Sep 15, 2014

father knows best

A phone conversation from a few weeks ago…

Dad: So, what do you want for your birthday?

Allison:  Well, I told Riley I'd really like to get a vintage, or vintage-looking road bike. Something cute that I can ride around town or on the greenway. I've been looking at Craigslist…

Dad: Let me tell you what you really need. A mountain bike.

Allison:  I don't think I actually want to go mountain biking, though. I don't think I'd get enough use out of one.

Guess who was the owner of a brand new mountain bike just a few days later?

The thing about my Dad is that he's a very generous guy. He likes to buy gifts. Whether they're for himself or other people, he's often guilty of "over-gifting." The catch is, sometimes you don't always know that you want the gifts he's giving.

I had to re-imagine the mental image I had of myself putting around town on a cute little bike, mint green, maybe, with a basket and perhaps a bell, into one of myself huffing and puffing up mountains, racing down steep inclines, splashing through deep mud puddles and jumping fallen trees. Well, that's what I imagine Riley doing during his mountain bike races anyway.

After my initial two "mountain bike rides" (quotation marks are necessary for beginners), I'd say I have my work cut out for me. It is an enjoyable way to get in a good workout, though, and we live in such a beautiful and convenient place for mountain biking. I do believe I'll leave the competitive racing to Riley, but I'd still huff and puff up my way up a mountain just for the views alone.

Do you enjoy biking?  Are you a fan of the leisurely variety or the mountain variety?

Sep 9, 2014

one dress… two ways

Ever since we returned from our sailing trip, I've been getting rid of clothes left and right.  We brought so few with us for those five months that I got used to wearing the same thing over and over.  When I returned and unpacked those boxes of clothes that I had kept in storage, it just felt like so much.  I got rid of about half of it right away, and I've been slowly culling through the rest of it ever since.  I've found that I really don't need a lot of clothes, but I do need a few that I really love.  Because, I honestly do like clothes, getting dressed, and pretty things in general.  And I don't think that's a bad thing, as long as I keep it in check.  This red dress is once of those things that I really, truly love.  However, in the past few years that I've had it, I had only worn it a handful of times.  I realized that if it was going to be taking up precious space in my tiny closet, I needed to find a way to make it a little more casual for everyday wear.  The perfect opportunity arrived on my birthday.  I mean, if a fun, red dress doesn't say "Birthday Dress," I don't know what does.  (This is probably due to my love of Wee Sing videos as a child and my infatuation with Sally's flouncy red birthday dress.  Please tell me you know what I'm talking about!)

dress: Anthropologie vest: Levi's purse: J.Crew shoes: Converse necklace: The Bauble Dept.

During the day I needed something comfortable, appropriate for walking around the city and meeting my sister for breakfast.  So I layered the dress with my trusty denim vest (still getting a ton of wear out of this thing!), threw on a brown leather cross body purse, and laced up my chucks.  A pony tail and one of my favorite necklaces finished it off.  All in all, it wound up being a little patriotic, but I felt comfortable and cute all day long.

shoes: Cole Haan clutch: Anthropologie necklace: The Bauble Dept.

In the evening, Riley and I planned to try out a new (to us) restaurant for a nice dinner.  All I had to do was smooth out the ponytail wrinkles in my hair, ditch the vest, swap my chucks for heels and my cross body for a clutch (and change necklaces just for the fun of it) and I was ready in a flash.  For the record, I highly recommend Blue Apron Restaurant if you live in the area.  The entire meal was delicious, the presentation was beautiful, and the atmosphere was just what I was looking for.

I had so much fun with this little experiment and am excited to try to find new ways to wear some of my other favorites in my closet.  Are you good at mixing and matching your clothes and dressing them up and down?  I'm not the best at accessorizing, so I could use some tips if you have any to share!

Sep 5, 2014

hello twenty-nine

Today I'm celebrating my twenty-nineth birthday. Just a few years ago I was dreading any number that was anywhere near the big 3-0. But oddly enough, the older I get, the younger (and less scary) those big numbers seem. Does this happen to you, too?

For most of my life I've suffered from Peter Pan syndrome. I've never actually wanted to be older than I already was. But looking back now, each year of my life seems to have been even better than the year before. I mean, just look at twenty-eight! I'd have to say it was hands down the most exciting year of my life. Just one month into it my husband and I moved out of our first home together in the country and onto a sailboat. After sailing down the coast for several months, we returned to land and fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to live in a dowtown loft apartment. And I've been having the time of my life since. I almost hate to see twenty-eight go, it was just that good to me. Twenty-nine is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill.

But then again, if every year just keeps getting better, I can hardly wait to see what twenty-nine has in store.

Aug 29, 2014

attention shoppers: the mecca of furniture has been discovered!

This post is really more of a public service announcement, because whenever I come across a really good tip, I just have to share it. If you have ever searched high and low for that perfect table, or rug, or known someone who was on the hunt for just the right bed or sofa, this is for you. I'm still in shock, really, because I was pretty certain I already knew every online and every brick and mortar furniture store in existence, and here was this big old gem, right there under my nose. Okay, it was two hours away, but still.

Behold, Greenfront Furniture…

I took a little road trip to Farmville, Virginia the other day, to help my sister pick out some new furniture. I wasn't really expecting much out of a town with a name like "Farmville," and honestly wasn't impressed until we turned down main street and the plethora of furniture shops and warehouses came into view. Then, it was exactly everything I had hoped it might be. Greenfront Furniture has over 12 different shops and renovated warehouses devoted to furniture. The buildings are categorized, with a few devoted solely to rugs, and the rest grouped by type of furniture, accessory, or clearance. The warehouses were by far my favorite, because really, who doesn't want to shop for furniture in a building that looks like this:

 really, who?

For the record, I am so glad that we weren't actually shopping for any kind of kitchen furniture, because I might never have left this particular room.  But believe me, I will be back.

We made a day trip out of it, but for serious shoppers, I might recommend making it a weekend trip. The Greenfront website suggests a few B&B's and hotels for weary shoppers, and I can envision a nice girl's weekend (or romantic if your s.o. happens to be into this sort of thing!) browsing through the merchandise, taking rest breaks at one of the cute coffee shops, peeking into a few of the antiques stores and then resting up to do it all over again the next day. And if you're making a weekend out of it, might I suggest hopping on over to Lynchburg to check out the J.Crew clearance warehouse while you're at it?

I still can't believe that after all these years of living in Virginia I just now found out about this place!  If you are within driving distance of Farmville, I highly recommend giving it a visit. And if you're not, I do apologize for teasing you with all of this furniture shopping goodness.

Have you ever heard of Greenfront Furniture before? 

Have you discovered any hidden gems of your own lately? Do share!

Aug 22, 2014

a bittersweet goodbye

After five months of being back on land, the time has come to say goodbye to our trusty sailboat, Winbrandt. When we first returned from our sailing trip, we envisioned keeping her, returning her to New Bern and maybe even taking her up to the Chesapeake Bay. It was hard to part with her after five months of living aboard, and we couldn't really foresee selling her anytime soon. However, as time passed and we started getting settled back into life on land, our perspective began to change. The idea of maintaining a sailboat that is kept six hours away began to feel like more of a burden. Riley especially, had this constant worry hanging over his head, and issues like hurricanes certainly weren't helping. It was also becoming clear that keeping a sailboat at a marina six hours away was a financially irresponsible decision for us to be making in light of the monthly slip fee and the cost of visiting even only once or twice a month.

On the bright side, we are really enjoying our new life back on land! We find ourselves wanting to spend our weekends here in this city, instead of traveling back and forth to the boat. So, when we received an offer after only having her listed on Craigslist for three weeks, we were able to recognize it as a blessing. Of course, after the deal was finalized, I did shed a few tears!

December 2012: Washington, NC
Riley, the proud owner of a new old boat.
Winbrandt, all fixed up and ready to go.
October 20, 2013: New Bern, NC
Getting ready to set sail on the first day of our adventure!
December 21, 2013: Somewhere in the Keys
 Riley, living the dream.
March 1, 2013: Southport, NC
The last day of our great sailing adventure.

Winbrandt was truly a good boat and she gave us the adventure of a lifetime. The time that we spent fixing her up and sailing her down the coast is something that we will never forget. We feel so fortunate to have been able to see this dream through to the end. Winbrandt helped us to accomplish exactly what we hoped to, and I think that is what gave us enough closure to be able to let her go. I only hope that she will continue to make dreams come true wherever she finds herself next.

Jul 28, 2014

weekend weddings, watercolors and wishful thinking

Weekends are pretty great, aren't they?  That's a fairly common sentiment of course, but we've been having some extra good ones around here lately.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to assist Chelsa Yoder Photography with another wedding.  An absolutely gorgeous one at that… a beautiful venue, a stunning bride, unbelievable florals…you get the idea.

I've also been doing a ton of painting and loving it! I'm actually hoping to open up a little Etsy shop soon to accompany my jewelry shop.

Riley and I have also started making a habit out of Sunday drives lately.  Come late afternoon, we hop in the car and drive up and down the streets, making turns on a whim and picking out the houses and neighborhoods we think we might like to live in next. We're not in a huge hurry to move, but we can't seem to help looking anyway. In fact, it makes the house hunting process enjoyable instead of overwhelming and stressful.  This past weekend, we went on our first "legitimate" look with a realtor and both fell in love with a (major) fixer upper.  The same one, fortunately.  The sale of this particular house comes with a ton of baggage, lots of conditions and hoops to jump through.  We'll have to wait and see for awhile but we're keeping our fingers crossed.  I've tried not to get my hopes up, but seriously, who am I kidding? It's highly possible that I may have already redesigned the whole kitchen… like, with a full color illustration and everything.  Let's just call it extreme wishful thinking.

How have you been spending your weekends lately?  

Jul 10, 2014

a southport 4th

Well, I finally got to see the famous Southport 4th for myself!  It was pretty amazing waking up to a beautiful sunny morning after the hurricane blew through the day before.  We had heard that traffic would be pretty bad for the holiday, so we brought our bikes along and that made for an enjoyable (but hot!) trip from the marina to the heart of downtown.

Southport has an amazing lineup of events for the 4th of July weekend, and although some had been canceled due to weather, and others we opted to skip, there was still plenty to entertain us and make us feel like we got the most out of our 4th of July experience.  We caught the parade, the car show and some pretty views along the water before peddling back to the marina to escape the heat and the crowds for a bit.  Then it was back out later for the fireworks show.  It was standing room only by the time we got there, but we couldn't really pack blankets or chairs on the back of our bikes anyway. Well, actually, I wouldn't put it past Riley, but for me, maneuvering a bike around people and cars in the dark was quite enough already, thank you!

All in all, if you're up for the crowds and the heat, a Southport 4th is something I definitely recommend checking out for yourself! And if you can't make buddies with one of the locals who owns a gorgeous house in town with a parking lot for a yard, definitely bring your bike!
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