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!

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Interior Design: A Reflection of My Interior Self

12 Jan

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand ways. – Oscar Wilde

Interior design is a newfound interest for me, one that most certainly stemmed from my love for fashion.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve torn out magazine pages with dresses, outfits, purses and shoes that inspire me, that remind me of my own style, that I simply find pretty.  More recently, I’ve been collecting pages from ELLE Décor, Southern Living, Pottery Barn and other catalogs. Bookshelves holding just enough books, antique keys accenting the top of a table, vases overflowing with peonies (my favorite) – all of these images will serve as inspiration when it comes time to decorate my own home.

I love organizing books by binding color and size (whether the same or quite contrasting) and piling them in horizontal and vertical stacks as I fill up my bookshelf. I love picking out which picture best suits a frame and deciding where to showcase that treasured memory. I love pairing unsuspecting pieces and creating a look that is both unique and more complete than if the parts were standing alone.

But, perhaps most importantly, I love color. While I was living in New York City, a friend commented on my colorful apartment, drawing a connection between my living space (which was the size of a small shoebox) and the “colorfulness” of my own self. His simple observance has since become one of my most cherished compliments, and it unequivocally plays a role in each decorating choice that I’ve made since then. For instance, my current bedroom set includes antique blue furniture (part of the Charlotte collection from Pottery Barn) – just what I needed for a fresh start in a new city.

this bedside table keeps my sleeping mask and ear plugs at an arm's reach.

(photo: source)

As someone who loves to write, my desk is perhaps the most important piece of my home décor. I chose the west elm parsons mini desk in polished white (which pairs nicely with white MacBook) and scoop-back chair in a yellow floral print (both comfortable and colorful). I bought a second chair that sits in a corner by my closet and works quite nicely when I need to put my shoes on or find a spot to set my purse.

where all my brilliant ideas come to me!

one of my favorite places to sit

(photo 1: source, photo 2: source)

For Christmas, my brother always gives me a coffee table book, a tradition that began quite a while ago. Last year, I unwrapped Fabulous Frocks, a fabulous book about my favorite piece of clothing. This year, I was the lucky recipient of HUE, written by Kelly Wearstler.  I plan to read it cover to cover, falling a bit more in love with interior design with every turned page.

i cannot wait to see what inspiration lies behind this cover...

(photo: source)

Connecting the Dots

11 Jan

From now on, I’ll connect the dots my own way. – Bill Watterson

As I mentioned in a previous post, Ross admitted that, while he does look at every blog post, he usually does nothing more than glance at the ones dealing with fashion.  In his own words: “I don’t really care about polka dots, let’s be honest.”  Upon further reflection of this comment, I realized that I had yet to write about polka dots, one of my favorite patterns (second to stripes, of course).

this little guy keeps my savings safe.

(photo: source)

Polka dots can liven up any outfit, but there are a few basic fashion rules to help you avoid looking like you belong at a circus. Sticking with my love for nautical-themed clothes, I like white polka dots on a red or navy blue background. Polka dots make a statement all by themselves, so it’s usually best to stick to neutrals rather than going crazy with color.  Personally, I prefer smaller prints (as shown by my picture selection below). Large polka dots can be overwhelming and not quite as easy to mix and match.

a fun top for a warm, spring day

i love this Madewell by Alexa Chung dress and have a similar one in my own closet.

(photo 1: source, photo 2: source)

Which brings me to my next point: I love to wear contrasting prints, and polka dots look great with stripes or floral or whatever else is hiding in your closet. Just be sure to stick with the same color palate.  My go-to interview outfit is a floral black-and-white skirt with a black-and-white polka-dotted top, both from J. Crew. I believe that your clothing choice is a reflection of your personality, and never is it more important to be yourself than when you’re making a first impression. The more you feel like yourself, the more confident you’ll be – and voila! The job is your’s. Who knew that those polka dots could be so vital to your future?

a perfect example of mixing and matching prints

(photo: source)

From Runway to Reality

10 Jan

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. – Coco Chanel

There’s a moment in the fashion world from over a year ago that I just can’t seem to shake. At the “Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion” Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009, Leighton Meester received continual criticism for her Louis Vuitton dress and embellished leggings. Yet despite this negative reaction to this ensemble in the real world, it appeared twice in 2009 fall fashion magazines, being featured in photo spreads for the August issues of both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I understand the concept of fashion being art – but shouldn’t that art be wearable? Shouldn’t a piece – especially one of such unique and grandiose style – be translated from the runway (or glossy pages of a publication) to reality? I believe Leighton made that outfit, however inaccessible it may seem, accessible: she brought it to life, and that is the most fashionable thing a girl can do.

the unforgettable outfit

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.

My Smile

1 Jan

Grandpas hold our tiny hands for just a little while but our hearts forever. – Author Unknown

Today is the start of a brand new year. It’s also my papa’s 84th birthday.  When I think about my papa, I think about him babysitting for me when I was only two or three years old.  A little girl with endless energy, I used to drag all my baby dolls and stuffed animals from the living room couch to the entrance-way bay windows and back again. When Mama got home, he’d tell her he was exhausted after watching me run around aimlessly (although I had a very clear purpose in mind). Even though he passed away when I was only five years old, in many ways, I still feel like he is watching over me, each and every day.

my papa, my smile

Papa was a sturdy man; at six feet, one inch, he towered over my little-girl world.  His baldhead made me laugh: why didn’t he have any hair up there? He had strong hands, always reaching down to pick me up.  Like most men, he had “his chair” in the living room.  I loved to join him, jumping onto his lap as though that was where I belonged.  He always made me feel safe as if I had nothing to fear.  Despite these masculine features, it was his warm smile that drew people towards him.  I’ve always believed that your smile is a reflection of your heart, and this statement is surely proven true with Papa, for both his smile and his heart were loving and genuine.  If a stranger were to see Papa’s cheerful face, it’d be hard not to smile back.

Before I was born, Papa had serious health problems: a stroke, which left his left arm almost useless, and a heart attack.   Soon after my fifth birthday, the doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer.  Visiting him in the hospital scared me immensely.  The room seemed so unpleasant, so ominous.  Rather than hugging him as I normally would, I walked over to a window and stared at the ground below.  How confused I must have been! Who was this man? Where was my papa?  Why was he in this strange, gloomy room? Why wasn’t he in “his chair”?  He didn’t look like Papa anymore: so many tubes and machines attached to him kept my five-year-old eyes from recognizing him.   I couldn’t jump onto his lap anymore; my safety, my protection, was gone.

My younger brother didn’t see him like I did. Colin walked in the hospital room exclaiming, “There’s my papa!” To him, Papa hadn’t changed; he was the same man he had always been. Colin didn’t hesitate to scramble up onto that uninviting hospital bed; he graciously helped my papa eat his dinner.  After seeing Colin’s reaction, I opened up.  Eventually, I saw the papa who I knew.

Looking back, I realize that my own perception often changes the way I see the world around me.  On the outside, Papa was different: he was surrounded by machines in an unfamiliar room; he didn’t seem so safe anymore; he couldn’t reach down and lift me to the sky like usual; his body seemed weak, as though a heavy burden had been laid upon him. But on the inside, he was the same.  Even though his body was failing him, he wasn’t losing faith.  He still had the same heart, one that shined through even in his most hopeless moments.  He was always – and still is – my smile.

Il Dolce Far Niente

30 Dec

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t take a look around once and awhile, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller

I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking. And it is for this reason alone that I always make New Year’s resolutions. If I set a goal for myself, I’m determined enough (or, if you ask Ross, stubborn enough) to see it through until completion. Below are a few of my resolutions for this year. Fingers crossed that I can check these items off of my list!

1. Take more pictures. I’ve always loved making photo albums. I have books filled with pictures from high school, my trip to Europe and my semester abroad in Australia as well as the rest of college and my post-graduation life. I love pictures of my brother and I as little kids and of my parents from way back when (as evident by many blog posts).

say cheese! the very first picture that i took

Lately, though, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon and been terrible about taking pictures; I want to make sure that I capture the memories of 2011. I recently discovered the fun of iMovie (which I highly recommend to anyone with an Apple computer), making me more determined than ever to take more pictures.

2. Take the time to cook more meals at home. I rarely eat out during the week, but that’s not to say that I enjoy home-cooked meals. Usually, it’s a bowl of oatmeal for lunch and a bowl of (canned) soup for dinner. Cooking for one isn’t always easy, but clearly, I have no problem eating the same thing for a few days (or a few weeks). Thanks to Peanut Butter Fingers (one of my favorite blogs – highly addictive), I’ve started to cook simple meals for myself based on things that I usually have in my kitchen. As a further motivator, I asked for a new cookbook for my birthday. Time to kick it up a notch in the new year!

hint, hint mama!

3. Enjoy every moment. I know it sounds cheesy, but I sometimes get so wrapped up in the craziness of every day that I forget to enjoy myself. I’m so thankful for every part of my life, and I want to take the time to soak it all up over the next 12 months.  In order to do that, I need to slow down a bit and embrace the sweetness of doing nothing (il dolce far niente, hence the blog title).

To get the year started off right, I’m spending the first two weeks of January with the sweetest boy I know. Yes, we’ll be doing lots of somethings (traveling, skiing, cheering for the Sooners – just to name a few), but I also hope that we take plenty of time to be together and do nothing.

spending new year's eve in our spot: telluride