a cozy halloween

Since I had been traveling for work and we were gone for California, I pretty much forgot about Halloween. I had to work on Saturday and was tired from traveling anyway so I didn't join in on any of the weekend festivities.

I was actually supposed to work tonight but my event got canceled due to the hurricane. (Who schedules an event for high school students on Halloween, anyway?) So, I will be home tonight. I wish we were in a neighborhood where kids trick-or-treated - I would use this night to dress up to give out candy. I have a small bag just in case a kid or two stops by but I have a feeling tonight will end up with me on the couch having a cozy Halloween.

What about you? Did you go to any Halloween events this past weekend? Do you have any plans for tonight?


paleo and crossfit update, part two

You can read my first update here.

CrossFit: I haven't been able to go as often as would like to because of travel for work, but it is amazing, with the few times I have gone in, how much progress I have made. I realized this during a class a few weeks ago: during my beginning class, I couldn't get myself up on the rings. We were doing the rings again and I said out loud that I would not be able to do it. To my surprise, I could get up there and stay up there for a decent amount of time. 

CrossFit was canceled yesterday because of the hurricane and I haven't been in about two weeks because of travel and vacation so I am sure I am my next class is going to tough. But, now that travel for work is slowing down, I can't wait to see how much progress I will make when I can go two or three times a week. 

One thing I am noticing though, is that timed trials with running involved, slow me down. So I am starting to run on my own to build up my cardiovascular endurance. I am not a runner so this isn't super fun for me but I am starting out slow, doing the Couch-to-5k running plan.

I am quitting my membership at the Y to save a bit of money since CrossFit is certainly not inexpensive (but totally worth it!) On the days I am not doing CrossFit, I plan to run and do Pilates on my own.

Paleo: This has fell by the wayside the past two weeks. I was in areas for work that literally only had one fast food restaurant in the town so, if I wanted to eat lunch, that was it. And then on vacation, I would eat Paleo when I could but if I wanted to try something that wasn't Paleo, I would. I am looking to get back on track this week, though.

What I have done is A LOT of Paleo reading:

1. Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen - I actually checked this one out from the library but I probably will buy it at some point. I made a few recipes from it, some true to the recipe, some I adapted, all very solid. This is great for no-fuss meals. I usually look through cookbooks for inspiration and less for recipes that I am going to follow piece by piece and this was certainly inspiring. I was also surprised by the pure volume of recipes.

2. It Starts With Food - If you are just starting out, this is an awesome book. It goes through a lot of the science of Paleo but you can always just read the summaries at the end of those chapters if you aren't that interested in that. It also has a few recipes, meal planning information, and information on the Whole 30. I haven't done the Whole 30 yet (I plan to do it in January) and this will definitely be my number one resource for that. The line I keep remembering whenever I want to reach for a pieces of bread is "abs are made in the kitchen."

3. Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat - I love this book! There are so many good recipes in here that I am dying to try. I also like how she puts personal tidbits in throughout the book and is incredibly non-judgy when talking about food. I felt like I was reading less of a Paleo cookbook and more of just a cookbook from someone who loves food. 

I have a party to go to in two Fridays and we are supposed to bring an appetizer. I want to try to find a Paleo-friendly appetizer to bring that non-Paleo people will still want to eat. Any ideas?

Have you tried out CrossFit or Paleo? Have you come across any good resources?

{image via my pinterest}


weekend: preparing for sandy

snuggling with the pup . . . the hubs "weather control" center . . . wet shoes
a little inspiration for the coming week:

have you heard of monsters university?

would you try hypnobirth?

only dog people understand

how to be a friend to someone who has cancer

can't wait for mad men
Friday, we got back from California after midnight so I went into work a little late. I was exhausted leaving work  that evening and scratched the side of my car. Ugh. So I pretty much resorted to snuggling in bed with Peyton for the rest of the night. 

Saturday, I had to work an event so I was up early. After that, I came home and did a bit of laundry and grocery shopping in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. I think because I went to the store later, I was lucky and it wasn't too crowded. There wasn't very much food left, though. 

Today, I slept in and then got a few things done around the house. I took a long nap as well which was very needed. My brother is actually in his freshman year at the university where I work. He is staying at our house tonight so he doesn't get stuck in his dorm room tomorrow when the hurricane hits. We went out to dinner and then we are going to introduce him to Boardwalk Empire later. 

I don't have to work tomorrow which I am happy about. Since I have been traveling for work and then we went on vacation, the house is disaster. It looks like a hurricane came through - pun intended. I am going to spend tomorrow organizing the best I can before the electricity goes out.

Be safe the next few days if you are in the Northeast. 

How was your weekend?


heading home and a thank you

Well, the Hubs and I are heading home from California. We won't be back until super late tonight but I can't wait to go through all of our pictures from the trip!

I wanted to give a special thank you to all the lovely bloggers who helped out while I was away and guest posted. Thank you, thank you!

Please stop by and check out their wonderful blogs.
This blog is about learning to love from afar and covers everything from long distance relationships to the famous friday's fancies. I am always amazed by {av}'s drive and innovative spirit and I was happy that I was able to meet her at one of her Blogger Blitzes!

Sarah is such a sweetie and I am glad I got to meet her in person. Her blog is so honest as she writes about bits of her life, love, and food. 

Cara is a crafting, baking, and fashionable cutie who I was lucky enough to meet in person. And I am so jealous of her shoe collection that she shows off on her blog in her Wednesday's Wardrobe posts.

Thanks again ladies! I am so honored to have you here.


cara from i dabble

Hi! I'm Cara and I blog over at I dabble, where I share all sorts of things, recipes, craft projects and fashionable posts. I am so excited that Morgan asked me to post for her while she's on vacation in one of my favorite cities. I've visited San Francisco a few times recently, so I wanted to share my ideal tourist day in the city by the bay.
Breakfast at Mama's in the North Beach neighborhood. The line can be long, so bring a book/newspaper but the food is well worth the wait and will keep you full for hours.
Walk off breakfast by climbing Telegraph Hill up to Coit Tower for a look out over the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz and all the beauty that is San Francisco.
Next I would walk to the Ferry Building to visit the huge farmer's market there for another cup of coffee to sip on as I strolled down the Embarcadero towards Fisherman's Wharf. I'd stop to visit the ever amusing sea lions, the fish shops along the water and Boudin's delicious smells of baking sourdough. The people watching all along here is superb.
After all that walking I'd probably need a snack. I'd probably pop into Ghiradelli Square for a sweet treat; the ice cream sundaes are delicious at Ghiradelli, as are the cupcakes at Kara's Cupcakes.

I love the boutique shopping in San Francisco so I'd hop a bus to Union and Fillmore Streets and get a few hours of shopping in. I've always had good luck at Marmalade on Union Street.
I'd round out my afternoon with some exploring of Golden Gate Park or the Presidio. There's so much to see and do at both parks, or you can choose to do nothing more than read or nap in a nice grassy area.
After freshening up at the hotel, I'd head to Chinatown for dinner. It's such a cool place to visit, especially at night when its all lit up. My husband and I love House of Nanking. It's a hole in the wall, and you sit almost elbow to elbow but their dumplings and noodles are out of this world. Again, get their early or you will wait in line.
If you can get out of San Francisco for a day or you're splitting time between SF and Napa like Morgan, I'd highly recommend a pit stop in Muir Woods. If you can go early in the morning, it's quiet, beautiful and you may have the redwoods all to yourself.

I love San Francisco, I hope Morgan has a fantastic time and you too when you get there!


sarah from sunlight after rain

Hello! My name is Sarah and I blog over at sunlight after rain. I am not a well-traveled person. I wish I was, but Maryland (woot-woot East Coast!) has been my home for 10 years and Massachusetts was my home for ten years before that. Not too exciting if you ask me - both states are Atlantic-ocean boarders with too many fields and trees and not enough, ahem, fun as California.

If I was in California with Morgan right now (I wish I was! So much better than being in class!) I would be dragging the poor girl around the state like a roller coaster. I would be at Disney Land and wine country and Haight-Ashbury and I would never sleep. I would be too excited that I was in another time zone and that there was a different ocean right next to me. 
To me, that is the beauty of travelling. You travel for hours and hours and the water looks the same but it totally isn't. Isn't that such a fascinating concept? It's the same water that you just left but at the same time, it's not
Weirdly fascinating.

California is famous for lots of things but I think one of the things that sticks out to me in a big way is it's beaches. They're so different (in a good way!) from the East Coast beaches!

So, without further ado, here are some of the beaches I would visit if I had the chance to go see a different ocean. 

Santa Monica
The pier. Ocean Avenue. The film festival. Perfect sunsets.
Santa Monica is the perfect hippy/hipster town and my theatre major side would probably die a thousand deaths from excitement on this beach. Listening to guitars on a beach while there is a ferris wheel right next to me? Ocean perfection.

Venice Beach
This beach is perfect for everything! You can hike, bike, board, and surf all within a few block radius. Guitars, shops and all of the other deliciously stereotypical Californian things lie along the boardwalk of this 'Muscle Beach'. You can't get bored here. It's impossible.
And did I mention it was the setting for Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet? If a Shakespearean movie picks a beach for a setting you know it's too good to be true!

Oh, I'd die and go to heaven if I ever got to go to Malibu. Mainly because all I'd ever do is star-search. If there a beach is pretty enough to be home to celebrities then you know it's perfect for me as well. 

See how perfect those beaches look? I love the east coast, but the beaches are not as wonderful over here!
Where would you go if you were in California?


friday's fancies with {av} from {long distance loving}

Hello there! My name is {av}--and most days, you can find me blogging at {long distance loving}. Though I'm jealous of Morgan's Californian adventures, I am so happy to be filling in for her today. In honor of her trip, I pulled together a chic and comfortable Friday's Fancies ensemble. Enjoy!

Velvet is well-known for making perfectly comfortable cotton pieces like this gorgeous Kaiya Dress. This wine-colored beauty is ideal for traveling because it packs well and still looks fab!

Leave it to J.Crew to create this stunning Classic Link Necklace, which pairs well with nearly everything in my wardrobe. Suffice it to say, this necklace is already on my holiday wish list.

You have to make each minute of vacation count, so I would love to sport this Michael Kors 'Camille' Chronograph Leather Strap Watch to keep me on pace!

Though boots are a real {suitcase} commitment, these Halogen 'Kate' Riding Boots  made this outfit shine. I just love the rich cognac color paired with the burgundy goodness of the dress.

With a nod to Morgan's French-loving side, I had to include a Longchamp Le Pliage Medium Tote. This little bag holds so much and still looks polished!
Dream along with me for Friday's Fancies by joining the mailing list, which sends all you need to know right to your inbox! Endless thanks to Morgan for having me here today :) All I ask is that she have an extra glass of vino {for me} in the California sunshine, while I am freezing my tail off in New England! Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! xoxo Alison


california, here we come!

The Hubs, his parents, and I leave for California early tomorrow morning! Yay! We are flying from Salisbury to Philly, then from Philly to San Francisco and then we will drive to our resort. It will be a long trip but I am so excited! We will be in Younteville in Napa Valley until mid-day Tuesday and then we head to San Francisco for two nights.

While I am gone, a few of my favorite bloggers have been nice enough to guest post so please stop by and give them some love!

Also, I am going to try and disconnect a bit while I am on vacation but I know I will still be keeping up a bit on twitter (@LaChapstickFan) and instagram (@lachapstickfanatique) so follow me in you want to travel California with me.

I will miss you guys!

{image from here}


a bit about you, part 2

I promised to answer some of your questions that you asked in this post so here goes:
A picture I took while living in Bordeaux. This is a metro stop I used to use a lot.
Can we hear more about your experiences in France?
Um, of course! I seriously could talk about it for hours, days really. I know I have been slacking on the francophile friday posts lately but I hope to get back on track once travel season for work is over. For now, check out my France email posts here and let me know if you have any specific questions.

The very first picture of the Hubs and me, my freshman year of college, taken a week or two after we met.
How did you and your husband meet?
We actually met my first week in college. He was a junior and I was a freshman. The first thing he ever said to me was a lie.

I went to a party at his house on a Wednesday night with my friend, Alissa. I was getting introduced to a few people and he was the first person to say hello. He introduced himself as "Josh" (not his name) and told me he was the captain of the water polo team (he played lacrosse in college.) Finally, after we learned a bunch of fake names and sports, one of his roommates messed up and I caught on.

We decided to play Ruit and we were partners. And we were awesome! We won game after game. After a bunch of chatting, laughing, and, ahem, drinking, I finally turned to him and told him I couldn't drink anymore so we decided to throw the next game. He left to go the bathroom or grab a beer or something and my friend and I decided to go home since we had class in the morning. (We were such good college students!) In my buzzed state, I didn't even think to wait for him to say goodbye.

The next afternoon, his friend IMed me and asked if he could give the Hubs my screen name. Apparently, the Hubs was a little broken up that I hadn't said goodbye. (He claims he wasn't but I know otherwise.) I said yes and he invited me over to a pre-Friday night get together.

That night, my friend and I went over there to hang out and then we roamed around campus and went to a few parties. It was a lot of fun and, later that night, we had our first kiss.

And, like my husband likes to say, I never left...

My birthday, after I graduated and started my first big girl job. All of my friends came down to celebrate.
How did you end up in Salisbury?
Actually, my husband is from Salisbury. His family owns a business here so he moved back here after he graduated from college. I actually stayed with him the summer in between junior and senior year hoping an internship would turn into a job after I graduated. (It didn't.) I graduated a semester early to save on student loans and I graduated in the worst economy ever. I searched for jobs back home and in Salisbury and I was going to move wherever I could find something. Luckily, considering a lot of my stuff was there from the summer before, I found something in Salisbury.
And now a little more about me and a few for you:

Describe your clothing style in three words: classic, neutral, simple
Where is the furthest place you have traveled from home: Italy
Where is the furthest place you have lived from home: Bordeaux, France
Favorite vegetable: asparagus
Favorite fruit: Oh gosh, it depends. I love strawberries and bananas and nectarines.

YOUR TURN (copy and paste into the comments section and answer)
Describe your style in three words:
Where is the furthest place you have traveled from home:
Where is the furthest place you have lived from home:
Favorite vegetable:
Favorite fruit:
A question for me:

Thanks for reading!


happy two years!

Happy two year anniversary to the Hubs! It has been a fun, hilarious, happy two years and I can't wait to spend many more with you. I still can't believe that I have known you over a third of my life (seven years) and I can't imagine it without you in it. Sorry I can't be here tonight to celebrate (stupid college fairs) but I can't wait for our trip in a few days. I love you!

If you want to learn a little bit about our destination wedding and see pictures you can find them here:

Happy reading!


weekend: nick and sarah's wedding

trying out my new wide angle lens at green hill . . . down the aisle . . . first kiss . . . on to the ceremony . . . with the hubs . . . cake . . . the sun setting . . . first dance . . . by the bonfire
Friday, after work, the Hubs surprised me with a new wide angle lens. I am so excited to use it in Napa! We went out to Green Hill for dinner so that I could try it out. 

Saturday, I got up early to go for a run and then went to Enza's to get a haircut and a dimineralization. That afternoon, the Hubs and I headed to Nick and Sarah's wedding. They had it in their backyard and all the details were perfect. 

Today, I cleaned the house and did about three weeks worth of laundry. (Thank you, travel season.) And then I spent the afternoon catching up on Homeland and Revenge and packing for California since we leave on Friday morning and I am gone two nights this week for work.

How was your weekend?


in cecil county

Last year, when I was traveling in Cecil County, Maryland for work, I regretted not taking my camera with me. It was the end of October and all the foliage was so beautiful. I also noticed how interesting the architecture was.

I was there last week so the leaves had not fully changed yet. I had some time after work things so, although it was overcast and a little rainy, I ventured out to take a few snapshots. I went to a park and found a beautiful covered bridge and made friends with a few horses. Then I stopped at an orchard on my way back to my hotel and had a very yummy apple cider donut. (I mean I couldn't resist - you could smell them the minute you walked onto the property.)

In celebration of fall, I would like to share a few of the photos that I took with you...
How have you celebrated fall so far?


i miss my kitchen

I miss my kitchen. My kitchen isn't great by any means. There aren't any upgraded appliances or a lot of space. But I miss it just the same.

I haven't been home much because of travel for work and, when I have actually been home, our weekends have been jam-packed. There hasn't been time for cooking. 

I left yesterday for more traveling but I will be home Wednesday evening. So, on Sunday,  I went to the grocery store for the first time in weeks in anticipate for Wednesday night. And I am giddy with excitement because, after CrossFit, I AM GOING TO COOK DINNER! And Thursday, after CrossFit, I AM GOING TO COOK DINNER!

Even for someone who likes to cook as much as I do, I take it for granted sometimes. Those simple daily rituals can be truly missed when you are never home. 

When the Hubs and I were in the grocery store, despite it being awfully crowded with people, I said, "I am so happy to be here because it means I actually get to cook something in just a few days." He looked at me like I had three heads but I am sure he is happy too - he hasn't had a home-cooked meal in weeks either.

It is getting chillier here so I am excited that when travel season winds down, I will have time to test out some soup recipes. And try out some new Paleo recipes. And make a huge pot of my family's spaghetti sauce. 

Have you been really busy or have you been able to enjoy a bit of this new season?

{image via my pinterest}


weekend: mom turns 50

decorations . . . surprise! . . with my brother and the Hubs . . . blowing out the candles . . . with my mom
a little inspiration for the coming week:

apple orchard inspired

my alma mater made it to #85 (which is surprising since it is such a small school)
Friday, the Hubs and I went to see Taken 2. I am not sure why I was so obsessed with the first one but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that Liam Neeson is a BA.

Saturday, I went to CrossFit for the first time in over two weeks because of traveling for work and being sick. It felt so good! After that, we headed to The Still in Timonium for my mom's surprise birthday party. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to see family that I hadn't seen in awhile. 

Today, I actually slept in which was nice. Then I did laundry (since I am leaving again for travel tomorrow) and got a few things done around the house. For dinner, we went over the the Hubs' parents' for the FIL's birthday. 

How was your weekend?


dress code dilemma: backyard wedding

Since you were so helpful with another dress code dilemma this time last year, I thought I would ask for your help again. 

I have a wedding to go to in two weekends. The bride and groom are having the ceremony and reception in their backyard. I have been to a few backyard weddings and haven't really strayed from what I wear to any other wedding - a dress and heels. However, this time the second page of the (really cute) invitation through me for a loop.

Please keep in mind this is an outdoor wedding so formal wear and high heels are not recommended.

Hmm. So I am asking your opinion - what would you wear?

I thought about a nice dress with tights and short heeled boots but I am not sure what the weather will be like in a week and a half and, regardless of the weather, it may get hot while dancing. (The invitation mentioned awkward but enthusiastic dancing - my specialty.)  And, I don't want to wear flats. My husband is over a foot taller than me. 

I am attempting to look for some nice wedges that I can wear again. And I decided I need a new LBD that I can have for whatever. I got a black dress at Marshall's that would work with boots and, although it is flattering, I am not in love with it so I doubt I would wear it much. It also needs to be hemmed and I am barely home between now and the wedding. I am hoping I can find something else so I can return that.

What do you think? Any inspiration you could give me would be great!

{image via my pinterest}