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Happy Friday!  We've made it through another week, and we are getting oh so close to finishing the big  built-in bookshelf project in the living room.  I promise to have pictures once we are through.  Slowly but surely right?!  

Do you have any big plans this weekend?  We have a full weekend of baby showers (2 in one day!), family dinners, engagement parties, and birthday parties.  Lots of celebrating, present wrapping, and coordinating of schedules in these parts.  

Wishing you a weekend full of whatever you need...rest, celebrations, and everything in between!



Seeing Spots


I stopped in my tracks when I saw this picture.  The wallpaper seems busy and unpredictable at first blush, yet on closer examination, the pattern is perfect and somewhat soothing.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but apparently I have finally been bitten by the dalmatian trend.  Maybe it's the combination of perfect vignettes on the beautiful gold shelving, or maybe it's just something different for my tired eyes.  Either way, I can't get this image out of my mind.  


Just in case dalmatian wallpaper isn't your thing (don't worry- I can't pull it off either), you can always add a few spots in other ways throughout your house.  I can see these throw pillows working perfectly into almost any room.  
If you want to be bold, pair them with bright kelly green or magenta pieces. 

Another quick and inexpensive way to try dalmatian is with an IKEA hack.  This "Harry Chair" costs less than $50, but looks much more refined and expensive with nothing more than the help of a black sharpie.  
I think this project could be done in less than an hour...worth a try in my book.  

Do you have any favorite ways to incorporate trends into your decor?  Do you go big and bold or more subtle?





Just a quick post to say that I haven't forgotten you all!  I've been taking a few days off to process and plan for the future, and frankly my brain feels confused - like this picture.  Nothing ground-breaking or earth shattering, but important enough for me to take a little time just to think...it's something I don't do often enough.  Back tomorrow with some fun designs.  Stay tuned.



Thought for the Week: Find your Passion

As most of you know, I have been on the job hunt for quite some time.  While having a law degree is invaluable, having a law degree and not wanting to practice law is a bit tougher.  As my search has progressed, I have spent plenty of time talking with different people in different fields.  It has been a long process, but I have loved getting to network and meet such a vast array of extremely dynamic and committed leaders.  One obvious truth has emerged from each of my meetings: these people, these leaders at the top of their organizations, love what they do.  In fact, I would even venture to say they are passionate about what they do.  

This realization shouldn't be much of a surprise.  There are hundreds of self help books, or just quotes on Pinterest, about following your passion as a way to success.  While this is great in theory, I think that sometimes pinpointing a passion is a little tougher.  In the space of a single hour my passions can vacillate widely.  So how does one go about picking just one passion to pursue?  As Josh has told me more than once "you can be anything you want to be...but you can't be everything you want to be."  (I'm still working on a way to disprove this theory, by the way.)

Either way, I did get some great advice last week that helped me conceptualize the process of "finding your passion."  The advice was to write down five things you love on a piece of paper.  The five things can be anything - good, bad or neutral.  The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and write down five things you truly love.  Keep this list - in your pocket, your wallet, in your sock drawer, wherever - it's just for you.  Then choose one item on the list and make it a career.  The other four items on the list should become your hobbies.  The result is a life filled with activities, people, or things you love.  The list may change over time as you grow and have new experiences, but this is something to be embraced.   

Making a "career" of a passion can be a scary, difficult path.  However, having a career in a field where you lack passion can be even scarier.  Whether you choose to open your own restaurant, stay home to raise children, or crunch numbers for a bank, loving what you do is the best way to ensure fulfillment (and hopefully success) in the long run.

This post is dedicated to RHA who is fearlessly and relentlessly chasing her passion.  
You are a great example to me and everyone around you, and we couldn't be more proud.  xoxo




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Happy Friday!  Sorry for being MIA the past two days - more to come on that next week.  Wishing you all a happy, WARM, and relaxing weekend.  We are working on some IKEA hacks and projects around the house - surprise, surprise! 



gluten free chocolate chip cookies

As I mentioned on Friday, I've started trying to eliminate gluten from my diet.  Luckily, a trip to Whole Foods to check out their gluten free section has convinced me that this endeavor just might be possible AND enjoyable.  (Check back for Josh's thoughts on the enjoyable part...let's just say he is a very sweet husband.)

Obviously the first thing I had to assess in my gluten free quest was chocolate chip cookie dough options.  Now, I love chocolate chip cookie dough so much that I often make the dough and never actually bake the cookies.  AND, I'm also a snob about my dough.  I don't generally do the slice and bake variety, opting for homemade dough as my vice of choice.  For my first attempts at gluten free living, however, I decided to give slice and bake a try.  

I wound up with two brands - Pillsbury and Immaculate Baking Company.  Both are gluten free, and the only difference is that the Immaculate is the break and bake style and the Pillsbury requires you to scoop out the dough.  (Tough life, I know.)  

I was a little concerned with the look of the Immaculate cookies when they first came out of the oven.  They seemed too shiny - almost fake.  The Pillsbury, on the other hand, looked like your normal cookie.  I never would have suspected it wasn't a regular slice and bake from the Pillsbury line.  

After intensive taste testing (by a very scientific panel consisting of our little household of two), we haven't reached a consensus.  I deemed the Immaculate the winner.  They are doughy, soft, and delicious (once you get past the shiny look.)  The Pillsbury seemed to have a little grainy after-taste that I couldn't get past.  Josh's opinion was that neither lived up to his expectations and after participating in the obligatory bite of each... he chose ice-cream instead.  

While I don't think it's really fair to pit cookie against cookie (what's there really to complain about?!), I would recommend Immaculate over Pillsbury.  If I've learned nothing else from my past 48 hours of gluten free living it's that these ingredients come at a premium, and recommendations for brands and products are invaluable.  

Do you have any favorite gluten free brands or products you love?  I've also tried these glutino wafers and these back to nature rice crackers, and I love them both.  Verdict's still out on gluten free living, but for now I'm glad to know I don't have to give up my cookies and cookie dough.



Thought for the Week: Make the Best of It

What a perfect mantra for the week!  I think I love this quote because it returns some semblance of control to me in an otherwise uncontrollable world.  I know you are asking yourself if I am really that much of a control freak.  
Rest assured dear readers the answer is a resounding YES.

Though hard work, preparation, etc. etc., can lead to great results, we wouldn't be human if we didn't sometimes experience the disappointment that comes when things deviate from our careful plans.  Maybe it's a job interview, college acceptance, a relationship, a contract on a house, or your family situation.  Perhaps it's the more mundane parts of life like traffic during your morning commute or long lines at the grocery store.  Whatever the situation, our reaction can make or break the experience.  

My goal this week is to make the best of what comes along.  Does this mean I will sit passively and wait for things to happen to me?  Absolutely not.  I will still plan (see control freak above), work hard, and do everything in my power to make things turn out the way I hope.  However, when some things inevitably turn out differently than how I've planned, my response will be can be different too.  Rather than wallowing in disappointment, feeling frustrated, or analyzing what I could have done differently, my goal is to accept the situation and make the most of it.   Perhaps this manifests as a deeper faith that a great job, college, house etc. is just around the corner.  It could also simply mean accepting a traffic jam as a time to breath deeply and listen to a favorite song.  Whatever the implications of "making the best of it," it is a discipline that I want to cultivate this week and always.  

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on my life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do... The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day...  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you.  We are in charge of our attitudes." 
- Charles Swindell




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We've made it to another Friday!  What a welcome, welcome sight.  We usually head to the mountains for the long MLK weekend, but this year our plan is to stay home, hope for weather above 22 (the forecast in the mountains), and relax a little.  

On my list for the weekend: research some gluten free recipes/cookbooks.  Do y'all have any suggestions?  While I don't know if gluten free is a medical necessity for me, I have had more than one person in the medical field suggest that I give it a try.  
Time to start some research...

Enjoy the weekend, loves.



Closet Consult: White Leather Jacket

I am excited to share a peek into one of my first "closet consults" today!  The consult was a quick one, and was based around this white leather jacket.  It's more of an investment piece, so the goal was to verify that it wasn't too trendy or too one dimensional.  
After discussing the merits of white leather (Hello, all 4 seasons!!), I got down to business styling the jackets for different occasions.  My rule, and I promise you will hear it again, is the rule of two.  Meaning, you must be able to wear an investment piece (or any piece) in two of three settings that are applicable to your life.  So for me, this would mean daily life, out to dinner, or to church.  If a piece can be used in two of the three situations it's worth the investment.*  

This jacket got styled in five different ways, but this everyday look was one of my favorites. 
My Verdict: a good investment! 

 top // jeans // shoes // bracelet // clutch

*NOTE: you should actually love the piece and plan to wear it more than once to justify this theory.  

Have a fashion question or want to schedule a closet consult?  Email me for details!



Favorite Things: 1.14.14

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 
Just a few favorites to get you through the day.  This leather dress from tibi is on SALE - grab it quickly!!  Though it's still pricey, the wrap style is a classic and worth the investment.  Hey, DVF's wrap dress is 40 years old this year...you really can't go wrong with a wrap style.   Pair your leather number with these fun shoes, this perfect bracelet, and add a swipe of sheer Monte Carlo lipstick.  Seriously- the lipstick looks bright, but it is sheer and the PERFECT color for day time, meetings, night time...whatever.  Buy some today.

As an added bonus, how cute is this graphic rug?  Add this print from Target (!) and you have made a major dent in decorating a room for less than $350.  Not bad for a Wednesday.

Linking up with Annie and Morgan today for Wishlist Wednesday.  



Thought for the week: Kindness and Community

This weekend was near perfect.  After errands on Saturday, we spent a very rainy Saturday evening with great friends, a crockpot recipe, and nothing on the agenda.  On Sunday, we awoke to a cloudless blue sky and highs expected near 75 - perfect.  Even better though, was that Sunday was the first time in my adult life that I have experienced what it means to feel rooted in a community. 

I've been blessed to have communities of friendship or family everywhere I've lived in my post-college, "adult" life.  Charlotte and Chapel Hill both yielded (and strengthened) friendships that I wouldn't trade for anything.  However, there was always a reluctance to become too rooted, too settled.  You see, these places were temporary for us.  Each had an expiration date, and though I'm not proud of it, we were cautious about growing too attached to a place where our days were numbered and finite.  

The move to Jacksonville has proved difficult in many respects, but it has ultimately yielded an unexpected and wonderful gift; the gift of true community.  An inkling of this gift has been rumbling around in my head for a few months now.  On Halloween when (literally) hundreds of kids and families came to our door - it was a treat to see so many familiar faces and to meet the unfamiliar.  On Christmas Eve, our doorbell rang every 30 minutes on the dot with neighbors and friends dropping by with cards, cookies, or just to say hello.  Then this Sunday the inkling became clear, and I realized we were part of this community.

On Sunday, we attended a service at the neighborhood church.  My cousin was confirmed, and I was her sponsor.  This doesn't really matter, except to say that we sat at the front of the church with the other confirmands, while the rest of our family was scattered throughout the remaining pews.  E has been fighting a fever, so she slipped out after the confirmation and before communion, leaving me alone in the pew at the front of the church for the end of the service.  It was during these last few minutes that it happened.  As the congregation recited the Lord's Prayer together, I felt someone reach for my hand.  It was an older woman, a fixture in the Jacksonville community that I was familiar with after growing up here.  It was in that simple act of reaching for my hand during the prayer (which I should note is not the general practice), that solidified the sense of community for me.  

Perhaps the experience was overblown because of a beautiful church service, maybe it was the near perfect weather, or it could even be that I didn't get as much sleep as usual last night.  Whatever the reason, that act of reaching out spoke measures and has me thinking about the impact that small, simple acts can have on others.  If holding my hand during a prayer meant so much to me - someone surrounded daily by family, friends, a puppy, a loving husband, and more blessings than I can count, what could it mean to someone who really needs to feel like part of a community?  The person without friends or family to connect with?  The new kid or family at your child's school?  The person trying to hold it all together who is just hoping to make it through another day?  

Though not every act may will produce such an immediate impact, kindness adds up over time to make a difference and shape a community.  And so I leave you with this list...

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Welcome, Friday

Welcome, Friday.  It's been a long and busy week of meetings, interviews, and all the prep work and follow-up that comes along with opportunity.  Three more meetings today, and then two days to recover and catch up on life.  

Speaking of catching up on life, thank you note writing for Christmas gifts will play a starring role in my agenda this weekend.  I tend to be extremely diligent and traditional about thank you notes, but I have to admit I have been writing so many notes after panel interviews that Christmas notes have been put on the back-burner.  (Not to worry though friends and family - they will be in the mail this weekend...I know you all have been anxiously awaiting them.)  Other than catching up on my correspondence (a la Rachel Green in 1996), the weekend is open for dinners with friends, tackling some house painting, finding the perfect rugs and light fixtures, and watching as my sweet cousin gets confirmed.  

More than anything though, I am hoping and praying for a little time of quiet and reflection.  Life is traveling at warp speed and big decisions are looming.  It's one of those weekends where I'm hoping for a sign...any sign.

Happy Weekend, Loves.



Dining Room Lighting

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Josh and I have started to take a more active approach to making this house our own, and as a result, we I have decided to do some decorating.  We have been holding off on making many changes or purchases because we thought we might have some big construction headed our way.  With construction a long way off, however, we've decided to concentrate on making small decor changes to give the house our personal touch, and lighting has been on my mind.

The dining room in our house (currently my office) is in desperate need of a light fixture.  We have narrowed down our paint color, we have curtains, and now we just need a rug and light to make the room feel a little less empty.  We have a very traditional home, and I think a more modern and unique light fixture in the dining room will be a great contrast.  The room is very neutral (shocker I know), so a punch of gold with a unique look will really brighten up the space.  These are a few of my favorite options, but if you know of any with a similar look (on a budget for a gal who is still job hunting) send them my way!

PS: I'm dying to see Josh's reaction to these choices... I'll keep you posted!


Favorite Things: Cold Weather Running Gear

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I've been getting serious with my training for the River Run lately, and it has me thinking about some of my favorite things for cold(er) weather running.  If truth be told, I much prefer running in the sweltering heat to cold temperatures; must be the Florida girl in me!  With a race looming, however, cold weather can't be a reason to skip a workout.  Now I know none of this gear would actually get me through the truly cold temps most of the country is facing, but it's usually just right for chilly mornings in Florida.    

Nike running tights are my constants - they don't slip down and they offer the perfect amount of warmth.  I also rely on wicking layers (like this sports bra and tank top) since temperatures can change so quickly here in the Sunshine State.  I'm obsessed with this striped top, but it is so cute I might just save it for those days when I wear workout clothes as my "real clothes."  I finish things off with a favorite pair of running shoes, a bright vest for visibility, and an ear warmer headband (if its really, really cold.)  Finally, I always take my Garmin with me as I head out the door.  It keeps track of my distance and my pace, and it even has an alert feature that tells you if you are "behind, on, or ahead" of the pace you set for the run.  

What gear do you rely on for your cold weather workouts?



chocolate toffee bars

Let me preface this post by saying that I recognize that being only 7 days into 2014 means that most people have resolved to exercise daily, eat more veggies, and generally give up all of their vices.  While a fresh start and reset is a good thing (anytime of the year), sometimes you need an easy, quick treat in your back pocket to serve your friends, neighborhood children, your husband, or yourself when a 3am sweet attack strikes.  These bars are the perfect solution.  There isn't a large bowl of cookie dough that needs to be sampled during the preparation, and the bar is rich and satisfying enough that you only need to eat one.  Tuck this recipe away for those days when you need a quick treat.  Or just save it for a few weeks from now and pull it out as a welcome reprieve from a few weeks of sugar free austerity.

Chocolate Toffee Bars
recipe from: ShowMe Nan

  • 3/4 C. margarine
  • 3/4 C. packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 10 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine
  • 1 3/4 C. milk chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet to make the bars a little less sweet.)
  • 1 1/3 C. toffee bits
To make base:
  1. Cream together margarine, brown sugar, and flour until well blended and mixture sticks together. 
  2. Press into a 9x13 greased pan.  
  3. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  4. Cool while you prepare the topping
To make topping:
  1. Heat sweetened condensed milk and margarine over medium heat in a heavy saucepan.  Stir continuously for 10 minutes until thickened.  (I didn't know what I was looking for here, but the mixture really will get noticeably thicker.  It thins out initially, but keep stirring - it will thicken.)  Spread over cooled base.
  2. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.  Bake 2 more minutes or until chocolate is shiny and soft.
  4. Spread chocolate evenly over entire pan.  Top with toffee bits.
  5. Cool completely before serving.


thought for the week: Hustle


Ironically enough, my original "thought for the week" post for today was entitled "Slow Down."  Unfortunately, it's not looking to be one of those weeks.  So for now, I leave you with this...work hard, be nice, and hustle.  Happy Monday.


2013: Year in Review

L to R by line
mountain spring Break // birthday in chapel hill // keswick hall weekend // walks with mac in chapel hill
last day of law school // graduation // mother's day brunch // moved from sprunt st. // new house in jacksonville
mimi's 80th // magnolia ball // "war room" for bar study // post bar exam drink // adam gillespie adams, v
sweet friends on a special day // swearing in // florida v. georgia tailgate // josh in china // cousin thanksgiving
lots of babies and a few more on the way // holiday pops with r + s // christmas ball // godparents to baby lep // 9 years

I know we are days into 2014, but I'm still a little behind from the holidays and can't let go of 2013 without a moment of reflection.  While there have been plenty of years in recent memory that have featured major events, 2013 may just take the cake when it comes to big things.  Between saying goodbye to Chapel Hill friends and family, moving to Florida, graduating from law school, taking the bar exam, searching for jobs, and Josh working so hard to start HeroMe, 2013 rarely featured a dull moment.  

Though there were plenty of wonderful and exciting times, 2013 has really stands out as a year of change and transition.  Despite changes in location and occupation, however, we have been blessed by the love and constancy of family and friends.  We reflect almost daily on how lucky we are to be surrounded by so much love and support from near and far.  We are thankful for each of you, and we want you to know that whether we talk daily or only once a year, you are never far from our thoughts.  

Sending love and best wishes for a happy, healthy, (and maybe a little more settled) 2014!



2014 Goals + Thank You

Happy New Year!
As Josh and I ate some hoppin' john, mac and cheese, and greens today, we discussed our goals and resolutions for 2014.  Though this list isn't categorized exactly, we decided we would make each like to make a personal goal, a fitness goal, a relationship goal, and a family goal.  Obviously just four goals is not enough for this gal, so I decided to hedge my bets and throw in a few extras.
  I'm not sure how it will work in practice, but it's a nice framework to have to start off in 2014.  

My 2014 goals
As we say goodbye to 2013, I want to thank you all for reading.  Every comment and email means so much to me, and I love knowing that people actually read and enjoy Ann Elliott.  It's strange to think that something that started out on a whim has become something I enjoy so much.  I cherish the friendships I have formed through the blog world, and I love that Ann Elliott help keep me feeling a little more connected to my family and friends scattered near and far.  So thank you for reading, for commenting, and for following along.  Here's to each of you and to a fantastic 2014!