weekend: a memorial weekend at home

a saturday morning breakfast at panera . . . afternoon tea with sourdough bundt cake and strawberries from the farmer's market . . . with ashley before dinner at brew river . . . an after dinner game of scrabble . . . a sunday sunset while eating dinner at fager's in ocean city . . . after dinner at macky's with tanya
a little inspiration for this short week:

five things to eat in paris

great giveaway

how to take better travel photos

i may have to try this diy

Friday night, the Hubs and I went to enjoy music and dinner at Green Hill. Saturday morning, Ashley drove across the bridge to Salisbury and we had breakfast at Panera, went to Green Hill for the pool and lunch, then we came home and relaxed and had tea. After that we went to dinner and then came home and played Scrabble. After Ashley left Sunday morning, the Hubs and I ran some errands and then we went to see the Hangover II. (The movie had a few funny parts but really was just the first movie in a different location - like the same exact plot with a little tweeks here and there. I would just rent it if you haven't seen it yet.) That evening, we drove to Ocean City to have dinner and drinks with Tanya and her boyfriend, George. Monday, I took the day off (I don't automatically get off for Memorial Day) and the Hubs and I slept in and then went over to his parents' house to have a cookout and watch the NCAA lacrosse championships.

How was your weekend?


monday giveaway: mimi morest jewelry co (NOW CLOSED)

I hope you are all enjoying your Memorial Day off if you are in the US. And if not, I hope you are enjoying your Monday. I have off today but I will be back with posts tomorrow.

Today's giveaway is from Mimi Morest Jewelry Co which carries beautiful and unique cuffs. This is definitely your go to place for a statement piece of jewelry. Mimi, the shop owner says, "Mimi Morest jewelry is meant be worn to everyday, from day to evening, from black tie to blue jeans and everything in between. My inspiration for designing accessories is to accentuate the confidence and elegance of chic women and my passion grows with each piece I make. Jewelry, as an art form, has the power to create moods, provoke opinions and produce reactions. This is my philosophy in creating and developing my unique collections."

Mimi is giving away her Bruxelle Cuff which is designed for today's fashionista. It is an over sized cuff made with genuine antique gold leather and adorned with gold hardware. The cuff can be adjusted to fit your arm. I see myself wearing this as my only accessory with a LBD.

To be eligible for this giveaway, you must be a follower of my blog so, if you aren't yet, be sure to sign up.

To enter, please visit Mimi Morest Jewelry Co and leave a comment telling us what your favorite item is. For a second chance to win, write about this giveaway on your blog and leave a second comment with a link to your post.

This giveaway ends Wednesday, June 1st at 7 pm Eastern Time. A winner will be chosen at random.


i wish i was here: cinque terre

I am going on a little holiday in my mind: a little stint in the Italian Riveria for lying on the beach, walking hand in hand through the rugged landscape, conversing (with my hands, of course) with the locals, and eating some great seafood.

Have you ever been? It is definitely on my list.

{images from here}


winner of the v*dazzled giveaway!

The winner of the V*Dazzled earring giveaway is Annina from Cinched at the Waist. Congrats Annina! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information. And thanks to Victoria for sponsoring the giveaway!

{image from here}

sometimes life gets in the way

I am trying to catch up on projects this week. And I was really hoping to have my Etsy shop back up by now but life got in the way. So bear with me while I take a little break this week and I go light on the posts. I am hoping with the longer weekend coming up I can get a lot finished.

{image from here}


the farmer's market

I love farmer's markets. I first started going to markets when I lived in Bordeaux and it soon became one of my favorite things to do. The colorful feast of vegetables and fruits danced around in my head overwhelming me with endless possibilities for meals. I rarely ever followed a recipe, I just cooked what looked good.

Here, I go to the grocery store. And I can't really afford the nice grocery store so the one I go to I hate. But during the summer, I seek refuge in the fact that the farmer's markets and produce stands start popping up and maybe, just maybe, I won't have to go to the grocery store. I can afford the food there.

But this would never happen. Because the meals I had planned for the week always had one ingredient that I had to go to the grocery store for. So this year, I am trying something new - no planning. There are two farmer's markets here in Salisbury, one on Saturday morning and one on Tuesday afternoon. They aren't big markets - there isn't really a selection of meat or seafood but they always carry a great variety of fruits, vegetables and dairy. And since we get our meat in bulk and freeze it (and I don't mind running into the seafood market for fresh seafood) I figured I could quit the grocery store, at least for the summer, and just make a stop at these two markets and prepare my meals, not around a recipe, but around what looks fresh and good.

On weekends when I won't be home for the Saturday market, I can always run into the grocery store to keep us until the Tuesday market (and maybe pick up some staples that I may need as well.) I like the idea of going to the market twice a week. It is great to be eating fresher vegetables but there is also something therapeutic about it for me. The world stops for a second as I glide from stand to stand.

I recently found out that the Tuesday market is year round so maybe if this little experiment works, I can continue through the fall and winter.

Also, if I could enlist your help: If you know of any blogs, websites, or books that would help me in cooking through the farmer's market, let me know. Thanks for the help!

How do you shop for food? Do you plan your meals in advance or just buy what looks good?

{image from here}


monday giveaway: v*dazzled (NOW CLOSED)

Do you sometimes have trouble finding jewelry that works with what you are wearing? Well look no further. V*Dazzled has a beautiful collection of unique jewelry that can work with any outfit.

Victoria, the shop's owner says, "I am a cancer biology PhD student by day and jewelry designer by night. As you can imagine, a PhD program is pretty stressful so after my first year I was searching for something to help de-stress at night before going to bed. I have always loved jewelry and accessorizing outfits, so I decided that I should learn to make jewelry! At first I made a few things here and there for friends and family, then I started my Etsy site. A couple of months after I opened up shop I came up with the design of my wire wrapped signature studs, which have by far been my most popular item. I came up with this design because I am always looking for stud earrings that I can wear with any outfit and unique studs seem to be hard to find, so along came my wire wrapped crystal studs, available in tons of different colors! I have also started making a petite version of the studs that measure about half the size of the original studs."
Victoria is giving away a pair of her signature earrings in any color combo with sterling silver posts. I think my favorite combination is the one above but there are so many to choose from, I can't be sure.

To be eligible for this giveaway, you must be a follower of my blog so, if you aren't yet, be sure to sign up.

To enter, please visit V*Dazzled and leave a comment below telling us your favorite item.

For other chances to win:
1. Write about this giveaway on your blog and leave a separate comment below with a link to your post.
2. Please "like" V*Dazzled on Facebook and leave a separate comment below telling us you did so.

This giveaway ends Wednesday, May 25th at 7 pm Eastern Time. A winner will be chosen at random.


weekend: preakness

chili at the hard times cafe in college park . . . corn dog at preakness . . . hanging out in the infield . . . strawberries from our container garden
some inspiration for the coming week:

above the clouds

i really want to make something like this for our bedroom

doing the right thing

the key to my heart

oh goodness, that face

i want to relax in this space

great giveaway

i am definitely buying a ticket to this
Friday after work, I headed to College Park to Niki and Seth's house. We had dinner at the Hard Times Cafe and then the rest of the girls came over later for a little sleepover. The next morning we were up bright and early to get ready for Preakness. We opted for shorts and we are glad we didn't dress up since we were in the infield. We all decided, though, that in a few years we would do Preakness again in the fancier sections so we could dress up and wear hats. Today, I was sleepy from the long weekend so I just cleaned the house a bit and had a slow day.

Loves, how were your weekends?


friday's fancies: preakness

No francophile friday this week - I decided to participate in this week's friday's fancies organized by {long distance loving}.

I am going to Preakness this weekend. It is supposed to rain so, since I am in the infield, I will probably be battling the mud in jeans and Sperry's. But hey, there will be unlimited beer so it shouldn't be that bad. However, if I was in one of the fancier sections, and money was no object, this is what I would wear. I took inspiration from Maryland's state flower, the black eyed susan.

{dress - $188; fascinator - $80; bangle - $175; clutch - $1380; pumps - $85}

What would you wear to the horse race?


journalism inspired

Did I tell you that in high school I was one of the op-ed editors for our school newspaper? Well, I didn't continue this through college even though my freshman year composition professor urged me to. I kind of wish I had taken her advice because now, after having this blog, I realize how much I miss writing.

My friend, Sig, sent me a link to this unique Kate Spade clutch (below) and I fell in love. It made me search out other newspaper inspired items.
{clutch - $125; flats - $65; earrings - $17; tee; pouch - $65}

Would you wear something newspaper inspired?


submit for under the covers with niki

This is just a quick reminder to submit questions for Under the Covers with Niki to underthecoverswithniki{at}gmail{dot}com. She may answer your questions in her post at the beginning of June.

{image via here}

turn in your bridesmaid dress

You know those bridesmaid dresses in the back of your closet that the bride insisted you could wear again. Well, let's face it - you probably won't. The only exception to this, of course, are the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding because my bridesmaids absolutely could wear them again. Since they were a bit more casual, they could throw on a cardigan and a pair of flats and call it a beautiful-springtime day.
Ok, who am I kidding? Although the cardi-flat combo could work with a few of these dresses, who knows if the dresses are really their style or color preference. So here is a message to my bridesmaids: I don't care if you sell yours, give yours away, or burn it. Hey, you paid for it. I know some post-wedding brides would take offense to that but I don't. (Although, I hope I wasn't so crazy a bride that you feel the need to burn it. If so, my bad.)

But I do have another idea for you. There is a website called NewlyMaid where you can trade in your bridesmaid dress for a discounted little black dress. And what is more practical than an LBD?

Here is how it works:
1. Find your bridesmaid dress. It is probably in the very back of your closet. No but seriously it is back there, just look in the abyss section. Make sure it is still in good condition - no rips, stains, etc.
2. Send your dress to NewlyMaid by signing up for an account and ordering a pre-paid mailer.
3. Once your dress is inspected, you will receive special pricing on your account to purchase a discounted LBD.

And if you decide you don't want to buy a dress from them at least you know that your dress is either recycled to make a new dress or will be donated to charity.

Do you have any bridesmaid dresses sitting in the back of your closet? What do you think of this concept?


diy: chalkboard painted pots

First, let me tell you my story of herb growing. Two summers ago, in 2009, I decided to plant a few herbs in a box planter on our back patio. I was highly optimistic. It was my first summer out of college and I thought this would help with my grocery budget. The cilantro faded fast - I didn't know it was better suited for fall temperatures. But the other herbs soon followed suit despite everyday watering and, by the end of June, all of my herbs had dwindled to mere brown shadows of themselves.

Last summer, in 2010, I decided to try again. I would water in the morning and at night and when the weather got to be too much for them the bear, I would bring them inside. They grew very well in the spring and early summer and in the middle of July of thought it was time to bring them inside. And, oh, how smart I thought I was. About a week later, a few days before a load of guests were coming to Salisbury for my bridal shower, little black bugs started to crawl all over our walls and counters. Some flew and some could not. Others chose to climb walls and onto Peyton's food bowls. I soon found that they had infiltrated our cabinets and every time I went to make rice or couscous I had to throw it out finding a black speck here or there. My future husband blamed the herbs but I fought back and defended them. How could something so beautiful and delicious wreak havoc on our home like that? He put them outside anyways, where they soon died. Realizing that people would be stopping by the house the weekend of the shower, we threw out all opened food in our cabinets and vacuumed the bugs off of walls and our ceiling. We set out vinegar for those who could fly, hoping that would attract them to their death. Needless to say, this was no longer an option for the herbs.

So this year, I decided I would keep the herbs inside. They would not grow as fast or be as hearty but I could hopefully keep them alive and keep bugs out. And hopefully I could keep them much past the summer.

I thought the idea of using chalkboard paint on pots was such a genius idea until I bought a can of chalkboard paint that had a picture of a painted pot on the front. I knew I didn't want to paint the whole pot but struggled with the idea of whether to paint the whole bottom half or use some tape to paint a "label." In the end, my laziness won out with me not wanting to measure or tape for the labels. Besides, if I feel the need to "doodle" on the pots, I have plenty of room.
I didn't think I really needed to do a step-by-step for this. All you need is pots, chalkboard paint, a paintbrush, and some chalk. I made sure to wash the pots well before hand and gave them plenty of time to completely dry. Then I painted two layers of chalkboard paint. Since I was doing this outside on a hot day, I finished this in less than 30 minutes. The pots could have probably used three layers of paint but unless you get really close to them you can't tell the difference.
Do you grow herbs in the house? Have you ever used chalkboard paint? Any tips for growing inside?

Also, does anyone know what that white stuff is that is developing on the top of my oregano pot?


and so they disappeared

Blogger was down for a few days at the end of last week. They removed some posts and never restored Thursday's post. So I posted it again but have no way of restoring your pre-shut-down comments. I just wanted to let you know that this doesn't mean I don't love you. I skipped francophile friday as well, for fear that it would also get messed up.

It was a little frustrating but then I realized it was not the end of the world.

{image from here}

a bedroom inspired by a chair

Since I helped with Kathy's yellow and grey bedroom, Pamela, Kathy's sister, also wanted a little inspiration for her bedroom in their new place. Pamela bought a fabulous chair that she wanted to build her room around. The only other thing she has bought so far was a fun black comforter.

Again, I wanted to keep it budget friendly while still incorporating the bright green and purple that Pamela wanted to work with. Since I am normally a neutrals person when it comes to decor and clothes, this was very much outside of my box but super fun to do. It is always nice to do something a bit different. (I secretly want to find a thrifted dresser and help her paint it bright green or purple with black drawers. How fabulous would that be?)

{Leaf Pillow - $60; Magenta Pillow - $30; Green Pillow - $30; Queen Headboard - $349; Chair - $280; Curtains - $79; Lamp - $25; Comforter - $50; Throw - $32; End Tables - $30; Poms - $13}

What do you all think?


weekend: outlet shopping

shopping bags from our rehoboth outlets excursion . . . a lunch of Thrasher's fries and funnel cake on the ocean city boardwalk . . . my finds at the outlets . . . peyton thinks she is a lap dog
some inspiration for the coming week:

want to come live here with me?

like a fairytale

Friday, my friend, Kathy, came to town and we had dinner at OC Kabob. I love how they give you chickpeas in a mortar and pestle before your food comes. Then the Hubs joined us for a showing of Bridesmaids. I highly recommend it. Saturday morning we got a late start but we made it to the Rehoboth outlets to spend our rainy day shopping. Then we headed down to Ocean City to get some "beach food" for Kathy. After that, we came home, napped, and I woke up to find that I wasn't feeling too good. So we ordered in sushi and spent the night on-demanding televisions shows while the Hubs and Kathy drank wine and I drank Gatorade. This morning we had a diner breakfast and then Kathy headed back over the bridge while the Hubs and I took a nap. I was going to be very productive today and straighten up the house but it was just too beautiful of a day to spend it inside.

Loves, how were your weekends?


a yellow and grey bedroom

My friend Kathy is moving into her first big girl house at the end of May! Since she is one busy girl, she enlisted my help to create her perfect bedroom. Kathy decided she wanted to go with a grey and yellow color scheme with accents of turquoise. I decided to search in terms of her "base" colors and then she can add to it as she pleases.

I tried to keep this as budget friendly as possible while still retaining a colorful and happy atmosphere. It was a bit difficult considering I have yet to see her new room, but this will serve more as inspiration and she can do with it as she pleases.
{curtains - $44 - $69; bed frame - $150 - $250; duvet cover - $69 - $79; nightstand - $149; textured pillow - $30; floral pillow - $21; scalloped pillow - $59; chair - $299; table lamp - $20; wreath - $22; throw blanket - $169}

How is your room decorated?


winner of the french basketeer giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the French Basketeer giveaway is thevelvetbox. Congrats! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information.

And thanks to Andrea for this fabulous giveaway!

{image from here}

love letter nation + a discount

Today I want to introduce to you a very special Etsy shop, Love Letter Nation. Elena started this humanitarian fashion label in Kalcutta, India after working in various fashion houses in New York. She works with production in India and has created a Yoga and Art workshop with a small orphanage there that is part of the Humane Society. Fifteen percent of all net profits go towards this program to help pay for the materials and teachers needed.

The name, Love Letter Nation, was chosen out of the belief that "letter writing is a lost communicational art form in society, and that the creative potential of a society depends on it."

I urge you to go check out the items in the shop. I am obsessed with the skirts! I am definitely going to buy one for the summer. On top of her items being beautiful AND affordable, you know that you have helped children in need.

And if all those reasons aren't enough for you (although, I am sure they already are), Elena is giving la chapstick fanatique readers 20% off the entire store. Just type in the code SENDMELOVE. This promotion will run for the next two weeks.

In addition to the discount, since Elena promotes letter writing and spreading love everyday, she is giving away a free surprise gift to anyone who includes a love letter story or an act of kindness you did recently in the message box during checkout. Or you can also get a free surprise gift by spending $50 or more.

Thanks Elena for the discount and for creating such an amazing concept!


recipe: garbanzo bean salad over quinoa

After a crazy week of marathon eating and drinking in Jamaica, I was in need of a very light healthy dish. Since the Hubs immediately had to go on another business trip after we got back, I was free to eat all the garbanzo beans and quinoa that I wanted - two things he isn't very fond of.

This recipe was created out of the need for color but simplicity. It is a great get-back-on-track meal but still wonderfully delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

serves 1

1.5 Tbsp. lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
1.5 Tbsp. EVOO
1/2 tsp. chili powder (I used medium hot)
1/4 tsp. ground red chipotle
zest from 1/2 lime
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

7.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 c. red onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa, cooked according to box and cooled to room temperature

Whisk ingredients for dressing together in a medium bowl. Add first five ingredients for salad to bowl and combine with dressing. Serve over cooled quinoa.



monday giveaway: french basketeer (NOW CLOSED)

Do you remember when I posted about the French Basketeer a few months ago? This shop carries beautiful French market bags. I could picture myself taking one to the farmer's market or using it to bring a picnic to the beach.

The shop owner, Andrea, says "Our classic baskets have been a staple in France for decades, seen everywhere from Parisian markets to the beaches of the Riviera. French Basketeer now brings this timeless chic to the United States."

Since Honeysuckle is the newest Pantone color for 2011, the French Basketeer is giving away a pink French market bag. Andrea has bags in rose pink, hot pink, herringbone, solid and ombre. She will work with the winner to pick the style best for them. What a great item for the summer!

To be eligible for the giveaway, you must be a follower of my blog so, if you aren't yet, be sure to sign up.

To enter, please visit the French Basketeer and leave a comment below telling us your favorite item.

For more chances to win:
1. Write about this giveaway on your blog and leave a separate comment with a link to your post.
2. Follow the French Basketeer blog and leave a separate comment telling us you did so.

This is open to US residents only. This giveaway ends Wednesday, May 11th at 7pm Eastern Time. A winner will be chosen at random.


weekend: hanover, pa

I didn't really take any pictures this weekend. I was up visiting my grandparents. Which ones? Well, to know my family, I would have to draw you a very complicated family tree. These are my ex-stepmom's parents - if that makes sense. But I have known them all my life so they are grandparents all the same.

I never remember my parents together (I was barely born when they separated) but the messy divorce pretty much carried throughout my life. And then I went through another one with the collapse of my dad's second marriage my freshman year of high school.

But divorce gave me something that I wouldn't have had otherwise - a huge family. I have a very complicated family with multiple moms and sets of grandparents but they each give me something emotionally that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

The grandmother I visited this weekend was diagnosed with cancer two months ago and I took it as hard as if she were blood. I went up the weekend after I was told about the cancer to find a lot of confusion, anger, sadness. The doctor's had told us earlier that week that she only had a few weeks. And then they said maybe chemo would give her a bit longer. And then they insisted she see one of the top surgeons in the nation in that field who said that if she got through three rounds of chemo he may be able to get rid of the cancer. I left that weekend feeling a bit more optimistic than earlier that week.

She was admitted to the hospital a week ago after her third round of chemo - a really bad reaction. But she was doing decently well this weekend since they were finally able to control the pain. But gosh that darn nausea!

I helped my grandfather do some laundry and get some groceries. And I hope I gave him a little break as primary caregiver. And I hope I took my grandmother's mind off the cancer if only for a few moments. I told her about my recent trip to Jamaica and we discussed the recent royal wedding. (To which she insisted was not anymore beautiful than our wedding. My grandfather nodded in agreement. Don't you love grandparents!)

So instead of leaving you with pictures of hospital beds, mushy food, and hair loss, I will leave you with a picture from our wedding with my "ex-step-grandparents," "ex-step-mom," and brother and sister.
Happy mother's day to all those who are mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, and those who play a motherly role in someone's life!


francophile friday: teach your baby french

With all of the pregnant ladies around me lately, I have had baby on the brain. I have done a post in the past about items to teach your children French, but what about teaching your baby?

They say the best time to learn a second language is while babies are learning their first one. As our world becomes increasingly globalized, why not give them a little advantage? Here are few items I found that may be helpful to those wanted to incorporate a little le fran├žais into their baby's life.
Would you teach your baby a second language?

{all items from here}


for cinco de mayo: chicken fajitas

Ok so I am not sure if fajitas are considered Mexican - I think it may be considered more Tex-Mex. But I have been wanting to share this with you for awhile.

This is one of our favorite recipes. The Hubs and I created this recipe a few years ago when I was still in college but the Hubs had moved into an "adult" house. I got him a grill for our anniversary and we had a few times to use it together before I moved to France.

It has become a staple during the summer months, when tomatoes are at their best. We have a lot of people visit us during the summer since we live close to the beach. I make sure to marinate the chicken in advance and all I have to do when we get home is prep the fixins' while the Hubs grills the chicken. Our guests love it!

You can probably use a grill pan if you don't have a grill but I encourage you to try this on the grill if you can. I also encourage you to make this recipe your own. I normally use green and red peppers since I really like red peppers and the Hubs really likes green but if he wasn't around I would probably try orange and yellow peppers.

I try to marinate the chicken for at least 24 hours - the longer the better (without the chicken going bad, of course.) I would at least try to marinade it for at least 6 hours to get the flavors into the chicken.

serves 3 - 4 people

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
EVOO, 1 cups
1 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalepano, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. EVOO
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 lime, juiced
6 flour tortillas
optional: shredded cheese, guacamole (see recipe below), sour cream, pico de gallo (see recipe below), shredded lettuce

For the marinade: Combine first 7 ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Massage marinade into chicken. Put in fridge and let marinade for at least 24 hours, massaging the chicken every few hours (or whenever you open the fridge.)

1. Heat tablespoon of EVOO in a large pan. Add peppers to pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add onions to pan. Add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on how crunchy or cooked you like your vegetables to be. Add lime juice to vegetables and toss.
2. While vegetables are cooking, grill chicken. Be sure to wipe off the marinade so it doesn't burn. Cooking time with depend on the size of the chicken breasts. When chicken is done, let it rest for 2 minutes. Then slice into fajita sized pieces.
3. Combine chicken, vegetables and fixins in flour tortilla. Fold bottom of tortilla and then both sides so nothing falls out.

I make guacamole a little different everytime. Sometimes I add red onions, sometimes I add chopped tomatoes, sometimes I add jalepanos. But this is the basic "bare bones" recipe I use when I am lazy. It really lets the avocado be the star.

1 avocado
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped

Slice avocado in half. Take out the pit. Use a spoon to scoop the fruit into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add lemon juice and cilantro and combine.

This is the reason we wait until the summer to make this recipe - we want the tomatoes to be at their best. I always make a bit extra so we can eat the leftovers with tortilla chips. This is normally the first thing I start, before the onions and peppers, so it has some time to marinade.

3 medium vine ripened tomatoes, diced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 jalepano, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

If you have a cinco de mayo post today, link up to cornflake dreams.


winner of the indigo box giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the Indigo Box card giveaway is Windowfrog! Congrats! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information. And special thanks to Harriet for sponsoring this giveaway.

{image via here}

introducing "under the covers with niki"

Welcome to a new monthly feature on la chapstick fanatique called "Under the Covers with Niki." My friend, Niki, will be posting the first Wednesday of every month with answers to your sex questions. All questions will be kept confidential - I won't even see them.

Niki and I became friends our junior year of college where she studied Psychology with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. After graduating she moved to Philly to attend Chestnut Hill College (which pretty much looks like Hogwarts) for a graduate degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Here is a picture with Niki on my wedding day (she is in the blue printed dress.)
So with further ado, meet Niki!

Hi! My name is Niki and I'm a sex therapist.

This is something that I rarely introduce myself as since I get bizarre looks and questions. Instead when people ask what I do, I reply, "I'm a marriage and family therapist." Which is also true. Only after a few minutes of casual talk, if I can feel out if you can handle this privileged information, I will drop the bomb and add - "I specialize in sex therapy."

After I share my "interests" with people it goes one of two ways: 1. They ignore what I said because they are too uncomfortable or 2. They think they have the opportunity for a free session and begin asking questions. Surprisingly, I don't mind the questions. In fact, I think they are the best part of the job! I like education people and creating a healthy and safe environment to talk about sex. Here are a few examples of questions I get when I first tell people that I'm a sex therapist:

Q: I'm sorry - what does it mean to be a "sex therapist?"
A: Well, it probably isn't what you think. I don't have sex with my clients. It is talk therapy with an individual or a couple. Typically they would come to session with a particular issue that they would like to discuss. It could be any sexual issue: sexual identity, orgasmic issues, painful sex, erection issues, infidelity . . . whatever! No topic is off limits. Same rules as traditional therapies: everything is confidential unless I learn that you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.

Q: Well, what if your problem is that you have too much sex?
Answer I think to myself before answering: Your problem is not that you are having too much sex; stop trying to impress the sex therapist, gross. You might think about sex a lot - but so does everyone else. But, of course, I always opt to answer professionally, saying something like:
A: Well too much sex is only a problem when one partner is uncomfortable with the amount of sex in the relationship or if it is happening outside of the relationship with reckless abandon. Singles can have too much sex if they are being unsafe about it - not using protection for STDs or birth control - and putting other's health at risk. Typically one's body does not let them have too much sex - you will, for a lack of a better word, "wear out" before you get to that point.

Q: Oh so that means you have really great sex. Do you tell your partner how to have sex?
Again, answer I think to myself before answering: Really? You just asked me, a stranger, about my sex life? And you think I am bossy in bed?! You wish. Yet again, I answer the question professionally by saying:
A: That is funny; a lot of people ask that. But the last thing I want to do is analyze my sexual relationships. Isn't the point of sex to have fun? What fun is it if I am telling the other person what to do and how to do it?

Of course, these questions could go on for days, but I think the best part of starting these conversations is dispelling some of the myths that people have not only about sex, but also about therapy - more specifically sex therapy. What questions do you have? Send your questions to me at underthecoverswithniki{at}gmail{dot}com. All questions will be treated with confidentiality and anonymity and you might just see the answer to your question next month!


royal wedding bumps

I loved seeing the footage and pictures of all the guests arriving to the royal wedding last week. Obviously, the most popular accessory was a hat or fascinator. Oh how I wish this was the standard in the US for weddings!

But did you notice something else a few ladies were wearing?
Beautiful baby bumps! Ok so obviously a pregnant belly is not an accessory but I was incredibly inspired by these mamas-to-be who showed off their bump in style.

Dressing a newly pregnant body is hard enough but dressing for a special occasion is much harder. I thought I would try to help some of you who are currently pregnant and may have a special occasion to go to over the next few months. I have put together a couple of "maternity chic" options - I hope it helps!

{dress - $89.65, earrings - $24, clutch - $99, wedges - $89}

{dress - $175, ring - $45, earrings - $32, bag - $128, pumps - $99}

Any style advice for mothers-to-be?

{first two images from here and here}