Over the Weekend, Knoxville

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Over the Weekend I traveled to my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee to visit with family and celebrate my little brother's college graduation. He graduated with a degree in Political Science and Economics, and will be heading to Nashville next weekend to move into his new apartment. He'll be working in politics and received a dream job offer. I'm such a proud big sis!!

While I was home I also got to see my best friend Lindsey and her baby, Rossie-Cate! This was the first time I met Rossie, as we usually FaceTime since they live in Mufreesboro and I live in DC. I always love seeing Lindsey and it was so nice to finally meet her sweet baby!!

The family and I ate a lot, shopped till we dropped on Friday, and spent a lot of time at the house! Mom is adding a new sunroom onto the back of our house. I showed a few sneak peeks on snapchat, but can't wait to share a full reveal on the blog later this fall (when I am home next to take photos). I also checked out my Dad's flower and vegetable garden. I'm so in love with the home they've built and always love coming home to see what they've added on next.

It was a wonderful few days home with my mom, dad and brother. I wish it was easier to get back to Tennessee more often, but nine hours is far to travel more than a few times a year. Thankfully football season is right around the corner and I'll be back for the UT vs. Florida game in September!

How was everyone else's weekend?!

Checkout the gorgeous sunset that welcomed me back to DC last night!! It was a perfect timing photo as we landed!


Friday Link Love, Vol. 22

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Happy Friday sweet friends!

What a whirlwind this week has been. I've literally had something every single night after work; from events to meetings. I barely had time to pack for my trip to Knoxville this weekend. I felt like a hot mess last night running around the apartment at midnight trying to throw things into my suitcase. Definitely not my normal packing routine, but thankfully I'm just heading home. If I need anything, I am sure Momma Suze will have it.

I'm jetting off to Tennessee today, and super excited to spend some quality time with family and friends this weekend. We're celebrating my little brother's college graduation!!! So proud of him.

What's on tap for everyone else this weekend? Before you go, I've rounded up a shorter and more condensed link love for y'all this week. Mixing it all together; enjoy!!

  • In search of a new planner? I just picked up the brand new Emily Ley Simplified Planner.
  • Kind of obsessed with this midi dress!! Would be perfect for an outdoor event!
  • I'm in desperate need of new bathing suits. This one is at the top of my list to purchase!
  • The Bachelorette returns in TWO weeks!! I cannot contain my excitement, and neither can the internet apparently. Some of the men who will appear on the show have been leaked! Checkout these fine, fine gents! I mean, if JoJo sends any home, I'll gladly take them off her hands, ha!
  • Lilly has so many new arrivals! Loving a lot of the new prints. Bonus? Georgetown is getting a shop the end of this month!
  • In love with this necklace! It would be adorable over a white dress!
  • How festive is this dress?! Perfect for a summer party!
  • One of my favorite DC boutiques just hopped across town to open a brand new, and absolutely gorgeous store, in Georgetown. Be sure to checkout Violet Boutique if you're in the area. Everything, and I mean everything, is under $200!!
  • How fun is this tropical print for summer?! Wear the pieces separately or together!
  • Thinking of adding a lighter wash denim to my closet. These high-waisted skinnys are the perfect happy medium for me!
  • Fellow blogger, Nashvillian and friend from Tennessee, Amelia launched her online shop this week. It's amazing y'all. She really has a knack for finding unique pieces for us twenty/thirty somethings. Checkout her blog here and her shop here. A little sneak peek is below! That's Amelia and the adorable peplum top she's wearing is for sale in her shop! Under $60 too!!


Year-Round White

White Jeans: Old Navy | Top: H&M (old, similar) | Denim Jacket: American Eagle (old, similar)
Sandals: Target | Watch: Michael Kors | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Sunnies: Karen Walker
Clutch: Vera Bradley (c/o)

White before Memorial Day? Yes mam! I'm usually one for abiding by the rules and staying on trend, but one such rule that I have never understood was "white not till after Memorial Day, and only till Labor Day!" Who decided this one?

Obviously there are certain pieces of clothing you wouldn't want to wear at certain times of the year. Like a white sundress in the dead of winter. Duhh. So as long as it's done right, white in my eyes is acceptable year-round.

Since Mother Nature can't seem to get with the warm weather program, I've been wearing my denim jacket on repeat lately. I've had this gem since freshman year of high school. I buried it deep in my closet and finally brought it back out this past winter when I moved. I honestly had forgotten about it. Don't you just love when that happens?! So I paired the denim jacket over my white skinnies and blouse. This time of year is all about layering. I also wanted to pull pieces I already owned, so I paired all of these items to create a simple outfit for a mid-week dinner or weekend brunch. This outfit is super versatile as well. Just add a pair of wedges and you're good to go for a night on the town!


Over the Weekend, A Day at the Races

Over the Weekend I traveled about two hours outside the city to spend the weekend with my sweet friend Lauren and attend the annual Virginia Gold Cup. Although I didn't travel that far outside of DC, it felt like a mini vacation in the country. I felt right at home, and loved spending a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the District.

Friday after work I took the metro out to Reston, Virginia to meet Lauren. It's about a 45 minute metro ride to Reston. Then, Lauren had to pick me up and we drove about another hour to her house. Yep, she lives in a house out in Virginia Wine Country. It's absolutely adorable and such a gorgeous area. I'm so jealous she lives around so many wineries! I'd be so tempted to spend every weekend at them, ha! I also now have great appreciation for how far Lauren lives outside the city. This sweet friend travels almost 2 hours quite often to come into DC to hang with all of us and attend blogger events! Such a trooper!!

When Lauren picked me up I told her I wanted to eat somewhere I couldn't find in DC. So she took me to the most adorable mill turned restaurant, Magnolias at the Mill. It looked like a barn from the outside, but had the most country chic decor inside. I was obsessed with the place, the food was to die for, and the prices reminded me just how expensive DC really is. I loved it! If you're ever in the area I highly recommend a visit.

Saturday we woke up early to meet up with her friends to attend Gold Cup. It's the big horse race held every May and the same day as the Kentucky Derby. While Gold Cup is no Derby, it definitely has its own charm and appeal. I've gone every year since moving to DC and it's one of my favorite events. You can dress up, where a hat, and hangout in a field all day while hoping to catch a horse race or two.

Since we got there really early Saturday morning we were able to get a prime spot right on the rail. We actually saw every horse race!! We really lucked out with our location. While the morning started off cool, the sun came out and the temps warmed up right after lunch. It turned out to be a gorgeous day!

I love being able to dress up and wear a hat at Gold Cup, so for this year's race I chose to rent a dress from Rent the Runway. I found this gorgeous lace color-block dress by Cynthia Rowley. I was obsessed and it fit like a glove. With her dresses I always have to size up, so if you're thinking of renting anything by her, make sure you take that into consideration.

I paired the dress with a feathered hat, and my Hunter Riding Boots (from Amazon - they're actually special edition so I sadly can't find them to link). While they weren't ideal or even matched, they were certainly warranted for the occasion. After eight straight days of rain, we walked straight into a massive mud pit. The grass also couldn't be cut, so it was up to our calves. The boots turned out to be a great choice. I also had a little fun with it!

We enjoyed the day with some good friends, delicious food, and refreshing Mint Juleps. Definitely a new favorite drink of mine. I had so much fun spending the weekend with Lauren and her friends. Thanks again Lauren for having me!! Xo

While I always enjoy a good Gold Cup race, I am hoping to attend the Kentucky Derby next year. It has been on my bucket list for years and I seriously hope to make it happen in 2017!

How was y'all's weekends?! Did you watch the Derby? Such an exciting race!! Looking forward to the Preakness in two weeks! Have a great Monday y'all!


Pimento Cheese Crostini

It has been a hot minute since I've shared a recipe with y'all. Actually, a really hot minute! My apologies!!

I had the vision for these Pimento Cheese Crostinis a few weeks back. One of my favorite things about summer is pimento cheese anything. I put it on sandwiches, crackers, celery, tomatoes, etc. It's literally one of the most versatile spreads and very refreshing.

With summer quickly approaching, I knew I needed to start coming up with some easy appetizers for entertaining. Now that I have my own apartment, I can host a party anytime I want. In order to support this spontaneity, I wanted to create a few good recipes to keep in my arsenal. So I decided to take my favorite summer spread, and create a quick and easy appetizer.

I combined my favorite brand of pimento cheese with another favorite thing. Carbs. This recipe is super simple, delicious, and something you can prep ahead of time. The balsamic reduction can be made days in advance, stored and brought out when needed. See, an easy recipe for whipping up a quick appetizer. Enjoy!

What You'll Need:

For the crostini:
  • 1 tub of Palmetto Pimento Cheese (found mine at Harris Teeter)
  • 2 loaves of French bread OR you can buy premade crostinis in your grocery's bread section
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt 
For the balsamic reduction: 
  • 16 oz. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Salt

Now Follow Me: 
  1. Pre-make the balsamic reduction. This is what makes the appetizer so easy and quick to assemble. The balsamic reduction will stay good for up to two weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.
  2. Bring a 16 oz. bottle of balsamic vinegar + 1/2 cup of sugar + a few pinches of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes or till the sauce has reduced by half and is thick/has a syrup like texture.
  3. Store in an air tight container or let cool before using.
To prepare the crostinis you can either go super easy and buy premade crostinis from your grocery store. The Fresh Market has the best! Or you can make them yourself. I like making my own because the bread will be softer/fresher that way. But if you're in a time crunch, store bought is the way to go! Also, if you make them yourself they're about half the size of the ones shown above. That may be easier to serve / eat. 

To make your own, simply cut a french loaf into thin slices and line them on a pre-oiled baking sheet. Dust the tops of the bread with olive oil, a dash of salt and a dash of garlic powder. Then broil in your oven till they're lightly golden. 

Let cool.

Then top each crostini with one spoon full of Palmetto Pimento Cheese. Add a few thin slices of cherry tomatoes, then drizzle balsamic reduction over top. 

Plate, then serve cold! They're a delicious, refreshing and easy appetizer or snack for your summer shindig! 



The Short Story

Tunic: LOFT | Denim Shorts: LOFT | Sandals: Target | Sunnies: Karen Walker
Clutch: GiGi New York (c/o) | Necklace: Lilli & Tori (old, very similar) | Watch: Michael Kors

I found these denim shorts at LOFT last summer and wore them on repeat all season. As a mid-twenty something, I had searched high and low for a pair of denim shorts that were proper for my age. Let's be honest. I'm too old to be wearing cutoffs that leave nothing to the imagination. I'm also not old enough to be wearing Bermuda length shorts. So I found the "happy medium" if you will at none other than LOFT. I've linked to almost identical ones above. They're a tad lighter in color, but the same style as the ones I'm wearing. Best part is, they're cuffed. So you can easily roll them up one more time if you want to make them even shorter.

I paired these shorts with a light weight tunic, and fun accessories. Tassels are still in this year thank goodness. All the necklaces and bracelets you had last season, bring them back out y'all! I also found a fun pair of sandals from Target (FYI - they're less than $30 + Target is having a huge sale right now. Buy a pair, get a second HALF off!!). I finished off the look with a gorgeous egg shell blue clutch from GiGi. I just love how you can pair their clutches with a super dressy outfit, or casual go-to like in today's post.

And here my friends we have my ultimate summer go-to look. I'll be living in these pieces all season long!


Balance + $500 Paypal Cash Giveaway

Happy Monday friends! How was everyone's weekend?!

Let's real talk today shall we?

As a reward for reading my rambling, there's a giveaway for CASH at the end of today's post. Worth the read? I think so! I'm also providing even more Monday incentive by adding in a brand NEW outfit post to the mix. Outfit details are below as well!!

Gingham Top: Ann Taylor | Jeans: Levis | Bag: Urban Expressions (c/o)
Necklace: H&M (old) | Watch: Michael Kors

Toward the end of last week I just felt really down, worn out, burnt out, exhausted and downright moody. There were many factors that played into this, mostly the disgusting and cold weather, but I didn't really know why I felt this way. After some reflection, I realized it was the culmination of everything I had going on. There wasn't enough balance and I wasn't enjoying what I was doing.

I'll be honest. The past few months have been all work, and rarely much play. My weekdays would consist of waking up early to schedule social media for that day's post, showering and getting ready, heading to work, sitting at a desk ALL day, then heading home to finish the next day's blog post, making dinner, maybe getting to watch one TV show, cleaning up the kitchen, and then heading to bed. I'd wake up, and do it all again the next day. Also, while it was gala season, I'd throw in answering tons of emails, filling out paperwork and catching up on calls into the mix.

My weekends were then filled with catching up on sleep, cleaning the apartment, taking blog photos and running errands.

What was missing? Fun. There wasn't a happy medium.

I was just in this constant routine, blogging seemed like real work, and I started to let the littlest things get to me. It even got to the point, right before the gala, where I was literally making myself sick. I would wake up with pounding headaches and stomach pains. No bueno.

This was when I realized something needed to change. I needed to find balance. Equal part work to equal part fun. It's easier said than done, I realize that. But I feel like if you're not enjoying what you're doing, something has to change. Right?

So, this is my plan.

Over the next few months or so, I plan to scale back my commitments and focus on things that make ME happy. Selfish? Maybe. But I feel as though the time has come to focus on me, myself and I. I want to get back to LOVING what I'm doing, enjoying blogging and ensuring there's plenty of fun scheduled throughout the week.

So how am I doing this?

I volunteer for a lot of various organizations, planning committees and societies. I'm removing myself from most of it. For now at least. I realized that I needed to stop focusing on everyone and everything else, and focus on me for a bit. There's nothing wrong with that! By scaling back on my commitments I'm hoping that opens up more time for me to balance work and fun.

I also plan to start eating healthier, drinking more water, and getting back into exercising. All three of these things definitely affect mood and energy. I took the first step toward a healthier lifestyle about two months ago. I cut out Diet Coke and dark sodas entirely. Two months without a DC... who am I?!

By scaling down my commitments, changing some lifestyle habits, and focusing on what makes ME happy, I'm hoping to get back to finding that "happy medium" of work + life balance.

Anyone else have this problem or been going through something similar lately? What are you planning to do to find balance? Let me know in the comments below!

Now, let's end this post on a high note shall we? Details for the giveaway are below!

Now…it's time for a fabulous giveaway! I've teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to give YOU a chance to win: a $500 shopping spree on US! Simply enter below by completing the rafflecopter. You'll receive one entry per completion. This giveaway is open internationally and runs until 5/15. Winner will be announced here. Good Luck!
5 Haute and Humid / Partial to Pink / The Fashion Brief / The sTORIbook / Scrubs & Sparkles a Rafflecopter giveaway