welcome, 2017!

can you guys believe it's 2017?  it seems like just yesterday everyone was buzzing about Y2K and stocking up for the end of times!  i gave up on "new year resolutions" several years ago, but i do have a few goals in mind for 2017 that i'm pretty excited about!  and, while i'm looking forward to the fresh start that each new year offers, i think 2016 was pretty rad (contrary to popular belief, i know)...here's a look back at some of my favorite moments from the past year:

we began the year with a bit of snow!  it was so fun to watch Louie run around in the snow for the first time since we adopted him... he loves it!  also, cory may or may not have slid his car into a ditch.  luckily it was right in front of our house, so it was actually a good excuse to stay in the house and drink beer for the next few days until the snow cleared up ;)

we celebrated another fun st. patrick's day in downtown raleigh with these babes!
cory gave me tickets to see our favorite band, shovels and rope, in march at the haw river ballroom.  they were amazing (as always)!

cory had a business weekend in chicago in april, so i decided to tag along.  it was rainy most of the time and still cold there (two broken umbrellas later.. i understand why it's called the windy city), but we managed to visit a few awesome spots: gino's east for some deep dish (the best in my opinion) and river roast public house for some oysters and table-side carved chicken.  i adore that city, if not for their food alone!

we rang in my 34th birthday with a long weekend in topsail beach!  it was so nice and relaxing.  it was louie's first time at the beach (that we know of), and after a close call with a big wave... he decided he would rather avoid the water all together and rest on the beach with the wind blowing through his fur instead :)  you can see my post and a video about our beach adventure here!

we celebrated our second wedding anniversary parisian-style, with a mind-blowing dinner at saint jacques in raleigh, followed by drinks and photo ops in the gorgeous french inspired layfette village

in august, we visited my family in gainesville, and my dad treated us to a delicious low country boil!  my brother came with my adorable niece and nephew.... so it was extra special having them there :)

in october, we met up with some of my best friends from college in nashville to watch the gators play vanderbilt!  while the game left much to be desired, we had a blast exploring nashville!  it happened to be cory's birthday weekend too... so when we returned home, i took him to our favorite dining establishment, the angus barn, and treated him to a steak dinner!

october 24th marked louie's one year adoptaversary!  i don't know who's luckier... him of us.  we sure love that little guy!

we carved some spooky pumpkins for halloween!

we were so honored to host cory's family for our first thanksgiving dinner in our new home.  they came all the way from michigan, so we wanted everything to be perfect.  everyone left with full bellies and louie got plenty of cuddles from everyone... so i would call it a success!

and for chirstmas, all my wishes came true with a visit from my family and our dog bentley!  how lucky were we to have both of our families visit during the holidays?!?!  we also had fun picking out the most fantastic christmas tree, and made good use of a few days off by meeting up with friends at the meat locker!

finally, what better way to say adieu to 2016, than with these beautiful gemstones?  we went to an all-inclusive party at the sheraton in downtown raleigh!  needless to say... i began 2017 with a hangover :/
i can't wait to see all that 2017 has in store!  thanks for stopping by and letting me share our lives with you here on my blog!


revisitng the nights of lights in america's oldest city

soooo... i've had this post as a draft for over two years. i was originally going to post it after our visit to st. augustine for new years eve 2014, but the holiday had already passed, and it just felt too late to make a post about christmas lights.  this poor draft sat in my inbox and kept getting further and further back until i forgot about it.  i saw it sitting there all by it's lonesome a few days ago, and i felt like it was crying out to me "publish me!  publish me!".  well, with christmas being two days away... now is just as good a time as any!

this was the second year we rang in the new year in st. augustine, and we've had a blast each time.  in addition to all things adorable this town offers at all times of year (historic houses, cobblestone streets, spanish forts, etc), they decorate the town each christmas for the the st. augustine nights of lights.  almost every home, inn, and restaurant is beautifully covered in an elaborate display of lights, garland and wreaths!  our last night there we took a lovely stroll through town after dinner, and i of course took way too many photos.  i can promise you the lights are equally (if not more) spectacular this year, as they were in 2014!

this is by far my favorite house we saw... but then again, who could not fall in love with the glow of a colorful christmas tree shining in the window of a mint-colored house covered with icicle lights?  swoon!

^^^they even put lights on the horse carraiges!

st. augustine... you'll always be one of my favorites (especially at christmastime).

lavender simple syrup

several weeks ago, i had my first taste of a lavender iced latte... and my life has now been forever changed.  i knew the minute i took my first sip, that i would need to figure out a way to make these at home.  lucky for me, i still have pounds of culinary lavender in my pantry leftover from our wedding (in hindsight a birdseed toss may have been a better idea)!

this lavender simple syrup is super easy to make, and makes the most delicious lavender iced lattes (full recipe for that coming soon!!).  it's equally as delicious drizzled over desserts or pancakes, you can mix it in with a glass of lemonade, or you can add it into a cocktail for a yummy twist (lavender french 75, anyone)?  you can even bottle it up and give it to friends as a last-minute homemade christmas gift!


2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp culinary lavender

bring the 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  add the sugar.

add the lavender and reduce heat to a simmer.

simmer for five minutes and continue to stir.

allow the mixture to cool.  strain out the lavender.

pour into pretty bottle.

voilĂ !

be sure to comment below with your ideas for different recipes using lavender simple syrup!


our 2016 christmas card

i've finally tackled the task of writing, addressing, and mailing out all of our 2016 christmas cards.  it really only took a few days, but i worked on a few cards each day after work until they were finally complete and ready to send out (probably took me a little longer too because my handwriting is awful, and i have to "try" to make it somewhat decent).  also, i have no idea how people have enough time to write those christmas essays they include with their cards, describing their year prior and things they've accomplished (mine would go something like this, "i worked too much, i ate a lot of food, i slept, and i cuddled my dog a lot.  the end").  ha!

i have a fun time coming up with a photo idea for our card each year (luckily, cory normally goes along with whatever i decide... even if he will only agree to pose for pictures for no more than five minutes. haha).  this year we kept it a bit low key in our christmas jammies.  of course, i had to include a solo photo of louie in his jammies because he's so darn cute in them!

we ordered our cards via paperless post.  they have so many cute designs (including my favorite featured designer, rifle paper co.), and they take such great care when shipping your cards to you. along with being shipped in your typical cardboard container, the cards themselves are secured in a nice sturdy box and wrapped in tissue.  their prices are good, and they're printed/shipped fast as well.

for those of you who didn't get a card this year, please consider the above version completely yours ;)  merry christmas!


rockin' around the christmas tree

cory and i are lucky to live in a state that grows beautiful frasier fir christmas trees, however our schedules don't always allow us to take a four hour drive (each way) to travel to the western part of the state to cut down our own tree.  due to crazy work schedules and a bit of a time crunch, we visited the nearby boyce farms last week to pick out a tree.  they have several types growing on their property that you can cut down, or you can choose a pre-cut frasier fir (they're the best in my opinion... if not just for their aroma alone).  i spotted our tree from afar immediately as we pulled in, it was love at first sight.  once we had the crew trim it and tie it to the car, we got some hot chocolate and walked around the farm a bit.  this place was seriously so cute, and the people working there were so nice... this may become our new tradition rather than traveling so far to cut one down ourselves ;)  

once we got home we dressed in our christmas jammies (and a christmas sweater for louie), we put on some christmas records (michael buble's christmas album is essential, in my opinion.  LOVE HIM), and we went to town decorating our tree!  i have so much fun and look forward to this every year, and 2016 was no exception.  a few pics (and a video, of course because i can't help myself) below:

you can see our 2014 tree pickin' adventure here!


five on friday

i'm linking up today with christina from carolina charm to share my five favorites from the week.  here we go y'all...

1.  a super sweet co-worker of mine picked up these kendra earrings for me on sale at nordstrom rack for $19 (orginally $65!!!!).  the colors in the abalone shell are absolutely beautiful!  can't wait to pair these with a black turtleneck this winter.

2.  all the heart eye emojis for this beautiful christmas decor i saw in anthropologie this week!  i went in looking for a shirt i saw online (couldn't find my size online), and the last one they had left in store was MY SIZE (on sale, too).  i love when the stars align.

i can't stop listening to kacey musgraves' christmas album!  my favorite song from the album is "christmas makes me cry" (thought i was the only one, haha.  it's quite sappy).  also, she does a wicked version of mele kalikimaka!  i love how distinguishable her voice is... even if she's singing a cover song, she still manages a way to give it her signature sound.  and gosh darn it, she's gorgeous too!  okay, i'll admit it... i have a bit of a girl crush. 

last week, i fulfilled my lifelong dream of having a lavender iced latte at ollie's cafe in downtown wake forest.  it was so unbelievably good, that i had to recreate my own at home.  my concoction was pretty darn close... annnd i will be sharing my recipe for lavender simple syrup here on the blog soon!

recently i've been slightly obsessed with the amazing podcast, "my favorite murder" (and by slightly obsessed, i mean i've exhausted my phone battery multiple times by carrying my phone around with me all day wherever i go playing back-to-back episodes nonstop)!  the hosts are hilarious, they make you feel like you are in your living room talking with two of your best friends while discussing various topics like hair dye, cats, and murrrrrder!  it's seriously so good.  several times, they've referenced facts from the above book about ted bundy,  which was written by his co-worker ann rule.  i ordered it on amazon today, and can't wait to crack it open.  any other murderinos out there?

anyways... i hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  stay sexy, and don't get murdered!