“Kate Spade” Bridal Shower for Heather

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‘Tis the year of weddings! (Again. Do you remember that time we went to 13 weddings in a year-and-a-half time span?) We have eight weddings this year, two of which I’m in, and five of those are in October! (Fair warning: if I decline your invitation to do something, you know why.) And of course, all these weddings also mean many bachelorette parties, bridal showers and other celebrations. No complaints for me though – y’all know I live for this stuff!

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The wedding festivities kicked off on July 11th with a bridal shower for the one-and-only Heather: my college roommate, dancing buddy and fellow shoe-lover. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding last December, and now I have the honor of standing next to her on her big day this October. Exciting is an understatement!
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And let me tell you – she has one incredible bridal party! The seven of us worked together to throw her the bridal shower of her dreams, and we pulled it off beautifully if I do say so myself.
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The other girls all live in the Savannah area (where Heather lives and is getting married), and I am two hours away in Jacksonville, so we all coordinated via a private Facebook event to organize and assign tasks.

Picking a theme for the shower was easy. Heather loves all things girly, glitzy, feminine and designer, so we decided on a Kate Spade theme: pink, black and gold with bows, stripes and polka dots mixed in throughout.
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We wanted to have the party somewhere fun, trendy and downtown (some place we knew Heather would love), so I immediately contacted the amazing folks at Dub’s Pub on River Street. (Jimmy and I had our engagement party there and they were so incredible to work with, plus their private space in the back is just what we had in mind for the shower.) Check!
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The local girls all got together a few nights before the shower for a craft night and put together the party favors (pink nail polish in adorable polka dot boxes), made a gold and white sparkly veil for the bride-to-be, created a tassel banner, and picked up a few other essentials. While they were crafting in Georgia, I was making bow napkins, creating games and a countdown sign, shopping for prizes, and gathering decor from my wedding collection in Florida.

Holly had the fabulous cake made at a local bakery, and made the cookies and bridal sash herself (!!!). Jessica made the precious center pieces and filled them with fresh flowers the morning of the shower. How talented are we?! Pats on the back all around.
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We were all a little curious as to how it would all turn out when we put everything together, and we were all blown away with the result.
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We played “Bridal Bingo” and “How Well Do You Know The Bride?”, and prizes included glitter-dipped champagne, a pink coffee mug stuffed with Eos lip gloss and a Starbucks gift card, and a pink, white and gold hanging jewelry organizer. We also had guests fill out a Bridal Mad Libs card for Heather to read when she got home (because I’m pretty sure most were a bit inappropriate!).
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I’m also impressed that everyone wore pink and black like we’d requested on the invitation!
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And of course, Heather looked absolutely stunning.
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The food was excellent, the champagne was even more delicious when served with pink rock candy, and the guests were so much fun.
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I’d say we make a pretty great team, ladies!
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We wrapped up the afternoon with a cocktail and a view at Top Deck, followed by a quick stop at Jen’s and Friends.
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It was such a blast celebrating this beautiful bride-to-be, and I can’t wait for the celebrations to continue! IMG_8553

Whole30: Days 1-5

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Y’all, I gave in and jumped on board the fad diet train. Okay … you’re right, who am I kidding? I’ve been cruising this train on and off for years. But this fad diet is more of a full-body cleanse and about training your body to eat natural foods, rid of gross crap that you can’t properly digest, and making you feel fabulous – not about losing weight.

Ladies and gentleman, I’m talking about Whole30.

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If you haven’t heard of it it’s time to climb out from that rock you’ve been living under and join us in 2015. (It’s actually been around since 2009, but just learned about it last year when I started working with a personal trainer at Peak Physiques.) In short, Whole30 is described as a “short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” You do this by pretty much cutting everything delicious from your diet for thirty days. I’m talking sugar, MSG, dairy, starch, soy, legumes, and ALCOHOL (sad, sad days ahead), and eating only natural foods like meats, fruits, veggies, and most seeds and nuts. You can read more about Whole30 and what it can do for you here.

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I know, it sounds miserable. But let’s face it – we can do anything for thirty days, so why not something that will make your body love you even more? I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things from people who have completed the challenge, most of which have done this many times since, and I’m looking forward to being another success story. Plus my personal trainer has organized a little support group for her clients, so we all have each other to lean on and turn to for recipes, tips and support.

So with that said, I have decided to log my goals and expectations, experiences, shopping lists, meals, cravings, feelings, etc. throughout the process with you right here, so you can get a real day-to-day look at what this process is like (in case you decided to jump on this crazy band wagon, too).

>> FYI for more frequent updates, meals and progress, follow me on Instagram (@BlakeleyVinicky). <<

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Expectations and Goals: I’m going to be completely honest with you: I’m going into this knowing that I won’t get the full benefits because I most likely won’t complete all 30 days of the program. I’m going on vacation (to Wisconsin, mind you) for a week-and-a-half at the end of the month, and following that with a bachelorette celebration in Siesta Key. If you think I am going to be able to resist the Wisconsin bloody Mary’s and cheese on vacation, you are a crazy person. BUT I will stick to the program 100% the rest of the time and as much as I can while I am away, and I plan to start again after the bachelorette weekend and commit for the full 30 days. Think of this as my test run, if you will. While losing a few pounds would be wonderful, I am mainly doing this challenge to rid my body of what it doesn’t need and give it only what it does, and to train my taste buds, too. When I was hard-core watching what I ate the months leading up to my wedding, I felt and looked better than I had in years. Since then, my eating habits have gone downhill and I feel like crap. I am constantly tired no matter how much sleep I get, my muscles are achy 80% of the time (and it’s not from exercise – it’s a different kind of sore), and I’m not liking the way my clothes are fitting. I’m hoping to reverse these symptoms and make my body love me again, and allow me to love my body as well.

Grocery Shopping:
Pretty much everything I got was organic, grass-fed or all-natural. Shopping took a little longer than usual because I checked the labels on everything I bought, making sure there were no added sugars of any kind, gluten, MSG, soy, starch, etc. This is probably one of the most important things for succeeding at Whole30. I also purchased the Whole30 cookbook, which details every rule, food you can and cannot eat, and has a TON of great recipes. (P.s. I am cooking for myself and my hubby, which is why I got so much food at once.) I hit up my local farmer’s market store for the fresh foods then headed to a natural food store for the rest, and spent just at $100 for everything. Here’s a copy of my shopping list (I also bought Frank’s hot sauce and Publix organic balsamic vinegar, which weren’t on my list but are approved.):
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My Whole30 Diary – The Process:

No-Judgement Day (Sunday, July 5): This is what I call the day before you start Whole30. The day when you purge and eat everything in sight because you know you’re going to be dying a slow and painful death for the next thirty days. I celebrated by No-Judgement Day with Mexican street corn, a bangin’ shrimp taco and a carne royal taco from the fabulous Taco Lu, then polished off half a bottle of Sauvignon blanc (I couldn’t let it go to waste!) while I researched more about the program. I found a ton of great recipes in the book and several blogs that I’m excited to try out and keep up with!
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Day 1 (Monday, July 6)
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Grocery shopping and meal prep day! Ideally I would have done this yesterday, but my stupid tire decided to become BFFs with a nail and go flat on me, so I was stranded until this afternoon. I spent several hours in the kitchen meal prepping and making the basics for the week: boiled eggs, avocado chicken salad, Paleo mayo, clarified butter, and lunch for the next few days. I also weighed myself, took my measurements, and took before pictures from the front, side and back to reference at the end of this. (FYI I am making my meals on small appetizer-sized plates and perfectly portioning everything out so I don’t overeat.)
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (made with coconut milk) and sautéed spinach, roasted avocado and fresh mango.
Lunch: Spaghetti squash topped with grilled chicken breast and paleo alfredo sauce.
Dinner: Grilled chicken wings tossed in Frank’s hot sauce mixed with clarified butter, and roasted okra. I feel like we’ll be having this a lot over the next few weeks. It’s a staple meal in our household!
Notes:
* I was pretty distraught to learn that I can’t have any sweetener in my coffee, but then very surprised when I discovered that iced black coffee with a splash of coconut milk is actually drinkable (and quite refreshing)!
* I also had a revelation when I tried a cashew for the first time in years and didn’t hate it.
* By the end of the day, I was feeling good, full and satisfied. I’ve got this!
* Today on the Whole30 “symptom” timeline: “So what’s the big deal?” Yep – that’s what I’m thinking so far!
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Day 2 (Tuesday, July 7)
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First day back at work since starting the program. I helped soften the blow by packing breakfast and lunch the night before, and setting a timer to refill my water Tervis every hour.
Breakfast: I started my morning with two hard-boiled eggs, a few almonds and a plum. Oh, and a Venti Starbucks iced coffee with coconut milk that I added myself.
Lunch: A cup of avocado chicken salad and 1/2 cup of strawberries and blackberries.
Dinner: Buffalo chicken meatballs and zucchini “pasta.”
* I woke up starving and my tummy was growling extremely loudly. * I have also been hungry every two hours on the dot. This no snacking rule is tough!
* We played beach volleyball tonight and it was quite challenging. The four of us who make up a team are all on this Whole30 thing, so we were all in a bit of a funk. A little tired and reaction times weren’t super “on.”
* Today on the Whole30 “symptom” timeline: “The Hangover.” I guess that explains my fatigue, though it didn’t really start kicking in until the evening, and it wasn’t terrible.
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Day 3 (July 8)
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Yep, woke up hungry again. And very lethargic. As in it was too hard to keep my arms up long enough to dry my hair, so it ended up in a top knot. I also felt a little bloated when I first woke up, but that seemed to disappear when I started drinking water. Also, I discovered Trader Joe’s coffee concentrate last night and I am in heaven. That over ice with little water and a splash of coconut milk is actually yum!
I sent the Timeline to all of my co-workers this morning as a fair warning, and now they’re all giving me crap about it – knocking and asking if it’s safe to enter my office and asking if I’ve collapsed mid-sentence or killed anyone yet – which is actually making this much more entertaining!
Breakfast (at work): One scrambled egg, scrambled with a splash of coconut milk and cooked in the microwave, one hard-boiled egg (it’s what I had handy), and half a sweet potato topped with cinnamon. Note: I’m pretty much over eggs at this point. Time to get creative and meal prep again tonight!
Lunch: Monday night’s leftovers: Spaghetti squash and grilled chicken fingers topped with Paleo alfredo sauce. Still delish! Also had a serving of mixed roasted nuts (almonds, cashews, and pistachios). About an hour later I was starving, so I had five rambutan fruits.
Dinner: I had a pack of ground beef that I needed to cook but not all of the ingredients for a lot of recipes I found, so I go creative. It ended up being a Thai beef and basil lettuce wraps (ground beef, beef broth, water chestnuts, red pepper, asparagus, yellow curry powder, chili powder, minced garlic, lime juice, fresh basil and S&P stir fried atop a bowl of iceberg lettuce), served with roasted russet potatoes topped with a spicey yellow curry sauce. It was actually an awesome meal! Thank goodness for potatoes on this diet (though I’m going to try to stick to sweet potatoes as much as possible.)
* 10 a.m: I definitely feel hungover today. My body is achey, I’m sleepy and I have a slight headache. Apparently this is my body coming down from Sunday’s binge-eating “high.” Whoops. Seriously, me all morning …
photo[3]* 3 p.m: I’m feeling much better and have more energy. It could be the cup of iced coffee I just had, but … I’ll take it.
* Poor Jimmy felt nauseous and had a headache all day. Sucks, but hey, at least he’s sticking with it!
* Today on the Whole30 “symptom” timeline: “The Hangover, day two.” Oh yes, now I get it. Totally feeling like I chugged a bottle of tequila.
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Day 4 (July 9)
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This morning was rough. Not only was it nearly impossible to peel myself out of bed, I also woke up feeling sort of nauseous. I guess now I know how Jimmy felt last night. The good news is that once I had breakfast I felt much better.
Breakfast: Coffee smoothie made with instant coffee, a frozen banana, unsweetened cacao powder and coconut milk. Very good and refreshing on this 100 degree humid day! When I got to work I had two hard-boiled eggs to get my proteins in and help keep me full. (I’m over eggs right about now.)
Lunch: Leftovers from last night – Thai basil beef stir fry, roasted potatoes with coconut curry sauce, and a golden kiwi.
Dinner: Baked chicken breast with a tomato coconut curry sauce, and diced brussels spouts, sweet potatoes and red onion roasted in ghee (clarified butter) and S&P, topped with a balsamic vinegar glaze. Oh. My. Gosh. This was probably the most amazing meal yet, and I got it straight from the Whole30 cookbook. I had my friend over for dinner and she can’t wait to make it for her fiance!
* 10 a.m: Still feeling fatigued and achy, but it’s not super extreme. I am, however, wondering how I am going to survive working with my trainer at the gym this evening. The thought of lifting anything over ten pounds makes me want to crawl under my desk.
* My workout was much tougher than usual since I didn’t seem to have the energy or strength as I usually do, but I made it through. My 7 p.m. I actually felt really good and energized.
* Today on the Whole30 “symptom” timeline: “Kill ALL the things!”
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Day 5 (July 10):
Yay – I woke up feeling great today! No more aches and I was full of energy. I don’t know if it’s my mindset or the way I’m supposed to be feeling, but I’ll take it. Like, I even woke up an hour early to make the hubby a smoothie and finish up a project I was working on. That is HUGE for me! Also, I broke a rule and stepped on the scale: 4.2 pounds down!! I know this isn’t about weight-loss, but that’s pretty dang encouraging.
Breakfast: I got a little crazy with breakfast this morning. I had two large portabella mushrooms topped with sliced avocado and an egg, baked for 15 minutes and topped it off with S&P and hot sauce. It was AWESOME and a nice change for breakfast. About an hour later I had my TJ’s iced coffee and coconut milk, which is tasting better and better by the day.
Lunch: I polished off all my leftovers and had the remainder of the beef stir fry and half of a sweet potato mashed with ground cinnamon on top. About an hour later I snacked on a handful of almonds.
Dinner: Another tasty and pretty meal! Jimmy grilled Caribbean lime cedar-wrapped salmon, and I prepared q chopped salad with portabella mushrooms, red onions, cucumber, tomato and avocado with an oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. (He also grilled a plantain but it was super dry, so we didn’t eat it.)
* My stomach has been growling sooooo loud all day. Thank goodness I have an office to myself or my co-workers would be giving me some strange looks.
* Today on the Whole30 “symptom” timeline: “Kill ALL the things!” I’m guessing because you’re hangry?? I’m not feeling angry, though. Thank goodness!
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What I’ve learned so far:

– Food is crazy. It’s nuts what eating certain things can do to your body, and what not eating certain things can do.
– I’m crazy, too. I am voluntarily inviting aches, pain, nausea, hunger, mood swings and fatigue into my life. What is wrong with me?! I guess it’s not really any different than one week of every month anyway, so ……
hopefully it’ll all be worth it soon!
– Always have lemons and limes on hand, and have a can of coconut milk in the fridge. They are pretty much staple items in almost every recipe I’ve made so far!

Here’s to the next five days!

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Weekend Recap: 4th of July, Babies, Bridesmaids and Whole30

The title of this post is a little overwhelming, isn’t it?! Welcome to my world :). This past weekend was another great one, and I wanted to share all of the fun that we had and memories made with you. (It’s a little delayed, but had to share before the new weekend begins.)

To make this great from the beginning, my office was closed Friday and Monday for the holiday, which makes for a fantastic weekend right off the bat. My friend, Sarah, invited me and two other friends over to her place for a little grown-up slumber party, which consisted of wine, pizza, watching Fifty Shades of Grey, and being asked to be her bridesmaids! It was such an exciting surprise, and I am beyond thrilled that I get to be a part of her and Amia’s special day. Have I mentioned how much I love love? Cinco de Mayo 2016, here we come! #StecsOnTheBeach
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Friday morning we started the weekend on the right foot with a little #SweatingForTheWedding gym shesh (and of course, Gina snapped a mid-workout picture. At least we look pretty bad @$$?)
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Friday was fairly low-key. I had the day off, so I ran a bunch of errands and cleaned the house (story of my life), then we went over to our friends Nick and Meghan’s house for a delicious dinner. Oh yeah, and I started making my flag water blob!
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Saturday morning was full of cooking and getting ready for our 4th of July Brunch, and friends started trickling in around noon, including my bestie Brittnee and her hubby Travis who always come down from Savannah for holidays! We had more than enough food, the boys filled up my flag water blob backwards (we don’t hate America, I promise!), most of my dry ice melted (we still had enough for a round of martinis, thank God), Phil cut his finger while chopping bacon and passed out on his was to the living room, and it poured rain for most of the day (so much for hanging out on that water blob to cool off!), but we had a great time and enjoyed spending the afternoon with friends nonetheless.
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That night we headed downtown to watch the fireworks from our VIP viewing spot at The Jacksonville Landing, which never disappoints.
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Sunday was the last day of freedom before Jimmy and I started The Whole30 (more on that to come), so we indulged in a tasty meal at TacoLu with Brittnee and Travis, then relaxed on the couch the rest of the night as it stormed outside.photo 1[1]

My long weekend continued Monday. I was hoping to spend a few hours at the beach, but my car had other plans for me. Instead, I had to use a can of Fix-a-Flat to inflate my tire just enough to get it down the street to the tire shop. And of course, I picked up a nail in a place that wasn’t patchable, as always. $177 later, Fannie had a new tire and was ready to run errands. I hit up our local fresh produce store and stocked up on Whole30-approved goodness, then spent the next four hours rotating between doing laundry and meal prepping for the next few days. Not exactly the most relaxing day off, but it was definitely productive!
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Back to work Tuesday morning, but at least it was an exciting one. Brittnee and Travis are expecting their first baby in January, so I got to create their pregnancy announcement which they shared with the world that afternoon. I am beyond excited for them – they’ve been praying for this day for so long and I know they are going to make such wonderful parents!
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So there you have it – Another awesome weekend for the books. Looking forward to this weekend celebrating bride-to-be Heather and helping throw her bridal shower in Savannah!

Cheers!

How To Wear Lipstick Like a Boss

You can do it. I believe in you!
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I always get compliments on my lipstick and the fact that I can pull it off, and my friends know me as the girl who’s 99% likely to have a fun color on. But I wasn’t always brave and cray cray when it came to bold makeup, especially lipstick. Now, however, I’ll rock blue eyeshadow (blended tastefully, of course) or a bright purple lip like a boss. photo 3
Sound like fun? Well you, my friend, can do it too. Here’s how:

1. Own it. People always say, “I could never pull that color off.” Heck yes you can, girlfran! If you like it, rock it and it will look like it was made for you. I promise, you’re the only one who thinks it’s a thing. You’ll have heads turning and people asking what shade you’re wearing in no time.

2. Coordinate your pout and your outfit. Your lipstick and clothes don’t have to match completely (in fact, they shouldn’t), but complimentary colors can tie the look together and make less of a statement, but still be bold and fun. This way your lips won’t scream, “HEY, LOOK AT ME!” Instead, they’ll softly holler, “Hey, I’m chic and trendy just like my outfit.”
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3. Invest in good products. Trust me, I know how painful it can be to spend your hard-earned money on a tube of lipstick. But when you give in and fall victim to the higher-end products, you won’t regret it. Quality really does make all the difference. (And then it becomes addicting. You’ve been warned!)
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4. Wear it on the daily
. Not saying you have to wear crazy lipstick colors every day of your life, but I highly recommend wearing some sort of color every day (to work, school, run errands) to help build up your comfort level. Once you’re used to seeing yourself in lipstick, it won’t feel so weird when you make your grand debut at the next social gathering.
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5. Grow bolder. Start off with lighter shades and gradually progress to darker, bolder and brighter shades. Baby steps, ladies. Baby steps.

6. Stick to seasonal colors. This will help with the shock effect, too. In the spring, feel out the pinks and pastels. In the summer, go for bright pinks, corals and orangey tones. In the fall and winter, experiment with more deep berry, mauve, purple and brown shades. But red? Red is ALWAYS in season.

7. Pick one or the other. Bold eyes or bold lips – not both. Unless you are going for a dramatic look, pick one or the other. This will help make it easier to accept without freaking you out when you walk by a mirror.

8. Play with formulas. There are TONS of different types of lipsticks – satin, gloss, shine, matte, semi-matte, standard lipsticks, liquid lipsticks, lip creams, etc. You might like one or two better than the rest, so I would definitely suggest playing around until you find a few that are in your comfort zone.
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9. Find the right shade.
Just because you tried one red and didn’t love it doesn’t mean there’s not another shade out there for you. There are a million shades of the same color, so experiment with different formulas and brands until you find the perfect one for you.

10. Make it last. If you’re worried about being that girl whose lipstick is all over her straw or coffee cup, or you don’t want your man’s face turning red from smooches, try using a long-lasting or smudge-proof product. Matte lipsticks are another great option that won’t budge easily. (Speaking from experience for both of these, BTW.)

*Bonus: Seek advice from a professional! Take some time to walk into a cosmetics store (like Ulta, Sephora, Blue Mercury, MAC …) or visit the beauty department inside a department store. The pros can definitely help you find the right colors for your skin tone, specific event, an even recommend colors to get you on your way to being a lipstick queen.

And there you have it! Ten simple steps you can take to being the lipstick diva you’ve always dreamed of being but never had the balls to be. Just remember – makeup us FUN! There are no rights and wrongs, no reason to be ashamed to wear it, and no one should tell you otherwise. It’s a way to express youself and switch up your look any time you want to, and you should never apologize for it. Do what makes you happy and OWN IT!

I hope this helps! Share your lipstick pics on Instagram with #SweetTeaAndSkyscrapers so I can check them out and live you some love <3

>> Check out my post 12 Lipstick Shads Every Girl Should Own
>> Check out my post Currently Obsessing Over: LA Girl Lip Paint

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Cheers!
Blakeley

Currently Obsessing Over: L.A. Girl Lip Paint

IMG_8182Y’all. My life has been changed forever. I have found the most amazing lip paints and am beyond obsessed.

I went online to order my favorite concealer from LA Girl Cosmetics, and decided to browse through their other items while I was at it. Everyone knows I am a lipstick junkie, so of course that’s where I headed. When I saw that I could get a six-pack of their Glazed Lip Paint for less than $15, you know I jumped on it. Two days later I had a colorful surprise in my mailbox and my life hasn’t been the same since.

These little beauties are the perfect combo of pigmented lipstick and sheer lip gloss, and give some of the prestige brands a run for their money. I’m addicted to the Too Faced Melted lipsticks and thought these might be similar, but they’re a bit different. More glossy, less pigmented and not matte. But they do stay on and they are only a quarter of the price!

There are so many fun color options to choose from, but I ended up selecting the six-pack in their natural shades.

IMG_8173 copyThe colors included in the natural pack are: Tango, Peony, Flirt, Blushing, Whisper and Whimsical. Here’s what they look like in natural sunlight (in the order listed).
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As you can see, they are pretty pigmented but have a glossy-sheer texture, and are the right amount of pastel. I love them because they’re not crazy sticky like a lot of glosses, which I absolutely HATE, and the color lasts for hours! I’ve been wearing Whimsical, Tango and Peony on repeat and I can’t get enough of them. I just ordered the Intense Color Pack and can’t wait to see what those are like!

So if you’re looking for some great summer glosses but don’t want to spend and arm and a leg, these bad boys are calling your name! If you don’t want to get a six-pack, you can also order them in sets of three for right under $10, or individually for under $5. Hail to the goddess of lipstick!

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Let me know if you try any and what you think!

How to get a summer-ready pedi at home

Get your feetsies summer-ready with an at-home pedicure that’ll cost you a fraction of what you’d spend at a salon. I’m sharing some of my favorite products that will give your feet the TLC they need to make their 2015 beach debut.

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Summa, summa, summatime!

Wait, is it seriously JUNE?! Where the heck as the year gone already? It was just Christmas … now it’s 90+ degrees and time for those beach and pool days? (Thannkkkkk goodness.)

I absolutely love summer and everything about it: sand between my toes, bleached blonde hair from the sun, all-day pool parties, long, hot days, and even the humidity (there’s something so “homey” about it to me.) The only annoying parts about summer are having to eat like a rabbit so you look at least halfway decent in a bikini, and keeping up with those pedicures. Rabbit food sucks and pedicures are expensive.

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So to save money, time, the salon staff from having to beg me to get a design on my big tow, and my feet from a potential fungus, I’m all about giving myself at-home pedicures these days. Polish color options have never been an issue for me (I currently have 200+ different polishes – no joke), but I can never get my feet to have that same softness to them like the pros do. Until recently.

Enter Herbacin.

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Herbacin is a family owned and operated German beauty company now offering its organic products in the US.

About Herbacin: The Herbacin® Foot Care line was designed to keep feet and legs in tip-top shape with superior moisturizing, soothing and cooling products. The entire line contains organic camomile blossom extract and naturally rich oils, such as avocado and almond oils. Additionally, the line is free of parabens, mineral oil, animal ingredients or by-products and synthetic colors.

Organic, small business, soft feet – sounds good to me! I was sent a few products to try for myself and, I must say, I’m hooked. I’ve been using the products for a month now and my feet have never been smoother and softer, even when I come straight from having a professional pedicure!

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I have been using the Foot Cream when I get out of the shower, and my feet are seriously baby-soft. The Cooling Gel gives your tootsies a nice little tingling sensation, and is the perfect “feet treat” after an intense workout at the gym or a night in heels. I don’t really have any peeling on my feet, but my hubby sure does and the Foot Peeling cream is his new BFF. It’s even helped his Athlete’s Foot! (Not making any claims here, just saying it’s helped him.) If you have any roughness or callusing on your feet, this stuff is made for you. Smooth feet without that scary scraper thing? Heck yeah!

Pair these lotions with a fun bright or pastel polish on the toes and you’re ready to take on the beach, one little piggy at a time! Some of my favorite spring-to-summer polishes for the toes are Maybelline’s Color Show Lust for Lilac, Essie’s mint candy apple, go glazed, and e-nuf is e-nuf, and Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel in Pink Cadillaquer and Pretty Piggy. (Pictured in that order.)

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Wanna hear something cray cray? You can buy all three of the lotions and one of these nail polishes for under $30. That means you’d spend less that you would on a pedicure AND you get more than one out of it! I don’t know about you, but I’m all about saving some dough these days.

Lastly and most importantly: Don’t forget the sunscreen! You don’t want to fry those perfectly-pedicured feet of yours.

Oh! In case you’re wondering where you can get these super-fabulous foot creams, you can order online from Herbacin’s website, or pick them up at your local Harris Teeter or Anthropologie, or locate your nearest retailer here.

shoesHere’s to soft feet and pretty toes.
Cheers <3

7 “No-Fuss” Hairstyles For a Lazy Day (Video)

We all love a good, simple, go-to hairstyle that we know we can turn to no mater what, right? Let’s be honest … we don’t always have time to curl our hair in the mornings (or even dry it for that matter … because those extra 15 minutes of sleep are so much more important), our hair doesn’t always corporate, humidity isn’t always on our side (in Florida, at least), and sometimes you just want to look presentable without having to work out your arms first thing in the morning by trying to get your hair to stay up with 3,000 bobby pins. Amiright or amiright?!

I recently found this article titled 7 No-Fuss Hairstyles for a Lazy Day and instantly got excited. I love experimenting with new do’s and finding fun and easy ways to style my hair. Especially right now – it’s longer than it’s ever been (and it’s quite annoying most of the time).

So instead of trying them and keeping them to myself, I thought I’d video myself on the first go-around so I can share them with you. Why, you ask? I am wondering the same thing and still haven’t come up with an answer. You’re welcome or I’m sorry … you can choose. I had a feeling some of these would be a little difficult, especially because step-by-step instructions were not included, but I didn’t know I’d fail as miserably as I did. Feel free to watch (and laugh) if you so dare.

Things I learned after trying these styles:

1. My hair refuses to stay when I tie it in a knot. Does yours hold?
2. Pictures lie. I need step-by-step visual instructions. Stop trying to be like Ikea instructions, hair “tutorials”!
3. Everything looks so perfect on Pinterest. Real life is NOT Pinterest. Real life is a 90’s cheerleader ponytail-bun.
4. I make a lot of really weird faces .. and look kind of pissed off a lot of times. I need to work on that! I promise I’m not an angry person.

I vote you go and try these now and report back to me so I know if I’m the only dumb-dumb who can’t do these stupid “no fuss” hairstyles that forced me to drink an entire bottle of wine. Kthanks.

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Weekend Recap: Kentucky Derby Party, TPC and Mother’s Day

These past two weekends were so much fun that I can’t let them pass by without sharing the details with you! Even though it’s already Wednesday and a new weekend is right around the corner … but better late than never, right? My weekends are typically full of excitement (because let’s be honest, Jimmy and I can’t sit still for very long), but these past two were ones for the books, full of Kentucky Derby, TPC and Mother’s Day festivities.

Let’s start with April 30 because that was a very special day: I was reunited with a high school best friend … who I haven’t seen in NINE YEARS! Sasha moved to Missouri with her family during our freshman year of college. She and I have kept in touch through long calls, texts and social media, but nine years is a long time to not see your friend. About a week earlier I got a call from her saying that she was flying down to surprise her brother, who just moved back to Savannah, for his birthday, and would be flying into the Jacksonville airport. Of course we made plans to meet up! I met Sasha and her sister-in-law for lunch and we did a little shopping at St. Johns Town Center before they made the two-hour drive to Savannah. It was so nice catching up, hearing about her last nine years of life, and picking right back up where we left off. 11164670_999540246868_9067666379400230461_o 11168473_10102134053816171_3177048605641286327_n
Friday after work we joined our friends Nick and Meghan for a relaxing evening of food trucks, a beautiful sunset and live music by Edwin McCain at Tee Off Downtown, an event to kick off TPC in Jacksonville. Nothing crazy, and the perfect end to a work week.
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Saturday was party time! We recently moved from a two bedroom apartment on the third story to a three bedroom house with a yard and lake view, so we thought the Kentucky Derby would be the perfect excuse to have a get-together and housewarming party. Besides, any excuse for a theme party and to get dressed up – we’re in.

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I prepared a Mint Julep bar, complete with bourbon, homemade simple syrup, mint ice cubes, and mason jars and the ultimate hangover prevention as party favors.

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Seriously – Tempo Tonight is where it’s at, party people. They were kind enough to send me several packets to share with my friends and test out for myself, and they WORK! Take it from a girl who gets a crippling hangover from just two glasses of wine. Take two all-natural vitamin-packed tablets before you indulge and two more before bed, and adios, hangovers! (Head to their website for more info, and use code SWEET20 for 20% off your order. Excellent for bachelorette parties and weddings, too!)

We served up a buffet of southern deliciousness: Meghan’s blue cheese cole slaw, tossed salad with cornbread croutons, white chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks, bacon-rolled goat cheese balls, Amanda’s homemade guacamole, corn and zucchini salad, fresh watermelon, banana pudding, and Jimmy’s smoked Boston Butt served with my all-time favorite BBQ sauce from Savannah restaurant Johnny Harris.
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The girls wore sundresses and big hats, and the guys looks quite dapper too, if I may say so myself.

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The best-dressed (and best dancer) award with to Travis, who donned a khaki three-piece suite (sans the coat), a matching pink Vineyard Vines belt and bow tie, and horseshoe cufflinks.
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My BFF Brittnee and her hubby (the winner above) came down from Richmond Hill, GA to celebrate, my former co-worker and lovely friend Ashley was in town from Austin, TX, and I won $20 on the race! It was a great day all around.

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Sunday morning started off with coffee on the back porch and chasing down the ice cream man, followed by a relaxing afternoon at the beach with Brittnee while the boys golfed. The perfect end to a weekend!
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Last weekend was a little more low-key, but still wonderful.
Friday night we stayed in and Jimmy brought home Taco Lu for dinner, along with Mother’s Day sunflowers from my dog Lexie. So sweet of them :).

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Saturday we headed out to celebrate one of our favorite times of the year – The Players Championship golf tournament at Sawgrass. We spent the day with our friends Nick and Meghan sipping summer cocktails, watching golf at the beautiful Stadium course, and stalking Adam Scott. Okay, well maybe that was just me who did that. And Meghan. And every other girl there. #NoShame
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Sunday morning we celebrated our moms from afar with brunch and mimosas at BlackFinn, followed by an afternoon at the pool with our friends Sarah and Amia.

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And, since I couldn’t be in Savannah to celebrate with my mom on Mother’s Day, I gave her about her gift over the phone: A photo shoot for her, her two girls and two granddaughters, which will take place next weekend in Savannah. I also made her this video. Don’t judge.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Mother’s Day and weekend! I’ll be back next week with an update on this weekend, which will include a friend’s 30th birthday festivities. Have a great week, friends!

My Hubby’s Dirty 30 Full of Surprises

Birthdays are one of my favorites times of year. My family always made a big deal out of them growing up, and I’ve continued the tradition into my adulthood. We only get to celebrate the day of our birth once a year and we never know how many of them we’ll have left, so I am all for going all out and making the most of it. Which is why I celebrate birthday MONTHS!

April was a very special month for someone near and dear to my heart – it was the month of my hubby’s 30th! I kind of sort of went all out for it, and Jimmy specifically requested that I write a blog post recapping his birthday festivities. Of course I had already planned on it, but since he asked, I couldn’t let him down.

Instead of just a birthday, I decided to celebrate 30 days of Jimmy’s 30th. Beginning April 1st, I gave Jimmy a little slip of paper with a reason why I loved him (barf, I know) and a little gift which continued every day for the month.
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The Sunday before his actual birthday I threw a little cookout party at our house and invited several friends over for the afternoon (surprise #1). Jimmy thought this was his {only} birthday celebration, but couldn’t figure out why we weren’t doing something on his actual birthday which was the following Saturday. After finishing the food on the grill halfway inside – thank you rain and lack of patio covering – we enjoyed homemade burgers that the birthday boy whipped up. Present time! I had everyone bring some sort of Chicago-related gift and we forced Jimmy open them while everyone watched.
IMG_7628 IMG_7636 IMG_7653 IMG_7654 IMG_7669After opening everyone’s gifts and still not catching on, I gave him his gift from me (and his parents): plane tickets to Chicago for the following weekend (surprise #2), which I’d already cleared it with his boss and everything (surprise #3).
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He was very surprised :). He was even more surprised to hear that I’d already booked our hotels and made plans for our trip, which means he just got to sit back and have a good time (surprise #4).

Thursday afternoon we hit the airport and jet set to Chi-Town for a weekend of fun.
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We arrived around 5:30 p.m. CST, checked into Hotel Lincoln, then headed to Public House to have dinner and watch the Blackhawks game with the in-laws. We’d been sitting there eating, drinking and watching the game for about two hours when a random guy started making his way toward our booth. Jimmy thought he was some drunk guy who was being overly friendly and wasn’t very thrilled about it, but nope – it was his buddy Josh who flew in from California to celebrate with us (surprise #5)!
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Jimmy was so excited and at a loss for words (which is extremely rare). High-five to us, Josh!

Friday morning the three of us met up with Jimmy’s parents for lunch at The Local Chicago, then headed over to The Drake for a bloody Mary at Coq d’Or.
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Because the only thing we’re good at on vacation is eating and drinking our way through town, we made our way to a recommended spot, The Green Door Tavern, Chicago’s oldest pub, for a beer and mid-afternoon snack. While we were eating, Jimmy got another visitor: our friend Phil flew in from Jacksonville to celebrate, too (surprise #6)!
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We wrapped things up there and headed to check-in to our new hotel (because unfortunately Hotel Lincoln nearly tripled in price), The Willows Hotel in Lincoln Park, and rest up for a bit. Shortly after, Jimmy and the guys walked up the block to a nearby bar to throw back a few brews and watch sports (the original plan was for the guys to go golfing (surprise #7) but it was cold and rainy, so that didn’t happen), and his mom and I “went to the Art Institute of Chicago for some girl time.”

But really I went to set up for his surprise party (surprise #8).
Jimmy surprise party invitation
Jimmy’s fabulous friend Chris offered to let me take over his apartment for the evening to host the party, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. (Thanks Chris and Niki!) I decided to make it a 1920’s themed party because a) Jimmy loves that era and thinks he is the modern-day Great Gatsby, and b) he was “roaring out of his 20s and into his 30s.” So a few weeks before the party, I sent out invitations to local and out-of-town family and friends, ordered custom koozies with J’s favorite quote, shipped decorations to Chris, and had an outfit for Jimmy (surprise #9) shipped to his mom. Chris and his girlfriend made dips and snacks, J’s aunt brought a chocolate cake from Portillo’s (Jimmy’s favorite cake ever – surprise #10), his friend Mike picked up the booze and dropped them off the day before, and we ordered pizza from one of his favorite local places. Everything came together so perfectly.
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Josh and Phil brought Jimmy over to Chris’s to “meet up with all the girls and have a drink before going out for dinner,” and our sneaky plan worked perfectly. He had NO idea and was completely surprised!
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He was surprised again when he noticed a few other friends who came in town to share the weekend with him (surprise #11): Heidi, Dave, Stephani and Paige, in town from Iowa and a few hours outside of the city, and our Jacksonville friend Amanda’s parents from Michigan. The rest of the evening was spent catching up with everyone, dancing, and enjoying a fabulous evening celebrating The Great Vinicky.
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A HUGE thank you to all of our friends and family who came to celebrate with us, and for keeping this a secret for the past four months!

Saturday morning brought a little bit of sadness – I received an email saying that the White Sox game (surprise #12) had been cancelled due to weather. But, instead of moping and wasting a perfectly good Saturday in Chicago, we made the most of it and did what we do best: started the day with a good ol’ brunch, bloody Mary’s and mimosas at LuxBar downtown.

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After brunch and a quick pit stop at Walgreens for umbrellas (and random red noses for Red Nose Day) we walked ten blocks to our destination: Clark Street Ale House. (Quick back story on this place: I was in Chicago a few years ago with my mom and co-workers to see Oprah, and as we were walking to dinner we saw a neon sign lighting up the sky that said “Stop and drink” with an arrow pointing to the bar. So naturally, we stopped and drank, and it was the most amazing little bar ever. I’d been on a mission to find the name of that dang place ever since and finally did! So we had to go. And I was beyond excited.)
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Next rainy day distraction: The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center. We were fortunate enough to get seated right away at a spacious booth, and enjoyed tasty cocktails and an incredible view. And then the sun decided to come out!

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After taking in the view of the city, we made our way to Wicker Park to watch the Blackhawks WIN at Fatpour Tap Works, where we posted up for 3+ hours. So much fun being in the city with thousands of Hawks fans during the playoffs! We wrapped up the evening with some loud singing and bad dance moves at InnJoy and Schoolyard Tavern, had a late-night meal at Golden Apple Grill & Breakfast House, then called it a night around 3:30 a.m. Ouch.
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Sunday morning came all too early and we were dreading having to pack up and head home. After dragging ourselves out of bed, we loaded up our suitcases and headed downtown to meet up with Jimmy’s parents and sister to squeeze in as much as we could in the last few hours we had in the city. Before leaving for the airport, we stuffed our faces and put ourselves in a food coma. We started with a “cheezborger cheezborger cheezborger” and bloody Mary at the infamous Billy Goat Tavern, then snatched up a Blackhawks and Happy Birthday doughnut at Glazed and Infused.

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We were sad to leave (though our waistlines appreciated it, I’m sure) and had such a wonderful time. It was so much fun being the planner and tour guide in Jimmy’s hometown of Chicago – a complete change for him (in that city, at least)! He didn’t have to be in charge of making plans or decisions, and we all got to experience many things for the first time – even the locals. Thanks again to our amazing friends and family for making the trip, taking the time off work, keeping everything a secret, and coming to celebrate Jimmy’s 30th with us. It was a weekend we will never forget!

Jimmy, I hope you had the best birthday ever and you’re ready to embrace your 30s. I know they will be the best years ever – I’ll make sure of it!

(Also, I nominate myself for the Wife of the Year Award. Kthanks.)

Happy Sibling Day, You Crazy Animals

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Did you know that today, April 10th, is National Sibling Day? (If not and you have a brother or sister you better go tell them how much you love them!) I’ve shared a photo on Facebook expressing how much I love my siblings, but it’s not often enough that I get to gush over them. I am extremely fortunate to have three (plus two extras!) of the best siblings in this world, and I want the world to know it. So what better day than today to let them and everyone else know how much they mean to me?

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Our family of four children was probably a bit different from most families with many siblings growing up. My two brothers, Kevin and Derek, are actually my half brothers and are 15+ years older than me, but since they have been in my life since the second I was born, I count them as my 100% brothers. Then there’s me. Then there’s my little sister, Sarah, who is 21 months younger than I. My brothers were teenagers when I was born, so you can imagine the fun they had trying to figure out what to do with a baby sister, being too cool to change my dirty diapers and picking on me, and my sister and I were so close in age that we would go from best friends to hating one another overnight.
10385295_10101820228260101_515876554317647900_nDespite all of that, we all love each other unconditionally, support each other in every way, and life wouldn’t be the same without the Ainsworth Foursome. Which is why I want to share five of my fondest memories with and of each of them today :).

We’ll start from oldest to youngest.

 Kevin (a.k.a. Bubba): The oldest of us all.
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1. I had him wrapped around my finger from the beginning.
I don’t necessarily remember it (because I was obviously too young), but the pictures and stories of him napping with me and reading to me make up for that. I think I knew he was going to make an excellent big brother from that moment on.
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.36.18 AM 2. Hating every guy I brought around and threatening all of my boyfriends.
I know it’s the natural thing for a big brother to do, but he could be just plain mean! Looking back now, though, I appreciate it. And it just makes Jimmy that much more special because Bubba liked him from the second he met him. Score!
3. Babysitting his girls.
I always enjoyed babysitting his two daughters, Hope and Olivia, because a) they’re the best nieces ever, and b) he and his wife always ordered the best pizza! I know it’s strange, but for some reason that’s a memory that always sticks out.
4. Teaching me about wine.
He works in the wine and spirits industry and has learned a LOT about wines over the past years. I love drinking wine with him and learning about everything that went into making that bottle, how to properly and what to drink and pair it. #WineSnobSiblingsForTheWin
5. The Bubba Look.
Apparently when I was little he used to make this face where he’d cock one side of his nose upward (I don’t really know how to explain it) and it would always make me laugh. It stuck with him and has since been called “The Bubba Look.” His kids learned to do it, Derek and Sarah’s kids all know it, and we all did it at my wedding. It will go down in Bubba history, for sure. (Maybe we should patent it?)
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Derek: The youngest of the brothers.
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1. Bandwagon fan.
Derek has got to be the biggest bandwagon fan that ever was. He started out as a Bulldog fan. When they stopped winning, he hopped the fence and became a Gator fan. Gators had a poor record that next year, so back to UGA he went. Trying to guess which team he’ll show up wearing to our next family event has become a running joke in our family. Who’s next, Derek? Duke? (For the record, it was UGA as of December 2014.)
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2. Making out with my babysitters.
I remember him sneaking off with my babysitters many times. Where they went, I have no clue and don’t want to. There’s one girl I remember distinctly, but I won’t name names!
3. Scary jobs.
For some reason Derek always had scary jobs. He was a volunteer firefighter for a while, and I remember him going out during one of the summer’s bad forest fires and being scared he was going to catch on fire. Morbid, huh? He also used to drive semi-trucks and was in an accident once. No more scary jobs, Derek!
4. Shaved eyebrows.
I don’t remember who did it or why, but I do remember him coming home with no eyebrows one time. Or maybe it was just one missing? Either way, I believe someone did it to him in his sleep, and for some reason I want to say it was Bubba and their stepbrother Ross that did it. Mean! But it was pretty hilarious.
5. Dancing at my wedding.
First of all, I don’t think I have ever seen Derek dance in my LIFE. But at my wedding, he was tearing up the dance floor and boogying the night away – voluntarily! I have never seen him that happy and having that much fun in his life.

Sarah: The baby of the group.
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1. Her bowl cut.
I’m sorry for this one, sis. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to give Sarah an at-home hair cut one sunny afternoon. I came out of the bathroom with scissors and a chunk of her hair in my hand and proudly said, “Look what I did, Mommy!” Mom freaked, rand to the bathroom to find Sarah’s long, curly blond hair in the toilet and had a meltdown. At least I cleaned up after myself? (Don’t worry. Sarah got revenge by yanking out a chunk of my hair in middle school when we got in a fight.)
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.29.40 AM2. Almost drowning.
We were walking on the dock at my Aunt Kathy’s house in Jacksonville and all of a sudden Sarah fell off the side and sunk straight into the muddy marsh. By some miracle, my dad had cat-like reflexes in that moment and reached down to grab her hand just in time before it was submerged into the mud like the rest of her body. Seriously, the only thing sticking out of that muddy water was her hand. He pulled her out like the Hulk would rip off a car door. Poor Sarah was covered in mud and crying like crazy. I was only around six years old, but it was the scariest moment of my life. (I’m pretty sure this picture was taken that same day, too.)
10394083_10153858307137837_5046890146004530212_n2. Sneaking into each others bedrooms to listen to music, read, watch TV and play dolls.
After we’d go to bed in our separate rooms, we would completely disobey Mom and Dad’s rules and cross the hallway when they weren’t looking. Shame on us for not listening to them, but some of our best bonding moments were made in those times! (And Barbie got some of her best makeovers.)
3. She punched a girl on the bus for talking crap about me.
I’m not even kidding! Leave it to my little sister to beat up a girl for bullying me on the bus. Don’t mess with me, folks. I have my little sister on my side!
4. Her speech at my wedding.
I cry just thinking about it. Sarah hates public speaking, doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, and wasn’t prepared to make a speech at all. And after I completely humiliated myself and embarrassed her in my MOH speech at her wedding, I expected she was going to do the same to me. Boy, was I wrong. Seeing her on that stage looking so beautiful and saying the sweetest things I have ever heard was by far one of the most meaningful moments of my life. (See for yourself, but have a tissue handy!)

There’s no way I can wrap up this post without acknowledging my amazing sisters-in-law as well! My brother Bubba married the woman of his dreams in 1996, and she has been a big part pf our family ever since. Tricia, you’ve always been like a sister to me, and I love you to pieces.

Tricia: sister-in-law, Bubba’s wife.
Her love of games.
Tricia LOVES games and is super competitive when it comes to them. Like, we can’t allow her and Bubba to be on the same team kind of competitive! It’s amazing. Thanks to her we always play board games at family gatherings and it never makes for a bad time.
Her wedding day.
I was a junior bridesmaid in her wedding, and I just remember her looking absolutely beautiful that day. My whole life I wished for a wedding that was as much fun as theirs was, and I wanted to look as beautiful and happy as I remember her looking.

On 12-13-14, I gained a NEW sister-in-law! Amanda is every girl’s dream SIL and I am SO fortunate to call her mine. She’s amazing in every way possible, and I can’t imagine life without her now.

Amanda: Jimmy’s older sister.
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The first time I met her was unforgettable and undoubtedly my favorite memory of her.
Jimmy and I had flown in to Chicago and his parents picked us up from the airport. Amanda was running late and finally jumped in the car with all of us for a family road trip to Wisconsin. She was hungover from partying too much the night before, her hair was soaking wet, and she was dying of thirst. I was sipping on a mint chocolate tea from Argo Tea that I’d picked up in the airport and first thing she said was something along the lines of, “Hi Blakeley, so nice to meet you! Can I have a sip of whatever that is? I am super hungover and I’m dying.” I knew I liked her from that moment on!
Nashville.
Just like all of the other girls, Amanda completely rocked my bachelorette party in Nashville. She had all of the girls create a scrapbook page and compiled it in a surprise scrapbook for me. She was sick as a dog one night and stayed out until 2 a.m. like a champ. She also gave me donut PJs at my lingerie shower because she couldn’t stand the thought of me wearing lingerie around her baby bro! Amazing.
– She introduced me to a chocolate malt shake.
How I lived my entire life without trying one of those is beyond me, but thank goodness for A. That’s our go-to treat in Door County that we split at least twice during our week-long trip every year.
10464326_10101786268650431_4375843158645651987_n– Also, this picture.
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I can’t forget a quick shout-out to Carrie, our guardian angel. My brother Derek lost his wife to cancer a few years ago and it’s been rough for all of us, especially his family. I have many fond memories of her, but my favorites are the two legacies she left behind: my nephews Michael and Landon. We miss you, Carrie!

See – Told you I’m lucky. I love you all beyond words and am so happy to call you my siblings. Thanks for making me the luckiest sister in the world!

Happy Sibling Day to all! <3

The everyday happenings of a southern girl living in a big(ger) city.

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