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The Joy Thief

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt 

In my introspection these past few weeks (read more about it here and here), I've found myself meditating on the above quote a lot.

I'm realizing that much of my identity has been wrapped up in how I view myself in comparison to others. If I compare myself to someone and find that I'm "better," I gain confidence. If I compare myself to someone and find that they're "better," I lose confidence. But in both scenarios, other people have the power to determine my worth.


I've lived a lot of my life this way - which has led to seasons of semi-depression (with vats of cake-flavored ice cream) and seasons of overconfidence. Life becomes a competition: one where I'm always struggling to be "the winner."

Amidst all of this, where's the joy? How can I love my life when I'm trying to determine if I'm skinnier than that girl, or smarter than that guy, or if I'm a better decorator, dresser, exerciser, speaker, blogger, artist, writer, singer, baker, wife, friend, future mother?!? It's exhausting and sad.

My favorite people (are you allowed to have favorite people?) are those who are completely confident in who they are. They can honestly celebrate the successes of others - because it doesn't change their "ranking" in this ugly game that so many of us play everyday.

So, I'm finding ways to stop playing. For instance, if I'm jealous of someone's outfit, I've started telling that person how much I like it. That way, my brain doesn't have time to start critiquing their "ridiculously ugly shoes (geez, she should know better!)" just to make myself feel okay again.

Plus, I think knowing your weakness is half the battle, right? :)

PS - Don't forget to enter the Yiskah Knits giveaway this week! If it's not your style - don't let that stop you! You can always give the ring to your friend, mom, sister, aunt, cousin, barista, doctor, or landlord. (Or, you could win it for me.... Just sayin.)

[Photo from here]

Summer Plans

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer has always been my favorite season. In fact, when I was ten I wished my name was "Summer." I have so many happy, childhood memories of long lazy days, family vacations, ice cream cones on hot evenings, pool parties, camping trips, firework shows, and trips to the beach.

Now that I'm a grown up, the season doesn't have quite the same allure (working inside when the weather's so nice? Lame.) But, that doesn't mean Zach and I can't make the time to celebrate all the goodness that summer has to offer.

Here's the list of things I want to accomplish in the next 3 months. It's sweet & simple (just the way I like it):

1. Spend a weekend backpacking with my husband (preferably somewhere where we don't have cell phone reception.)

2. Stop talking about going to a Dodgers game, and just go to a Dodgers game.

3. Throw a big backyard movie night (complete with barbequed hamburgers.)

4. Make homemade ice cream.

5. Finally see the LA Phil perform John Williams' music at the Hollywood Bowl.

6. Run a 10K.

7. Spend at least one day at the beach.

8. Take a photography class.

9. Book the flights for our next big adventure.

10. Finally change my last name (to Piepmeyer!) on my drivers license. I'm only slightly embarrassed about that one.

What are your plans for the summer?

OH - and have you entered this week's Yiskah Knit giveaway? There's still time to win! Just click here

[Photo from here]

WIN IT // Yiskah Knits Giveaway - CLOSED

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One of my life goals is learning how to knit. Currently, I'm FAR from reaching this goal (I don't even know how to hold knitting needles.) But I'm lucky enough to know a few experts of the trade through Etsy. For now, I can purchase any knitted item that strikes my fancy from them.

One of my personal favorite knit shops is Yiskah Knits - owned and operated by the fabulous Jess Biscoe. Jess' products are oh-so-cute (I want them all!)

In particular, I love the little bows that Jess knits and makes into jewelry. Knitted rings and necklaces are so unexpected and fun. And since Jess is one of Hello Lately's awesome sponsors, this week she's graciously agreed to provide one lucky Hello Lately reader with a knitted bow ring (of any color) for free!

The rules are simple. Just use the app below to enter for your chance to win. Why miss the chance to add an completely unique, handmade jewelery piece to your wardrobe?

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here's the fine print: One knitted bow ring will be awarded to the winner. Standard shipping is included (if you want to upgrade to faster shipping, it will be billed thru paypal). Your ring will take 2-3 weeks for delivery once information is received. 

This giveaway is open internationally, and Yiskah Knits ships worldwide. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

As much as they scare me, airplanes are still pretty magical.

Today, Zach and I spent a while hunkered down on a blanket at LAX watching them glide over our heads before landing. Crystal clear skies, a warm breeze, and a Neapolitan milkshake from In-N-Out made for a perfectly wonderful afternoon.

WEAR IT // To an Outdoor Wedding

I've learned at least one thing from today's post: Zach and I need tans... fast. Our skin looks almost translucent in the lighting below. 

But that's neither here nor there. Since it's wedding season, I thought I'd do a post on how Zach and I are dressing for a few of the outdoor weddings we're attending this summer. So, I gathered some pictures from our first wedding of the season (remember Kara's wine country wedding?) so you could see our outfits.

When attending events as a couple, I'm kind of crazy about the way our outfits coordinate. We should look like we're a pair - but we can't be too matchy matchy (that's bad.)

I put Zach in a purple gingham shirt to match the purple in the shift dress I wore. Then I built the rest of the outfit with other coordinating colors. Since it's summer, and the wedding was outdoors, I wanted to make sure we wore lots of color.

And don't you just love Zach's bow tie? He tied it himself... (swoon.)

Happy Memorial day! I hope you're spending it celebrating our freedoms - and loving on the servicemen and servicewomen who've made this freedom possible!


Friday, May 25, 2012

If you read my post from yesterday, you know I'm kind of in a funk. Maybe it's my quarter-life crisis, but I'm definitely in a "What the &$%@ am I doing with my life?!" stage. (So, if you see me this week, please-oh-please don't ask me that question.)

To be honest, I've spent a lot of time in prayer... but I've also spent a lot of time flinging myself over the couch, with my hand over my eyes, yelling "Why me?" Ok, that's a little dramatic, I know. But, I find life is more fun with a little drama. (Poor Zach.)

When I was seeing a therapist a few years ago (there, I said it) she told me that at times like these - sometimes you just need a break. She told me to take a walk, to do a craft, to bake something... to do basically anything that forces me to stop obsessing about whatever issue I'm dealing with. This isn't about pretending a problem's not there, but it's allowing yourself to not dwell on things that can't be changed in that moment.

So this week, I took her advice. I got out of the house way more than I normally do: I ran. I made restaurant-grade tacos. I cleaned out my closet, then brought all my old clothes to a clothing swap party. From said party, I acquired some ridiculous slippers. I went shopping and tried on some hideously neon pants at J.Crew. I bought a new necklace at Anthropologie. I had lunch with a friend. I booked some flights to Portland.

My life may not be quite what I want it to be... yet. But I'm confident I'll figure things out soon(ish.) And in the mean time, I'm trying to enjoy the journey.

Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy your much-deserved long weekend!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

This week I've been working on a collage project for a friend. I'm supposed to gather photos that describe me... or how I see myself.

The exercise ended up being more difficult than I originally thought. I think it's probably because I'm in a weird season in my life, where I'm trying to redefine who I am (again.)

Now that I'm no longer working a 9-5 job, I've found myself floundering a little. I'm realizing now that my job defined how I viewed myself: I found a lot of worth in my title. And, now that it's gone, it's been really easy to get discouraged.

So, I'm learning that my identity can't be based on any external factors (my job, my education, my husband, this blog, my Etsy shop, or any other accomplishments.) If those fail me, what's left?

Currently, I'm not quite sure... but I'm bent on finding out. And I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty good place to start. 

[Photos found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here & here]

EAT IT // Ginger Scones

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daily breakfast in the Piepmeyer household usually consists of berries, a granola bar, and (sometimes) a multivitamin. For the most part, this routine serves us well. But there are certain weeks when I just need something different.

Enter, the ginger scone.

Chock full of candied ginger and lemon zest, it's anything but boring (and perfect for days that seem to start that way.)

 I got the recipe from my new brother in law Tim, who made them on the first Thanksgiving weekend he spent with our family (show off.)

Mine always end up flatter than they look in the original Simply Recipes post. She says (in the post) that it's probably because my baking powder is flat. Oops. I should work on fixing that.

Except, the recipe still tastes AMAZING, even if my baking powder is flat. So, there's no real drive getting me to the grocery store for new baking powder. (Does that make me cheap? Lazy? Both?) I guess I'll just have to suffer with my amazing tasting, but not as beautiful as they could be, ginger scones. 

Ginger Scones
Makes 12 scones
From Simply Recipes

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup candied ginger (chopped into 1/4-inch pieces or smaller)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup buttermilk
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F (or 200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the candied ginger, lemon zest, and fresh ginger until evenly mixed.

Create a well in the center of the flour, pour in the melted butter and the buttermilk. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until the flour mixture is just moistened. Don't over-mix! The mixture should look very shaggy. 

Divide the mixture into two balls, and flatten each onto a floured surface into a 1-inch thick, 6-inch wide circle. Slice each round into 6 wedges. Transfer to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing at least an inch apart. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 400°F for 18-20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before eating. To store, allow first to cool to room temperature, then seal in a freezer bag.

Angelique, Ink & Brooklyn Stars Coupon Codes!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone that participated in Hello Lately's Angelique, Ink giveaway this week! We had 250 entries, and today I'm pleased to announce our winner: Brian Lucas!

For everyone else, I have good news! Angi is graciously giving Hello Lately readers a discount on the customized calligraphy stamps on her website and Etsy shop.

So, if you didn't win, but would still like to purchase a customized calligraphy stamp from Angelique, Ink, order before May 31 and use this code: IHEARTHELLOLATELY

Secondly, after seeing their bracelet on the "Get Ashley's Look" portion of yesterday's post, Brooklyn Stars has decided to give Hello Lately readers a discount on all items in their Etsy store.

If you'd like to purchase one of their items, just use the following coupon code when checking out: BKSTARS15

Happy Tuesday!

Birthday Gift Guide {For A Younger Brother Who's Done EVERYTHING from Researching Monkeys in the Amazon to Working on Wall Street}

My baby brother, who will perpetually be 6 in my head, is actually turning 23 next Saturday (which just makes me feel OLD.) Last year, Arden spent his birthday with Zach and I (right before he took off for Europe for the summer.) But this year, he's in San Antonio, or Quebec, or Boston, or Chicago or something - so we won't get to see him on his special day. Instead of making him a birthday cupcake, I'll have to send his gift via snail mail.

Now, I just have to decide what to get him? Do I go for something funny? Sentimental? Useful?

Here are the options I've come up with. What do you think?

1. Scratch Map: All he needs is a coin to scratch off the places he's gone, and reveal the colors underneath. (Only two continents left til he's conquered the world!)
2. How To Be A Gentleman: A book on gentlemanliness from Brooks Brothers? Could anything be more perfect for Arden? Please.
3. Animal Butt Magnets. These are hilarious... and I'm pretty sure he's seen all of these animals in the wild (although maybe not from this angle.)  
4. Right Soap. We had a mini family feud last Christmas, when I stole some Body Shop soap from Arden during a gift exchange. I probably should make it up to him.
5. Laguiole Multi-Function Tool. Did I mention that he's a backpacker/mountain climber? Those people need tools like this.
6. I LEGO N.Y. Because I know New York still has a special place in his heart (plus, it would look great on that coffee table of his.)
7. Lobster Tee. One can never have enough J.Crew t-shirts.

WEAR IT // Meet {Ashley}

Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Ray-Ban sunnies, Muubaa jacket, Vanessa Mooney necklace and bracelets, antique ring, thrifted skirt, Lucky Brand shoes]

Do you know those people that always look amazing, no matter where they are or what they're doing? Ashley Moore is one of those people. She and I worked together at my last job, and after every interaction I'd be left scratching my head and wondering: "How does she ALWAYS look so good?" So, when I decided to start highlighting some of my friends' fashion on the blog (remember Megan and Kara?), she was one of the first people I asked to photograph.

Since a few readers have asked me to show cute outfits that can be worn during the summer months, I asked Ashley to put together her go-to hot weather outfit. I love that she chose to wear a maxi skirt - that can be dressed up or down for day or night.

During the day (when it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk,) maxi skirts are a perfect way to stay cool. Because they're lose-fitting, they allow for more air circulation and are less confining than jeans or pants. If you're insecure about your legs (as many women are) and don't like to wear shorts or short skirts, maxis can offer relief from the heat. Paired with a tank top and flip flops, you can still look put together.

Then, with wedges and a jacket, a maxi can easily transition into evening attire. (Just make sure the jacket is fitted. If it's too flowy or billowy, you'll look like a big fluff ball.)

Ashley's maxi (which she found at a thrift store) has a busy pattern, so I liked that she wore solid colors on top. Then, the contrast between the leather jacket and soft fabric of the skirt brings nice balance to the outfit.

I also like how Ashley's jewelery coordinated with her outfit without being too matchy matchy. And, notice how she's mixing and matching metals? Awesome. Gold and silver are friends that can totally hang out together.

Isn't she beautiful? And the best part is that she's as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside. Cheesy? Yes. But it's true! She even fed me dinner and let me play with her adopted kitten once we finished taking pictures. It was kind of the perfect Tuesday evening. :)

Also, I've started something new this week: if you want to get the outfit above, I've put together a collection of similar pieces below. What do you think? Is this helpful?

1    //    2    //    3    //    4    //    5    //    6    //    7    //    8

UPDATE - Brooklyn Stars, the creator of the cute little bracelet in this collection (#3) has offered a 15% discount on all Brooklyn Stars jewelery on Etsy! Just use the code "BKSTARS15" at checkout.

PS - Today's the very last day to enter the Angelique, Ink drawing. If you want the chance to win your own, customized calligraphy stamp make sure enter now!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's just get real. This week has been a rough one.

All week, I've felt perpetually behind. My to-do list has kept growing and growing, but I can never seem to get anything done. At the end of each day, I feel stressed... but I'm not sure where all my time went.

Ever have a week like that?

Despite my sour mood, there were still a few lovely moments that kept me sane. And before we go into this weekend, I'd prefer to have those memories fresh on my brain.

...Like Kara's wedding last weekend. I still feel like I'm on a high from the trip! Looking back through my pictures this week, I realized how blessed I am to have such amazing in-laws.  And I'm so honored to be fully embraced as one of their own.

...Or the two fashion photography shoots I did. In the next few weeks, I'm really excited to be featuring a few of my friends in my Monday style column (remember the one I did with Megan?) Since we all have different body types, I think it's fun to showcase how other people style themselves.

...Or the cute little puppy I got to hang out with every day. Since Kara and Tim are off gallivanting around San Francisco on their honeymoon, Zach and I got custody of Enzo (their long-haired dachshund) for the week. It's been nice to have a little buddy sitting on my feet while I work every day. Plus, he's a really great snuggler.

So, I guess there are things to be happy about, despite my grumpiness. And, like my mom always says, this too shall pass.

Happy weekend, friends! Before you go, don't forget to enter this week's Angelique, Ink drawing!

EAT IT // My Favorite Food Blogs

Blogs are like friends. There are many that I like, but only so many that I can actively pursue on a regular basis (Yea, yea. That's a terrible analogy, I know.)

In my bloggy backpack, there are about 15 blogs that I read regularly. I wish I could fit more in there, but I just don't have the time. (Although I'm definitely open to suggestions, if you know a blog that I MUST read: Let me know!) Right now, it contains a few blogs focused on fashion, a few on design, a few that celebrate general lifestyle, and a few on food.

Since people sometimes ask me about the blogs I read, I thought I'd start highlighting a few of these favorites here. And, since Thursday is "Eat It" day, I think food is the best place to start.

Although I LOVE the idea of having lots of cookbooks in my kitchen, I realize this dream isn't a necessity. There's an ample supply of fabulous recipes on food blogs. And, if you find a recipe on a food blog, not only do you get lots of pictures of the final product (which, c'mon, is the best part of cookbooks) but you also get the chef's personalized commentary ("this recipe called for 3 eggs, but I added in another because blah, blah, blah.")

That being said, there are a few specific things I look for in a food blog: 1) great photography, 2) personality, and 3) fantastic recipes. The following three have high marks in each of those categories. I can't wait to share them with you!

1. Joy the Baker

When I found Joy, it was love at first site (get it, site? hah.) She's one of those people who I kinda hate (in a good way) because she's so talented and creative. Her recipes use the most unique blends of ingredients (remember this beet cake I made?) and they taste AMAZING. Plus, she's a master stylist - meaning her photographs are arranged in the perfect way. I always want to jump into my computer and sit down for dinner at one of those tables she's set.

But the best part about her blog is her personality - which shines through everywhere. I feel like she's my BFF, and we're just chatting on the phone about the new guy she met, or what sandals she bought, and how much she loves her church.

She's real. I like that.

2. Smitten Kitchen

When someone first introduced me to Smitten Kitchen, they used the word "decadent" to describe it. Now, every time I visit this site, I hear that word resonating in my head. Because it's true, Deb Perelman's recipes are decadent.

The photos are decadent, the food is decadent, the ingredients are decadent. And after reading a post, I feel like I've just eaten at a 4 star restaurant. (Yes, I'm weird. And I really get into my blogs.)

3. Annie's Eats

I started reading Annie's Eats for the cupcake recipes (she's got a million, and they're all great... remember these?) But, then I stuck around for her other stuff too. Annie's recipes remind me of home. I don't think they could be classified as "comfort food," but that's what they are for me. They're all recipes that my mom would make. (And if you've had my mom's cookin,' you know it's good.)

Whew! So, there they are! My top three food blogs! Did I miss any? Let me know if you've got another that I should check out! :)

Side note: Have you entered the Angelique, Ink custom calligraphy stamp drawing yet? There's still time! Just click here.

A Wine Country Wedding

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Growing up, I was the oldest of two. Having a younger brother, I never knew what it was like to have a sister. But when I got married, I gained two: Sidney and Kara. Now I'm lucky to call these two beautiful, genuine, and wonderful people my family.

This past weekend, the Piepmeyer clan grew again! Kara married Tim, her longtime beau, in a quiet ceremony at Thatcher Winery near Paso Robles. And Zach and I couldn't be happier!

Our adventure started on Thursday morning with a road trip from LA to Cambria. Once there, we met up with Sidney and her son Jordan (in my new hat above) who we were sharing a room with. (Seriously, want to feel like part of the family? Share a room with your in-laws. You'll get really close, really quickly... in a good way, I promise.)

Cambria is right on the coast of Central California. It's a quaint little beach town, with breathtaking scenery. The wedding guests all stayed at The Fogcatcher Inn and every morning, I could literally walk out of the hotel room and see the ocean (which is quite refreshing, don't you think?)

Inland from Cambria is Paso Robles, which is known for its wineries. So, we got our fair share of wine tasting in (try Tablas Creek, Adelaida, and Tobin James). I loved that we could be at the beach in the morning, and tasting Rhone varieties (yea, that just happened) in the afternoon.

On the day of the wedding, Kara was stunning. Dang, those Piepmeyers pump out beautiful people!

I couldn't get over her necklace (thank you, BHLDN.) I also loved that Tim surprised Kara while she was getting ready with a matching shawl (also, BHLDN. They just don't disappoint.)

So much happiness. :)

The ceremony was sweet and simple. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen, just Kara, Tim, and the minster to officiate. I liked it this way. It brought more attention to the couple and their love. 

At this point in the evening, my DSLR camera started freaking out... So I don't have pictures of the reception. I know the photographer took many more, so maybe I'll make some additions to this post once Kara and Tim get their proofs.

In the mean time, you'll have to accept my limited description.

Inside the barn (where the reception was held), were two long tables filling the expanse. On each table, there were vases of tall greenery. Chandeliers and twinkle lights were suspended from the ceiling. And, in the back of the barn, there was a large screen playing black and white movies.

Then, Tim and Kara are foodies, so they brought in an incredible chef to cater the meal. As you can see from the menu below, this was no ordinary wedding meal. All night, everyone at our table was "oohing and awing" as the caterers brought out course after course after course.

To top it off, they hired a folk band to serenade the guests throughout the night.

(Are you imagining all of this? It was even better in person.)

All in all, the weekend was a smashing hit! When we drove home on Sunday evening, Zach and I couldn't stop talking about how blessed we are to now call Tim our brother.

Welcome to the family! :)

PS - Have you entered our Angelique, Ink giveaway yet? You still have a chance! Click here for instructions.

WIN IT // Angelique, Ink Giveaway - CLOSED

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm really, really, really excited about today's giveaway. Why? Because I've coveted a customized Angelique, Ink address stamp for years. And this week, one lucky Hello Lately reader will get a custom calligraphy stamp of their choice for free!

Angi (the owner of Angelique, Ink) and I have been friends for almost 6 years now. We met soon after I moved to California, and became fast friends soon after. (Fun fact: she was the maid of honor in my wedding!) Since I started talking about selling my watercolors paintings, she's been one of my biggest cheerleaders and has consistently encouraged me to set up my own Etsy shop. Now that I have, she's my go-to advice person.

Over the last few years, it's been fun to watch Angelique, Ink evolve into the company it is today. Angi's calligraphy is stunningly beautiful, and I'm excited that so many people have taken notice of her. Besides address stamps, she also specializes in calligraphy for wedding invitations and calligraphy logo designs. Basically, she's the go-to person for all your calligraphy needs. :)

So, what's stopping you from entering!? Who wouldn't want this beautiful handwriting on the back of their envelopes? I'm thinking of entering the drawing myself - under a pseudo name, of course. (Cause it would be really awkward if I announced myself as the winner, right?)

Oh - and make sure you check out Angi's website and Etsy shop too!

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the fine print: One custom calligraphy address stamp will be awarded to the winner. Standard shipping is included (if you want to upgrade to faster shipping, it will be billed thru paypal). Your custom stamp will take 2-3 weeks for delivery once information is received. Digital proof is not included but can be added for $5 if desired. Ink pads are not included but can be added for $5-$6. 

This giveaway is open internationally, and Angelique, Ink ships worldwide. 

WEAR IT // To The Beach

[World Market hat, Target earrings, H&M scarf, Urban Outfitters necklace, Anthropologie shirt, Nordstrom sweater, Old Navy jeans, Cathy Jean sandles]

This weekend, Zach and I spent some quality time in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. His sister (Kara) got married in a little vineyard outside of Paso Robles and we spent out time shuttling between our inn on the coast (in Cambria) and the hills of wine country.

When we arrived on Thursday, the weather was perfect. So before the wedding festivities began, we decided to take a few pictures on the beach just outside of our hotel room. My outfit wasn't particularly glamorous (you like those hand-made cutoffs?), but I figured people might like to see what my typical summer uniform looks like (since I literally wear this outfit on every warm weekend day.)

Do you like my new wardrobe addition? I've been looking for the perfect floppy hat, so when I saw this at World Market (for half the price of J.Crew's version,) I couldn't resist.

I'd forgotten how wonderfully strange the ocean is. For me, it's always odd to stand in the spot where the the sea meets the land. It makes me wish that we made the trek from LA to the coast more often (since it's an embarrassingly short distance away from our house.)

How often do you get to visit the beach? What's your favorite part?
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