happy birthday to you and a restaurant review:: rosebud

This week, we celebrated the 30th birthday of a dear college friend, Grams (or Ashile, but I prefer her college nickname). We’re at that stage where we’ll be celebrating the big 3-0 many, many times over the span of the next year or so…. and while we’ve been celebrating older friends’ 30th birthdays for a while now, Grams is the first friend my age (meaning we were in the same grade in school) that has hit this milestone birthday. It’s sort of unbelievable that we’re already at this point in our lives — old enough to be married, own a home, have kids (for some people), and to have been working several years longer than the amount of time we were in college (even with a super senior year included).

To celebrate Grams’ special day, she gathered some of her closest girlfriends who live in town for a delicious dinner at Rosebud in Morningside/VA Highlands. I’ve been here several times before, and they have an amazing brunch menu (with funny bfast sandwiches like The Big Nasty). They even have Monday Night Brunch, where one of their specialties is Chicken & Waffles — my fave.

We were there on a Wednesday, and their nightly specials were Big Salads. I was tempted by the “Dude, it’s a Salad” dish that came with bacon and a big Kobe beef patty on top, but I went for the slightly lighter option. I chose the Crab Cake Salad — two perfectly-cooked peekytoe crab cakes on top of romaine with fresh GA peaches, goat cheese, and radishes. The only part I would have changed was the lettuce — I’m a big spinach fan. But the peaches were so juicy and sweet, and the goat cheese….. oh how I love goat cheese. It’s always so much better in restaurants than it is from the grocery store. Maybe that’s because I usually shop at the Kroger near our house, and I don’t think they’re known for their extensive cheese selection….

For appetizers, we split the housemade pimiento cheese w/housemade spicy saltines, mushroom potato skins, and blue cheese & bacon stuffed dates. All three were excellent! How can you go wrong with lots of cheese and bacon? We didn’t try any desserts because we brought our own cookie cake. After 5-10 minutes of the wait staff thinking they’d lost our cake (it was sitting on our table the whole time), they were even nice enough to slice and serve it for us. Cookie cake is the perfect ending to a meal in my book. I’d eat it for breakfast.

Grams, I wish you the happiest of birthdays! I know your 30s are going to bring you so many wonderful things!

what’s all this Hoopla about?

In honor of my big HOOPLA trip next week, I’m dedicating today’s post to the wonderfulness that is Stella & Dot. What’s Hoopla, you ask? For anyone who hasn’t heard me gush on and on about this trip the past 2 years, I’ll tell you. (Although I’m doubting any of you haven’t had the pleasure…)

Hoopla is Stella & Dot’s national sales conference that takes place in San Francisco each July. The company has grown tremendously over the past couple years, though, and we’ve finally outgrown the conference hotels in SF. Next year, we’re off to Vegas! Anyway, I’m flying out next Friday for a long weekend of the following:

— 2,000+ women decked out to the nines in sparkling jewelry
— 2,000+ of those same women (and a few good men) screaming and laughing and hugging when they see their long-lost Stylist friends from around the country
— the best training from our CEO, VP of Training, Chief Creative Office, Board Chairman, and many other top leaders in the company
— the fall 2012 collection debut
— swag bags and lots of free goodies
— pajama parties
— listening to stories of struggles, heartache, and great triumph from some of the strongest, most amazing women I’ve ever had the honor of meeting
— awards ceremonies and celebrations
— a HUGE dance party, where our CEO will probably be seen on top of a table in 4-inch heels like last year

Now do you see why I’m always so pumped about this crazy thing called Hoopla?? And oh how that word describes it perfectly. Each year, Hoopla rejuvenates my business and I come home feeling like I can take on the world, one sparkly necklace at a time! I’ve made countless great friends through Stella & Dot — they are my hostesses, customers, and fellow Stylists. I look forward to this extra girly “business” trip more than almost any trip I take all year — and I take a lot of trips.

Here’s a little more of an explanation through photos… enjoy!

travel bug

I have my parents to thank for my travel bug, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I have so many fond memories of traveling all over the country with my parents and brother — beaches and mountains, a motorhome trip across the country to see Mt. Rushmore (and the Mall of America, which I was thrilled about!), California, Hawaii, Vegas, NY, Seattle, and the list goes on. I think traveling is one of the most wonderful things in life… seeing the world God created for us, experiencing how other people live, discovering and enjoying new cultures… and eating lots and lots of good food.

I dream of traveling the world with my handsome sidekick, and we’ve started documenting our US travels on a giant vintage map (idea courtesy of my favorite bloggers, Young House Love). Red pins mark where we’re traveled together, white pins mark Craig’s travels, and black pins mark mine. I can’t wait till there are more pins than blank spaces!

One of our most recent plans is to take a good old fashioned road trip. We’d thought about renting a Winnie and driving allll the way across the US, but we decided on something a bit more stylish and fancy. So off to California we’ll go for a combo trip to celebrate our 30th birthdays / 4th wedding anniversary next year! We’re planning to drive the famed Pacific Coast Highway for about 9 days in the spring, and I can barely contain my excitement!! The idea is to fly into San Francisco, which is one of my favorite places (I’ll be going next week for my 3rd Hoopla, the national Stella & Dot conference/giant slumber party/amazing weekend). Craig’s technically been to California, if you count skiing on that side of the mountain in Lake Tahoe. But I don’t know if that really counts.

From San Francisco, we’ll drive through Monterey/Carmel,  Santa Barbara, LA/Santa Monica, and end up in San Diego. I found an amazing whale watching excursion on little 6-passenger Navy Seal boats — so fun! I don’t know about those tiny boats floating next to the largest animals in the world, but they say it’s safe and I suppose I trust them.

If you’re a CA expert or have any tips on the famous PCH drive, please share! I have heard about something called the “June fog” and know that it’ll likely be pretty chilly earlier in the spring. Have favorite restaurants or little roadside motels we should check out?

wedding weekend in franklin, tn

We spent last weekend celebrating the marriage of one of Craig’s best friends from high school, DT (Daniel), and his sweetie Megan (who also went to school with Craig). I love that Craig is still close with several of his BGA friends and that I’ve gotten to know them all so well – partly from going to college with a few of them, and partly because they have not let time and distance keep them from staying in touch.

Franklin must have been an amazing place to grow up — it feels like a small town, but has great shopping, restaurants and entertainment. I never get tired of walking down Main Street and perusing the boutiques… and eating burgers at Puckett’s. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s 20 minutes from Nashville. I love its quaint downtown and massive plantation homes, sprawling countrysides and windy roads. It’s the perfect place to ride with the windows down and the country music up. It’s one of my favorites places.

Our weekend was filled with old friends (of Craig’s), family, a hot beautiful ceremony, delicious food, shakin’ it at reception #2, and lots of laughter. I just love weddings, and they’re even better when we get to make a whole weekend out of them!

We found these giant old sign letters at William Powell Co.::

Pimiento cheese sammies, fruit tea (always reminds me of Craig’s family get-togethers), and some delightfully cold chocolate Heaven cake on an undelightfully (is that a word?) hot afternoon::

An unofficial tour of BGA, Craig’s high school campus. Quite different from my public school days… ::

Rehearsal dinner at Stoveworks at The Foundry. High school buddies – Ben, Danielle, Craig, and Hunter (and they let me get in the photo)::

Wedding day – 6.23.12::

The happy couple — as Ben said in his toast, “it’s about time!”::

Strawberry and key lime cake yumminess::

Reception #2::

It’s hard to believe how big Craig’s little sister Cassie is… she was 5 1/2 when I met her::

True story, told via double-stuffed cookie cake::

statement necklaces are making a comeback

So many women are afraid of the statement necklace because they don’t think they can pull it off. When it comes to jewelry, I say the more, the better! The statement necklace, weather it’s bibs, pearls, lots of colorful beads, or big stones, has really started making a comeback. Katie Couric recently did a segment on this popular style trend, and several Stella & Dot necklaces were featured, including the Marrakesh Bib, seen below.

My favorite thing about the bold look of the statement necklace is that it really is so versatile. It’s not just for the little black dress anymore! Pair something like the Serenity Necklace with a flowy sundress or a pretty pastel tank for a great summer look.

For those who tend to stick with silver, the Medina Bib is a fantastic option. Pair with navy and white stripes for a nautical look!

One of our newest summer pieces, the Palamino, is named after Stella & Dot Senior Director Christy Goodman’s grandmother and her two sisters. Christy wanted to honor the women in her family who have influenced her with their strength and courage. And how cool is it that such a gorgeous piece of jewelry is named after them?

And my all-time favorite…. the Pegasus. This metal bib creates the look of feathers in a really unexpected way. It’s so lightweight and looks just as great with a white tank and jeans as it does with a cocktail dress. It’s sort of Grecian and warrior-like, and is such a show-stopper!

The statement necklace is something that every woman could stand to have in her jewelry wardrobe – check out how some of these celebs wore Stella & Dot recently!

Kourtney Kardashian in the Pegasus (Kim has worn it as well)::

Katherine Heigl in the Bahari::

Elizabeth Banks in the Medina::

What’s your favorite way to wear this bold style statement?

restaurant review:: davio’s italian steakhouse

We recently discovered Davio’s Italian Steakhouse, located in Buckhead (Atlanta), after a couple of our friends recommended it for dinner. Craig and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary there on June 6th and enjoyed it so much, we made our Father’s Day dinner reservation before we left that night!

On our anniversary dinner, we were greeted with complimentary glasses of champagne – so fun!

They featured the Spring Roll Sampler Platter on their appetizer menu — we’re suckers for appetizers, so we naturally had to try them. The platter consists of Buffalo Chicken, Shrimp, Chicken Parmesan, and Philly Cheese Steak. To die for! Craig’s favorite was the shrimp (which I didn’t try, as I have an aversion to those little guys) and mine was a toss-up between… well, all of the rest.

And I just found out that you can now get those amazing little gems of fried goodness in the freezer section of select retail stores!! In GA, FL, SC, and NC, you can find them at Acme, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco Southeast, and Harris Teeter. I’ll definitely be hitting up Costco very soon. Yum yum yum!

The menu features numerous pasta dishes, steaks, and seafood. Both times we’ve been, I ordered the Tagliatelle Bolognese with braised veal, beef, and pork. The pasta is house-made, and the meat sauce is thick and rich. Craig’s had two different pasta dishes that he really enjoyed as well. It’s hard to beat the spring rolls, but I think my favorite part of the meal is that they bring out a dessert cart! Along with a slight obsession with appetizers, I have an obsession with desserts, especially chocolate. We’ve had the molten lava cake with buttermilk ice cream and the peanut butter mouse/crunchy chocolate cake — the latter was definitely the unanimous favorite. And on top of all this amazing food, we had the same waiter both times, and he was quite the comedian. He had funny stories, good recommendations, and even got Lauren to eat her first anchovy! I highly recommend asking for Ian if you go.

Father’s Day dinner with my parents, Andrew, and Lauren. It was a most fabulous meal and the perfect end to a great weekend!

boating, eating, sunning, and family time

Every year we try to get together with my parents (who live about 8 hours away in FL) for Father’s Day weekend. This year, my dad wanted to spend a long weekend on the lake, and he found a fantastic house to rent on Lake Lanier. Even though it’s only an hour north of Atlanta, we’d never been other than a day trip to the water park at Lake Lanier Islands.

We started the weekend off with a fancy outdoor dinner at the Atlanta Food Truck Park! So yummy and fun to share all kinds of treats from the different trucks. Thursday night, we tasted Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles (and the skinny fries are super salty and delicious!), Sweet Auburn BBQ, Pressed for Time (California Club), the Blaxican (fish tacos that Craig said were great), and the Sandwich Buddah‘s grilled cheese made with I think 3 types of cheese (it was so simple, but my favorite from the night). For a quick dessert before the rain, we grabbed some chocolate sea salt pops from King of Pops. What’s your favorite food truck at the park?

The rest of the weekend was spent on the north side of the lake in a spacious home with a huge deck and beautiful view of the lake. The weather was a bit cool, but mostly sunny… quite perfect. We made breakfast (including a friend’s family recipe for an orange breakfast ring made with biscuits, butter, oranges, and lots of sugar), made the trip up to Dahlonega one night for dinner at The Smith House (one of our old family favorites when we used to visit our Uncle Stan’s cabin in Suches, GA), and tried out Fish Tales on the lake, as well as Re-Cess Gastro Pub and 2 Dog Restaurant in Downtown Gainesville.

Orangey, biscuity, buttery, sugary goodness::

Dinner at The Smith House — family style, southern dining::

I’d highly recommend 2 Dog — we had Father’s Day brunch there on Sunday morning and really enjoyed everything about it. The service was great, our waitress was funny, and the atmosphere was quaint and quiet.  Portions are huge, so bring your appetite. We all got different versions of the breakfast quesadillas and frittatas with side of really creamy grits and biscuits the size of the palm of my hand. They feature preserves and butters made in house. Definitely a place I’d go back to if in Gainesville again!

Fish Tales is a fun place to visit on the lake, and it would be really convenient to dock your boat and drop in for a bite…. if the wait on a Saturday night weren’t 1.5 hours. The grouper fingers and conch fritters were the best things our group had while there. They do have a GIANT sand box with tons of toys, which did a pretty sufficient job of entertaining the large amount of kids there.

We spent the rest of the weekend sleeping in, playing with the dogs, laying out on the dock, and riding on the boat my dad just got. It was our dog Coco and my brother Andrew and his fiance Lauren’s dog Riley’s first time on a boat, and they loved it! I think having the wind in their faces was their favorite part. We pulled up to one of the islands on the lake so that the dogs could play on the beach while my dad and brother showed off their skiing skills – the beach was such a great little find!

Craig’s first boat driving went well::

Dad and Coco were so happy on the boat::

My mom, Riley, and me out for a little lake exploring::

Andrew tested out his skiing skills from about a decade ago::

It was such a relaxing way to spend the weekend honoring my wonderful, generous, loving dad. Nothing beats a weekend out in the sun with the ones you love! I hope everyone else has had a happy Father’s Day with the special men in their lives!


I wanted to start this blog as an archive of our every day lives through food, photography, our travels, and my business as a Stella & Dot Stylist. As much as it pains me to say this, I have so many stories to share, and facebook just doesn’t cut it in that area.

So here’s a little rundown on me…
Born in Jacksonville, FL –> grew up in Arcadia, FL

Graduated from the University of Georgia (in Athens) with a BFA degree in Printmaking. Then I realized I couldn’t get paid enough to do that as a real job.

Moved to Atlanta, GA and found a graphic design internship at the Center for Puppetry Arts –> I’ve been here for 6 years and book/coordinate event rentals as well as do some graphic design.

Married my bestest friend (Craig) in one of my favorite places in the world (St. Augustine, FL) on June 6, 2009 –> we just celebrated 3 years!

Bought our first home –> lots of fun home projects in the works now.

Started my own business as a Stella & Dot Independent Stylist –> I’ve been doing this for 2 years now and have a growing team across the U.S. –> love love love what I do!

Got our first puppy, a Rottweiler named Coco –> she’s 1.5 years old now and is our favorite girl in the world, even when she’s bad. I mean really, who could resist that face?

Now we are enjoying our everyday adventures together…. can’t wait to see what comes next!