Saturday, October 19, 2019

Game Day Ready: Attire, Accessories, and Homegating Supplies

This weekend marks the third Saturday in October which means one thing for Alabama and Tennessee fans, it's game time. I toyed with the idea of going since originally my brother and his wife were planning to come for it but even once they decided against it my friends and I had tossed the idea around. As of right now, we're not planning to head 45 minutes away to Tuscaloosa but instead will watch it from home or someplace local in Birmingham. 

Our house has become the hot-spot for game watching since we have our back deck set up with a projector and screen giving everyone a clear view. Plus, who doesn't love soaking up brisk fall weather by doing things outside? It's not a true game watching gathering without refreshments of some sort and while we usually rely on s'mores and any type of hot dip (gimme all the buffalo chicken or bacon-swiss dip), for earlier games we opt to stick for something a bit simpler. If you haven't made the White Chocolate Candy Snack Mix I shared in a blog post earlier this year prepared to be everyone's favorite attendee! 


I don't love having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cleaning up once everyone has left so cute paper products are my go-to when hosting. Especially when it's a night game and the last play happens way after my ideal bedtime. Draper James and Coterie Paper teamed up to create the cutest line of paper products centered around game time without a tie to a specific team which I have to admit is nice when most people are either loyal Alabama or Auburn fans here. Most of the collection is still available on Coterie Party's website although some of it is still available on Draper James site as well. 

Draper James x Coterie Gameday Banner, Cups, Markers, Plates, and Napkins

When it comes to what to wear that's when it can get tricky. It seems like college tailgates have become people's go-to spot to try out the newest trends and I'd much rather stick to what I'm comfortable in. Long gone are the days when a simple sundress made enough of a statement. For casual game watching from the comfort of your home, I found the cutest t-shirts (and yep, they even make them for Auburn fans) at Cradle + Bee. I have the Big Al t-shirt and love throwing it on with workout clothes or a more put-together outfit. 

And for those of you heading into the game, a clear bag has become a must. I'm headed to Baton Rouge next weekend with some friends for the Auburn v. LSU game and was lucky enough to get one of MB Greene's new clear circle purse. I love that this bag is a bit more unique than a lot of the clear bags I've seen and LOVE that the company is based out of my hometown of Fairhope, AL. Even if you're not in the market for a clear bag the brand has tons of cute travel bags.

I'd love to hear what products you love for getting game day ready! 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Soft and Gooey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the past six (!!) years, I've had a go-to fall cookie that is not only easy to make but also delicious to enjoy. At this point, it's a tradition to make them as soon as the weather turns crisp and I can embarrassingly or proudly admit that I've already made these twice this year! If you hate soft and gooey cookies that epitomize the flavors of fall with every bite, then go ahead and click out of this post; otherwise, I'm convinced making these cookies will become a tradition in your own home in no time. 

The best part about these cookies is the fact that they remain soft and spongy even a few days after baking them. And maybe even better yet is how easy these are to make given that they use a bag mix and a bit of doctoring to create a cookie your friends will crave. 

I first discovered these when my friend Olivia's mom made them for our freshman hall friend group. Before we could even finish our first cookie, we were already begging for the recipe! And for any of you gluten-free girls, these will quickly become your favorite treat as well since you can substitute Betty Crocker's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie mix in for the regular one with an equally as delicious result. I am encouraging you now to stock up on enough pumpkin for a whole year because once you try these, you'll be hooked.

The ingredients are more than likely products that you already have on hand with it being the holiday season, for one batch you will need…

One box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (pictured is value size but it works better with the regular bag mix)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Extra Chocolate Chips, I used Nestle milk chocolate morsels (the more, the merrier when it comes to chocolate chips)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar if desired to sprinkle on the top (such a yummy touch)


First, heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets
Second, in a large bowl, stir pumpkin, butter, vanilla, and egg until blended. Stir in the cookie mix and cinnamon until dough forms. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Lastly, depending on how large your cookies are, bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when lightly touched in center and edges are golden brown.

I hope that these fulfill your fall cookie craving! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

#StepUpYourReading 9 Spooky Reads for Halloween with Phoebe of Read & Wright

Y'all know me well if you can pinpoint my favorite genres of books. Self help and psychological thrillers/mysterys are my go-tos and tend to make my book shelf look a bit questionable. I am especially excited for today's guest post from Phoebe of Read & Wright since she is sharing 9 books perfect for Halloween, and yep, you guessed it, some of them are thrillers! My Amazon cart is now full and my guess is that after reading her recommendations yours will be too. 

I’m not going to lie to you: I am not a Halloween girl. I am a Christmas girl, through and through. But I do love a theme and a reason to be festive! When I think of Halloween, I think of cozying up with a mug of hot apple cider (throw in a dash of fireball whiskey if you’re celebrating!) with a fuzzy blanket, a candle, and a good book. I love to mood read, and in the fall I love visiting the campuses of private boarding schools, pumpkin patches, and witchy happenings. Here are nine of the best books I think you can read this Spooky Season! 

True Crime: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara 
One Sentence Synopsis: One woman’s obsessive quest to discover the identity of the Golden State Killer. 

YA: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 
One Sentence Synopsis: Set in Victorian Era England, seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose floats between two lives--one as the daughter of a lord attending teas and balls and one as a student of forensic medicine. 

Horror: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup 
One Sentence Synopsis: A murderous psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen, promoting two detectives to put aside their differences to find the killer, with the help of an unsolved murder from 

Horror: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky 
One Sentence Synopsis: A single mother and her son Christopher are forced to flee to a small town, where he goes missing for six days and returns with a voice in his ear that only he can hear: he has a mission to complete before Christmas, or no one will ever be the same. 

Thriller: Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
One Sentence Synopsis: A live-in nanny finds herself in jail, accused of murder, but knows she’s innocent. So who killed the child? 

Thriller:  Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
One Synopsis: Jules accepts a position as an apartment-sitter at the most exclusive apartment in Manhattan, but soon finds out there’s a dark history in the building that she must uncover before her residence becomes permanent. 

Mystery: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 
One Sentence Synopsis: 10 strangers gather on a private island, but none will survive, as they are all marked for murder, and only the dead are above suspicion. 

New Release: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo 
One Sentence Synopsis: An unlikely member of the Ivy League, Alex finds herself a freshman at Yale University, tasked with monitoring the secret societies on campus that reveal themselves to be full of activities more sinister than imagined. 

Graphic Novel: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell 
One Sentence Synopsis: Two friends are working their final night at the pumpkin patch in their hometown before heading to college, and it’s time to finally go on the adventures they’ve been dreaming of for years. 

Honorable Mention: Harry Potter! You can’t go wrong with returning to Hogwarts during the fall. I’m due for a reread of the series, and the illustrated version of The Goblet of Fire was released last week! It’s currently 50% off at Barnes & Noble. 

What’s your favorite way to get into the Halloween spirit? I’ll definitely be watching Hocus Pocus too many times to count! 

Don't forget to follow along with Phoebe on her blog and instagram for more great reading recommendations. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Step Into My Week 10.15

I think I’ve put off writing about this past week since I am still catching up on sleep from how busy it ended up being. We hosted a big event in Birmingham for work, which meant that I had a seven day work week and am trying to stay on track this week so that I can fully recover this weekend. Event aside, I still had regular tasks that needed to be accomplished, and at this point, I’m struggling to even remember what I did each day since it is all starting to run together. I’ve done my best to separate what I was up to from day to day and share that with y’all.

Monday was about as normal as it got, although I had a meeting in the afternoon that I had to be “on” for. I spent most of the day trying to get ahead on social posts for the week and sending out complimentary copies to the people who helped us with many of our Christmas issues. After work, I met a friend who recently moved to Birmingham to go for a walk and hear about her job search. From there, I headed home to try to get ahead on some blog work and get in bed at a decent hour.

I spent Tuesday continuing to get ahead, knowing that I’d be away from my desk from Wednesday afternoon on. I was able to work outside in the afternoon as I completed some of our resources for the last of our Christmas issues for the season. After work, I went to true40 to workout before heading home to shower, eat, get some blog tasks done, and go to sleep.

Wednesday was not what I expected it would be given that I spent a little bit of time at my desk before going downstairs to assist with arranging some of the flower arrangements for our event. One of my teammates and I ended up then taking those to our CEO's house for the kickoff of the event on Thursday evening. Since I was working all weekend, I was able to leave work a little bit earlier on Wednesday and had time to go to Trader Joe’s before changing and making it to a 4:30 true40 class. That night my roommate and I invited our bible study to our house for a fellowship night where we enjoyed chili on our back deck since the weather is finally cooling down in Birmingham! Our friends stayed until close to 9:00, and we cleaned up before heading to bed. 

Thursday was a FULL day, and I was running between the hotel, our CEO’s house, and the office to gather supplies and prepare for the VIP dinner taking place that evening. We transformed our CEO’s house with tables filled with different china, floral arrangements, and more. By the time we finished that it was time to change for the dinner and head back to our CEO’s house to prepare the food for the event. Our team plated the catered meal, filled glasses of wine, and served the meal while mingling with the attendees. Our CEO spoke and played the piano, and once the guests headed out, it was time to clean up. I ended up getting home around 10:30 and was exhausted.

Since I didn’t shower the night before, I showered Friday morning before grabbing a cup of coffee before heading to the office to load up three of our vans with the remainder of the supplies needed for the event. I have never taken so many trips up and down a service elevator in my life and am glad to have a break from that for a while. I don’t even remember what other tasks I did that day before the event officially began that evening. The owner of Vietri was our guest speaker that evening after the dinner, and it was so interesting to hear the story of how her company got started. Once that finished, we re-set gifts for the following day and helped set up the pop-up boutique that would be opening on Saturday.

I had to be back to the hotel early on Saturday morning to finish up some last-minute tasks before the breakfast and demonstration by Dorothy McDaniel’s Floral Market that morning. After Dorothy’s demo, we had comedian Jeanne Robertson speak, which had everyone in stitches. After she was finished, the pop-up boutique began, and most of our team was finally able to grab lunch close to 3:00. We headed back to the hotel to get some more work done before changing for the gala event taking place that evening with Lori of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta as our keynote. Once everyone was in the ballroom for the seated dinner, our team devoured some cheese straws and sipped on wine before heading in to hear Lori talk. By the time everyone was out of the space and we re-set everything for the morning, we were starving, and our editor ordered quesadillas from the hotel bar for us to eat after we had finished. At that point, it was after 10:00, and we happily ate our quesadillas sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor. I made it home that evening around 11:30 and immediately got in bed, given how early I needed to be up in the morning.

Sunday felt like the light at the end of the tunnel, even though I had to be back at the hotel before 7:00. We had two demonstrations that morning, and the event finally ended around 12:00. Since we loaded up lots of stuff that morning, we were able to leave around 12:45 with a quick trip back to the office to unload one of the vans before I finally went home for the weekend. I showered, put laundry away, and ate before taking an ideal nap since it was cold and rainy outside. I slept for about 30 minutes and then moved to the couch to watch Hocus Pocus, eat dinner, and fall asleep before 8:00. 

I hope that next week, my Step Into My Week posts has a lot less work in it and some more fun activities. Regardless, I hope y’all had a great week, and thank you for being so patient with me and my lack of updates toward the end of last week! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Saturday Shopping vol. 26

It has been far too long since I last shared a Saturday Shopping post with y’all! I know that Saturday was days ago at this point, but I figured a few days overdue would be better than nothing. Plus, in total transparency, I had to work all weekend and have not had time to write out this past week’s Step Into My Week post, so it seemed like a win-win of y’all getting a new post and me having time to work on that! 

If you decide you want to purchase, any of these cute fall finds you can click directly on the item of interest in the graphic below to be taken to where it can be shopped! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fall Event Dresses

When I asked y’all on Instagram what blog posts you were hoping to see this Fall, I was overwhelmed by how many of you are on the hunt for dresses for homecoming, weddings, and other dressy occasions. Originally, I had planned to share this later on during the month, but immediately moved it earlier in my schedule to make sure you had plenty of time to shop, order, and try on different dresses before these various events! 

I tried to include a range of prices but find that most of the ones that would fit the bill as something I’d want to wear are around or above the $100 mark. For a cocktail dress, I find that worth the investment since they can easily be re-worn to other events. If you feel like you may only get one use out of the dress, I’d definitely recommend renting from Rent the Runway since I’ve always had really positive experiences with them.

To shop any of the dresses below that catch your eye click directly on the item in the image to be taken to where it can be purchased. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sophia's Seattle Wedding Details & Photos

I am so excited about today’s post, given that it involves a very special guest, one of my best friends, Sophia! For those of you not familiar with Sophia, we met while at Furman University. We were in the same pledge class there and were both education majors (and even got our master’s degrees together), but it took until after we decided to live together our junior year for our friendship to flourish. We spent the better part of that year questioning how we went two years of college, only really knowing of one another given how quickly we hit it off and how similar we are. 

Sophia is one of those friends that you envision making when going away to school. She’s driven, kindhearted, and strives for excellence in every area of her life. It came without question that her wedding would turn out beautifully due to her attention to detail. I was so thrilled when she asked me to be her maid of honor and knew that standing beside her and attempting to calm her nerves on the big day would be the smallest of ways to express how much I value her as a friend. 

Sophia and Judson met way back in high school, got engaged on my birthday in 2017 (admittedly, I was more focused on receiving that facetime than I was responding to “happy birthday” texts that day), and got married on July 27, 2019, in Seattle. In my mind, Sophia was made to be a wedding influencer. I’m confident that this will be her only wedding as bride given how in love she and Judson are, but her affinity for the pretty things in life would have her create a picture-perfect and sentimental wedding over and over again if given the opportunity. In addition to sharing the photos and vendors she used for her wedding, I asked her to answer a few questions for today’s post for y’all to truly see how beautifully and thoughtfully the day came together. I knew I couldn’t do justice in sharing all the time and energy that went into making this day so special and FUN! As I was putting pictures into this post, I found myself desperately wanting to go back and relive their big day again, given how much fun they made it for their guests. 

All photos in this post were taken by Sophia's incredible photographer Amanda of Amanda K. Photography.



How did you choose where/when to get married?

We always knew we wanted a Seattle summer wedding. We both grew up a little outside the city and met in high school. Since our relationship started in the Pacific Northwest, it felt right to have our next chapter start there too. I’m convinced there is no better place than Seattle in the summer. A bustling city on the water, warm sunshine, zero humidity, beautiful vegetation, and snow-capped mountains… plus, the reality that this weather lasts only a few months makes it extra special. We also had been telling our college friends all about Seattle and wanted to show them around our city before the big day!

When looking for a venue, we were amazed by how many venues were already booked a year and a half in advance. Most everyone getting married in Seattle stick to summer months, so recommended vendors get booked far in advance. Because of this, we felt some pressure to make large vendor decisions within a couple of months. We knew we wanted an intimate garden wedding with a tented reception in the yard of a house. We narrowed it down to about three venues, and the venue we landed on checked all our boxes and included the most on-site, which allowed us to allocate wedding funds to other categories in our budget. I forget most people tour venues before choosing one, but that wasn’t our reality with planning a wedding across the country. Thankfully, it was just as we pictured it when we saw it in person the following December. 


When planning your wedding, what was your vision?
For a year and a half, I looked at way too many wedding pictures on Pinterest and StyleMePretty. The more inspiration I saw, the more I slowly tweaked my vision. For example, we had peach in our floral pallet for a year until I changed florals to all white. I found it to be more crisp and clean and representative of my love of neutrals. Our planner, Alissa, was incredible in helping me narrow down choices and put together visual mock-ups to help with the decision process. I’m your typical over-thinker and very detail-oriented, so I couldn’t imagine going through this process without a professional second opinion. 

“Southern elegance meets northwest charm” is the phrase that came to mind as I was taking in our tented dinner on our wedding day. People living in the South wouldn’t think my wedding was southern, nor am I claiming it to be, but I did include some traditional aspects that aren’t included in typical Northwest weddings and are included in almost all Southern weddings. Weddings in Seattle generally have a trendy and moody aesthetic. In general, I am not a trendy person and, instead, am loving of timeless details and everything old-fashion. The contrast of timeless light and airy details against a rustic Northwest backdrop was symbolic of our life on the west coast and east coast joining together.

What were the most important aspects to you for your wedding?
People always say pick the most important aspects of your wedding to focus your budget on. Well, not so lucky for me, a wedding is a combination of all my favorite things. Florals? Tablescapes? Stationary? Food? Music? Open bar? Yes, to all of it! However, I would say the most important aspect was the “feeling” I was trying to create for our guests. This, of course, is made up of many things, but I would say the music, and the overall design (stationery, florals, and tablescape) dictated this feeling the most. I tried to create this feeling based on my favorite way to spend a Seattle summer night: Dinner in Judson’s backyard under the huge evergreen trees with twinkle lights hanging above and jazz music playing. I wanted this feeling to be communicated in an elevated way for our guests and I feel confident in our execution! 


What details of your wedding were the hardest to execute? 
The Logistics! Holy moly. Judson and I sent hours planning the entire week of showing our friends around, while still getting last-minute wedding details in place. Many of these logistics existed because almost our entire bridal party and family were coming in from out of town and on different days and times, including us! This meant planning out transportation, where people were staying, meals, activities, and last-minute wedding chores to the hour. We understood people made a large financial sacrifice to be a part of our day from across the country, so we wanted to take care of everyone the best we could. We were so thankful our friends were so flexible, helpful, and appreciative of everything. We wouldn’t have had it any other way since having all our people in our city was a once in a lifetime experience, but it still was more moving parts to manage. 





What was the most memorable part of your wedding day? 
I cherish every moment of that day, but a very memorable part was the surprise firework show I put on for Judson. Our venue is beside a large field, so fireworks are an add-on they offer. We declined when we met with the venue because it was still early, and we knew we had a lot of other details we needed to prioritize. About three months before our wedding, I convinced myself I would regret passing on the opportunity to end the night with a (literal) bang for our guests that traveled so far to celebrate with us. I decided to make the firework show a surprise for Judson because he always gives me a hard time for hating surprises (Dorothy likes to get worked up about this too), and I know he loves them. The only other people who knew were my mom, the venue, and our vendors. Our planner made a separate timeline to send to us and to our vendor team to keep it a secret, and I’m amazed we pulled it off! One of the best moments was seeing the surprise on Judson’s face when a couple small fireworks shot into the sky as the announcement was being made for guests to move to the field for the show. Judson and I took in the last few moments of our day together as we watched the fireworks, and then our bridal party and family joined us. It was one of those once in a lifetime moments we will treasure forever. 



What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
I would say my favorite part of our day was the small moments we had to ourselves. Judson and I are both introverts, and by the time Thursday night came around, our social energy was at an all-time low. Not the most practical thing when we had three more events ahead of us. We did it to ourselves with planning activities for our friends all week and wouldn’t have changed a thing, but this made us treasure the time we had alone so much. I think by the wedding day, we both were so focused on each other and kind of blurred everything else out. All we cared about was the fact that the day we had been dreaming about for nine years was actually happening. During our couple portraits, I couldn’t help but feel like we were fifteen again and saw the last nine years play out in front of us. It was surreal to have everyone in all our walks of life come together in one place to support us stepping to our next chapter. 




Did anything go wrong on your big day?
I got to the venue half an hour late, which is the last thing I think would have happened since I am usually early to things. We were transporting our entire bridal party from the hotel in multiple vehicles, so the logistics of that while keeping Judson and I separated slowed us down. This didn’t allow as much time for photos before the ceremony, so we had to move family photos to after the ceremony. This made us miss our cocktail hour, which I was pretty bummed about. However, this did make getting a group photo easy since our family was already in one space, and the rest of our guests could easily join us. This was a photo that meant a lot to us, and we were so happy to get it in a painless way. Other little things probably happened throughout the day, and I was very thankful no one told me about them.


What did you do to relieve stress leading up to the wedding and on your wedding day?
Ha! This is the part of the wedding planning I failed at… having a destination wedding meant extra expenses, so I got a job for a month to help pay for everything. I also couldn’t imagine having no routine for the whole summer. I love having summers off, but I definitely didn’t want to sit around when my friends are at work. Thankfully the job wasn’t stressful and extremely flexible, so it didn’t add to my stress, but the planning definitely escalated the month before, and everything was finalized. I really wish I scheduled a massage for some time during wedding week. As for the wedding day, I woke up early to have time to myself before the festivities started. Judson and I texted photos of puppies to each other to bring some stress-relief the morning of, which, if you know us personally, you are not at all surprised by. 



Where did you go on your honeymoon?
On Sunday night, we flew to St. Lucia to stay at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. We wanted a quiet resort with private cottages, easy access to the beach, and great fresh food. Sugar Beach exceeded our expectations. Their customer service was impeccable, and the aesthetics were even more beautiful in person. It was the perfect place to rest and reflect on our wedding. 

Has anything changed now that you are married?
Many people have asked us if anything is changed for us since we got married. Not much has changed since we have the same jobs and live in the same apartment we lived in before, but I would say we are more focused on planning our future. We talk more about financial goals that will contribute to the life we wish to create. We also are more intentional in practicing habits that will serve us since we know the habits you form in your twenty’s are usually the ones you take with you down the road. I’m such a personal development nerd, and very thankful Judson listens to what I’ve been learning and willingly tries new things with me to better ourselves, and therefore our marriage. 


Vendor List:

Dress: Lillian West 
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale 
Groomsmen’s attire: Jos. A. Bank
Planner: GatherEvents
Invitations & Stationery: GatherEvents Stationery 
Linens: BBJ Linens 
Photographer: Amanda K Photography 
Videographer: Watertown Films 
Florist: Land Floral 
Cookie Favors: Sueded Sugar 
Catering: Act 3 Catering 
Getaway Car: British Motor Coach  

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