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Hitting the Slopes

13 Jan

Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads. – Author Unknown

Today, I skied for the first time in four years. To say that I was nervous is an understatement.  My boyfriend kept telling me not to worry, that it was like riding a bike, and I kept reminding him that I don’t know how to ride a bike. As it turns out, my worries weren’t entirely valid: I survived! I didn’t lose a glove or a pole (much easier than it sounds), and I only fell once (which happened to be while I was standing still) – a successful day in my book.

how do you put these things on?

I first skied when I was seven years old and spent a week or so in Colorado or Utah during each winter after that.  My brother and I would spend our mornings in ski school before being rewarded with an afternoon of skiing with Mom and Dad. Once we got a bit older, we both proved to be quite fearless (Colin more so than me), flying through the trees with not a care in the world.  We were lucky enough to see the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also spent many a New Year’s Eve in the mountains.  Needless to say, I had a very blessed childhood.

little ski bunnies

family ski day at Deer Valley

Despite my history of hitting the slopes, today was a first for me: I skied with my boyfriend and navigated the mountain without my parents or brother leading the way. Not that there was much navigating. Ross is a man without a plan who tends to make last-minute decisions, and his skiing styled proved to be no different. Even so, he didn’t take me on any deathly runs (although I may have yelled “I’m going to die!” a few times), nearly ran over me only once and led us safely to a ski lift after each hill.

There were a lot of highlights in my day.  By the time we exited the gondola, I had convinced Ross to trade goggles with me because his pair matched my outfit better (very important when skiing in Aspen). The first run that we skied was Dipsy Doodle; the name alone put me in a wonderful mood.  At lunch, I inhaled an oyster po-boy (one of my favorite sandwiches) and convinced my sweet boyfriend to buy me a neck warmer (my complaining can be very charming). But my favorite moment was during a ride up the mountain when Ross looked at me and nonchalantly said, “I’m so in love with you.” Who knew I’d end up with a boy more romantic than me?

not a bad view, huh?

playing footsie on the chair lift

Now, it’s time to drink some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and snuggle with my man before I return to the real world tomorrow. Good night!


Going the Distance

7 Jan

Absence sharpens love; presence strengthens it. – Benjamin Franklin

Seven days into the new year, and I can say with great certainty that it’s off to a wonderful start. For the first time in our relationship, I’ve been lucky enough to spend an entire week with my boyfriend (with one more week to go!).  Invading his world has made me quite conscious of my girly tendencies. It’s also made me quite conscious of his boyish habits. A few noteworthy moments…

  • After spending New Year’s weekend in Telluride, we returned to Ross’ house, and I immediately jumped into domestic mode, folding blankets, making his bed and picking up his clothes (clean and dirty). Fortunate for me, he’s been very patient with my need to be neat. One afternoon, he even allowed us to focus solely on cleaning (although he limited me to two rooms). Who knew that the sweetest boy I know is also the messiest?

our very happy (but cold) new year.

  • Somehow, in spite of my fear of guns, he convinced me to go shooting with him and one of his buddies. I grew up with a brother who left a shotgun propped by the door every time a boy came over, but I’ve never been comfortable around guns. Still, Ross persuaded me to shot not one but two guns. If that’s not true love, I don’t what is.

i was much more smiley without a gun in my hands...

  • Being an avid reader of my blog (although he admits that he “skims over” the fashion-focused posts), he knew that one of my resolutions for 2011 was to cook more often. Helping me keep my word, we’ve enjoyed more home-cooked meals this week than I expected. He’s even been understanding of my vegetarian preferences and stuck with seafood-based meals (including a very delicious meal of goat cheese-stuffed-shrimp). Tonight, I was the lucky recipient of (drumroll, please)…macaroni and cheese with baby tomatoes. That still counts as cooking, right?
  • Time for a confession: I’m (more than) a bit accident-prone. Yesterday, I managed to dislocate my shoulder while brushing my hair (it’s possible, I swear). One thing that always amazes me about Ross is his ability to be rational (or what he calls “right”) in every situation. I tend to base my decisions on my emotions, which means that reason is often clouded in my mind. Through my tears and stubbornness, he convinced me to call my dad (my doctor), who told him that he needed to take me to the emergency room. A few hours and Vicodin tablets later, we returned home with my shoulder where it belonged. As nervous as he was (he’s going to kill me for saying that), he handled the crisis quite well and proved that he’s a great guy to have on my side.

After dating from so far apart for so long, I was more than a little nervous about being with Ross 24-7. I quickly realized, though, that being together for two weeks is really no different than spending as many long weekends together as possible. We just fit. We make sense. I suppose it’s true: opposites do attract (after all, I’d pick shoe shopping over a shooting range any day).  There’s no denying that I’m a very lucky girl.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

26 Dec

The first fall of snow is not only an event; it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found? – J.B. Priestley

Growing up in Georgia, I never experienced a real winter until I attended college in Nashville. Even then, I had no idea that I would someday endure months of cold and snow in Chicago and New York City, making Nashville’s winter seem mild. For me, winter was spending a few days in Ohio each Christmas. We also vacationed in Utah for a week or so each January. In both instances, we would bundle up, brave the chilliness and then return to home to our winter of weather in the 40s and 50s.

all bundled up with snowballs to throw!

That’s not to say that I haven’t always loved buying winter clothes – and I certainly stocked up during my time spent in the endless snow globe that is the Windy City. There’s nothing like wrapping a chunky knit sweater around you (like this See by Chloe V Back Striped Sweater) and cozying up by the fire, good book  and glass of wine in hand.  This season, my favorite options for keeping warm are Fair Isle sweaters, which Kate Hudson models below (source). I already have one picked out to keep me warm during our New Year’s weekend in Telluride.

Of course, as a southern girl who is not necessarily accustomed to chilly days, my go-to solution for dressing in the wintertime is layering.  Yesterday, for instance, I wore a sweater dress and leggings with an open cardigan from J. Crew and Ugg boots.  Before I ventured outside, I threw on my new favorite coat and a scarf. My layering proved well worth it: Santa delivered a white Christmas in Georgia!

love this watermelon and camel sweater, courtesy of

layers, layers, layers!

you can't help but stay warm in a fair isle sweater

My ability to dress cold temperatures will surely be put to the test when I spend the next two weeks in Colorado. As if packing for the week of Christmas (including our annual trip to Ohio) wasn’t enough, I also had to throw in enough clothes to keep me warm until mid-January. Here’s to chunky knits, Fair Isle sweaters and lots of layers!

Soul of a Sailor

22 Nov

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean. – H.P. Lovecraft

Let’s be honest: I never really had a choice. When I was only seven-and-a-half weeks old, my parents packed up the car, and the three of us made the drive from Augusta, Georgia to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Seeing as it was the middle of March, the weather was a bit too cold to really enjoy the beach. Even so, because of my father’s remarkable love for the water, he insisted that I see the ocean at such a young age. His plan worked: I’ve been in love with the water ever since.

all bundled up for my first beach trip!

While I may not remember this memory myself, it’s one of my most treasured moments from my babyhood. As a young child, I was more of a Gulf Coast girl. On family vacations, we frequented Destin and Seaside, the Back Porch and Bud and Ally’s. We usually traveled through “LA,” and as a gullible little girl, I never quite understood that Daddy merely meant “lower Alabama.”

During my middle school years, my parents found a treasure of a beach on St. George Island, and we’ve been spending time there ever since. At the beach house (affectionately called Fish Camp), life is simple: it’s filled with seafood and sunshine, sand dunes and sea oats. We take boat rides in the mornings and bike rides in the afternoons. On one particularly lucky late September night, we watched the baby sea turtles hatch, helping to be their guiding light towards the water.

Not only do I enjoy the water when I’m on vacation, but I also enjoy it when I visit my parents in the house where my brother and I were raised. Growing up with a lake in my backyard, I was permanently spoiled with an immensely beautiful view. For me, my happy place has always been sitting down by the dock. It’s my favorite place to write, to think, to just be. And I’m lucky enough to have two furry companions who agree with me.

Because of my constant proximity to water for as long as I can remember, I’m simpler happier when a river, pond, lake or ocean is nearby. I may not have inherited much from my dad when it comes to looks, but I like to think that my love for the water is something that he passed along. I know it’s a feeling that I’ll keep close to my heart forever.

happy day in the sand for me and Colin

Packing Lightly

4 Nov

If you know how to pack lightly, you know how to live lightly. Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. – Diane von Furstenberg

As an indecisive girl with commitment issues, it is imperative that I have options when the time comes to get dressed.  I usually pick out a few outfits the night before (a habit that my mother taught my five-year-old self when I started kindergarten), helping my mornings to go a bit more smoothly.  But when I’m traveling, these choices must fit neatly into my suitcase, ready to be worn or cast aside depending on my mood.

With this idea in mind, I wholeheartedly believe that the most challenging and daunting aspect of taking a vacation is the mere thought of picking out – in advance, mind you – the perfect outfit for days and evenings that all hold the unknown. And bringing shoes, clutches, and jewelry into the mix? Nearly impossible. Moreover, packing never gets easier: every trip calls for different mix of items, making each time an entirely new and unrepeatable effort.

Despite the overwhelming nature of this task, I pride myself on my ability to pack.  In preparation for family vacations, my father was insistent that we not exceed a certain number of suitcases, the number being dependent upon the nature of the trip. For instance, when we went skiing, we had one (very large) suitcase devoted only to ski gear. The challenge, then, was fitting our regular clothes into two additional suitcases. I’d bring in piles of absolutely, inarguably must-be-packed sweaters and jackets and pants and shoes and be forced to leave many of them behind.

While I argued with my dad at the time, in hindsight, I appreciate this lesson learned.  A weekend trip to Vegas fits easily into a small duffle bag, while a week-long adventure at the beach can be tucked away in a carry-on sized rolling suitcase.  Last year, I ran into a friend at the airport over Labor Day weekend, and he was shocked that I had packed only a Longchamp tote bag (filled to the brim, of course) and my purse for a long weekend away.  Perhaps I’m not as high maintenance as boys so often assume.  With that being said, packing for an upcoming two-week trip to Colorado will truly put my skills (and my luggage selection) to the test. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Truth be told, as I write this post, I should be filling my suitcase for an upcoming trip to Miami. I’m attending a wedding with my boyfriend, and fitting the nine dresses and four pairs of shoes that I need (for a three-day trip, mind you) into my bag is proving quite impossible. Perhaps I should heed my own advice and pack a bit lighter.

my suitcase of choice: Longchamp Le Pliage trolley bag

Faking It

25 Oct

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friends give me a hard time when I “claim” to like the outdoors, but really, I do. I may be a girly girl, but with a father and brother like mine, I often traded in my baby dolls and fashion magazines for baseballs and fishing poles (the proof is in the picture).

quite proud of myself

Having lived in the same house since I was three years old, I’ve been spoiled by the luxury of having a lake in my backyard. It not only means a permanently beautiful view (particularly during this time of year) but also hot summer days spent out on the boat. Water skiing, tubing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding – you name it, I’ve done it, though not always successfully.

When my brother and I were younger, we, along with my cousin, used to spend a week in Kentucky with our paternal grandparents. The highlight of this week was always the night or two that we spent camping at Levi Jackson State Park.  It was on this camping trip that I first peed without using toilet paper (a milestone in this girl’s life) and that my brother learned that “real” bacon is quite different from the turkey bacon in our freezer at home.

When my parents weren’t shipping us off to Camp Grandparents, they took us on amazing family vacations, but expensive hotels and spa weekends were not on the itinerary. Instead, we spent two weeks driving through British Columbia, Canada, hiking up glaciers (yes, even in the summertime) and watching a brown bear out our hotel window.  Or, after a 45-minute ride on a very small plane (just enough room for the pilot and my family of four), we spent a week living in a one-bedroom apartment in Cat Cay, Bahamas while my daddy served as the island’s doctor for the duration of our stay. Each winter, we bundled up and hauled our snow ski gear out west, spending a week or so on the slopes in Utah or Colorado.

My favorite trip was one that we took every summer throughout my middle school and high school years: we spent a week at a dude ranch in Encampment, Wyoming. The A Bar A is a place so remote that the driveway is twenty miles long, cell phone service is non-existent and the Internet is limited to one very slow dial-up connection.  We stayed in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin, complete with the occasionally pet bat (much to the dismay of my mother).  We spent our days horseback riding, fly fishing and hiking. We spent our nights dining at a five-star restaurant (the one “plush” factor of the trip), singing around a campfire and just enjoying each other’s company.

going for a morning ride at the ranch

Having spent the past two years enjoying the big city life, my outdoorsiness had nearly been put to rest.  However, it was recently put to the test when I visited my certain someone in Colorado. Dating someone who inarguably loves all things outdoors means that, more often than not, I have to throw on my baseball cap and put my best sneaker forward.  Hiking a two-mile trail and gaining 2,000 feet in altitude may not have been my most graceful moment or the most relaxing part of my five-day visit, but the view was certainly worthwhile.

So, as I’ve done for the past 24 years and in spite of protests from my friends, I’ll continue to embrace my inner outdoors(wo)men, give or take a few complaints and post-hike pedicures.

well worth the complaining (for ross too, i hope)