July 13, 2015

Day Designer for Blue Sky Planners

You guyssss...I can't believe we are already halfway through with July! As a matter of fact, we are more then halfway done with 2015 and that's just crazy to me. So much has happened this year, especially in these last two months and the number of items on my to-do list that I've checked off and have left to accomplish feels a bit unreal.

Don't get me wrong, I love coming up with personal goals to reach and having things to keep me busy, but I thought that once the wedding was over I would have more free time, and in ways I do. I am an extremely organized person, which is a blessing in my eyes, but sometimes I get frustrated with myself because I want everything to be perfect and I feel as if i'm not getting as much done as I should be at the end of each day. I've reached a point were I just want a fresh start...
Day Designer for Blue Sky Planners C/O

What perfect timing! Over the weekend, these beauties greeted me at the front door and I couldn't have been more excited. Like I said, I'm an organized (very type A) person and a geek when it comes to planners. Like seriously, I don't feel having one planner is enough. 

I've always admired Whitney English and her Day Designer planners, and had heard that she was doing a collaboration with Blue Sky, a planner company known for its fun designs, functional calendars and it's overall simplicity. I had never owned anything from Blue Sky so I was ready to check out The Day Designer for Blue Sky and see what I thought.

First things first. I love the crisp pops of colors used, and the gold touches on each planner. The look is vibrant but not overwhelming; preppy and very fun. Day Designer for Blue Sky is available in solid colors as well as some of my favorite designs including stripes, floral prints, and geometric patterns.
Another thing I really like is the fact that they come in different sizes. Want one that can fit in your handbag? They've got it. How about one that is large enough to use for both work and your personal life? They've got that too. Not only that, but they are designed to be used from July 2015 to June 2016...just the right amount of time for individuals like me who can't seem to go a full year without wanting something new.

But the thing I like most about these planners is that they are well priced; ranging from $5.99 to $19.99! For a limited time only, The Day Designer for Blue Sky planners are available at Target stores nationwide and just launched yesterday. If you don't have a Target near you, or if they happen to be sold out by the time you go to pick one up, head over to Blue Sky's website and purchase one there.

What kind of planners and brands do you enjoy most? Is there a particular layout/style (weekly, daily, hourly) that seems most helpful to use? Or what kind of things do you like included in your planner? For me, I like having a notes section but I'd love to hear your thoughts and personal favorites too!

July 9, 2015

Backyard Bonfire

There's something about backyard bonfires that brings a smile to my face. Actually, bonfires anywhere speak sweet words to my soul. I just love them! The smell. The sound of wood crackling. Making s'mores and nestling close to those dear to you. All of these things are simply wonderful. I've already been thinking about the day that Will and I buy a house and can make a bonfire of our own in our backyard and have all of our friends over on a regular occasion to enjoy it with us. I love entertaining and haven't always had the right amount of space to be able to do so, but when Paperless Post reached out to me about creating a summertime entertaining inspiration post, I knew the task would be right up my alley since I've already been dreaming up the perfect backyard bonfire. Here's what I would say you need to create just that:

1. First you'll need to round up some chairs. They can be chairs of any kind but preferably the kind that has a back to them so your able to sit and relax without your back starting to ache. If you don't have the money to invest or space to store a bunch of chairs, you can ask your guest to bring their own but it's really not too expensive to snag a couple of these plastic chairs or these camping chairs. You are able to fold both types, and while your at it, pick up some fluffy pillows. You can't go wrong with extra layers of comfort.
Bohemian backyard baby shower by Sunshine Charlie | 100 Layer Cakelet
2. After you've secured a handful of seats, I would invest in outdoor lighting. Cafe lighting or market lights please! That will always be my first choice. They give off just the right amount of light, set the mood and remind me of Paris (even though I've never been). If those aren't your style, there are a number of other options to choose from, along with in-ground lighting if it's really hard to see the ground when it gets dark outside.
Backyard Bonfire
3. We can't forget about blankets to snuggle up with! Temperatures always seem to drop as soon as the sun goes down, so it's a good idea to have blankets in tow that will help you to stay warm and cozy throughout the whole night.
campfire, benches, chairs and blankets http://www.100layercake.com/blog/2012/02/08/a-bleubird-vintage-wedding-james-aubrey-part-2/
4. When have you every gone to a gathering of any sort where there's no food? I hope you haven't been to many and you sure wouldn't come to a gathering of ours without a few dishes and snacks for you to munch on! At any bonfire in my opinion, there should always be s'mores and other "campfire food"like mini bowls of soup, chili, trail mix and candy bars to satisfy your taste buds as you enjoy the night socializing. It's also wise to have a few refreshments to go along with the food. These could be anything from hot chocolate, to apple cider, sweet tea, flavored water or of course beer and bottles of wine too.

5. Depending on the time of year, the sun may set earlier in the evening or later in the day so it's nice to have a few lawn games to help pass the time before it gets dark. Some of my favorite games are ring toss and cornhole. And an old favorite nighttime game of mine is flashlight tag!
Ring Toss Kids Game: Painted root beer bottles, distressed and stenciled crate and fabric wrapped embroidery hoops.
6. You might think that is pretty much all that you would need to enjoy a backyard bonfire but I've learned from experience that it's not. Something handy to have is bug spray or Citronella Filled Candles to keep the pesky bugs away. There's nothing worse then waking up the next morning covered in mosquito bites.

7. And lastly, instead of just making phone calls to spread the word about your backyard bonfire, why not go the extra mile to make the gathering even more special by sending out invitations? Paperless Post has both paper and online options and not all of them cost money! I used Paperless Post to send out my Bachelorette Beach Getaway invitations and they cost me all of ZERO dollars. A few other free options that I think are adorable include this, this, this, and this one.

Photo Sources: Circle of Chairs via 100 Layer Cake-let // Campfire by Nathan Abplanalp Photography via Style Me Pretty // Vintage setting by Brook Schwab Photographer via 100 Layer Cake // S'mores via Domestic Fashionista // Ring Toss via Two Shades of Pink Blog

This post is sponsored by Paperless Post.
No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

July 6, 2015

Island Adventures

Y'all, brace yourselves! Today's post is a lengthy one. Part of the reason is because I wanted to include every.single.photo that Will and I took while in St. Lucia. The other half has to do with the fact that I can't help but rave about all there is to do.

If your seriously looking to travel somewhere for your next getaway and are up for suggestions, then I highly recommend considering St. Lucia. You can even check out the two previous blog posts I did. One on the resort we stayed at; Cap Maison, and another re-capping Part 1 of our honeymoon.

Today, I'm sharing all there is to do (both on land and sea) while visiting this beautiful island! Something to note however...there is SO much to do in St. Lucia and there is a number of excursions and activities to choose from, but you can't go wrong with whatever you decide to go with.

1. Explore your resort's property. Take full advantage of all that is offered. Order room service. And go to any events or social hours that your resort or hotel has planned.

If you want my opinion, you would take my advice and explore the property and it's surroundings as soon as your arrive. That's exactly what Will and I did when we were dropped off at our resort and it was one of the best decisions we made. Cap Maison is fairly small but some resorts and hotels can be extremely overwhelming. After Will and I checked in and put our bags in our room, we ventured back out and explored the resort and got familiar with where everything was. It was helpful because it made me feel safer better knowing that I wouldn't have to worry about getting lost if I was by myself.

And take advantage of services and activities that are offered at the resort or hotel you are staying at. Even if you are one who never spends much time on the property, try to make time for even just a few things that are offered such as ordering room service for breakfast, catching some sun by the pool, eating a meal at one of the on-property restaurants (if there is one) or settle down and read a book and watch the sunset on the beach at the end of the day. 

If your resort has any of these amenities, services or activities and if they are complimentary, then why not get what you paid for and utilize them! Will and I got an all-inclusive package when we stayed at Cap Maison so we were able to dine at the two restaurants on the property DAILY, and spent a few days afternoons snorkeling, kayaking and learning to paddle board.

2. Check out the island and take part in a land or sea excursion.

Will and I aren't individuals that are satisfied with laying on the beach all day. Don't get me wrong, we love relaxing and having nothing to do, but we get bored easily just laying around for hours at a time. Will and I knew we wanted to spend a day seeing the rest of the island, and cruising along the Caribbean ocean sounded like fun so that's were the Sunlink Catamaran Cruise came into the picture.

Imagine spending a whole day, half on land and half on sea, learning all about a new place, trying new things and making new friends. Sounds great right? That's exactly what we did on our Catamaran Cruise! We departed bright and early one morning and headed by bus to Rodney Bay from Gros Islet where Cap Maison is located. From Rodney Bay, we hopped on the Catamaran and found a nice spot near the front of the boat and prepared for our journey to Soufriere (on the west coast side of the island) with rum punch in hand. Besides the beautiful views from the boat, one of the highlights was being able to see The Pitons up close and personal. The Pitons are two large volcanic plugs and one of St. Lucia's most well-known attractions. They are also the islands most photographic landmark and it's easy to see why...they are HUGE.

When we arrived at the dock in Soufriere our land excursion began. I'll share more about that in a bit. After a few hours passed by, our land excursion ended and we headed back to the catamaran, but not before we stopped to play some soccer with a group of school kids! We saw them playing and we spontaneously joined them and I have to say that it was one of the best parts of our day for sure. When we finally got back on board, we set sail, and made our way to a nearby beach to go swimming and snorkel before making our way to Marigot Bay for a quick pass through and heading back "home".

3. Visit the Diamond Botanical Gardens, Mineral Baths and Waterfalls in Soufriere.

On our land excursion, we were able to visit the Diamond Botanical Gardens which is part of the Soufriere Estate. Our guide was amazing, very informative and the flowers were so beautiful. It was a very peaceful tour to say the least. Near the gardens there are mineral baths and hot springs that are fed from the Soufriere Volcano, which is said to be the only drive-in volcano in the world and is locally known as the Sulpher Springs. At the springs, we were able to stand underneath a waterfall and take a mud bath which was something I wasn't sure I would do because I hate getting dirty and the sulpher smells like rotten eggs. I'm glad I did it though because my skin felt so smooth afterwards and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I'll have memories about for years to come!

4. Visit Pigeon Island National Park and go for a hike.

Pigeon Island is a historic site that consists of a number of forts and in the 18th century, the British built a fort that they named Fort Rodney (hence the name of the nearby Rodney Bay area) that was used to spy on French ships that were coming in from Martinique. There are also two small beaches, a restaurant, and picnic areas scattered across the grounds. While exploring the island, you can see ruins of military buildings that were used during the battles between the French and British along with catching some breathtaking views of the Northwest coastline. It was so much fun getting a bit of a history lesson while visiting this national landmark with Will and also turned out to be a good workout climbing to the top of the forts!

5. Go shopping at Castries Market and Point Seraphine.

Heaps of fresh produce, hand-crafted souvenirs, and bright colored fabrics are some of the most popular items you can get at Castries Market. We've heard that the market is most lively on Saturday mornings when locals bring their produce and spices into town. Pointe Seraphine on the other hand is a duty-free shopping complex on the north side of Castries Harbour and has more than 20 shops in the complex. I wasn't aware of what duty-free meant before coming to St. Lucia but for those who don't know, it means they do not apply local or national taxes on purchases you make. It's also a popular place and conveniently located near the cruise ship ports, so many travelers can easily fit in a few hours of shopping when visiting St. Lucia! Point Seraphine is where we got most of our souvenirs but Castries Market is a must just for the experience itself...especially if you want to engage in a conversation with some locals!

July 1, 2015

Wedding Day Morning

Happy Wednesday, friends! We've made it halfway through another week. It's a short one for me and hopefully for most of you being that Independence Day is on Saturday. Our office is closed on Friday so i'm looking forward to sleeping in and doing a little bit of cleaning around our townhouse! Today's post is all about my wedding day morning...what it looked like, what I was feeling and everything in-between.

Saturday morning, my Maid of Honor, Mom, and I woke up fully rested and ready to start the day. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Raleigh and it was one of the best decisions I made. Not only was our room extra spacious, but the beds were comfortable and there was complimentary breakfast that I took advantage of  while we stayed at the hotel. The breakfast was actually really good and I got french toast and some fruit the morning of the wedding!! I was also glad to be staying in a hotel where I was surrounded by less distractions and fewer people, able to focus on one of the biggest commitments and decisions I have made thus far in my life...to vow my life and become one to my best friend for all of my days.

After Emily and my Mom helped pack everything up, it was time for us to make our way to The Bridal Suite at The White Room. One thing that I wanted to do was get to The White Room before the rest of my bridal party so that I could have a few moments to myself to pray, enjoy the last few moments of quite time and to prepare myself for a fun-filled day! But I can't wait to tell you ALL about this place after you take a look at some pictures of this space first...all via The White Room's website.
How gorgeous is The White Room y'all? I was able to find this gem with a few Google searches when I was looking for places me and my girls could get ready the day of the wedding. I don't know how I got so lucky! I was looking for a space that felt open, inviting, and would look great in photos. The atmosphere was ultra feminine and even had a dining and lounge area that me and my girls took full advantage of. It was PERFECT and met all of our needs. Oh I forgot to mention that it's an apartment-like space located in Downtown Raleigh literally right above The Flying Saucer.

Slowly, all my girls started to arrive and we literally just hung out with each other all morning and afternoon! We listened to music, flipped through some magazines, took pictures to post on Instagram and Snapchat and had our hair and makeup done by the amazing ladies of Makeup By Ashley Mooney. The day was better then I could have ever imagined. 

For all my sweet 'lady readers', I've heard that a lot of brides are stressed out on their wedding day and the 'bridezilla' starts to come out as the day goes on, but to be honest, I was calmer then I ever could have imagined and even had a crazy thought that something must be wrong with me since I had no sign of stress or anxiety running through my veins! I give thanks to God for my emotions that day. I had been praying the weeks leading up to the wedding that God would help me savor and enjoy every single thing that I was to encounter on the wedding day. 

If there's one piece of advice I could give to anyone getting ready to get married it would be to remember that whatever happens on your big day, will soon pass. Realize that a lot of the 'bumps in the road' are out of your control and all you can do is enjoy the moments that will in fact, pass by very quickly! For most, this day is a once in a lifetime experience so don't waste the day away worrying about that what if's. Give your emotions over to God and allow yourself to really enjoy the beautiful season of life you are finally getting to experience.
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