It’s Time To Get Over Our #Selfies, Don’t You Think? (The Launch Of #TheUsProject)

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(Full disclosure!: This post is near and dear to my heart because it focuses on a campaign our agency just launched for an activewear client I work on, Soffe.)

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Are you guys ready for a jaw-dropping stat? According to Google, 93 million selfies are taken each day around the world. 93 million!

And, worse, increased selfie taking is shown to correlate with having more shallow relationships, among other things. As someone who was already very much over the whole #selfie trend, these statistics only helped solidify my feelings about them.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for self-expression, and selfies can certainly be a way to express yourself. And I’ve most definitely taken them myself (although I always feel a little silly doing so). I just worry about the overall message selfies are spreading, and what they’re doing to our collective self-esteem.

So I was thrilled to be a part of the team at The Variable that, together with our client counterparts at Soffe, helped develop a campaign called #TheUsProject. Its purpose? To encourage a BETTER selfie: one that includes you WITH your friends and family. (Aren’t those the photos you treasure, anyway? The ones with you and the people who make YOU, you?)

Enough typing. Why don’t you check out this video we built for #TheUsProject?:

Inspired to join #TheUsProject? It’s easy! Just upload a picture of yourself and your friends/family to the social media channel of your choice and use the hashtag #TheUsProject to tag your photo to the campaign.

You can also join the movement by purchasing one of the four tops Soffe designed especially for this campaign. Aren’t these cute? They’re available for purchase on the campaign’s landing page.

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My First 10K: A Recap

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Happy Friday, friends!

This time last week, I told y’all about the 10K race I was going to run last weekend (my first one!). In that post, I promised an update, and wanted to share the outcome of the race with you.

First, an introduction to my race buddies.

Three friends (who also happen to be co-workers) — Ashleigh, Jodi, and James — traveled to Oak Island with Kevin and me for the race. They are all awesome, and you should be friends with them if you get the opportunity. None of us had ever run a 10K, which made this group extra fun. No one had PRs to beat, or any expectations, really. We were just going to run and do our best. (My personal goals were to run the whole race and to finish in under an hour.)

Here we are before the race, fueling up with a little Sunshine. (Please note James’ amazing lighthouse shirt, which he specifically wore for the Lighthouse Run. He wins the theme award, for sure.):

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I’m not gonna lie: Last Saturday morning, I was NOT especially pumped about this race. Not only did I not quite know what to expect, it was also rainy. Ugh.

Thankfully, the rain cleared up, and the weather ended up being pretty ideal for running. The rain had cooled things down a bit, and even though our shoes got a little bit squishy, for the most part the race was on the road so the wet ground didn’t matter.

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The results?

I was SO proud of my time! I kept a fast (for me) pace throughout the run, and my chip time was 53:41. I finished fifth in my age group!

In fact, our whole group did great. Kevin finished third in his age group, James was second in his, and in the Women’s 25-29 age group Jodi was fourth, I was fifth, and Ashleigh was seventh. Way to go, team Winston-Salem!

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The boys at the awards ceremony:

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The best thing about a race at the beach, of course, is that afterwards YOU’RE AT THE BEACH. We spent Saturday afternoon playing ladder golf and enjoying the beach (though it was on the chilly side), feeling pretty proud about ourselves overall.

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What a great weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better first 10K experience. (Especially when I remember that until just last summer running was not a bit fun for me. I’ve come a long way!)

When’s the next race??

Catching Up + Links I’m Loving

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I haven’t been great at blogging lately (sorry about that, everyone), and wanted to share a few things that have been going on recently. You know, bring you up to speed a bit. (I know you’ve all been dying to know what I’ve been up to.) I also have a few links to share with you (thank you, Interwebs!) that I’ve stumbled upon lately and love (and think you’ll enjoy, too).

  • First up: I got a haircut!

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I’ve had long hair for quite some time now, and then last fall went for the “lob” look, which I loved. Then a few weeks ago, knowing that I had an upcoming haircut on the books, I started playing with the idea of going super short (for me, at least). I went for it, and really, really love it. Like, a lot. (Shout-out to Jodi at Escape Salon for my amazing new cut!)

  • The other big news in my life is that I’m running a 10K tomorrow. (This is big for me, as the only races I’ve run to date have been 5Ks, and those have been few and far between.) Since my in-laws have a place at Oak Island, NC, when I found a race in Oak Island I knew it was meant to be. A few friends are going with Kevin and me, and we’re looking forward to a chill weekend at the beach after the race. I’ll report back on the race itself. I’m a bit nervous at the moment!

Okay, on to some links to help make you smile on this rather chilly (in Winston-Salem, at least) Friday:

  • This Sizzler promotion video from 1991 is incredible. Please watch it. Please wonder with me who wrote this song and why the food looks so gross and where all these uber-cheesy and/or super weird people who make appearances in the video are today:

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  • Have ya’ll watched the creepy Scientology HBO documentary, Going Clear? (If you haven’t, I recommend giving it a watch. So bizarre, but incredibly well done. I thought I was pretty well-versed on Scientology and learned there was TONS I had no clue about.) Anyway, SNL created an incredible spoof video pulled from the documentary. You’ll like it if you haven’t seen Going Clear, and you’ll LOVE it if you have:

  • Amy Schumer. You are just too funny to me. Have y’all seen her “Milk, Milk, Lemonade” video? I dare you not to get this song stuck in your head:

Happy almost weekend, everyone!

Okay, These Paleo Blueberry Scones Are AMAZING

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You guys.

These SCONES.

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I read about them on my friend Teri’s blog, and she gave them rave reviews. Plus, I haven’t done any paleo baking, and so I was intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that I ordered some Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch from the interwebs just to make this recipe. (No regrets — I’ll be using this stuff again to make this recipe, so it was a good investment.)

I love that these scones contain so few ingredients (and all things you can feel good about eating), plus it takes all of five minutes to whip up the batter. All wins. (One note: The batter is a SUPER strange consistency. You might be worried about how this recipe will turn out, but fear not. That weirdo batter will transform into something magical.)

When I brought these into my office to share with co-workers yesterday, they solidly positive feedback. And so, my friends, here you have it: some super delicious and not-terrible-for-you scones:

Paleo Blueberry Scones

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cashews
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Blend the cashews in a food processor until powdered.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together, then stir in the blueberries.
  • Whisk the wet ingredients together.
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  • Pour batter into the baking pan and spread to fill the pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing.

siggi’s Icelandic-Style Yogurt: A Giveaway!

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Halló, friends! Ready for some deliciousness? (And a giveaway for free yogurt? Keep reading!)

I mentioned siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt in a recent post and told you I’d get back to you with more info about this yummy brand. Well, the time is now.

I’ve eaten Icelandic-style yogurt (skyr) occasionally for a couple of years, but got really excited about the category when a.) our family started planning a trip to Iceland and b.) I discovered the siggi’s brand of skyr.

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This stuff is incredible, and is now my favorite brand of yogurt by far. It’s got tons of protein (14 grams per serving!), very little sugar, and has a creamy-yet-fluffy consistency that I love. To me, it’s even tastier than Greek yogurt (and I’m a big fan of that stuff). Plus, siggi’s has super creative flavors — like Orange & Ginger and Mango & Jalapeño — in addition to delicious staple yogurt flavors like Raspberry and Vanilla. Just look at all these awesome flavors!

Though siggi’s is a U.S. product, its founder, Siggis, grew up in Iceland and the idea for his company was born when he began growing homesick for the skyr of his childhood. He started making his own skyr after his mother sent him a recipe from Iceland, and much preferred it to the too-sweet versions of yogurt he found on grocery store shelves in the States. Just over a decade later, siggi’s is growing in distribution. I used to be able to get siggi’s only at my local Whole Foods, but now it’s on the shelves at my nearby Harris Teeter store as well. Yay, siggi’s!

You should also follow siggi’s on Instagram for some great recipe inspiration, or check out the “recipe” section of their website for mouthwatering ideas. (Cheesecake with Coconut Almond Crust? Frozen Banana Yogurt Pops? Butternut Squash & Leek Soup? All made with siggi’s? Yes, please. All of it.)

And now to the extra good stuff: freebie time.

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The lovely team at siggi’s has passed along a few coupons for free siggi’s for me to distribute to my readers, and I can’t wait to share them with you! If you haven’t tried siggi’s before, this is a great opportunity to give it a go. Just search the siggi’s store locator page using your ZIP code to see where the product is sold in your area.

I’d love to send a couple of free siggi’s coupons your way! To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post telling me which siggi’s skyr flavor you’d most like to try.

 

 

Blueberry Streusel Muffins (A Perfect Easter Brunch Treat!)

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Easter is always a great time of year to get together with family, but this year I feel like it’s especially welcome after such a gross, drawn out winter. (Yesterday morning was 38 degrees and rainy in Winston-Salem — on March 30! Not cool, Mother Nature.)

This year, Kevin and I are headed to the beach (Oak Island, North Carolina) to spend the weekend with his parents, his brother, and his brother’s fiancé. This will be the third Easter we’ve spent at the beach in the past few years, and we’re loving the tradition. (Fun fact: Easter is extra special to Kevin and me, because we went on our first date on Easter Sunday evening back in 2010!)

Anyway, I tried a new blueberry muffin recipe Sunday and had to share it, because it would be an awesome addition to an Easter brunch spread if you’re planning one. These taste amazing and special occasion-worthy, but they’re super simple and don’t take long to whip up — the perfect combination!

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And the streusel. Oh, the streusel. It takes these muffins from good to great. Even better — it’s layered throughout each muffin (because saving streusel for a topping only is for the birds). Speaking of streusel, use whatever nuts you have on hand for this. The recipe called for walnuts or pecans, but all I had in my pantry were thinly sliced almonds, so I used those and they turned out wonderfully. I have no regrets.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Ingredients (for streusel)

  • 1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (chopped) or thinly sliced almonds (which is what I used)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients (for muffins)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (any kind — I used skim)
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries (do not thaw!)

Directions (for streusel)

  • In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Directions (for muffins)

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray (or line with cupcake liners).
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy (about one minute).
  • Add both sugars and beat on high for about two full minutes.
  • Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for one minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk.
  • Add the milk, gently whisking until combined and few lumps remain.
  • Fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Now it’s time to prep them to bake! Layer about 1 Tablespoon of batter into one of the muffin wells in the pan, then top with a little streusel, then more batter until the muffin tins or liners are full all the way up to the top. (Make them slightly overflowing in the pan — they’ll turn out great!) Top with more streusel.

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  • Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees then, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 16-20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
  • Cool and enjoy!

Land Ho! (My Iceland Playlist)

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This summer, my family will be traveling to Iceland to celebrate my dad’s retirement. He wanted to take us all on a trip to mark this momentous occasion, and we’re thrilled he selected Iceland as the destination. My parents visited Iceland back in the late 80s and fell in love with the country (my dad in particular), and he’s been looking forward to taking us all back at some point.

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In preparation for what’s sure to be an epic trip, I’ve been trying to soak up all things Iceland over the last few months. I’ve become a loyal siggi’s Icelandic-style skyr yogurt consumer (more to come on that deliciousness in another post!) and I’ve learned tons of fun facts about Iceland (such as this one: as many as 80% of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves).

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Another top priority: expand my Icelandic music library.

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I’ve long been a fan of Sigur Rós (who isn’t?) and the solo campaign of their front man, Jónsi, and then more recently have loved Seabear and Of Monsters and Men, but in the past weeks I’ve been digging a bit deeper into the Icelandic music scene to see what else they have to offer. The result? A playlist to share with you awesome folks, lovingly curated by yours truly. (And the name? It comes from the film of the same name that chronicles two old friends’ journey to Iceland.)

Land Ho! (My Iceland Playlist):

  1. Seabear: “I’ll Build You A Fire” (This seven-piece indie-folk band has been described as both “Sufjan Stevens meets an unplugged Arcade Fire” and the “Icelandic Beck.” Whatever you’d like to compare them to, they’re worth a listen, to be sure.)
  2. Of Monsters and Men: “King And Lionheart” (Of Monsters and Men is a five-member indie folk-pop band formed in 2010, and that same year they won the Músíktilraunir, an annual battle of the bands competition in Iceland.)
  3. Sigur Rós: “Hoppípolla” (Oh, Sigur Rós. How can I be expected to choose just one song from this Hopelandic-singing, ethereal band? I’m going to go with the predictable here, but don’t hate. You know it’s good.)
  4. Jónsi: “Boy Lilikoi” (Kevin and I got to see this weird-in-the-very-best-way guy perform in Atlanta a few years back, and we both agreed it’s one of the best shows we’d been to both before or since. Lots of masks and costumes were involved. It was awesome.)
  5. Lay Low: “Jolene” (Yes, it’s an American song, but Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, better known by her stage name, “Lay Low,” does a beautiful job with it.)
  6. Samaris “Gooa Tungl” (These guys are Músíktilraunir winners, too — from 2011 — and this song, which translates to “Kind Moon” is immersive in the best Icelandic way.)
  7. Pascal Pinon “Ekki Vanmeta” (A two-person band made up of twins Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir, the sisters cite Tegan and Sara, Joni Mitchell, Björk, and Sinead O’Connor as influences, and you can totally tell.)
  8. Tilbury “Tenderloin” (I feel like I’m listening to the Garden State soundtrack when I listen to this song, and I like it.)
  9. Sóley “Smashed Birds” (No wonder I like this girl — she used to be a part of Seabear! It seems as though Iceland is kind of like one big high school and just about everyone knows each other or at least knows of each other. It’s pretty amazing.)
  10. Ásgeir “Dýrð í dauðaþögn” (This guy reminds me of Bon Iver, and his 2012 album release was the most successful debut ever in Iceland. He recorded an English version of that album in the hopes of extending its reach, but I’m partial to his Icelandic songs.)
  11. Sin Fang “Look At The Light” (The solo project of a member of Seabear, it’s no wonder I like Sin Fang’s sound as well.)
  12. Borko “Born To Be Free” (This song’s English lyrics are on the bizarre side, but that’s what I like about it. It makes it feel oddly authentic.)
  13. Vök “Before” (Yet another Músíktilraunir winner — this time from 2013. They’re a bit in the indie-electro space, with some saxophone woven in.)
  14. Hymnalaya “In My Early Years” (Hymnalaya’s Twitter profile reads “Music for people drinking tea.” I feel like that does a pretty good job summing it up.)
  15. múm “Green Grass Of Tunnel” (This ethereal band won me over with their Sigur Rós-reminiscent sound. Or maybe that’s just the sound I think of when I think of Iceland. Either way, I’m on board.)

 

Links I’m Loving

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It’s Friday again, and you know what that means: LINK TIME! It’s been a long week, so I don’t have much energy for an intro. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Here you go — the best of what I’ve seen on the interwebs this week.

  • The Katering Show: I heard about this amazing Australian YouTube show this past week on NPR and then checked it out for myself. This stuff is incredible. Hosted by Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan (hence the “Katering” name), these segments are full of wit, food intolerance, and also a little food and drink. Watch and enjoy. (I especially recommend “Mexicana Festiana” and “We Quit Sugar.”)

  • Wrecking Ball Remix: (Note: Please watch until at least the 40-second point. That’s when it gets good.) Maybe this is a testament to how insanely brain deadening this past week has been, but when I saw this I could not stop laughing. Then when I showed it to Kevin later he laughed until he cried — for serious. (I have my friends at The Variable to thank for this amazing find.)

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  • Fika: Just one more reason Sweden is awesome. “Fika, literally speaking, is the Swedish word for a coffee break—but that doesn’t really sum it up. It’s about taking a break during your day to socialize with friends and colleagues or simply to have a few minutes of quiet. It just so happens that this break, in the Swedish tradition, often involves a mug of coffee and a sweet pastry.” Coffee + friends + pastries? Every day? Sign me up, Sweden!

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Happy weekend, everyone!

Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Icing

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For Jodi’s birthday celebration last weekend in Asheville, I knew I wanted to bake up a special treat. (After all, what’s a birthday without some cake?) And, admittedly, I’ll use just about any excuse to give a new-to-me recipe a try.

I knew I wanted something chocolate peanut butter themed (a.k.a. the most delicious flavor combination known to humanity), and when I stumbled upon this recipe by the most reliable Ina Garten, I knew I’d found the one. (After all, I’ve had great success with other Ina recipes I’ve tried through the years, including her Portobello Mushroon Lasagna, Chocolate Chunk Blondies, and Rustic Apple Tart.) I love how her recipes are sophisticated yet not overdone. They don’t take a ton of ingredients, and they’re not trying too hard. They’re just GOOD.

Luckily, this cupcake recipe kept Ina’s solid winning streak intact. The peanut butter icing is the standout ingredient. That stuff is amazingly delicious. Last weekend, Jordan said he loved “the peanut butter sauce,” saying that it was more sauce-like than icing-like, and that was a good thing. (Plus, don’t they look so pretty with their chopped peanut garnish?)

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Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Icing

Ingredients (for chocolate cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients (for peanut butter icing)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped salted peanuts, for garnish
Directions (for chocolate cupcakes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated and brown sugars on high speed for about five minutes (until light and fluffy).
  • Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add the vanilla and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and coffee.
  • In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  • On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Mix only until just blended, and fold the batter with a spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
  • Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (careful to just fill about halfway, as the cake rises a good bit as it bakes).
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.
Directions (for peanut butter icing)
  • Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated.
  • Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
  • Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frost each cupcake with peanut butter icing (be generous — this icing is worth it!) and top with chopped peanuts.

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Happy Birthday, Jodi! (a.k.a. Asheville FTW)

Question: What’s better than a weekend spent with some of your favorite friends?

Answer: A weekend spent with some of your favorite friends AND some awesome new friends!

Last weekend, a group traveled to Asheville, North Carolina, to celebrate the birth of the lovely Jodi Dias. Some familiar (to me) faces were there, but Jodi also invited some of her good friends who I’d never met — but loved pretty immediately. (Don’t you love it when you can trust your friends to introduce you to wonderful people?)

We spent the weekend hanging out, with lots of downtime at the house we’d rented (think lazy mornings fueled with lots of coffee and mimosas + nights with Bananagrams and beer pong), and Saturday ventured into town to hit up Burial Beer Co., followed by dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe and a show at The Orange Peel where we saw the ridiculously talented Brandi Carlile perform. The Brandi show (despite being behind some hilariously annoying GoPro-ers) was incredible. If you’re not familiar with her music, please do yourself a huge favor and check it out. I’ve loved her music for years but had never seen her in person, and her recordings — though wonderful — do not do her justice. It was the first concert I’ve been to that nearly brought me to tears. Seriously — if you get the chance to see her live, TAKE IT. You will not regret it.

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To summarize the weekend: Thank you to Jodi for being born and for having awesome friends to introduce Kevin and me to. (We’re already planning a trip to NYC to come visit you, Kels and Jordan! Hope you were serious about that offer…) :)

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(Oh, and Ashleigh wins the award for “Best Sport of the Weekend” for taking one for the team by sleeping in The Hallway Bed. You’re the best, Ash!)

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