Wedding Week: Everything’s Nicer in Newburyport

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Last October, when my now-husband and I got engaged, we weren’t immediately sure where we wanted to have our wedding. Boston, where we lived (at the time)? West Virginia, where I grew up? Somewhere entirely different, like Napa or Charleston? After several weeks of site visits and waffling, we landed somewhat in the middle of those options: We decided to get married in Newburyport, a sweet little coastal city about 40 miles north of Boston. It was small, charming, and beautiful and free from the sky-high expenses of getting married in the city. And for us, it felt like a destination affair, but without the hassle of long-distance planning. (Little did we know!)

Newburyport has an adorable and entirely walkable downtown, which is filled with cute shops (like Soak, my new favorite place thanks to its bath products, PJs, and robes), specialty stores (Best of British is a must for goodies like rubber wellies, Barbour jackets, Scottish-cashmere scarves, English chocolates, and my favorite British snack, Twiglets), ice cream and candy stores, and wonderful restaurants, like Brown Sugar by the Sea and Brine, to name just two. (Stay tuned for info on two particularly special restaurants in my next posts.) It’s easy to spend a day cruising for music and books, grabbing lunch and beers at a local pub, and even doing a little antiquing.

Newburyport also happens to sit right on the water, which makes for good strolling, sitting, picture taking, and ice-cream eating. One thing we loved most about hosting our wedding there was the idea that our guests would have a number of charming B&Bs and inns to choose from—like this one, this one, this one, and this one—rather than some big-box, brand-name hotels. It made the experience that much more authentic and, along with perfect weather, our most treasured family and friends, and so many fun things to do, one we’ll never forget.

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Downtown Newburyport

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Second only to our wedding venue, I spent most of my money over the weekend here, at Soak.

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Hello from Newburyport’s waterfront!

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A gray day on the waterfront, but it didn’t last long.

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Newburyport Harbor Range Rear Lighthouse

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Some of the hundreds of hand-made soaps at Soak, which we included in our guests’ welcome bags

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Twiglets from Best of British (certainly an acquired taste)

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A dining nook at the Clark Currier Inn

The Essex Street Inn

The Essex Street Inn

Having our wedding on a Friday night gave our guests (and ourselves!) ample time to enjoy the town, whose offerings are too many and too amazing to squeeze into this post. You can see a more complete overview here, on our wedding website.

Next up: our welcome dinner and wedding day! I can’t wait to share it with you all.

 

Note: The photos shown here were taken either by me or by my family members, so thanks to them for letting me share their shots here. 

It’s (Finally!) Wedding Week!

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Image via Popsugar

 

Well, in my world, anyway. Tomorrow I head back up north with my Mr. for our wedding this weekend. I don’t typically get too excited about celebrity weddings, but this picture of Ashley Tisdale literally made me gasp today—in the best way. She and her new hubby, Christopher French, look downright dreamy. In honor of our own big day, I thought I’d share a few snaps of celebrity brides whose wedding-day style I’d love to steal.

 Poppy Delevingne, in Chanel 

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Image via Daily Mail

Drew Barrymore, also in Chanel

Kate Bosworth, in Oscar de la Renta (left) and vintage Chloe (right)

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Image via Huffington Post

Rebecca Romijn, in Ralph Lauren

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Image via InStyle

Molly Sims, in Marchesa

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Image via Style Me Pretty

What’s your favorite celebrity wedding look?

Fiesta Season

When I was around 15 years old, my parents started an ingenious gifting tradition for me whose value I didn’t then have the foresight to appreciate. That year, for either my birthday or Christmas, I unwrapped my first Fiesta place setting. I don’t remember exactly the way it unfolded, but I’m sure the occasion was met with some curiosity, if not confusion, like a little boy expecting a new toy or video game surprised instead with a pajama set or pair of socks. I like to think that I graciously thanked them for my colorful new dishes and carried about my business, but I’m sure it went something more like this: “Uhhh, weird. Are you sure this is for me?” Because, well, 15. However it went down, my parents refrained from calling me a brat and explained that they wanted to help me build up a collection of real dinnerware that I’d have when the time and the need came. And that’s just what they did. Birthdays and Christmases for the 19 years that have followed have included additional place settings, flatware sets, pitchers, serving bowls, and even cute little custard cups. Now, I’m nearly 34 and that collection has ballooned and become one of my favorite possessions, memories, and traditions. I’ve carted it from West Palm Beach to Brooklyn to Boston and, now, to Birmingham. (You’ve seen it here, here, here, and, if you follow me on Instagram, here and here.) The most recent installment of Fiesta—a confetti assortment of deep chili bowls and coffee mugs—arrived just this week, a particularly meaningful wedding gift that I opened with the man I’ll marry next Friday. All of this to say: Thanks, Mom and Dad, for my colorful new dishes, and, more importantly, for having the foresight and the heart to start that tradition almost 20 years ago. It’s brought me more joy than you could possibly know.

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A portion of our Fiesta collection

 

Making our Fiesta tradition even more fun is the fact that it’s all made at the company’s factory in my home state of West Virginia. I feel a little twinge of excitement and pride any time I see it used out there in the real world.

 

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Our first stop, every day of the week

 

Do you have any fun and meaningful gifting traditions with your family?

The Fluffiest French Toast

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The syrup hasn’t even dried on our plates yet and I still couldn’t get this post up fast enough. Good news is that it’s Sunday, which means it’s acceptable to eat breakfast well into the afternoon. So get to the grocery store and get back to your kitchen, because this is the Best. French. Toast. you’ll ever have.

I followed a recipe that I found on the blog One Perfect Bite, which originally came from Cook’s Illustrated. (So you know it’s got to be good!) I couldn’t find a loaf of true brioche or challah bread at my local Winn Dixie this morning, so I bought a big round loaf of fluffy white country bread from the bakery section. I followed this recipe to a tee (almost) and have just two things to offer: 1) The bread I bought was so airy and fluffy that it soaked up quite a bit of the batter—much more than I expected it to. So, you might make a little more batter than the recipe calls for, or just be extra careful to remove your bread slices from the batter at right around 30 seconds; and 2) I’ve checked out a few other French Toast recipes and some suggest toasting or warming the bread slightly in the oven to dry it out and crisp it up before soaking it. I skipped that step, and the result were deliciously donut-y, fluffy, chewy, custardy pillows of perfect French toast.

What’s your go-to breakfast recipe?

Salt Water Cure

Salt Water Cure

Since arriving in Birmingham on June 27, I’ve been adjusting to my new city, state, and job—even a new time zone. And while it’s all been exciting to say the least, the experience has also been pretty stressful. Each day at the office brings a new set of challenges: questions I can’t yet answer, numbers I don’t yet understand, and a building whose nooks and crannies I don’t yet know. And to top it all off, I’ve been living alone in a two-bedroom apartment whose furnishings comprise exactly one king-size bed, a bean-bag chair, and a TV. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve been counting the days until my better half arrives here—five more to go!—and we can finally start to make this place a home. (Thankfully, I’ve had our two cats here to keep me company. Otherwise, I’d have gone nuts by now.)

In the mean time, I’ve treated myself to the print above, called “Salt Water Cure,” by photographer Tina Crespo. I’d been wanting it for quite some time and finally decided to buy it because of the new meaning its quote, by Isak Dinesen, has taken on for me: “The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.” Over the last few weeks, I’ve found solace in sweat sessions at the gym, relief in shedding a tear or two, and escape in daydreaming about some of my favorite spots by the sea. I can’t wait to hang it on the wall in my office, a constant reminder that, for whatever’s troubling me, a cure’s not far away.

What’s your cure-all for tough times?

 

 

Pair of Ases

The New Neutral

I’ve been combing my favorite shopping sites lately for a piece or two of jewelry to wear on my wedding day, and in the process I’ve come across some beautiful ones that don’t quite work for the occasion but would still be a welcome addition to my jewelry collection (hellooo, honeymoon!). Case in point: these delicate beaded earrings by Spanish jewelry designer Miguel Ases, which I first discovered on Shopbop. As much as I love to look at jewelry (and fantasize about buying it), my accessories routine is pretty much just that—routine—kept to a simple pair of Elizabeth and James gold studs, a thin gold bangle, and my engagement ring. But Ases’s dainty beads, colorful Swarovski stones, and artful designs might just be what it takes to get me thinking—and accessorizing—outside the, ahem, jewelry box. 

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Touch of Tangerine Small

Onyx Rose

Abalone and Leather

 

How would you style Ases’s earrings?

Feeling Gray

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“Sydney Swimmers” from Malin’s À la Plage series, via GrayMalin.com

I’ve had decorating on the brain lately. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we’ve had two new apartments in less than a month, and each move brings with it visions of a perfectly made-up space. Or that we’re on the hunt for a house here in Birmingham, which means we’ll have a whole lot more square footage to fill however we want. When it comes to decorating, my mind often turns immediately to art, and when I think about what makes me happy to look at, sunny days on the water always win. (See my “Happiness Is” Pinterest board for proof.) So, I’ve been obsessing over Gray Malin, a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work includes, among other things, aerial photography that depicts his sun-worshiping subjects as teeny-tiny flecks of color surrounded by beautiful beach scenery in places like Australia, Italy, and Miami. Some of his shots are symmetrical, some chaotic, and some are even nostalgic or cheeky, but all possess a feeling of endless summer that I just can’t get enough of. I hope to hang a few of his pieces in our new house, where- and whenever we find it (and if my better half agrees), but in the mean time, I might just have to buy one for my new office. The photos’ themes are, after all, a pretty perfect fit.

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“Bondi Beach” from Malin’s À la Plage series, via GrayMalin.com

Art Deco Miami

“Miami Pink Umbrellas” from Malin’s Art Deco Miami series, via GrayMalin.com

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“Teal Chairs” from Malin’s Art Deco Miami series, via GrayMalin.com

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“Amalfi Swimmers (Vertical)” from Malin’s La Dolce Vita series, via GrayMalin.com

And here’s a tip: I signed up to receive Malin’s e-newsletter, and the confirmation email included a 20% discount code for my first purchase, so now I pretty much have to buy one (at least). Which of Malin’s pieces do you love?

 

Going Coastal: We’re Alabama-Bound!

Coastal Living Blog

A few weeks ago, I shared with you all some pretty monumental news. But here I am, back with more! I’ve been keeping my activities of late under wraps, so I’m beyond excited to, at last, share what I’ve been up to and what’s to come. If you haven’t already guessed thanks to my graphic handiwork above, in a few short weeks I’ll be making my re-entry into the wild and wonderful world of magazine publishing, this time as the Managing Editor of Coastal Living. And the news doesn’t stop there. With my new gig comes a pretty major relocation for me and my (profoundly supportive and adventurous) Mr. – we’re heading to Birmingham, Alabama. Country roads, take me home!

For now, we’ll be busy enjoying the beautiful apartment we JUST moved into (three weeks is better than none, right?) and finding a new one in Birmingham, but I hope you’ll come back here often to see what amazing things unfold – including our now-destination wedding in Boston this fall. It’s going to be a big adventure, and we can’t wait for it to get underway.

Lastly, it must be said that I’m unspeakably grateful to a handful of people who have been so helpful and supportive during this process. I hope you all know who you are. If not, we’ll talk.

Forever Un-Debted: An Obituary

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Image via SavvySugar

 

To say that I’m excited to write this post is a gross understatement. Its subject matter is deeply personal and something I’ve shared with only a very select few family members and friends, but with the journey now behind me I felt it was too powerful and inspiring not to share. Here’s what the hoopla’s about: I paid off my credit card debt this morning. From start to finish, it’s a battle I’ve waged against myself for the last 15 years, and today I finally won. Below is an email I sent to my family this morning, a lighthearted way to share the good news they’d been anticipating right alongside me. I intended for it to be silly, but while writing it I realized how appropriate it felt. The debt that dogged me for so many years had taken on the form of a dependent who needed my constant attention and who factored into so many facets of my life. That final payment felt like a sort of death. And with it, I am reborn. I am, finally, free.

 

Credit Card Debt (1999-2014). Credit Card Debt departed my life this morning after sustaining prolonged and substantial payments, which had intensified over the past 18 months. Credit Card Debt was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1999. It entered the world as an HSBC Overdraft Protection account with a credit limit of $500. Born to a naive, single mother (me), Credit Card Debt developed and thrived in its university environment. In 2003, Credit Card Debt moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where it grew from a spritely $500 to a robust four-digit figure as it supported a mother who worked in the country’s wealthiest ZIP code while earning a net annual income of $19,000. Credit Card Debt blossomed into a strapping five digits over the course of the next four years, gaining in size (and interest) as it tried to support a high-gloss, low-pay lifestyle in New York City. In 2008, Credit Card Debt’s health began to show signs of instability when it made yet another relocation, this time to Boston. Its weight fluctuated briefly, but its full health was restored in 2009 and 2010 under a course of treatments that included online shopping sprees, meals out, year-end tax payments, and an unexpected move. At its peak, the unruly Debt reached $13,000. Little did Credit Card Debt know, however, that its period of free reign would begin its end in 2011, when its mother finally earned a livable salary, grew tired of treading water, and put a plan in place to pummel it with cash. Under attack of 0% APR promotional balance transfers; freelance paychecks; consignment-shop earnings; and an accelerated payment schedule made possible by a move to an affordable Boston suburb, Credit Card Debt ultimately succumbed. It is survived by its ecstatic mother and grieving lenders, will be missed by absolutely no one, and has taught many a valuable lesson. Its mother is deeply grateful to four people in particular who offered support, financial assistance, advice, strategy, and encouragement throughout the course of its life without ever stopping to pass judgment. She couldn’t have done it without them. 

 

Have you ever struggled—or had success—with debt? I’d love to hear your story. If you’ve crushed your own credit card debt, congrats! And if you’re still working, know that you’ll get there. It’s never too late.

 

Boyfriend Blues

Over the last few weeks I’ve been on a serious hunt for the perfect pair of distressed boyfriend jeans. You know the ones. Loose in the hip, seat, and legs with a just-right taper and strategically placed rips and tears. I almost gave up after trying on about 12 pairs, resigned to the fact that to pull off the style you really do have to be shaped like a boy. And I, for one, am not. In most cases, my small waist swam in the extra inches up top while my bum and legs felt squeezed into their designated spaces. Here are a few of the pairs I tried – and returned.

Jeans1. AG Adriano Goldschmied “Nikki” // 2. KUT from the Kloth “Catherine” // 3. J.Crew Vintage Straight Jean // 4. Citizens of Humanity “Emerson” //
5. Current/Elliott “The Traveler”

 

But just as I prepared to relegate my participation in the boyfriend-jean trend to staring wistfully at the models in my J.Crew catalog (and the Instagram feed of Glitter Guide founder Taylor Sterling, who looks good in absolutely EVER. Y. THING.), a little miracle arrived in the mail from Nordstrom: Citizens of Humanity’s “Dylan” jean.

 

Citizens   Citizens of Humanity “Dylan”

 

They’re lightweight, which makes them look less bulky and allows for a better drape, and the slightly darker shade makes them feel a little more put together. I’ve worn them out once and am already wondering if I should pick up a second pair, knowing that eventually I’ll wear these out in a totally different sense. They’re a petite, girl-shaped girl’s denim dream come true.

What are your go-to denim brands and styles?