Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Blackberry Farm Recap

To celebrate my birthday last month, we took a quick little getaway up to Blackberry Farm.  This magical spot had been on my bucket list of places that I was dying to visit, and I am happy to report that the hype of this special farm is 100% real.  We were absolutely blown away by the charm of Blackberry Farm (so much that we immediately booked to visit again in late September).  

Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee, the sprawling 4,000 acre property is about as "all American" as it gets.  The estate does an astounding job at blending the whole working farmstead experience with elegance and luxury.  The "farm charm" (as I dubbed it) is everywhere to be found; white rocking chairs are thoughtfully placed around the property to take in the views, fire pits are lit nightly to roast s'mores, a picturesque boathouse sits on a serene pond looking straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie, sheep and horses graze lazily in pastures....you get the picture.  It's laid back and totally refined at the same time all while oozing Southern hospitality in the most perfect way. 

Being completely surrounded by nature in this rural setting, combined with the crisp, fresh air was exactly what I wanted out of this trip, and below is a selection of photos that I took while we were on property.




^^ We were upgraded to a mountain home called "Elkmont" upon arrival.  It was beautifully decorated and was more than enough space as we were just traveling with Isla.






^^ We dined in The Barn only on the night of my birthday.  It is a much dressier environment (men are required to wear dinner jackets) compared to the rest of the property.  Wearing:  cashmere turtleneck (found here) //  Veronica Beard tweed skirt (available here) //  Chloe boots (here)




^^ We had a pretty set routine while we were at BB Farm.  During the morning hours we would explore the property with Isla by golf cart, we fed the pigs apples, would visit the barn animals, tromp around the forest surrounding the creek, look for kitty cats in the garden, etc.  After Isla's nap, we would drop her off at the kids camp for 3-4 hours (the kids camp was closed for the season so we paid for private sessions) and they tailored some really amazing adventures for her.  She still talks about how much fun she had with Ms. Polly and Ms. Miranda!  




^^ This is what we did while Isla was in the kids camp 🙌  Adam and I have done wine tastings all over the world and this was by far the most phenomenal wine + cheese pairing I have ever taken part of!  This was just the group wine tasting they do weekly, but we were the only guests participating so we had the sommelier all to ourselves.  A fun note about Blackberry Farm's wine collection: they house the second largest wine collection in North America with over 160,000 bottles of wine!




^^ Wearing: Emerson Rose sweater (last seen here) //  Good American denim (my favorite here) //  Sperry wedge boots (here) //  Barbour jacket (here)



^^ Isla's dream was to pet this horse named Willard. We also participated in a carriage ride around the property with a retired working Amish farm horse named 'Too Big'!






^^ The fly fishing shack





^^ I posted this photo of this cute market bag (which I quickly purchased!) on my instastories and had so many of you ask where you can buy it.  It's actually for purchase on the BB Farm online shop (here).  I get compliments on it all the time!





^^ One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Lagotto Romagnolo kennel.  They are Italian truffle hunting dogs that the farm breeds and trains.  They have the absolute sweetest temperament, are hypoallergenic, insanely smart, and have a 3 year waiting list for a puppy.  We immediately added our name to the list :)



Fun activities that we booked:

Wine tasting - obviously

Carriage ride around the property - so fun to learn the history of the property and bundle up under blankets in the antique carriage.  Isla was bored, however, and threw her baby doll off the carriage and it got ran over oops!

Private bird watching hike - Adam & I did this 1 hour bird watching hike while Isla was in the camp and it was so much fun!  We had binoculars and our guide would point out native birds and other species on our walk - super fun!



I also want to mention our sweet travel agent, Orit, who has booked all of our travel this past year.  She is absolutely flawless at what she does and her attention to detail continuously amazes me every time we travel.   I think this area is really where she shines compared to most other travel agents that I have worked with in the past who is only concerned with booking you and moving on to the next client.  If anyone is looking for a new travel agent, I would be happy to provide her email address (I have asked her if this was okay, and she has allowed me to give her info out).  


Thanks so much for reading! xx
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Monday, February 5, 2018

More New Home Inspiration

The construction of our new home is progressing fairly quickly at this point.  We broke ground in December, rough plumbing has gone in, and our foundation should be poured in the next week or two.  After dreaming up this home for the past 2+ years, it is so wonderful to see it start to come to life. Once the foundation goes in, we should start cruising from here!

Back in December, we retained a new interior designer, Bria Hammel Interiors.  I have followed her on instagram for quite some time (view her feed here for some dreamy inspiration), and when we decided to part ways with our previous designer, I had her and a few other firms in mind.  We flew up to Minneapolis towards the end of December to meet with her in person and that sealed the deal.  She does projects all over the US, flying down every few months to dedicate 3-4 days solely on our home.  It has been such a pleasant process to far, and I'm blown away by the creativity of her + the Bria Hammel team.  I only wish we would have had her on board from the beginning!

Last week I shared a few photos on instagram that have served as major home inspiration for our interiors and I wanted to share them with you on here as well.  I had so many people reach out to me and ask if these are on my Pinterest boards as well, and the answer to that is no.  I have found that following designers on instagram is a much better source of inspiration vs scouring the depths of Pinterest for images.

As I stated in this post, my style is very classic.  I'm drawn to dark hardwood floors, white millwork, marble, polished nickel, built ins, and lots attention to details.  I also like clean lines, and not a lot of clutter.  We want to build a more traditional style home, but with an updated present day feel (if that makes sense).   I want the overall aesthetics of our new home to look effortless, peaceful, and approachable.

Below is a sampling of photos that I find inspirational, and hope to be able to bring certain elements of each photo into our new home.


















Which photo is your favorite?

Have a great week - thanks for stopping by! xx
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Friday, February 2, 2018

Cookbooks That You'll Actually Use

One of my most commonly asked questions is for recommendations on cookbooks that I frequently use.  Most of the time I don't use recipes, but whenever I'm feeling the need for a little inspiration in the kitchen, or I want to turn out a stellar special occasion meal I'll turn to the following cookbooks below.






All three of the cookbooks above have been so influential in culminating my love for cooking true Italian foods.




Ina is my spirit animal.  I'm being 100% honest when I say that I want to be her!  Her latest cookbook, Cooking For Jeffrey is so great.  I forced Adam to go with me to hear her speak at her book signing last year when she was in my area :)  Healthy in a Hurry is also a great source of inspiration for quick weeknight meals.




I feel like The Skinnytaste is such a no brainer, but whenever I bring it up in conversation to people, they most often have never heard of it!  There's so many wonderful low calorie + low fat recipes in here that actually taste unbelievable.  This cookbook is far superior to her newer cookbook in my opinion.




My brother gifted this to me over 10 years ago, and it has been one of my most beloved cookbooks to date!  This is the bible for anything baking related.  




I couldn't leave out cookbooks for the littles.  I don't really source many recipes from these books any longer since Isla is out of the learning to eat stage, however when she was younger these cookbooks had so many great ideas for flavor combinations, and different ways to introduce spices in a really tasty + healthy way!  I'll be holding onto these for when we have another baby.




Pasta Night is a Williams-Sonoma cookbook series, and contains some really great recipes for quick pasta meals.  The Elements Of Pizza has some wonderful (harder to make) pizzas for more experienced home chefs and the basic dough recipe is fantastic!




Lastly, this is the newest cookbook that I've added to my collection (I just bought it last week).  Tuscan cuisine is my absolute favorite, and I'm really excited to try this out as it has amazing reviews!







And in case you were ever wondering what cookbooks Queen Ina loves, here's a list of what she recommends.  I took this screenshot off of her blog years ago and recently found it in a file on my computer.  Annnnndddd now I'm off to purchase all of them 😉



Shop These Cookbooks:










Monday, January 29, 2018

Favorite Discoveries of 2017 Part 1

I love discovering really good new products.  I further love when I find myself continuously reaching for them over and over again.  Today I thought I'd share the first of a 4 part series that I'll be posting over the course of the next couple weeks.  I'll be highlighting some of my favorite, and most used new discoveries from last year that I'll continue to use and repurchase throughout 2018.  I'll be breaking down the series by category; household, beauty, personal, and baby/toddler with today's post being dedicated to beauty related products.





Beauty



Korres Rose Brightening Oil  - I love this oil! I normally apply it at night, unless my face feels extra dry in which case I'll use it during the day before applying my moisturizer.  It's also great for when you're traveling and your skin is feeling a little parched - instant glowing, luminous skin.  The little rose petals that float in the bottle are an added luxurious touch.


Korres Rose Night Cream - I loved the brightening oil so much that I gave the "sleeping facial" a try. It's equally as great as the oil.  Read all the positive reviews on it here.


Kiehl's Calendula Face Wash - I first tried a sample of this when we were on vacation in Mexico last year.  Upon returning, I instantly purchased the full size version and haven't looked back.  I'm typically pretty picky with my face washes.  I like a good cleanser to be foaming, non drying but still able to remove waterproof mascara, and not sting my eyes.  This one checks all the boxes and is the hands down the best cleanser on the market.  I own the mega 17oz bottle and it has lasted forever!


Living Proof Shampoo, Conditioner, and Dry Shampoo -  I've been using this hair care line since last summer and it's so good!  I've noticed a dramatic difference in the appearance of my hair since I started using it.  I've tried sooooo many professional products on the market, and this is the best in my opinion.  The dry shampoo from the line is basically a mama's bff!


Travel sets of eye shadow - I used to weigh down my travel sized  cosmetics bags with multiple small eye shadow palettes, or I would pack full size versions that simply took up too much room.  At some point last year I discovered the two best travel sized palettes.  This one by Smashbox features 8 universally flattering matte shades, and this one from Urban Decay is equally as great.  They're both matte palettes only (no shimmer), but are so great for basics and they take up zero room in your makeup bag since they're so compact.


Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss - This extremely flattering shade (in tawny pink) is the prettiest nude pink lip gloss.  I find myself consistently reaching for this over all my other lip glosses as I'm walking out the door, and I constantly get asked what I'm wearing when I have it on.   


The Seaweed Bath Co. Firming Detox Cream - I'm not really a believer in "firming creams" being a total fix for cellulite (only a clean diet and strength training has been a fix all for me), but this cream is extremely moisturizing, and I do feel a slight tingling when I apply it, so I know that the ingredients are doing their job.  The cream is thick, applies nicely, smells great (I prefer the awaken scent), is non greasy, and absorbs really quickly.  I love that the combo of pure essential ingredients are all natural and detoxifying.  I've also heard great things about the body scrub from this line, and I want to try that next!















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Have you tried any of these products?  Feel free to leave any feedback + comments below.  Thanks for reading! xx
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe

Playdough is a huge hit in our house.  My husband dubbed 2017 as the "year of playdough" as Isla will play with it multiple times throughout the day.  Last month, her little hands started to get so dry that they began to peel and I just had a hunch that the store bought playdough was the main culprit.  When I was offered up the recipe a few weeks back for a quick homemade playdough from one of the kids club teachers at Blackberry Farm, I eagerly jotted it down and we've been making it about once per week since we returned home.  It doesn't get any easier than this! It takes about 10 total minutes to make this totally all natural playdough, and Isla loves to pick out the color and help me stir all the ingredients together.  The coconut oil is moisturizing and great for little hands, and the cream of tartar in the recipe will help preserve the dough for a solid 4 months!  An added bonus is that the dough tastes so salty she won't put this in her mouth, as opposed to the store bought version ;)

I know that playdough isn't the usual type of recipe I normally post over here, but it's just so easy that I had to share with any other mama's who have tots equally as obsessed with 'the dough' as mine.

Enjoy!





Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. maple flavoring***
Food coloring


*** I buy the maple flavoring from Whole Foods, next to the vanilla extracts.  Isla loves this as it makes her playdough smell like syrup!  You can also pick up the exact version I use here.  Alternatively, you could also use 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie extract, or experiment with essential oils like lavender or peppermint. ***


Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Transfer to a large saucepan, and heat on the stove on medium heat until solid.

Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.

Enjoy!







 

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