Coffee Date

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Okay friends, this post is long overdue. Why the long wait? We’ve moved! I’m writing this from my couch in Louisville, Kentucky. About 6 weeks ago we found out that the Navy Chaplain Program Scott is in requires him to spend the rest of his studies in person on Southern Seminary’s campus.

We are so sad to leave our community of college friends, family, and church family in DC. We are trying to focus on the positives- being on campus is great for Scott, we have a two bedroom apartment (Allie having her own room has already been SO awesome!) and I get to be a stay at home mom! But our entire adult lives have been spent in DC and so the newness of everything has been more than a little overwhelming.

In terms of blogging, I still want to continue, but one huge change is I won’t be doing fashion posts like in the past. My best friend and photographer unfortuantely didn’t move with us 😦  It was hard with pregnancy and having a baby to schedule the shoots anyway, so it’s probably a natural transition. However, I love fashion blogs and that is what is inspired me to start blogging in the first place. I still plan on having fashion related posts, and several bloggers I follow incorporate them well into their blogs (two of my favorites here and here). If you love fashion blogs and that’s the main reason you were reading, please email me at thissideofparadiseblog@gmail.com and I’d be happy to recommend some of my favorite bloggers that have a similar style to me and are primarily focused on fashion posts! In general, I’m not sure quite what the blog will look like going forward but it’s been in constant transition since I started anyway! Just expect life updates and posts sharing some of my favorite things at the moment 🙂

ALSO, if you’ve visited Louisville (or better, live here!) I would love any suggestions on fun places to go, coffee shops, hidden gems, etc! I have a google map and I’m working on collecting suggestions and scoping them out.

Thanks everyone for your continued support!

 

Guest Post: Valentine’s Day

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Hey friends! I shared some ideas for Valentine’s Day in the DC area over on Le’nae’s blog Fancy and Fearless. I’ve copied them here for easy reading, but be sure to visit her blog and share some comment love!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and provides the perfect excuse to dress up and have a fun night, whether that’s with a significant other or a group of close girlfriends. With the vast DC restaurant scene it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. Enter this helpful little guide! I’ve broken up the recommendations into four different neighborhoods, so feel free to choose the one that suits you best!

Georgetown 
Georgetown is the ideal neighborhood if you’re looking for the classic Valentine’s Day experience. Catch an early movie at the AMC theater, then head for tapas at Bodega on M Street. End the night with a cupcake and chai at Baked & Wired, the local favorite.

Old Town Alexandria
Old Town is a great alternative to Georgetown: it still has that classic red-brick feel without all the tourists and traffic. Think of it as the more family-oriented, suburban version of Georgetown. And quite honestly, its waterfront views are much prettier!
Plan on Geranio for a nice Italian dinner and then a more casual ice cream dessert at Kilwins. Afterwards, take a stroll along Potomac in one of Alexandria’s many waterfront parks.

Logan Circle
Logan Circle is the young professional’s dream neighborhood: hipster with enough of a mainstream undercurrent that gives a “cool” vibe without being too out there.
Try for a reservation at Le Diplomate or for something more casual, The Pig. Enjoy walking around afterwards- Logan Circle is a fun neighborhood to explore. Dolcezza is a must-visit for dessert. Enjoy a scoop of gelato or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, an affogato (gelato topped with shot of espresso).

Bethesda
Bethesda is a charming suburb just northwest of DC. Head to Bethesda Row with a group of friends and enjoy the shopping before getting Tex-Mex at Uncle Julio’s. Finish with a roast-your-own smores dessert to share at Max Brenner, a dessert bar themed around chocolate.

Looking for a fun, last-minute Galentine’s day idea? Check out my post from last year, here.

 

 

Coffee Date & NYC roundup

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Relaxing and reading wedding magazines

Happy spring! Today in DC the high is 91…so maybe happy summer? Here’s the “highlight reel” of what I’ve been up to the past few months:

I help out with Alex Meyer Events, and my first wedding was for wedding photographer Kimmie Barkley and Andrew Denn. They are such a cute, Christian couple (check out their amazing engagement photos here) and I was so happy to be able to help out with their wedding day!

I loved doing the greenery arrangements!

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How gorgeous is this escort card display?!

I recently won a Lilly for Target giveaway by blogger Petite in Pearls! I was so thrilled, especially since the collection sold out in like, 20 seconds…

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Speaking of Lilly for Target, I have my own very sad-turned-sweet story. The collection was released on a Sunday, and I went to church in the morning, expecting to stop by my local Target in the afternoon. Ha. When I got out of church I realized that pretty much everything was sold out, even in stores 45 minutes away. I didn’t really mind, because I figured I’d just wait until they restocked. Then I started reading news articles that revealed they were not restocking…what?!!!? One of my friends’ sisters wrote this article, which pretty much summed up my feelings. I decided to go to the local consignment boutique and buy a baby Lilly dress for Allie that I had seen there earlier for $20. Guess what? It was gone. Totally disappointed at this point, I decided to go to Target and buy myself some lipstick and hope I might find some looked-over Lilly hairbands in the beauty aisle. I happened to stop by the maternity section to see if they had any shorts. And there, in a return rack in the maternity section, was a bright green dress. Could it be?? I quickly snatched it off the rack and rushed it off to the dressing room. I had found a Lilly for Target dress!!! It was a medium and a loose fitting dress, which meant that it was perfect for a maternity dress! I could not have been more excited!

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This pretty much sums up my feelings

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So thrilled to find a Lilly dress that also worked for maternity!

Some other updates:

I’ve had more time to read lately. Definitely recommend this book!

Pink lemonade hand scrub for my upcoming Etsy shop that’s in the works!

Letter writing to friends

Free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s with Scott. PSA: today is free cone day at Haagen Dazs from 4-8, so definitely hit that up!

Loved the blooming forsythia outside our apartment, so I clipped some for our bathroom!

Easter decor for our apartment

Last weekend, I was in New York City. The family I nanny for had a banquet Thursday night where I watched the baby, but I had a free afternoon on Thursday and most of Friday to explore the city. I am not a New York fan (I feel like you either love or hate the city)- I much prefer Southern cities like Alexandria or Charleston, but I made the most of it and managed to have a good time!

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My room at the Park Lane Hotel

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View from my window

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Starting off the day in NYC!

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Beautiful hydrangeas outside the Plaza

My hotel was right by Central Park, so I spent Thursday exploring the park and going to the zoo- it’s pretty small but was really fun!

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How cute is this little guy? I love red pandas! Our DC red panda Rusty made the news a few years ago when he escaped and was running around local neighborhoods

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View from the Central Park Zoo

Friday morning I went to a women’s Bible study at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (lead pastor is Tim Keller). The ladies were so nice and invited me to have lunch with them! After lunch, I went to the Upper East Side to walk around some shops and get a manicure. I rarely get my nails done (once a year, at most) so this was a fun treat for me!

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Before heading back to Penn station to catch my train, I went to the Sprinkles ATM. It was so cute and fun!

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Red velvet!

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When I arrived at Union Station, I was so happy to be back in DC!

Dreaming of Hawaii

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Lanikai, aka the most beautiful beach ever

Hey friends! Maybe it’s the warm weather lately, or the chocolate coconut coffee I drank this morning, but I have been pining away for a trip to somewhere tropical. Two winters ago, I had the amazing experience of visiting Hawaii, and I wanted to share some of my favorite moments of my trip with you!

One of my college roommates senior year, Jenn, had lived on Oahu her whole life and graciously invited my friend Olivia and me to spend New Years 2014 with her family.

The view from Jenn's yard. Umm what?!

The view from Jenn’s yard. Umm what?!

So basically I thought Hawaii was one giant resort where everyone was tan and friendly and stereotypically American. Oh my goodness, I learned so much. Hawaii is like visiting another country! It has its own culture, food, and even its own jargon (“Imma go bocha real quick” and “She’s haole”*). I am so thankful for Jenn to showing me the “real” Hawaii, even though Olivia and I caved one night and went to Waikiki Beach (aka tourist central) and got piña coladas and pulled pork sandwiches.

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Margaritaville #ftw

I hate flying, but I had two layovers from the East Coast to Hawaii which made it more manageable. On the flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, the flight attendants kept saying mahalo (thank you) and even played Hawaiian music when we first got on the plane (a little hokey but enjoyable). I half expected Polynesian women in grass skirts to greet us as we got off the plane and give us all leis. Apparently the “free lei” thing is a myth- but Jenn and Olivia were waiting for me with an authentic Hawaiian lei that smelled ah-mazing! The flowers were gorgeous and I wish they would have stayed fresh forever!

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At the airport

The first place we visited was a hiking trail where they filmed Jurassic Park and Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Hawaiians are so active! From surfing to hiking to pretty much any outdoor sport, there’s always something fun to do that promotes a healthy lifestyle (and for a girl like me who hates traditional exercise, this is so appealing). Also, notice we’re wearing shorts and t-shirts. In December. Yes, perfect weather year-round…it’s pretty amazing.

On the hiking trail

On the hiking trail

Afterwards, we toured downtown Honolulu, which was decorated for Christmas. There’s a statue of King Kamehameha, which Olivia and I had a lot of fun pronouncing!

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Isn’t downtown pretty?

Goofing off downtown

Goofing off downtown

We had authentic Chinese dumplings for lunch and ended the day at Ala Moana Beach. Surrounded by a park, a city, and mountains, it seemed pretty much perfect to me, though apparently Hawaiians consider it dirty and not the best.

At Ala Moana

The water was so clear!

The water was so clear!

One of the sweetest things about the trip was meeting Jenn’s high school friends, who were all so kind and friendly! Her friend Laura took us to Nu’uanu Pali lookout and a secret hiking trail only residents know about. It was a sheer drop-off on one side and a super skinny trail at times, but it was real hiking (like crawling up a hill and on rocks).

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The lookout was so windy!

On the hike

On the hike

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The blowhole

My favorite part of the trip was visiting Lanikai Beach, the one featured in the first photo. The view was amazing!

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Arriving at Lanikai

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The view!

Jenn’s Auntie Karen treated us to dinner at a fancy restaurant where the President goes on his vacations. (Auntie and Uncle are used to refer to family friends. At first I thought Jenn’s parents had a ton of brothers and sisters!)

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At Alan Wong’s Restaurant

Here are some other highlights from the trip:

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Watching the sunset on the beach at the Disney Resort

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Visiting Chinaman’s Hat

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Enjoying a variety of authentic Asian cuisine

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Taking fun pictures at Waimea Bay

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This is one of my favorites!

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Going whale watching. We didn’t see any whales, but dolphins swam alongside us!

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Going snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. I’m super scared of getting stung by jellyfish, so I chickened out pretty early.

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Visiting the Japanese Temple at Kaneohe and ringing the gong for the New Year

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Climbing trees

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Going for a seaside hike and getting absolutely DRENCHED halfway through by a sudden rainstorm

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Taking surf lessons on the North Shore from one of Jenn’s friends

It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but I’m really hoping to go back in my lifetime! With Scott being in the military, there’s a chance we could be stationed at Pearl Harbor- here’s hoping!

*These phrases mean “I’m going to take a shower really quick.” And “She’s non-Hawaiian/a tourist”. They’re taken from pidgin, a language made of bits of the different cultures that have influenced Hawaii.

Valentine’s Day Crafting Dinner

On Saturday, I had some friends over for a Valentine’s Day dinner and crafting party. We had a 3-course homemade dinner and made chai candles. It was really fun just getting together with the girls and catching up on life.

Here are some of the highlights from the evening:

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Also, to anyone wondering what happened to my Valentine’s Day fashion post, yes, it is no longer on the blog. No, that was not intentional. I was trying to add a shopping widget and accidentally deleted it #oops. So there went all my considerations of switching from wordpress.com to wordpress.org…I’ll stick with the pre-coded template, thank you very much.

Portland, Maine

Over Christmas break Scott and I drove up to stay with his family outside Boston. We would be in New England for nearly a week, and so we planned an overnight trip to Maine.

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We stayed in the charming town of Kennebunk, Maine, with its sister city Kennebunkport a 5 minute drive away. You may have heard of Kennebunkport as being the location of the Bush’s summer home, which we got to drive by and let me tell you, it was pretty nice. Our hotel was absolutely adorable and we got an amazing price since it’s the off-season.

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The night we arrived we went out for a seafood dinner at an island restaurant, Pier 77. I was craving salmon, so I ordered a seafood medley dish that also included jumbo shrimp and scallops (pronounced scawl-ups in the Northeast, apparently!), while Scott opted for one of his favorites, fried clams. It was our first date night in a while and it was really fun dressing up and going out to eat in a new place.

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We drove up to Portland the next morning, which was only half an hour away. Despite being the middle of winter in Maine, the weather was thankfully in the mid-40s so that made walking around much more bearable. We started in the Port District and walked around, popping in some cute shops and had coffee.

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I got some DIY inspiration at one of the home goods stores, and hopefully I’ll be able to show the result on the blog soon!

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Lunch was quite possibly my favorite part. I love ramen (and I’m not talking about the neon 69 cent kind but the authentic Japanese dish. Yes, the gross stuff is based off an actual dish). I was thrilled to find a ramen restaurant in Portland. Mine was absolutely delicious, while Scott’s was so-so (he knows to go with shoyu next time!)

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After our trip, we headed back to Scott’s family’s house for one last night in Massachusetts.

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And to conclude, I’ll leave you with some pictures of their cat Muffin- how adorable is she?!

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Adventures in Shenandoah

camping_weekend_kinfolkThis was my inspiration picture for our camping trip last weekend. I imagined the weekend as crisp and cool in the mornings with sunny afternoons filled with hiking and lots of profile-worthy pictures. Reality was, it was freezing cold and raining and I came down with a horrible cold the first night. Not exactly as I pictured, but it was still SO worth it. Why? Because I was surrounded by three of my best friends, and we got to have some unexpected adventures (like visiting a giant cave) and long talks about Jesus (Sunday morning Emily led a devo on humility that was ON. POINT.)

Inspired by last weekend, here’s my list of camping essentials:

1) Eno hammock // Every hipster and REI denizen knows this is a staple. I have a doublenest that I bought Scott for his birthday, and we have enjoyed quite a few evenings in it reading waterfront near our apartment.

2) Plaid // If you didn’t wear plaid (especially of the flannel variety), it wasn’t real camping. Nuff said.

3) Comfy blanket // If it’s in the 40s or below, and your cabin has a space heater the size of a small dog, you will definitely want an extra layer.  A down comforter may not be the most space-efficient and you can still stay cozy and warm with a cute throw (or two).

4) Infinity Scarves // These are so great at keeping you warm during outdoor activities, and a chunky knit in a neutral goes with nearly every outfit.

5) Cards // If it rains, this is the perfectly sized go-to for games. There are an infinite amount of options (we played Kemps and ERS, my personal favorite).

6) Chapstick // Because undoubtedly your lips will get dry from the mountain air and there is no CVS within a 5 minute drive. And because using lotion as a chapstick substitute just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

Below are some highlights from our weekend:

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Our cozy Koa cabin
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  The gang, aka #JOKE, in order
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How beautiful is this vineyard we visited?!
Pics from Emily’s lovely camera!