Cherry Blossom Picnic in DC

I simply adore Springtime in DC. It’s my fifth Spring in the city, and it just gets better and better every year! I was so eager for the Cherry Blossoms to bloom this year, as there is a pretty small window (three weeks or so) for the blooms to be out, and I knew I was traveling every weekend during peak cherry blossom season. But, as my friends and I discovered years ago, the very best time to head down to the cherry blossoms is on a weeknight. I have gone on weekend during peak season before, and it’s so congested and packed with tourists that you can barely enjoy seeing and savoring the blooms and the views. So I much prefer to go after work (or really early in the morning for sunrise!), where there seems to be much more of a local DC crowd, and it’s not too busy, either. Plus, it’s the perfect time to experience ‘golden hour’ and a stunning sunset over the Tidal Basin! I heartily recommend bringing a blanket, picnic food, and a good camera for your visit – all three are pretty crucial to a perfect Cherry Blossom experience, in my opinion!

Allison, Kathryn, Lindsey, and I met up after work for our evening – we had it planned a month in advance to be sure we were all free! Kathryn also had just gotten engaged, so it was the perfect excuse to pop some bubbly and toast to her engagement. We enjoyed a picnic feast on our blankets in a huge field of flowering, blooming, pink and white cherry blossoms, and it’s such a magical locale. There is plenty of grass to sprawl out on for a picnic, and I also love to people watch and see the light shifting colors as the sun begins to set.

 

Then it’s time to head immediately to the Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial (between the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument). There are hundreds upon hundreds of stunning cherry blossom trees lining the entire rim of the Tidal Basin, and the sight really takes your breath away. There is definitely a reason why hundreds of thousands of people flock from all over the world to witness the cherry blossoms each and every year! It’s a wonderful reminder of how thankful I am to live in this city and to experience the things I get to.

Grab your camera, as everyone else is, and take countless photos of the blooms, the trees, the views, the sunset, and the gorgeous memorials and monuments surrounding the area! You should, of course, also be sure just to put your camera away and soak up the moments, as it’s a really magnificent sight – and it only happens once a year for such a short window of time. I love watching golden hour and then the lowering sunset over the Tidal Basin.

So, tell me – have you ever been to Washington DC for the cherry blossoms or the Cherry Blossom Festival? If you haven’t you should definitely put it on your travel bucket list!

Book Sale Buys

Each year, there is a fabulous used book sale hosted by the AAUW in Falls Church, Virginia. Serendipitously, I was playing tennis is Falls Church just last week near the town’s community center, and I happened to see the banner announcing the annual, two-day book sale coming up that weekend. I am so glad I saw that sign, otherwise I would have totally missed my favorite book sale of the year! There is a gymnasium sized room in the basement of the Falls Church Community Center that holds thousands and thousands of gently used books, and, as you can imagine, I blissfully browsed up and down the aisles picking up new (to me) books to purchase. All paperbacks sell for $2 and hardbacks are merely $3 – such an excellent deal! I snagged eight books, all of which I cannot wait to read (or re-read, in the case of East of Eden and The Paris Wife). And for my eight new books, I paid only $16 – the average cost of one new book! Indeed, it was a wonderful afternoon spent browsing books and picking out a few to add to my ever-growing collection.

Tell me: do you frequent used book sales? Or do you prefer buying new books only? I’m a big fan of buying used books… or borrowing books from the library! But I definitely do love a brand new book, too.

Tupelo Honey Cafe

I certainly ate incredibly well while in Charlotte, North Carolina for Spring Break! Brunch over the weekend was at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Southend with two of my oldest, and dearest, friends from home. One word: a.ma.zing! I’d heard of this famous restaurant for years, and I’m thrilled that there’s a finally a Charlotte location (and one coming to Raleigh soon!) for my visits back home. It really and truly lived up to all of the hype, and my mouth is already watering for a return trip.

It was one of those perfect Spring mornings where is was finally warm outside, and we luckily snagged the last outdoor balcony table. The staff at Tupelo couldn’t have been friendlier and more accommodating. Despite the morning hour, I started off with a truly Southern sweet tea – the perfect breakfast drink! Tupelo also provides each table with delectable fresh biscuits, warm honey, and homemade jam… I mean, you just can’t ask for anything more! Biscuits and sweet tea are sort of my love language, so I was in culinary heaven already. I was waffling between the Chicken & Waffles and the Eggs Betty, and I ended up selecting the Eggs Betty for breakfast, as Sarah heartily recommended them. The Eggs Betty (two poached eggs on a biscuit with smoked ham & a lemony hollandaise sauce) came with a side of goat cheese grits, and my entire meal was absolutely delicious! I know all three of us had clean plates and thoroughly enjoyed our meals, the atmosphere, and the company. It was wonderful starting off my Spring Break with brunch with Sarah & Trevor, two of my dearest friends over the last 12 or 13 years!

Have you been to Tupelo Honey Cafe before? Or are there any breakfast spots you’ve tried recently? I can’t wait to get back to Tupelo to try their lunch and dinner menus, too – I’ve heard rave reviews about those meals!

Spring Wedding Attire

Spring wedding season has officially arrived! The azaleas and dogwoods are blooming, peonies are back in season, and the wedding invitations are flooding in through the mail. I’ve been missing wedding season, so I’m thrilled to welcome it back! With the return of weddings, guests are certainly setting out to find the perfect Spring wedding attire. Look no further, as I’ve picked out some of my favorite fresh, fun, and Spring-y looks for any upcoming weddings. I pulled in many of my favorite colors of this season, as well as florals and current trends in the fashion industry to compile a Spring wedding inspiration board.

For the ladies, you can do no wrong with any of the below dresses (by Lula Kate and J. Crew)… or let these picks be an inspiration for any of your wedding dress shopping! I love the soft, romantic pink, the happy floral frock, and the cutout orange lace dress – and a nicely made maxi dress is a fun alternative for a Spring garden wedding, too. There are so many fabulous Spring-inspired dresses out there, and I can’t wait to break out my brighter or softer colors + lighter fabrics for the upcoming wedding season. I’ve also selected some of my favorite wedding-appropriate Spring clutches that would accompany your dress. Any Southern girl would love a bow-accented clutch or a monogram clutch, right?! And last but certainly not least, shoes! High-heeled strappy sandals, wedges, and bright colors will accentuate your fresh pedicure, set the mood for dancing, and get you excited for Spring. 
spring dresses

 

J. Crew / J. Crew / J. Crew / Lula Kate

spring clutches

 

Oatmeal Lace / Kate Spade / Gap / Dixie Land Monogram

 

spring shoes

 

C Wonder / Kate Spade / Banana Republic / Kate Spade

Now for the men in your life! Bonobos is a great & new-to-me brand for suits and wedding day attire for fashionable Southern gentlemen, and I am absolutely loving their Spring wedding inspired collections. Bonobos is launching a new collection of men’s Seersucker and Cotton suits- a great-fitting and lightweight natural complement to warm-weather weddings. Here are my favorite picks from their lines; how handsome would these be on any groomsman or wedding guest? I think the Seersucker Suit & the Chambray Suit are the quintessential Spring wedding suits, and I’d love to see someone rock these suits! It’s definitely the right time to put away the dark, heavy suits and colors & opt for lighter and more fresh suits and fabrics, and Bonobos does such a good job with this. And don’t forget to top off your Spring-inspired suit with a colorful, happy bow tie (swoon!) or tie!

spring suits

Bonobos Seersucker / Bonobos Navy Cotton / Bonobos Khaki Cotton Linen / Bonobos Chambray Suit

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Also, how fun would it be to see a groom rocking this incredibly handsome, dapper black tux with polka dots?! I love how good the tuxedo looks – the quality is impeccable – and the polka dots on the inside are a fabulous, fun idea. Bonobos also offers a Groomservice guideshop where you can make an appointment to help the groom and groomsmen find the perfect attire for their wedding. Love this idea!

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So, tell me – what are you favorite looks for a Spring wedding? My first wedding of the year is in just over a week, and I’m so excited to pull out my new dress & wedges for a beautiful & fun celebration!

 

Charlottesville Weekend

Recently, I spent the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia – and it was one of those amazing, fun weekends! Bridgette was running her second half-marathon, so my parents, her in-laws, and I all made our way to Charlottesville to cheer her on. Bridgette was an incredibly fast sprinter in high school, but she never considered herself a long distance runner… I beg to differ, now! Last year, she ran the NYC Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park, and this year, she did an amazing job with this half marathon in Charlottesville. I hadn’t cheered her on in running since her high school track meets, and I had so much fun (and I know everyone else did, too!) cheering our favorite girl on in this (very hilly!) race. Bridgette is such an inspiration & motivation, and I am so proud of her for accomplishing her goals!

 

My mom did such a good job making some fabulous (double-sided, even) signs/posters for Bridgette’s cheering squad, too. We definitely got our own mini workout in as we trekked across Charlottesville to several different spots to cheer B on! And, since Bridgette gave up eating tortilla chips while training for the race, we had tortilla chips waiting for her at the finish line. We then checked out the bustling Charlottesville Farmer’s Market, indulged in a Mexican feast for lunch, and then headed out into the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville for a fantastic afternoon/evening of winery & brewery stops – perfect!

Bridgette & Rob planned the afternoon out perfectly, as Veritas WineryAfton Mountain Winery, and Blue Mountain Brewery were all within five minutes of one another – so easy and convenient! We first ventured to Veritas Winery in Afton, Virginia for a wine tasting. Since it was essentially the first beautiful Spring Saturday, it was packed there! We did a great tasting of all of their wines & then sat outside at a picnic table enjoy the beautiful sunshine & Blue Ridge Mountains in the near distance. We then went just down the road to Afton Mountains Vineyard for another tasting. It was a much more intimate winery, and I just loved one of their white wines, the Gewurztraminer. We had a delicious picnic spread outside overlooking the mountains and the vineyards. As you surely know by now, this was a pretty perfect day – I just love wineries, picnics, being outside in the Spring, and spending time talking with my very favorite people. Perfection!

After our afternoon tasting wines and enjoying the views, we went just down the road to Blue Mountain Brewery, which is also a full restaurant with an extensive menu + beer selection. Rob and I attempted to conquer the beer sampler, which was ten tastings of all of their beers – but neither of us could quite make it through all of them! I know we all enjoyed our dinners and the atmosphere, and this was a great last stop for the day.

After all four parents left to head back to North Carolina on Sunday, Bridgette and I went to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, which has long been on my winery bucket list! It’s also most definitely on my dream wedding location bucket list – wow, is it gorgeous! There are rumors of celebrity weddings occurring here, and I’ve also seen many stunning weddings featured in my favorite blogs at Pippin Hill. Someday I would love to plan a wedding here, too! Pippin Hill is a pretty upscale, but not pretentious, winery and restaurant, and the views are stellar. We went on the perfect afternoon, as the Sunday crowds were minimal compared to Saturday’s. We had the wine tasting area practically to ourselves, and the decor, outside patio, and views were spot on. I enjoyed all of the wines we tasted, and I’d love to come back and check out the restaurant one day, too. We each got a glass of white wine and took it outside to the fire pit area, soaking up the warm sunshine, vineyards & rolling mountains, and a great time with my favorite person.

Thank you, Bridgette and Rob, for hosting such a wonderful, memorable, and delicious weekend!! And check out Bridgette’s weekend recap here! She’s just the best.

Wedding | Orange Grove

southern-wedding-floral-napkinsI came across this wedding from Sarah Becker Photo and Southern Charm Weddings, featured on Southern Weddings this week – and it’s like a breath of fresh air! Orange is such a bright, happy, and refreshing color, and I love all of the natural elements and oranges used throughout this styled shoot to bring pops of color to the scene. It’s so summer-y and warm looking, which is a respite after the cold winter we’ve had. I didn’t realize that Louisiana has orange groves, and it’s fun to see the stylist be inspired by a place she loves (and one that is so beautiful!). I like seeing Southern elements being incorporated into this shoot, especially one that is so common in everyday life. How special would it be to center your wedding around something so personal to your culture, heritage, or childhood?!
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southern-wedding-orange-wedding
southern-wedding-citrus-cake
How gorgeous are the navy and white striped accents? I think we all know how much I love navy and white stripes! And I think I’m converted into being a lover of orange after seeing it used to classically in this styled shoot – especially when paired when navy. And I am loving her dress so much, too – it’s perfect for the scenery and occasion.
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You can bet I pinned many of these images (all via Southern Weddings and Sarah Becker Photo) – they are so cheerful and inspiring!