optional" assets, but the fit of the dress is very supportive, so no bra is necessary. That makes me love this dress 200 times more. I hope that wasn't TMI, but I myself always wonder how people make backless dresses work. Anyway, this little lady dress makes me slightly sad summer is on its way out, but I'm so ready for fall. Bring it on!

Dress: Zara | Heels: Banana Republic (old), similar here and here | Bracelets: GorjanaStella & Dot | Stacked Rings: Banana Republic (old), similar here | Watch: Michael Kors | Lips: NARS Fire Down Below

Images by Paula Coldiron
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Hi there... Instead of harping about how glad I am to see an insanely busy week come to a close, I just wanted to take some time to say thank you. There have been some tough moments behind the scenes over the last few months and this blog is one of the very few things that has brought me consistent joy during that time. You are a big part of that joy. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read and see what I have to say and share. Thank you for sharing the blog via all the various forms of social media (and letting me know about it!). Thank you for your wonderful comments and e-mails. I don't always have the time to respond to them, but I read them all, sometimes a few times. They keep me going... I just really appreciate you and wanted to let you know. Have a great weekend and I will see you back here next week. xo

The beautiful home of a very talented food blogger that sits on stilts...

SJP's gorgeous townhome has a whole new look - and it's on the market.

In case you are looking for the perfect gold lamp on a budget...

Such a creative way to learn more about this fashion icon...

The most fabulous pantry... just for dishes.

Waffle ice cream sandwiches. Geez...

And apple pie bagels...

My next read...

Image by Michael Graydon
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So I have yet to vacay to a place near sprawling miles of peaceful water this year. Life has gotten in the way of that, so I'm living vicariously through others... Perhaps that's why this is the second home tour I've featured in a row that is located near a big body of water. This 7,000 sq ft cottage is located on Lake Rosseau in Ontario, Canada. Designer Cory DeFrancisco of Muskoka Living Interiors did an amazing job at bringing the outside in and making the space look incredibly comfortable. Naturally I love the details and design in each of these spaces, but I DIE over that laundry room! I love doing laundry (very strange I know), so one of the top things I want in my "forever home" is a functional, yet chic laundry room just like that one... Dreamy.

Images via Style At Home, Photography by Michael Graydon

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I love, love, love mussels. I had them for the first time maybe 5 years ago and I've had them at least once every few months since then. They can be made in so many different ways with minimal ingredients (here is another version I made a few years ago), and can produce a good dinner or large appetizer in a matter of about ten minutes. That is my kind of recipe these days...

This particular recipe is from Sweet Paul's cookbook, Eat & Make. I swear that is a good cookbook. So many easy and delicious recipes... I was intrigued by this particular recipe because it included fennel. I have shied away from cooking with fennel before because of its so-called licorice flavor (when raw). However, when the fennel is cooked, it produces this sweet, very mild onion flavor that perfectly flavors the broth that this dish creates. I like my broth to be spicy, so I added some red pepper flakes to liven it up. The only other thing that makes this dish perfection are a few slices of toasted, buttered, quality, fresh bread from a bakery. The toasted bread explodes with flavor once it is dipped in the broth. Pure heaven in my book...

Here is what you need and what to do: (serves 4)

4 lbs mussels
2 tablespoons butter
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Add the mussels to a colander. Scrub and rinse the mussels. Discard any mussels that are broken or open and won't close when you press it together.

2. Melt the butter in a large pot or 10 in skillet with high sides set over medium-high heat. Then add the shallots, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Saute them until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the mussels and wine to the pot. Stir to combine them with the other ingredients and cover. Cook until all of the mussels are open - about 5-7 minutes. Discard any mussels that don't open. Stir in the parsley.

4. Pour the mussels into a serving dish. Serve immediately with a side of toasted, buttered bread.


Images by me

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{This weeks flowers that perfectly compliment my new bed and bedding... }

I hope you had a great weekend! My weekend was quite good. My new bed arrived and I couldn't be any happier with it. There is a little peek of it above. It makes me feel so grown up... Of course the space isn't finished yet, but I will be sure to show it to you when it is. I wish I could do a one hour install like they do on HGTV, but things don't quite happen like that in real life... I topped off the weekend with a really good organic burger, amazing ice cream from here, a nap, and a little work during Sunday afternoon storms. Good times... I hope you have a wonderful week. I'll be back here tomorrow with a really good and quick recipe!

 {This simple knot necklace that has been in heavy rotation lately... }

{This passage in Oprah's new book, "What I Know For Sure." This is one of those books where I want to highlight every other sentence. It's full of so much insightful inspiration. I highly recommend it...} Oh and that magnifying glass is a new little accessory in my home office that I'm also loving...

Images by me

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I'm doing quite the little happy dance right now! It's Friday. I had a good short and productive week. I was able to check some personal things off my list that have been on the list since last summer. My new "big girl" bedroom furniture arrives from here tomorrow. This week was much better than last week. I could go on and on about the reasons I'm quite happy right now. This weekend will be full of a little work, a little play, and a good long nap in my new bed. It's gonna be good. I hope you have a good weekend, too! See ya next week.

THIS is why I love Meryl Streep. She could not have said my exact thoughts any better...

I made this quick and easy soup for dinner this week. So healthy, so good!

A gorgeous rental I wish I could rent for a week or two or three...

hilarious rant (that I agree with) along with a great recipe...

Harper and Harley. Love the name and love her style...

A list of simple and good life lessons...

Weekend reading: here and here

All so very true...

Image via Rue Daily, Photography by Studio Four
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So I haven't really done shirtdresses. I haven't done them because I've never been able to find one that fits right. They are either too long, too short, too uncomfortable, don't tie around the waist correctly - or just plain wrong. But that all changed one day a few months ago. I was in that tiny little sale room at Anthropologie looking through the tightly packed racks totally not thinking I would find anything. I hardly ever do find anything in that room... But I when I saw and felt this dress, I knew I had to try it on. Not only did I think it was cute, but the fabric was really soft and the price was extra right. I tried it on and it was perfection! It fit right everywhere and it felt even better. The fabric of this dress couldn't be any more comforatable. It is made by Cloth and Stone, who is apparently is known for their comfortable clothing. I've worn this dressed up with heels and dressed down with some sandals. I might even pair it with some booties in early fall - any excuse to wear it. It's just one of those dresses that will have a place in my closet for a while. It's also the dress that has given me a little more faith in that packed little Anthro sale room... :)

Dress: Cloth & Stone via Anthropologie, similar here and here | Heels: Nine West, old, similar here and here | Necklace: Banana Republic, old | Watch: Michael Kors | Lips: NARS Fire Down Below


Images by Paula Coldiron
Location: The Optimist
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Happy Tuesday! It's the first day back to life after what I hope was a good long weekend for you, so I wanted to start this short week off with something that was really easy and beautiful on the eyes. I thought this Wisconsin lake house would be perfect. You know I love neutrals, so I LOVE this house! The homeowners have a love for farmhouses and enlisted Culligan Abraham Architecture to create their version of a modern farmhouse. The iron windows, exposed beams, rock walls, and stainless countertops are the perfect backdrop for the lighting and simple, yet stylish furnishings and accessories. It's all really quite lovely and relaxing. If only it were mine...

Images via: Luxe, Photography by Eric Hausman
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