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In just three weeks, I’ll be looking at this landmark eating these desserts with this woman:

That’s right, folks! The Alexander women will soon be traversing across Europe and coming to a city near you – but only if a city near you includes Paris or Amsterdam.

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Tam and I will spend four whole days getting better acquainted with the City of Light and will finish up our week visiting the Netherlands, where my sweet and talented mother will be doing a book tour for her latest novel, which literally will be coming to a city near you. Details here.

For now, I’m left to finalize a few last-minute details of our trip, including mastering the art of French metro navigation, figuring out exactly how many pairs of riding boots will fit in a standard carry-on, and attempting to learn some basic phrases in French and Dutch.

Since we’ll definitely have a translator with us in the Netherlands, I’m focusing more on French and have created a top ten list of phrases I believe will best aid me in exploring Paris and have included the logic behind each selection below.

1. Which way to Gilles Marini’s house?

A no-brainer.

2. More crepes, please.

Another no-brainer.

3. Yes, I am Debra Messing.

Just in case the French are huge Will & Grace fans who are easily duped and in turn invite us to a party hosted by none other than… Gilles Marini.

4. Did you know that France derives 79% of its electricity from nuclear power?

Knowledge is power, mes amis. #Wikipediaforthewin

5. Leggings are not pants.

The faster we take this message global, the better.

6. Team Aniston or Team Jolie?

Even the French take sides, people.

7. I apologize on behalf of Lance Armstrong.

I’m no Erin Andrews, but my gut tells me that the Tour de France is no laughing matter over there.

8. I don’t speak French.

Frenchman: “But you just spoke French.” Kelsey: (dramatic pause) “Or did I?” #mysterious

9. Where are you hiding Jason Bourne?

Can you say, “what’s the French word for ‘stakeout’?”

10. Thank you for the Statue of Liberty.

Because good manners never go out of style.


19 days to cross these all off my list. Wish me luck! Or should I say, “souhaitel-moi bonne chance?” #thanksGoogleTranslate

Adieu!

– Kels
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After giving it some serious thought* I’ve decided that Thursday is currently vying for top billing as my favorite day of the week. I’m sure some might argue that Friday is the better choice, or even Saturday–but who listens to those people? Those people probably have obnoxiously loud cell phone conversations in public restrooms and support People Magazine’s selection of Bradley Cooper as Sexiest Man Alive (Dear Ryan Gosling, you were robbed). Who needs those people?

No, Thursday definitely has me wrapped around its little finger. The week is nearly over, weekend plans have yet to be solidified so the days ahead are full of possibility, the anticipation of ordering my Friday morning latte continues to mount, and that to-do list I’ve been slave to all week has slowly but surely whittled itself down to a handful of completely manageable tasks that can most certainly be accomplished in the one remaining day of the work week. Plus, in the event that new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The Office coincide on the same night, Thursday is practically perfection!

In honor of this newly realized love for Thursday, I’ve decided to play tennis this weekend for the first time in several years (pray for me and those anywhere near the vicinity of the tennis courts) AND attempt to turn these:

{empty wine bottles teeming with DIY project potential}

…into a variation of these:

{wine bottle centerpieces from More Design Please}

I’ll keep you posted on the finished product. I’m still looking for ways to repurpose the wine corks, so feel free to share any nuggets of DIY wisdom you’re willing to divulge!

Wish me luck,

Kels

*Loosely translated, “serious thought” means the time it takes for me to scramble an egg and make French toast for dinner–approximately 6 minutes and 28 seconds.

We’ve moved! After two years, three months, and several coats of spackle to cover the gaping nail holes birthed from a debatably successful shelving installation, Meg and I have left behind the world of apartment living and moved in to a brand new house (to us, anyway) in Brentwood with our dear friends Caroline Green and Katy Boatman–or as I like to call them, C-Lo Green and Katy Boat. Side note: head over to Katy Boat’s blog to get to know more about these lovely ladies and fellow Bachelor/Bachelorette enthusiasts.

While the moving process was long and arduous (drinking a skinny vanilla latte while watching two men carry all of your belongings up and down several flights of stairs can be surprisingly tiring), it feels wonderfully satisfying to finally be “in” the new house and start getting settled.

Historically, the first thing I do whenever I move into a new place is decorate, followed by set up TV, organize jewelry, and scope out the closest Starbucks.

A girl’s got to have her priorities straight, people.

Therefore it should not have come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well that after a full day of moving last Saturday, I called up my sweet parents on Sunday and begged them to come over and help me hang curtains and pictures. Part of me feels like I should be able to tackle these types of projects on my own by now, however a larger part of me remembers the aforementioned shelving debacle of 2010 and knows better than to start randomly hammering nails in the wall and expect reasonably good results. Thankfully, Papa Joe and Tam showed up at my doorstep that afternoon armed with a step-ladder and an extra measure of patience and set to work helping me beautify my space. I’ve still got a ways to go and a few more walls to dress up, but I snapped a quick “after” picture to share:

{Duvet from West Elm, pillows from West Elm, HomeGoods, and Pier One}

Big thanks to Papa Joe and Tam for their continued love and support as well as their promise (implied, right?) to return and help me finish hanging pictures once C-Lo’s cordless drill has had a chance to re-charge.

Quick weekend recap: Hunger Games on Friday night (a.k.a. the night Andrea and I realized we are NOT premiere people) and brunch with Jayme at Crema on Saturday, followed by a quick jaunt over to the Nashville Flea Market with Meg, where I purchased a delightfully old set of books (published in 1909) for $12 and a beautiful, somewhat dirty, old window for $10:

{A Girl of the Limber-Lost, Watch and Wait, and The Luck of Denewood}

{Old window/TBD wall decor} 

I have yet to figure out what I want to do with the window, but I’m predicting several hours will be spent researching DIY ideas on Pinterest. Hours well spent, in my humble opinion.

Back to unpacking! Happy Sunday, all!

-Kels

According to my blog post history, I’m becoming a tad predictable. It seems that every autumn, I experience a strong urge to craft and apparently this urge mainfests itself in wreath form. And true to wreath form, this year is no different!

Thanks to Christopher Columbus and government holidays, this banker is currently on the tail end of a lovely three-day weekend filled with late mornings, movie nights with Clooney and Gosling, Starbucks salted caramel mochas, and Pinterest surfing. I can’t get enough of this website! So many cute ideas for home decor, baking, fashion, crafting, travel–the possibilities are endless.

Two hours in to my Pinterest pinning, I discovered a series of adorable felt rosette wreaths. They were colorful, festive, and best of all, seemingly simple to make! Before I knew it, I found myself mulling over colored felt sheets in the fabric section at Michael’s, Starbucks in hand and felt rosette wreaths on my mind. I decided on yellow and purple, or at least what looked like yellow and purple to this colorblind girl.

A few hours and one hot glue gun burn later, success:

I made the rosettes in varying sizes to mix it up a bit and fly in the face of my perfectionist side.

I love the end result!

While I’m certainly proud of my new creation, I can’t take credit for the whole rosette wreath idea. I found Stelabird on Pinterest and she offers great a tutorial on her blog along with a wealth of other cute DIYs. Check out Stelabird’s rosette wreath tutorial and get to work making your own!

And start following me on Pinterest to kick-start your own pinning obsession. I promise you won’t regret it!

Happy fall, y’all!

After a particularly hectic week, shopping online in sweat pants was all my little heart desired for my rainy Friday night. Thus, this evening I found myself curled up on the couch and perusing the Stella & Dot website, clicking on sparkly necklaces and bangley bracelets. I don’t know if it was the sparkles or the bangles, but inspiration struck rather quickly. I should throw a jewelry party! Perfect. I envisioned rows of sparkly jewelry. A small group of close friends. Linen tablecloths. Glasses of chardonnay. Trays of miniature desserts and cheeses. I had it all planned out.

Colette Necklace - Silver (Stella & Dot)

Then, Oprah spoke to me.

Ok, not really directly to me.But she did speak directly through my DVR. And God works all things together for good, right? Nevertheless, Oprah was in the middle of delivering a heartfelt speech on the importance of making a difference in the lives of others. Saving a puppy. Opening a soup kitchen. Mentoring a child. You know the drill.

Without warning, conviction set in. Darn you, Oprah Winfrey.

After a few brief moments of contemplation and repentance, my small jewelry party idea morphed into a charity event that even Oprah herself would be proud of. There would be vendors, sponsors, a local celebrity to emcee (hopefully Paul McDonald), and a hefty percentage of ticket sales benefitting an immensely worthwhile cause—either feeding hungry orphans or ending sex trafficking. The jury’s still out.

Suddenly, a Food Network special on pie appeared on the television screen! Cherry pie. Pecan pie. Shepherd’s pie. While a normal person could glance up at the television, note the delicious pies, and return to the task at hand, I happen to be a slightly abnormal person who loves delicious pies of any variety and finds it difficult to focus on any task when baked goods enter the picture.

So sue me.

Before I knew it, my best-laid charity event plans were temporarily on hold (call me, Paul!) and I began taking notes on New York City’s most popular bakeries.

Bottom line: I may be losing my mind.

Just kidding.

Bottom bottom line: I like to daydream. I have a lot of goals and a growing list of interests, which can feel a little overwhelming at times because so much of life in your twenties is “to be determined.” You haven’t figured out your dream career, you haven’t found the perfect guy, and plan all you want, God’s the One in control and His plans will always trump yours. But you have a choice: you can either resent your ambiguous future or embrace the blank slate that is your life and actively wait for God’s perfect timing.

I’m giving the latter a try. So in the meantime, I’m going to embrace my blank slate, host some parties, attempt to do some good, and eat some pie.

…and maybe gaze at this picture of Paul McDonald just a little bit longer.

Paul McDonald

Amen.

Two weeks ago, in an effort to eliminate at least one project from my ever-expanding to-do list, I dove headfirst into my closet and refused to emerge until the mandatory winter wardrobe transition was complete. My collection of multi-colored tank tops and bejeweled flip flops soon found themselves stuffed inside Tupperware containers and relegated to the very back of the closet, while cowl-neck sweaters and suede boots emerged from closeted hibernation and took their rightful place among my everyday wardrobe.

In the midst of this massive restructuring effort, I stumbled upon my old leather trunk filled with memories from high school and college. Photos from my high school honor choir tour. Handwritten notes and cards from loved ones. Journals and maps from my adventures in Europe. Even the token stuffed animal, which in my case happens to be an over-sized cow named Fatima.

During this brief stroll down memory lane, I happened across another to-do list I made a few years back. A list filled with tasks that I WANT to do as opposed to HAVE to do. A list comprised of feats I’d like to accomplish, places I’d like to travel to, languages I’d like to learn, and milestones I’d like to reach. A list full of potential and possibility. And sadly, a list that—until a week ago—had been misplaced at the bottom of a trunk, forlornly nestled between Fatima the Cow and my international postcard collection.

As I sat on the floor of my closet and started reading through my newly rediscovered list, I realized that I could only cross off a handful of tasks. And by a handful, I mean less than five. Study abroad in Europe. Check. Graduate from college with honors. Check. Take an art class. Check. Learn how to knit. Eh, that one never should have made it on there in the first place. And… that was pretty much it.

I realize that I’m only twenty-three years old and hopefully have several years ahead of me to explore Italy and Ireland, change the oil in my car, learn to play the guitar, and take a cake decorating class, but that shouldn’t give me an excuse to procrastinate and put these dreams on hold. At the risk of sounding like a bad American Idol song: What about now? What about today?

Which brings me to my rare and spectacular moment of initiative and follow-through. Determined to begin tackling my rediscovered to-do list, I enrolled in a Cupcakes and Cake Balls class at the local Viking Cooking School. And after five hours this past Sunday, the verdict was in: I was in love.

I made cake balls.

I rolled fondant.

I shaped tiny carrots out of marzipan.

It. Was. Fabulous. I rediscovered my love of baking and for the first time in a very long time I felt truly excited and passionate about what I was doing and creating. I was practically giddy. Now, I’ll most likely have to take up full-time yoga in order to compensate for this new hobby, but we all have to make sacrifices in life. To peruse more pictures of my decked-out baked goods, check out my Cupcake & Cake Balls photo album on Facebook album.

One task down and countless others to go. It may only be one small step for my little to-do list, but it’s definitely one giant leap towards realizing and accomplishing my dreams.

Everything changes when autumn rolls around: the air becomes deliciously crisp, the temperatures start to drop, the leaves begin to turn crunchy, and like clockwork, the spirit of Martha Stewart (or a lesser-talented relative) takes over my body and I enter into craft mode. I buy candle-making kits and seriously consider purchasing a potter’s wheel. I decide to re-decorate with Christmas lights and artistic greenery. I make frequent trips to Hobby Lobby, vowing to make all of my Christmas presents by hand.
 
Yes, it happens every year. It’s a phenomenon that I simply can’t explain—especially considering that I am hopelessly and utterly craft-challenged. It’s the honest truth. The candle-making kits? I forgot to insert the wicks before the wax solidified. The artistic greenery? I fell off the counter while attempting to decorate the tops of my kitchen cabinets. The potter’s wheel? Ha, surely you jest.
 
Two years ago, I stumbled upon a huge yarn sale at a local craft store and took it as a sign from the Lord that I was meant to learn how to knit for His glory. Three bags of multi-colored yarn, two sets of knitting needles, and an adorable knitter’s bag later, I drove home from the craft store, filled with knitting-inspired determination and dreaming of all of the handmade scarves and hats that my friends and family would soon enjoy. I arrived home and immediately set to work, knitting two and pearling one.
 
Within an hour, I had stabbed myself with the knitting needles more than once and thus amended my dream ever so slightly from high-fashion scarves and hats to modest potholders. Another hour later, the dream had died altogether and I had somehow managed to mangle the would-be potholder beyond recognition.
  

Face-to-face with my own craft impairment, I sat alone on my living room floor and tearfully mourned the knitting triumphs that might have been.
 

Fast forward to the present. Autumn is already upon us and like clockwork again, my impulse to craft is beginning to rear its predictably ugly head. Except this year, in all of His great wisdom and humorous irony, God has seen fit to bless me with a dear friend and roommate who is a gifted scrap-booker and—even worse—a craft aficionado.
 
Megan creates beautifully unique greeting cards, gift tags, and cupcake toppers and operates her very own Etsy Shop, Megan Brooke Handmade
 

 

She possesses a true talent and yet still manages to stoop down to my level to sweetly nurture my crafting attempts and provide encouragement. So when Megan showed me her recently completed coffee filter wreath, it came as no surprise that her little masterpiece looked like it rolled straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The wreath was beautiful… and I had to have one.
 
So, off to Publix and Michaels I went. 200 coffee filters, 100 safety pins, and a foam wreath form later, a coffee filter wreath was born. Against all odds, I finally achieved crafting success! Admittedly, I did stick myself a few times with the safety pins but the end result was well worth the pain. Take a look at my finished product below and head on over to The Little Brown House to learn how to make your very own.
 

 

And be sure and visit Megan’s Etsy shop and check out her new collection of holiday cards! She’s one talented gal.
 

 

Happy crafting!