blogger blitz dc!

I am so excited that {av} from long distance loving has decided to host a blogger blitz in DC on Sunday, December 11th! It will be held at Urbana, a western Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar in Dupont Circle. I have already bought my tickets and will be traveling from Salisbury that day. If you are in the DC area, buy a ticket! There are only a few left! (She is also hosting a meet-up in New York, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Nashville.) You can find out more information here.

I can't wait to meet some of the area's wonderful bloggers and, of course, {av}!


weekend: relaxing and some hockey

my brother playing hockey . . . with my stepmom at the game
some inspiration for the coming week:

some silly things happening at my alma mater. read about here, here, and here.

such a beautiful still life

peanut butter with pops of blue

diy halloween projects
Friday night, the Hubs and I ate some of last season's lasagna that I had frozen. It was really yummy and I can't wait to make it again this year. Saturday, I spent the day snuggled in bed. It was such an icky day and I was tired from all the traveling over the last month and a half. Also, my grandmother only has a few days left and I just felt like I needed a day to be sad. I just hope her last days are as peaceful as possible. Today, the Hubs and I went across the bridge to watch my brother's hockey game and have lunch with my parents.

How was your weekend?


visiting colonial williamsburg

For our anniversary, the Hubs is taking me to Colonial Williamsburg. Since our anniversary was during travel season for work for me, we are going the first weekend in December which is great since I have always wanted to go around Christmastime.

I have always loved Williamsburg, ever since I was little. In elementary school, colonial historical fiction was my favorite genre of books. I was even a colonial person for Halloween in fifth grade. My then-stepmom made my costume and I even wore a little bonnet. I wish I had a picture to share with you.

I first visited Williamsburg in 4th grade with my grandparents on my mom's side. I remember since I missed a few days of school, my teacher made me keep a journal while I was there. I talked about that trip for years - not because of Williamsburg, but because I looked out the window while we were having breakfast in Shoney's and watched a car flip over on the highway outside. (Oh and the cheese shopwas pretty memorable too!)

The same grandparents took me back a year later since the Felicity American Girl experience we were going to go to the last time had been canceled. I learned how to serve tea, make a little bag of potpourri to put around my neck, and how to play rolling the hoop. I also fell in love with two necklaces in one of the shops - one blue pearl and one pink pearl. I vowed that one day I would save all my money and come back and buy both.

In middle school, the grandparents on my dad's side took me. I remember eating at King Arm's Tavern and staying at a place with a sauna in it. Also, I had my own room with a king sized bed!

The last time I went was with my two aunts during my sophomore year of high school. We had so much fun. I think my favorite experience, though, was going to Shield's Tavern. We paid one price per person and were served a seven-course meal. It was delicious and listening to Shield's banter all night was entertaining.

So, although I have been to Williamsburg a few times, I haven't really been as an adult. I guess that is why I am writing this post - I need your help. I somewhat have of an idea of what I want to do but I would love to hear your tips and ideas. Most likely, we are going to go down on a Wednesday night and stay through Sunday morning so we will really have three full days to do stuff. We already know we are staying at Marriott's Manor Club so we don't need help with that.

Here are a few things I am pretty sure we want to do (but I am open to suggestions):
1. Walk around colonial Williamsburg.
2. Eat lunch at the Cheese Shop.
3. Eat dinner at one of the taverns. (Maybe they will have another dinner special?)
4. Do lunch and a wine tasting at Williamsburg Winery.
5. Relax.

So what do you suggest? Do you have a favorite tavern? Are there any really great places to eat? Are there any events at the college?

{image via here}


the holiday gift guide is coming

Since the holiday season will be here before we know it, the gift guide is back! For those on a budget, the gifts will be under $50 with one "splurge" gift that may be a little over. So, if you are struggling to find a gift for someone, write me an email at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com and describe the person you need a gift for. Is he a grad student? Is she artsy? Does that certain someone like to travel? I will help you to find the perfect gift!

{image via here}


roasted veggie and goat cheese pizza

This is delicious. If you like goat cheese, go to your nearest grocery store, collect your ingredients, and make this. You will not be disappointed.

This is a very simple recipe. It is actually so simple, I don't have any measurements. If you like a lot of veggies, then add more veggies. If you like more cheese, then add more cheese. If you don't like eggplant but love peppers, swap them.

However, although this recipe is simple, roasting the veggies does add to the cooking time. Since I knew I would be making this on a Monday night after work, I actually chopped and roasted my vegetables while I made dinner Sunday night. That way, on Monday, all I had to do was piece my pizza together.

I usually keep homemade pizza dough frozen in my freezer but I was out and with all the traveling there really wasn't enough time to make any so I used store bought. I used Trader Joe's Garlic and Herb pizza dough. I am usually disappointed with store bought dough but I thought this was top notch. It turned out nice and crispy without being dry and it was only 99 cents! I just had to use a bit of flour to roll it out as it was a little sticky. And I think the herbs really complimented this pizza although I think a plain or wheat pizza dough would work just fine.


zucchini, roughly chopped
eggplant, roughly chopped
onion, roughly chopped
garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes (if you want your pizza a little spicy)
salt and pepper
pizza dough
mozzarella, shredded
goat cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Toss zucchini, eggplant, onion, garlic, EVOO, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a bowl until vegetables are evenly coated. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and roast, for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to warm it. Roll out pizza dough and placed on warm stone or baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and thinly coat entire pizza. Add garlic. Sprinkle a little bit of mozzarella on dough but you only need a little. Add roasted vegetables to dough. Crumble goat cheese over pizza. Bake in oven for 12 minutes.



weekend: masquerade

the black-tie optional dress from this post . . . our masks . . . with the Hubs at the masquerade ball
Friday night, I got a much needed manicure and pedicure. Saturday morning, I worked at our school's open house. Then I came home, took a shower, and went on to my updo appointment. I wasn't really wild about the outcome (I wanted my hair curly) but now that I am looking at pictures, it didn't turn out too bad. Then the Hubs and I got dressed and went to a masquerade ball to benefit a local program called Imagination Library, which is about getting books into local low-income family homes. We had a lot of fun and we were happy to support such a great cause. Today, I got some much needed rest. After traveling the last few weeks and being sick this week, I decided it was best to take it easy.

How was your weekend?


francophile friday: style inspiration from françoise hardy

Today we have french style inspiration from Françoise Hardy, singer and actress made iconic in the 60s. Although these pictures are from many decades ago, her classic style can be a perfect guideline for the girl that likes a simple, natural look.

What do you think?

{images via here, here, here, here, and here}


guest post: remembering europe with wanderlust

Hello La Chapstick Fanatique friends! I'm the girl behind Wanderlust and I'm happy to be back to add to the loveliness of Morgan's corner of the internet.

I'm quickly finding that I'm the kind of person that can't help but reminisce. I love my home in California but I often find my mind wandering back to my overseas adventures-- most recently, my two months in Europe this past summer. It was hard for me to pick a favorite memory, so instead, I've put together a little list of my favorite little things in Europe.
Fruit fresh from the garden.
Antique markets.
the steps from vanessa's flat
Spiral staircases (though I like them more in theory than practice...)
a little french breakfast
Simple baguette + butter + jam breakfasts with tea.
Colorful wooden shutters.
French yogurt (so fluffy and they come in these cute ceramic containers!)
Lights and bunting in tiny towns.
feet, as always
Cobblestone streets and the way your heart feels remembering that you're in Europe.


guest post: natalie from natalie merrillyn

Hello, la chapstick fanatique readers! I'm Natalie from Natalie Merrillyn, here to share ten eBay tips. eBay is my go-to shopping site, and I was thrilled when Morgan asked if I'd share some of my bidding secrets. :) Pictured are a few things that I've found recently on eBay and I'm so convinced that if you're looking for something specific, sooner or later, it will appear eBay. I hope that these tips help in some way!

1. Research. How much did the item you want sell for originally? It is on sale somewhere else? Make sure that you’re getting the best deal that you possibly can on eBay.
2. Search. Type in specifics. For example, if you’re looking for a pair of J. Brand jeans, don’t just type in “J Brand jeans.” Search “J brand (your size).” This will narrow down and eliminate lots of items that aren’t relevant to you, making browsing much easier and less overwhelming.
3. Search often. Everything I’ve found has been because of frequent searches. Like, almost every day searches. Take ten seconds out of your day to type in specifically what you’re looking for. New items appear on eBay every day, sometimes it takes one or two searches, sometimes it’s over a period of months when the item you’re looking for will appear. (You can even sort your search by “Most recently added.”) If it’s something you really want, keep searching!
4. Check the seller’s feedback. Do they have consistently good customer service? Do they ship fast? Are they reliable?
5. Don’t buy anything from China. Just don’t do it.
6. Don’t be afraid to contact the seller with questions. I’ve contacted many an eBay seller, asking for more pictures of the item, or specific measurements to guarantee a good fit. Most eBayers are more than willing to communicate with you about the item they’re selling.
7. Know your spending limit and stick with it. Over-spending is easy when you enter bidding wars! Stay firm in your maximum amount that you’re willing to pay for something.
8. “Buy it now” is your bff. It takes the stress out of bidding, and it’s fast, easy, and foolproof.
9. If you are bidding, bid in the last 5-7 seconds. Make sure you know how many bid confirms you need to go through so that you don’t miss your window of opportunity. I normally bid a few dollars more plus a random cent amount to have a better chance of being the highest bidder. (Again, know the limit of the amount you’re willing to pay.) Say you type in $41.75 as your highest bid, and the next highest bid is $39. You will win the item for $39.10.
10. Have fun! eBay has turned into one of my favorite shopping sites, there are so many deals and hard-to-find items that people are selling. All of my tips I’ve found through trial and error, find your own, and have fun with it!

Thank you, Morgan for having me!


weekend: one year

at the hub's company crab feast on saturday . . . before celebrating our anniversary saturday night . . . the ride home on sunday after going to see my grandmother
Friday, I came home from a week of traveling and the Hubs and I went to dinner at Green Hill. Saturday, we went to the Hub's annual company crab feast and that night we went to dinner at Ruth Chris to celebrate our one year anniversary which is actually today.

This past week, I learned that my grandmother's battle with cancer is coming to an end. She made the decision to go off her nutrition and hydration bags that she had been on since she has not been able to eat. I went up on Thursday and today and she seems very at peace with her decision. I just hope that her next few days can be as painless and peaceful as possible. If I am missing a bit this week, that is probably why. I can only think about how lucky I was to have her for so long and to be able to have her at my wedding one year ago today.

I hope you had a nice fall weekend.


francophile friday: {av}'s friday's fancies

Bonjour! My name is {av} and I'm the blogger behind {long distance loving}! I'm delighted to be guest posting for Morgan today since we both share a deep love of all things French. Every Friday, I create outfits that exist only in my dreams--I call them Friday's Fancies! Today, I've created a fabulous little get-up for Morgan, complete with polka dots and a little French flair. I hope you enjoy...

1) Not only does this Bailey 44 Turn Into French Polka-Dot Top contain one of this season's hottest patterns, it has that sweet bow which has been catching my eye during my shopping excursions all fall.
2) A little bit of whimsy and a little bit of sparkle never did anyone any harm, which is why these Emily Elizabeth Jewelry Shimmer Star Stud Earrings made the perfect choice for a dreamy outfit like this one.
3) I think I've always had a coat, much like this A.P.C. Double-Breasted Gabardine Trench Coat, on my wish list. Until I fulfill it, I'll always envy the chic and stylish ways of the women who sport them.
4) These Rag & Bone Skinny Corduroy Pants add a pop of color to this get-up and a skip to my step if I had them in my closet. I also appreciate that they're a little more formal than the colored jeans so en vogue this autumn.
5) Oh, Chloé...how you tempt me with your wares! This Heloise Large Tote would be great for a day of adventure and big enough for my DSLR. I love the luxurious leather and the structure of this bag. sigh.
6) If you ask me, sequins always make a day better, so when I spied these Prada Paillette Ballet Flats, I knew they had to be included in this outfit.

What purchase from this fall has been your favorite so far?

Many thanks again to Morgan for having me today--I always love the little dose of French loveliness that she curates here on la chapstick fanatique. I hope each of you have a lovely weekend! Be sure to stop by {long distance loving} and swoon over all the other beautiful Friday's Fancies :) xoxo {av}


on babies

I had dinner with my friend, Chrissy, last night and I was telling her that I met Ashley's new baby. We got on the subject of how strange it is that our friends are getting married and having babies. I don't even feel like an adult yet! I have to admit, though, every once in awhile, I get a teeny bite of the baby bug. But then I realize that it isn't just about nursery decor and creating a mini J.Crew-esque closet.

I definitely want to have children, preferably two, but I would like to be finished with my masters first. (Oh yea, FYI - I start my masters program next spring.) But with only being able to take a class each semester with my job and not being able to take one during the fall semester because of travel season, that seems like such a far ways off.

I also like the spontaneity of our lives (not that we are THAT spontaneous.) I like being able to go to dinner whenever we want or put the dog in the car and take a drive without taking 45 minutes to pack up another human. I like sleeping in and taking naps. I like only being responsible for myself and not having someone else's life in my hands - talk about pressure!

But seeing Ashley and Pat's adorable new family made my heart swell. And I felt so lucky to be a part of it, even if it was just for a few hours on Sunday. And even though I am sure they are sleep deprived, I know they wouldn't trade it for anything.

So what about you? Do you want children? How many? Do you have a really set plan or are you just going to let it happen when it happens? Are there certain things you want to accomplish before you have a baby? Is there something about babies that makes you nervous? Dish!


weekend: birthdays and babies

party decorations . . . the Hubs and I hanging out at the party . . . my friend's new cutey, reid
a little inspiration for the week:

a beautiful post about the struggle to have a baby

work out on a road trip

i want to live here

what a great idea for wedding favors! (my friend's husband is an artist and they did something similar for their wedding to go with their centerpieces.)

what great friends

a beautiful idea for wedding centerpieces

this girl is going to be a star
Friday night, we celebrated my FIL's birthday. Saturday, we ran errands and then went to the Hub's friend's surprise 40th birthday party. Sunday, I packed up my car (ready for another week of travel!) I made a detour though, to Ashley's house, to meet her new baby, Reid.

How was your weekend?


francophile friday: guest post with marissa from the boot

Bonjour la chapstick fanatique readers! I am Marissa, the girl behind the boot, and I'm so happy to be here today! I was thinking about Morgan's blog and my blog: she is all about France and I am all about Italy, so it was only fitting to write about my favorite iconic ladies of each country!

Sophia Loren epitomizes Italian fashion and culture with just one glance: olive skin, strong eyebrows, red lips, sex appeal without trying too hard. She was every man's fantasy when she was in her prime, and maybe even still today. I love her brazen, fearless character in Marriage Italian Style and her amazing performance in La Ciociara, basically the saddest movie ever.

Brigitte Bardot is so iconically French to me: innocent, pouty pink lips, cat eye, messy-made up hair and that perfect little nose! She, like Sophia, was sexy at a time when women were just starting to get respect, and she was not shy about it! I love the silly songs she did with Serge Gainsbourg, especially Comic Strip (the video is so low-budget and hilar) and the adorable Moi Je Joue!

sophia + brigitte
Get Sophia's look: Missoni scarf, Dolce and Gabbana lipstick.
Get Brigitte's look: River Island headband, Yves Saint Laurent eye pencil.

Thanks to Morgan for letting me pop by today and if you crave a dose of Italy come say hi at the boot!


sponsor post: misha girl

I happy to introduce you to one of our new sponsors, Misha Girl. This Etsy shop has a beautiful selection of handmade leather jewelry. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Patent Leather Peepshow Cuff: The patent leather used for this cuff makes it perfect for a night out. It is edgy while still being sexy.
2. Zen Elements Necklace: The details on this necklace are so amazing. The lines used in this necklace are based off of aesthetic principles of Zen Buddhism.
3. Leather Turquoise Wristband: Turquoise is one of my favorite stones and it really pops against the brown leather used in this bracelet. I also love the unfinished look of the edges on the leather making it somewhat rugged looking.
4. Dual Toned Leather Wristband: I love the simplicity of this piece. This is the perfect everyday wear bracelet.

Please stop by Misha Girl to pick up a leather piece for your collection. A lot of the bracelets in this shop would be great go-to pieces for fall. What is your favorite piece?


under the covers with niki: good sex

{This is our fifth post for our feature, "Under the Covers with Niki." You can read about sex therapy and see other posts here.}

How do I know if I am having good sex?

There is no such thing as doing it wrong, but everyone has their own preferences! The key to having good sex is knowing yourself. If you don’t know what you like then it is difficult to have “good” (satisfying) sex. So for many of us this means practice! Practice with your partner, if you are comfortable enough to experiment, or masturbate on your own. It is important to take note of the type of touch you like (hard, soft, fast, etc.) and where you like to be touched. Remember, touch does not have to be restricted only to the genitals!

The next hurtle to having good sex is communicating your likes with your partner. Now, I know what you are thinking--they will think I am criticizing them! However, there are many ways you can express your needs and desires to your partner without criticizing them. First, you model what you like. After all, the way you touch your partner is the way that you also like to be touched. If you are hesitant to talk about your likes/dislikes then subtly encourage your partner by making simple statements: “I really like when you (fill in the blank).” It is much more encouraging to state your likes rather than bark your dislikes.

Lastly, I think it is important to recognize that “good” sex doesn't always mean orgasm. Sex is suppose to be fun, so don’t over think it and don’t become too focused on orgasm. If you are enjoying yourself and having fun then you are having good sex!

{image via here}


veggie, pasta, and bean soup

This weekend was cold and windy, the perfect time for soup. I made a huge pot - some for late nights at the office this week, some for lunch, and some to freeze for later.

This reminds me of the soups I used to make while living in Bordeaux. We would grab up whatever was at the market and throw it in the pot with some chicken stock. This has a great mix of veggies and beans - healthy and full of protein. The part that takes the longest is chopping the veggies and then you just have to let it simmer.

serves 10

1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
64 oz. chicken stock (I use no sodium)
32 oz. water
2 bay leaves
1 oz. chunk of pancetta
1 romano rind
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. of ditalini pasta

Melt butter into the EVOO. Stir in carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Cook until onion and celery are soft. Add cabbage and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Add stock, water, bay leaves, pancetta and rind. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans and pasta and simmer until pasta is al dente. Remove bay leaves, pancetta, and rind. Enjoy!


weekend: catching up

pumpkins at adkins farm market . . . a pyo pumpkin patch . . . our autumn bounty
I don't even have any links today. I am sooo behind on blog reading since I was traveling this past week. Friday evening was spent catching up on sleep after being gone for work since last Sunday morning. Saturday morning, I was back at work for an open house and then I went to get a much needed haircut. Saturday night, the Hubs and I went to Specific Gravity for dinner and then headed over to Sobo's for a glass of wine. Today, we went to get some pumpkins and such for our porch. The Hubs asked me why we weren't getting any "normal" pumpkins. I told him that every pumpkin needs a loving home. After that I spent the day running errands and cooking a bunch of meals for the week since I have to work late Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Now I am taking a little time to relax before Boardwalk Empire comes on.

How was your weekend?