Let Love Guide Us on Etsy!

While I work in non-profit development by day, I also find great joy and satisfaction in creating. Much of my free time is spent crafting, decorating, building, and brainstorming. I love to make beautiful things, and I love to share them with others.

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There you will find some of my favorite creations: hand-embossed paper goods. You’ll also find ways to purchase them for yourself, for your friends, or for your family. I encourage you to hop on over to my shop, Let Love Guide Us, and take a look. New products will continuously be added to the shop, so be sure to bookmark it! And if you’re looking for something custom, just click the “Request Custom Order” button in the left sidebar. I’d love to work with you.

Thanks for your support!


P.S. – What a great time of the year to stock up on Thank You notes for all those Christmas gifts or get a jump-start on Valentines! ;-)

A Fresh Start

2014

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a fun time ringing in 2014 and the fresh start that it is.

Goals, goals, goals. They’re the things that motivate me and shape my daily routine. So at the beginning of each year, I like to create realistic and broad goals, which are then achieved through smaller goals (which might be monthly, weekly, or daily) or new habits. This year, here’s what will be motivating me:

1. Run my second half-marathon (April 5 in Cville) without stopping and in under 2 hours, 15 minutes.
2. Organize personal schedules better with a paper planner (I’ve found I’ve gotten lazy trying to do this electronically).
3. Plan one unique date each month.
4. Wake up at 7:15 a.m. every weekday morning (I normally don’t wake up until 8:00 and love my sleep).
5. Travel somewhere I’ve never been before.
6. Plan healthy meals for each week (and grocery shop ahead of time).
7. Take a DSLR camera/photography class (so that I’m not always on the Auto setting!).
8. Celebrate our first wedding anniversary by being together on the actual day (wherever Rob’s internship is located) and a special trip in May.
9. Read one book each month.
10. Focus on an outlet for my creative side (more details to come!).

What do you have planned in the year ahead?

Best of 2013

If you haven’t yet bookmarked or followed my new website, www.letloveguideus.com, please do! All posts will be going up on that page as I convert my blog to my new domain.

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On New Year’s Eve last year, I was in New York City with my fiance and a circle of friends. We were eating snacks and drinking champagne at the Paynes’ apartment, getting ready to brave the wintry weather and crazy crowds of NYC’s infamous Times Square. I knew then that 2013 would be a big year. And that it was. New Year’s Eve is always a special time to reflect and remember, so here’s my countdown of Top 10 “Best of 2013.”

10. I got a new job in Charlottesville. It’s giving me more experience, challenges, and knowledge than I ever thought I would get at age 24.

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9. Rob and I welcomed our second nephew into the world (he just snuck into 2013), making us the proud aunt and uncle of TWO cute little boys! We love Ben and Nate!

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8. My family had a mini-reunion with a wine tasting and picnic in Culpeper, Virginia at Old House Winery. It was a perfect afternoon with Rob, my mom, my dad, and my sister right after we moved to Virginia.

7. I grew in friendship with Maggie, Jessa, and Rebecca through our weekly “accountability group” in NYC. Each of these women is so special and made New York an even more wonderful place to live.

6. Rob and I started a new chapter with a move to Charlottesville, Virginia for him to start business school. We got to decorate our new home together and make friends in a new community.

5. I ran my first half-marathon. Through the hills of Central Park, no less. It took a lot of mind-over matter for me to complete this race without stopping, as I don’t consider myself a natural distance runner. When I finished, nothing could erase the beam on my face.

4. I got to spend a whole weekend at the beach with my closest friends. For one of my Bachelorette parties, Stephanie orchestrated the perfect beach get-away with my college girlfriends. Since I don’t get to see them every day like I used to, I absolutely loved spending a fun weekend chatting, eating, dancing, and playing like old times.

3. I broke out my snow boots for the NYC blizzard. I absolutely love snow and the way it makes everything look so pristine and fairytale-like. Rob and I had the best time walking through Central Park in the foot-deep snow and watching all the cute kids sled and play.

2. I honeymooned with my new husband at Hermitage Bay in Antigua. This was the absolute best honeymoon I could’ve imagined, full of complete relaxation, joyful conversations, delicious dining, unmatched scenery, and Antiguan adventure. What a special trip.

1. I married Rob. For the rest of my life, 2013 will always stand out in importance. Rob and I shared the most magical day professing our vows, loving our favorite people, and dancing the night away. It was the perfect way to begin our marriage, and it was my favorite day of the year.

So much to be grateful for! Thanks for the memories, 2013, and CHEERS to 2014!

Remember to jump over to www.letloveguideus.com for my new blog page!

Friday Finds

I’ve got my husband back! I picked him up from the airport last night, and tonight we’re celebrating “our” Christmas with a gift & stocking exchange, a special home-cooked dinner, and a Christmas movie + popcorn on the couch. I’m also excited to have some time off work to really enjoy the holiday and time with our families. Have a wonderful weekend!

This Christmas card is ah-ma-zing. (P.S. – Their house looks like an exact replica of my childhood house in Atlanta.)

Incredible sports photography.

There is always a silver lining, even in the midst of tragedy.

A lovely duet.

What an awesome stocking stuffer these would make.

The most overused buzzwords on LinkedIn.

Chipotle does Naples?

Rob taught these boys their dance moves.

A capella: A ca-awesome.

Made me laugh.

Good always wins the day. Thanks, Google!

Recipe | Toffee

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I’ve been baking several batches of my favorite Christmas cookie, peanut blossoms, lately for our apartment staff, my coworkers, and our Christmas party, so when the Darden Partners’ Cookie Exchange came up on my calendar, I thought I’d go a different route.

My Aunt Diane gave my mom this recipe years ago, and now my mom often makes toffee during the holiday season. It’s one of those sweet/salty combinations that I find irresistible. I asked her to share the recipe with me so that I could make a few batches for the Cookie Exchange, and the toffee turned out great. I love how simple it is to make – you only need a few ingredients!

What You Need:
1 C (2 sticks) Blue Bonnet Margarine
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 cube milk chocolate almond bark (baker’s chocolate)
Chopped almonds (optional)

What You Do:
Get out a jar of peanut butter to use for color reference.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and set it on a heat resistant surface. Chop almonds and set aside.

In a 10” non­stick skillet on medium heat, combine margarine and sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes “just almost” the color of peanut butter. The whole process takes about 20 minutes.  The mixture will start out liquid, become foamy (it’s boiling), and then the foam will start to reduce and the mixture will start to thicken and very slowly darken from pale yellow to the peanut butter color.  This is when you must watch it very closely (stir some) and as soon as it becomes “just almost” the color of peanut butter, carefully pour it onto the lined cookie sheet.  Let it harden 5 minutes.  Then, using a finger or two on 1/2 cube of milk chocolate almond bark, carefully “skate” almond bark all over the surface until it’s completely melted.  If using almonds, sprinkle on melted chocolate.  Let cool completely.  Loosen from the foil and crack it so it breaks into smaller pieces.  You can use any hard object in your kitchen to help crack it.

 

Our Six Month-versary!

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Today marks six months since Rob and I tied the knot in beautiful Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Honestly, that perfect day feels like forever ago. So many big life things have happened in this past half a year, but marriage has been the constant best thing in our lives. To save you from more mushy-gushy, I thought I’d share something a little more light-hearted.

I recently came across an article by the Huffington Post: 35 Things You Absolutely MUST Agree Upon Before Getting Married. A little ridiculous, but the “disagreements” that come from this list seem to add a little spice to marriage. It’s nice not being an exact clone of your spouse. But it is interesting and fun to learn to live with him/her and the inevitable differences. Check out our answers below. Where are points of “contention” in your marriage or relationship?

1. Does the toilet paper go over or under the roll?
B – Over. Definitely.
R – Don’t care.

2. Cats? Dogs? Both?
B – Neither. Ever. Sorry future kids, mommy’s “allergic.”
R – Neither.

3. Can you eat breakfast for dinner?
B – Yeah! That’s a fun treat. Might as well put on pajamas, too.
R – Yes, but why would you want to? The better question is, can you eat dinner for breakfast?

4. Cold pizza: yes or no?
B – Eh, depends how desperate/hungry I am.
R – Eh, it’s okay.

5. Is it acceptable to open presents as they arrive or do you have to wait for the actual birthday or holiday?
B – Wait for the actual birthday or holiday.
R – Actual birthday or holiday.

6. Should the dirty forks and knives go in the dishwasher with the handle sticking out of the utensil tray or down in the utensil tray?
B – Handle sticking out. Does anyone actually put the dirty side up?!
R – Definitely out.

7. Is it acceptable to leave dishes in the sink to “soak” overnight, or do they need to be cleaned before bed?
B – They can “soak” if I’m too lazy to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher. Otherwise, just load ‘em in.
R – It’s acceptable, yeah.

8. Toothpaste: cap on or cap off?
B – On.
R – On.

9. Again on the toothpaste: roll it from the bottom or just squeeze really hard?
B – Just squeeze really hard. Then when I can’t squeeze any harder, I move onto the next tube while Rob musters out the last remaining bits of paste from the first tube.
R – Continue to roll from the bottom in the tubes that Bridgette tossed aside for a new tube weeks ago.

10. Are towels a one-time use item or do you use the same towel until laundry day?
B – In a dream world, they’re one-time use, but in our world, they generally get a few days of use before grabbing a new one.
R – Yeah, I can use the same towel until laundry day.

11. How about washcloths?
B – One-time use.
R – Multiple use.

12. Road trip or flying?
B – Always love a good road trip, but it depends on time constraints.
R – Flying because we get there quicker.

13. What’s the right thread count for sheets?
B – As many as we can afford :). I love a luxurious bed.
R – As high as you can get. I love soft sheets.

14. What brand of toilet paper?
B – Whatever’s on sale.
R – Could not care less.

15. Mayo or Miracle Whip?
B – Neither. You won’t find that stuff in our house.
R – Never. Ever. Ever. Ever.

16. Pepsi or Coke?
B – Coke! Preferably Sprite, the world’s best drink.
R – Coke. And that’s the most ridiculous (obvious) question on this list.

17. Can you eat the holiday candy out in the display bowl or must it be left there for display?
B – Depends. I ate the Reese’s out of our bowl at Halloween, but that was my mistake for buying too tempting of a treat. The candy corn and now peppermints, however, are just for display.
R – I’ve never thought about it. Probably because I don’t have hankerings for candy.

18. What is YOUR definition of camping?
B – Sleeping on an air mattress at someone else’s place.
R – Hiking during the day and returning to the Westin at night.

19. Turn the thermostat down when you go out or leave it alone?
B – If I leave the house, the thermostat is off. When I come home, I turn it on and set it.
R – Turn it off, for sure. I’m more concerned about keeping it cool than warming it anyway.

20. At what point is a garbage bag too full to stuff more trash in it?
B – Haha I will cram as much in as possible. It’s only too full when it smells bad.
R – When you can’t fit any more into the bag. Or when it smells atrocious.

21. How many times is it acceptable to hit the snooze button?
B – As many as you want – just can’t be late for work/school ;)
R – As many as you’d like. I don’t love to get up.

22. Thrift store shopping: great deals or gross?
B – Great for some things, like the awesome bench I got for our patio.
R – Thrift store shopping is fine, but not usually for clothes.

23. How far in advance is it OK to plan a vacation?
B – Never too early.
R – I’d say no more than a year, or so.

24. Restaurant reservations: necessary or too restrictive?
B – Necessary because we get dining points (read: free cash) using Open Table.
R – Fine if needed, but too restrictive if not necessary for the restaurant. I don’t like to be on too strict of a time frame.

25. Roller coasters: love ‘em or hate ‘em?
B – Love!!
R – Love ‘em.

26. More chocolate chips, less cookie or more cookie, less chips?
B – A nice balance… unless it comes to dough, then more dough and less chips.
R – More cookie.

27. How much orange juice must be left in the container for it to be returned to the fridge?
B – I hate wasting, so either finish it or put it back in the fridge until it’s finished.
R – I don’t drink orange juice :-D.

28. Chip clips or just roll the bag up?
B – Chip clips… I have a particular method of folding the bag before clipping that I taught Rob.
R – Chip clips, for sure. Though I’m not as particular as Bridgette.

29. Call the doctor or just take some medicine at home?
B – Just take some medicine at home… I avoid doctors at all cost.
R – Call the doctor, for sure. Taking medicine and just sitting at home has never worked for me.

30. Where is the prime location for the TV remote to stay?
B – On the coffee table, in the tray.
R – On the coffee table.

31. Is it OK to have a TV in the bedroom?
B – I’d prefer not, but we do have one in there. We just don’t use it.
R – Of course, but we don’t use it.

32. Should folded clothes be put away, or is it OK to just pull as needed from the basket of clean laundry?
B – Preferably put away, but I understand how busy some people are ;).
R – Put away, unless too short on time to do so.

33. Do you need to write a grocery list or just wait until you’re walking around the store to figure out what you need?
B – Definitely write a grocery list and cross off as I go.
R – Definitely wait until you’re walking around. I just walk up and down every aisle to make sure I don’t miss anything.

34. Making the bed: must-do or waste of time because you’re just going to get back in it?
B – I love a well-made bed! And I also love when Rob surprises me with a well-made bed if I leave first in the morning!
R – I’m neutral.

35. Is it OK to shave/clip toenails in the living room?
B – Ew, no.
R – No, of course not.

Friday Finds

Welcome, weekend! Rob is in the middle of exams, so while he’s working away this weekend, I’ll be crafting, reading, and watching a Christmas movie or two. Then he heads to NYC on Sunday afternoon for a week, so it will be very quiet! Hope you have a beautiful, Christmas-y weekend.

Inexpensive superfoods to keep you healthy and strong.

Talk about spreading Christmas cheer! (Happy tears!)

100% – my mom taught me well!

If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough.

The most beautiful words in the English language.

The 2013 Hater’s Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalogue. (Hilarious, but don’t click if vulgar language offends you.)

December as a college student vs. December as a working adult.

I’ve never cooked seafood, but I think I could handle this crab recipe.

10 Quick, Easy Meals for Moms! Drenched in hilarious sarcasm… sorry, Mom, for being such a picky eater all those years!

Pantone 2014 Color of the Year

I’m a huge fan of emerald, 2013’s color of the year (senior year prom dress, wedding rehearsal dress). But I was so excited to hear that Radiant Orchid is the newly crowned color of the year by Pantone! This is one of my favorite colors, especially to wear. I love a bright pop of color in this shade. I have a feeling I will be seeing a lot more of it on the shelves of retailers in the next year.

What do you think about Radiant Orchid?

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Sperry Suede Slippers // Target iPhone Case // Hunter Rain Boots

Old Navy Shirt // Kate Spade Cuff Watch

Target Sunnies // Kate Spade Earrings // Essie “Big Spender”