A Special Birthday Tablescape

A Special Birthday Tablescape

I love Mondays (when there is no school)!  There’s something so relaxing and comforting about not having to jump into the swing of things until Tuesday.  And I especially love Mondays off when I entertain the night before.

Last night I had a special birthday dinner for my mom and my aunt.  They are sisters, both born on October 5th, and they are five years apart.  Try trying to explain that to a bunch of 4th graders.  It was blowing their minds!  So in honor of them, I made a nice dinner and created a fall tablescape perfect for the occasion.

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I went with my gold placements again.  I love these!  They are perfect when you don’t want to use a charger, and the detail and size is right for our large, square table.  I had a menu full of new recipes I wanted to try.  I highly recommend the Creamy Apple Cider Vinaigrette and the Philly Cheese Steak Casserole.  When making a dinner for thirteen people, I choose recipes that can be made before and just heated in the oven.  I also like to have a clean kitchen when my guests arrive.  Plus, I went with pretty paper napkins to eliminate the need to wash and iron thirteen cloth ones.

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For a favor/place card, I made candy with saltines, chocolate and brown sugar to create a heavenly sweet and salty treat.  Each person got few pieces with their name attached.  The kids were chomping at the bit all weekend to eat them!

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The centerpieces were actually candle holders from Michaels.  I found them in fall clearance section and they came to about $2 a piece!  Score!  The tops come off and I used them as vases.  My mom, aunt and Joe’s mom each got to take one home, along with the candle insert that they can use at another time.

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As one of the appetizers, I tried this baked ricotta cheese dip.  It was good, but I can’t say it was excellent.

Overall, it was a special night filled with fun conversations, the same stories told again and again, and two special ladies being able to blow their candles out together.

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Enjoy your Monday! xo

My Vision for J’s Family Room

My Vision for J’s Family Room

It’s been a hot minute since I last posted on here, but I have a new few post ideas in line for the next week. If you missed my last one, I showcased my fall decor around the house, as well as an anniversary tablescape.

Fast forward to today….J and I have been talking a lot about his family room.  The furniture is older, the lighting needs some work, and there is just soooo much brown.  Since it’s hard for him to visualize what I am thinking, so I like to create a vision board with my ideas.  They also help me quite a bit when pulling all of the details together.

My three words for this room would be LIGHT. FUNCTIONAL. TEXTURE.

Here’s what I came up with….

NOTE:  A fireplace flanked with two windows are located in the room at the top of the board.

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It all started with these chairs.

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Holy cow!  I am in love with them.  They are from World Market and the reviews are good.  One gal even said her child spilled yogurt on them and it cleaned right up.  Plus, the majority of reviewers said this chair is super comfortable.   The color is to die for and the style has me swooning.

There is one element, well two, that I want to remain neutral and that would be the two sofas that will line both sides of the room.  After a little bit of searching for kid friendly, longer length couches, I found this one from Crate and Barrel.  Next weekend we are planning to take a ride down to the store in Philly to take a look. It received good reviews and they have a few neutral fabric color choices to choose from.

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I’m also planning some sort of gallery wall above one of the couches and extra lighting in the form of floor lamps and table lamps.  Plus, I’m on the fence about style and color of end tables, but I’m loving the look of a white Campaign-style with drawers for storage.

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For the rest of the room, I plan on keeping everything fairly neutral and light, including the carpet, with durable finishes to withstand the wear and tear of family life.  I would also like to add a few black touches such as a black bar cart in the unseen corner or black books on the coffee table.

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear!

Snapshots of Fall Around the House and an Anniversary Tablescape

Snapshots of Fall Around the House and an Anniversary Tablescape

Gosh, it’s been a month since I last posted on this little site of mine.  It’s not that I don’t love it here, but school has begun.  That means my days are filled at school and my evenings revolve around homework for Payton, schoolwork for me, activities and meetings, dinnertime, and relaxing a bit after a long day.  Once the weekend hits, I just want to hang with J and all the kids, relax, cook a little and plan for the upcoming week.

This weekend, however, I will be having a dinner to celebrate my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without my parents.  I pretty much talk to my mom on a daily basis, just to fill her in on what’s going on or to ask for her advice.  I have been told that I am turning into my mother on many levels, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. My dad has been a pillar of strength throughout my life.  He was my biggest running supporter, and was once my high school coach.  He makes sure that Payton gets to where she needs to be in the mornings before school, after I have left for work.  And he is my partner in crime around my home, helping me with every project or crazy idea I have.

Because they are so special, I like commemorate their day by preparing a hearty meal with a pretty tablescape, which usually revolves around the season.  This year, my table is anchored with a warm centerpiece using the vase I just confiscated from J’s parents’ garage sale last week.  I pulled out the new gold placements I bought which remind me of the gold chargers I have at my house and set a white plate in the middle.  I found the white pumpkins at my beloved produce store and attached tags with names on the back of each pumpkin.  J’s parents are coming too, so everyone will get to take the pumpkin home.  I was going to use fabric napkins, but these pretty fall ones were a last minute Home Goods find and I thought they went well with the table.

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For the meal, I am trying a new slow cooker Beef Stroganoff recipe found on Pinterest.  We have a few soccer games, so I wanted something easy, yet delicious. Dessert will be an apple pie bought from Wegman’s.  I usually make my desserts, but two weeks ago they were handing out samples of this same pie and it was amazing!  Couldn’t resist.

In addition to the tablescape, here are a few snapshots from around the home.  I used a combination of new autumn items I picked up for J’s house, along with some things that he already had.

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And if you missed my Instagram or Facebook post from this weekend, I posted the mantle all dressed for fall.  I couldn’t resist this cable knit pumpkin pillow from Home Goods.  I picked it up yesterday and everyone around the store either commented how cute it was or wanted to know where I got it.  J missed it at first, but then quickly realized he had a HUGE orange pumpkin in his living room.  It was a funny moment.

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What are your thoughts? Is it too early to decorate for fall?  In my opinion, once school starts, summer is over and autumn is upon us.  Enjoy! xo

 

 

 

Currently Reading: Summer Edition

Reading goes in spurts for me and I have no trouble losing myself in a really good book.   This summer I totally upped my reading game and have finished quite a few. Some were recommendations from others, while some I came across by searching my Kindle store.  I know my taste in book genre may not be for everyone (I’m looking at you, rom coms and good relationship stories), but I’m sharing my top 9 recs for this summer.

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/1/ The Perfect Couple by Elin Hildebrand – I’ve mentioned this one before, but it was one of her best. A little murder mystery/beach read is the perfect combination.

/2/ When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger – This tells the story of Emily from A Devil Loves Prada, post Miranda.

/3/ The Idea of You: A Novel by Robinne Lee -Juicy and steamy, just right for summer.

/4/ Bright Side by Kim Holden – LOVED this one.  Warning – it’s a tear jerker, but so well done.

/5/ The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This one was recommended by a friend, and I couldn’t put it down.  In my opinion, it feels like it could be loosely based on the life of Elizabeth Taylor.  Also, there’s a twist at the end that you won’t see coming.

/6/ All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin – I’ve been a long time fan of Giffin, and this one was right up with my favorites written by her.  I fell in love with the heroine.  She was strong and stood her ground throughout, despite the challenges that faced her.

/7/ Falling by Jane Green – Another easy read by Green.

/8/ White Lilies by Samantha Christy – This book came across as a “Borrow for Free” novel on my Kindle so I took advantage.  One in a series of three books based on the Mitchell sisters, the story was ok, the characters were likable, and I kind of want to read the other two as well.

Currently Reading:

/9/ It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover – Coming with stellar reviews, I just began this book yesterday so I’ll let you know what I think…

What are you reading?  I’d love to know!

A few things

A few things

Summer weeks are a blur.  They fly by so fast and I have a hard time fitting in everything I want to accomplish.  Yesterday I finally was able to clean my garage out.  It wasn’t terrible – but it definitely was in need of some major organizing.  This weekend we have a fun trip to Boston to visit recently engaged friends.  I’m so excited to see the city again and have a girls afternoon, complete with a massage, while the guys golf.

Here are a few things I’m loving and coveting lately…

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Favorite New Purchase. I received my Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader yesterday which I bought on a killer Prime Day sale.  I can’t wait to download a few books just in time for our upcoming beach trip!  I ordered this case too, which was also on sale.

 

What I’m Reading. These two books are pure beach reads.  I zoomed through Lauren Weisberger’s When Life Gives You Lululemons, and I am about half way through The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand.  Fun fact: Hildebrand mentions my area (streets, landmarks, cities) throughout the book and it’s so fun when they pop up.  She definitely did her research!

 

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Basil Pesto. The other night I made a fresh pesto using the huge basil on our deck.  This year, the leaves seem to be massive!  I tell J that they really must love the spot they are in and he just shakes his head.  The pesto contained only a few ingredients blended together in my food processor: basil, salt, pepper, garlic, toasted (slivered) almonds, parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Pretty basic.  I used brown rice pasta as the base rather than white pasta.  I also added chicken for protein and corn off the cob for a little sweetness and crunch.  It was delish!  Tip:  Reserve some pasta water to thin out the pesto.  Sometimes it gets too thick to mix in with the pasta.

 

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Air Plant and Cute Pot.  During one of my many trips to Lowe’s I spotted her.  It was love at first sight and I just knew she needed to come home with me.  My daughter thinks she’s totally creepy, but I think she’s fun.  She goes perfectly with my decor.  Plus, she’s a discussion piece to boot.  Best part – so easy to care for!

 

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Julie Vos Jewelry.  J gave me this bangle for Christmas and this pendant for my birthday.  At first I wasn’t sure about the pendant since I had my heart set on a lariat, but when I visited the store, I was so blown away by all of her designs.  Needless to say, I kept the pendant and have already worn it several times.  I also now have a wishlist of other items that are totally necessary for me to have! 😉

Enjoy your weekend!

Front Entrance Reveal

Front Entrance Reveal

The other night I was thinking about this blog and decided it was high time to start posting the projects I’ve done since school’s been out.  Last month I posted my Summer Bucket List for J’s house and I have to say, I got quite a bit done.  I did have a trip to Vegas in there, lots of postponed doctor appointments, physical therapy for my ongoing neck issue and time with J and my gang, so I’m finally happy to show off my work for J’s front entrance.

Before the makeover, the door and shutters were a faded green and they were in desperate need of a little sprucing.  While green is nice, I LOVE a good, glossy black door.  There’s just something about it that remains classy and versatile.  In addition, I sprayed the shutters a glossy black too.

Besides the painting, J’s lawn guy came and cut back all of the bushes as far as he could go.  I was looking for a cleaner, more manicured look and I didn’t want the shrubs to be a visual obstacle blocking the entrance.  We decided that some of the shrubs and bushes (i.e the big ones right in front) will most likely come out next spring, but for now, they are staying.  We also had his power washing guy come out and power wash the whole house, deck and sidewalk.  The only thing that is missing is some new mulch!

Before pictures: Sun-faded hunter green door and shutters with overgrown bushes.  The black planters are new and were just planted in this picture below.

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Note the (un)power-washed sidewalk, overgrown bushes.

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The reveal!  Glossy black doors, painted inside and out. (Inside foyer reveal coming soon!) New boxwood wreaths and welcome mat, trimmed trees and washed sidewalk, and the plants in the planters grew tremendously!

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I’m in love with the way it turned out.  The look will transition well into the other seasons of the year – I’m thinking fall wreaths, mums in the planters, pumpkins and gourds, etc.  And for the holidays, simple greens stuck in the planters with holiday wreaths on the door!

In addition to the front entrance, I placed two new planters on the deck with these potted flowers.  They are a type of Mandevilla and they are gorgeous!  They love the sun and come in a variety of colors.  I chose white to blend in to the other colors going on within the deck decor.  (More on that soon too!)

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Again, if you missed my summer bucket list, you can check it out here.  Enjoy!

A few things

A few things

Did I ever mention that weekends are my favorite?  Well it’s here and I’m ready to celebrate a long one.  We are heading to Philly for the HoagieNation Tour presented by Daryl Hall and John Oates, featuring TRAIN!!  We went last year and it was fun, but this year’s line up is even better!  I’ve also never done the cheesesteak thing, so we are heading to Pat’s and Geno’s for lunch to compare.  I’ll let you know how that goes…

On to things I am loving and coveting lately…

 

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Remember I said on my bucket list for J’s house that I was painting his front doors and shutters?  The other day at Target I stumbled upon a seriously thick mat that will lay nicely across both doors.  It’s super thick (maybe 2 inches) and will look nice for visitors. Most importantly, you can’t beat the price of under $35.  I saw ones that were similar for way over $100!  The dimensions are 48″ x 22″ and the quality is superb.

 

 

This weekend I am hoping to plant some flowers in my front planter, as well as purchase and plant two for J’s porch.  These two images by Eat at Jack N Jill’s provide some serious inspiration for both of our houses!

 

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For our Memorial Day BBQ, I’m thinking of making this Summer Corn Salad.  I’ve made many versions of this salad in the past and nothing beats the freshness of corn off the cob and ripe tomatoes, mixed with a little feta and lime.

 

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Is anyone else obsessed with Meghan Markle these days?  I love her cool approach to style.  Everything she does looks effortless and chic, including her wardrobe.  And can we talk about her wedding dresses while we are on the subject?  Especially the high necked stunner she wore to the reception!?  If she’s your girl crush too, check out this article from The Everygirl on How to Get Her Chicest Looks for Less.

 

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If you’re in the process of curating your reading list for the beach, look no further.  Here’s a complete list of must-reads for this summer by PopSugar, courtesy of my cousin.  Some novels haven’t even been released yet!

Happy Memorial Day and have a restful long weekend!

Are comfortable, yet cute shoes an oxymoron?

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Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger and neither are my feet.  Years of running abuse has taken its toll and I just can’t wear cute heels anymore, at least for long periods of time.  I have shoe envy for those teachers who wear heels all day long and I’d love to know their trick.  For me, after about an hour, I’ve had it and the heels are history.

Now flats, they are also trouble for me.  With reoccurring Achilles tendonitis, flat shoes don’t work well either.  A day in completely flat shoes involves flare ups and pain in my heel.  Still not good.

So in the end, shoe shopping can be quite the challenge.  In addition to my Achilles issues, I have a narrow heel.  This combination makes it extremely difficult to find a shoe that’s soft enough, doesn’t flop at the heel, is wearable all day…and still cute.  Since summer is coming, I thought I would do a little browsing for some shoes that might be a match for my picky criteria.

Birkenstocks – You either love ’em or hate ’em.  I, personally, am a big fan and have been for a few years.  I wear mine all summer long, including on trips to NYC when I’m walking all day long.  No issues, no problems.  The supportive arch and wide toe box make them a perfect fit for me.

I have these and these.  Both are favorites, but I tend to wear the black ones a little more.  My daughter has a wide foot and often times we have a difficult time finding her shoes.  I am desperately trying to talk her into a pair of these for this summer and I think I’m almost there.

Tevas – The jury is still out for me on Tevas.  I can’t say I’m a fan.  I know they are totally making a comeback, but this bandwagon is one that may pass me by.  I’ve seen several high-profile bloggers promoting a rose gold version, which is kind of cute, but still isn’t enough to persuade me in this direction.

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Clarks – I saw these sandals by Clarks the other day and thought they were chic and stylish enough to wear for work, but capable of being dressed down with rolled up jeans and a light sweater for casual date nights.  I like the heel height (not too high) and the gold hardware.  They just look so wearable and comfy.

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Dr. Scholl’s – An old school classic, Dr. Scholl’s sandals bring back a lot of memories.  I can remember clunking around in these as a kids.  I LOVED them, and my mom loved the arch in them.  We were never allowed to wear flat flip flops because they had no support…lol.  I’ve tried and tried these again as an adult, but I just can’t seem to find the right fit for me.

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Featured image via www.shoppingandinfo.com

So what do you think?  Can shoes still be stylish, yet comfortable?

Summer bucket list | J’s House

Summer bucket list | J’s House

I’m sure those that aren’t teachers are not counting the days until summer.  Parents are probably lining up daycare and sending in last minute camp registration forms. Although I envy flexible schedules of those in the business world and the opportunity to have lunchtime meetings at real restaurants, there is nothing like the last day of school.  Nothing.  As a friend put it, “It’s better than Christmas morning!”

Yesterday we caught a glimpse of summer amid all the rain we’ve been having and we decided to venture out on a group walk.  In between all the complaining about how far we were going, it was rather enjoyable to get the kids out in nature and take in a non-scheduled afternoon together.

Also in anticipation of summer, I am creating a series of bucket lists and I’m kicking them off with the projects I want to accomplish at J’s house.

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Of course — the number one priority over there is the powder room.  With our busy weekends, this project slipped by me and I have no other excuses.  Little things like potted flowers will get done right away, but the bigger projects take some time.  Here are a few of the top tasks on the list:

1. Powder Room Refresh. The brainstorming of this project started a while ago and it got put on hold because of schedules.  As I said, it is one of the first things I’m going to tackle this summer.

If you missed the rest of the posts, you can catch them here.

Powder Room Refresh | Wallpaper Samples and a Decision

Powder Room Refresh | Vision Boards

Powder Room Brainstorming

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2. Paint front door and shutters. The green on his door and shutters have since faded from its vibrancy, so I’m thinking a glossy black will be just the touch it needs.  That, and two new planters and a new mat (and possibly a light – he doesn’t know that yet!) will enhance his entrance way completely.

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3. Deck and Patio Refresh | Retractable Awning. I posted about this a few weeks ago.  I am really excited to get the ball rolling on this one because I think the addition of the awning will make the space more useful for everyone, especially the kids.

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4. Minor Landscaping. I want to plant some hostas in some of the shady areas of his beds to fill in empty spaces.  They grow nice and hardy and live through the summer into the fall.  He’s also going to have his lawn guy cut back the bushes by the door for a better view of the front of his house.  I’m a firm believer in less is more, and the smaller bushes will add to the beauty of his front entranceway.  Don’t mind the weeds!

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Summer is going to fly by, so between his home and mine, I have my work cut out for me.  Soon I will post about the ideas I have for a summer bucket list at my house!  Enjoy the week!  xo

A few things

A few things

Friday!  Woo hoo!  Two more Mondays of school after this weekend (not including Memorial Day)!  I’m not happy at all…. 😉

This weekend will be a little more restful than the last few.  Tonight we are just hanging and tomorrow we are having friends over.  Some of my girlfriends haven’t gotten the opportunity to really get to know J, so tomorrow will be the night.  I’m planning on keeping it rather simple by making a recipe I featured a while back on the blog.  It’s the perfect meal for a crowd and easy to prepare ahead.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, Mimi’s Chicken and White Wine Casserole is a winner every time.

On to things I am loving and coveting lately…

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This was a good blog post from Cupcakes and Cashmere about dealing with anxiety, written exclusively from a psychologist’s point of view.  The blog’s author has openly expressed her dealings with anxiety and I find it comforting to know that I’m not alone.  Not that I want others to suffer, but anxiety is something that many can relate to and I’m finding it more and more common for people, particularly women, to open up about their struggles.  Mental health is becoming more and more transparent in today’s society and it’s a real thing.  If you’ve read my posts, I’ve mentioned my anxiety dealings a few times on the blog and it’s an ongoing battle.  You can catch them here:

Less Anxiety | More Kindness

How I Learned to Deal with Imperfection By Asking One Simple Question

Living Intentionally

 

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I recently read a novel with my class and they were sad when it ended.  But rest assured, we started a new one and they are equally excited.  The two are nothing alike, the first one was based during WWII and this one during the 1800’s, but their differences are what makes each one special.  Tuck Everlasting, our current read, is about a young girl who accidentally meets a family that is immortal from drinking water from a magical spring.  This family does everything in their power to make her understand that their immortality is a curse rather than a blessing.  She ultimately has to make the decision whether to drink the water and live forever, or choose a life of growing older and eventually dying.  The kids have many questions and the discussions have been awesome.  This book is more advanced for a 4th grader, but we are reading it together and discussing as we go along.

 

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The other day a few colleagues and I were talking about the dreaded fanny pack.  Some love them and some hate them.  Their debate was escalated when I told them of their recent comeback and they hardly believed it.  So here you are girls, the new and improved fanny pack complete in a multitude of colors, shapes and designers.  Don’t believe me?  Read more about this controversial trend in this article from Harper’s Bazaar.

 

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I can’t believe I didn’t share this, but a few weeks ago we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at school.  I made this version of a Tres Leches cake for the luncheon.  Of all the recipes I’ve tried in the past, this one is by far my favorite.

 

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The other week I mentioned about needing a dress for a Bat Mitzvah in NYC so my daughter and I headed over to White House|Black Market to check out their selection.  The salesperson was extremely helpful by recommending a few styles to try.  While perusing, my daughter specifically made me try on this one, and she was right!  At first, I was unsure of the heavy fabric weight and the full skirt, but the two piece ensemble was perfect for my event.  I received many compliments on it all night and I was comfortable.  It even left plenty of room for dessert!

My few things were random, but my love of Fridays is full.  Have a wonderful weekend! xo