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Fall Favorites: Vol 3

Every year I enjoy making a 'fall favorites' post, and this year I've got another round up of things that made the list. I love getting recommendations from friends for great books, recipes, beauty products, restaurants, podcasts, name it. Hearing what others are enjoying is a fun way to discover new favorites and mix up the routine. With that said, here's a few things that I've been enjoying as of late. I'd love to hear some of yours!

This pumpkin smoothie recipe makes breakfast far more festive (and delicious!)

I've been listening to lots of podcasts on my morning run and while getting things done around the house. This one is updated monthly and I always gain some solid insight and thought-provoking wisdom from it. I also try to catch up on the latest episodes of this one

Autumn candles are some of the best. I love burning this fall scent and this pumpkin version to make the house smell so amazing. (p.s. both are currently on sale!)

What's on my bookshelf currently? Here's three of my recent favorites: Goliath Must Fall, Magic of Thinking Big, and The Slight Edge

I'm a big fan of tea (right now, iced since it's still so hot!), and I've been making this ridiculously good cinnamon apple spice version that's perfect hot or cold. 

If you like pumpkin, here's the best (and easiest) pumpkin bread mix. I stock up on this whenever it comes back into the stores so I can make it randomly throughout the year whenever I get the craving My recipe suggestion--swap some of the water for a bit of applesauce to make it extra delicious. You're welcome. ;)

See last year's list here.

Seasons Change

I've been learning a lot about seasons of life lately. Each season brings its beautiful moments, challenges, triumphs, questions, lessons to be learned, and at times they seem to move other people in and out of our lives. Someone once told me that people are in your life for a reason, season, or lesson. What an interesting thought. Sometimes certain seasons are brimming with activity, while others may teach us that we have to be still, at times we may be overwhelmed with blessing, and other times we may need to give more than we receive or love others more than we think they deserve. Some seasons bring abundance of companions and still others may require that we walk a path that is seemingly very quiet and secluded. While not all are comfortable, each season provides the promise of wisdom---if we are willing to assume the position of a student, seek out the lesson and learn.

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3 saying,
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

What I love about this passage is the thought that in time, everything---every season, every victory, every challenge or sorrow, every lesson is for a purpose. Everything becomes beautiful, valuable, intentional, and intricately woven into the fabric of time and history. I know that at times that it can be tempting to want to rush through a season, especially when things get uncomfortable or the promised future seems better than the present circumstance, but I have learned that it is far better to stay present and shift my focus to the opportunity that is before me in the form of this season. When I have chosen to learn and grow, my capacity and abilities expand to greater depth, and I am strengthened or developed in a new way. Whatever season of life you may happen to find yourself in currently, I challenge you (and I) to acknowledge it, look for the lesson, and remind ourselves that in time each season brings purpose, perspective, and beauty. You see, seasons are funny in the sense that just when they begin to feel comfortable and routine, the winds of change stir up once again. Don't rush ahead, wishing for the next thing; enjoy the moment and embrace the season.

October Inspiration

Happy October! Fall is officially in full swing. It's time for all the cozy cardigans, pumpkin everything in the stores, golden evening light, and the hint of coolness in the morning and evening. As I like to do at the beginning of every month, it's time for a brief check-in and a little inspiration. 

To begin each check-in, I always take an inventory of:
1. What my goals are for the month 
2. The amount of progress I have made toward the goals I've set and are still working toward
3. Any habits or environment adjustments that need to be made in order to reach my goals 

Going through this process each month has really helped me to stay focused on the things that matter most. I've learned that inspiration and motivation can ebb and flow, and what keeps us going is not necessarily a feeling but a dedication to the process. Sometimes you might not feel like doing what needs to be done, or your creativity might wane, but when you stick to the process of doing those small daily habits, or continue to commit to putting in the time/effort towards the goal, you'll find that sooner or later the feeling will follow. With that in mind, I like to also think about a few quotes or ideas that help me stay committed to the process. Here's what's inspiring me lately. 

Stripes & High Waisted Denim

Have you ever had one of those days where you cannot figure out what to wear? Whenever I'm in that situation, I have a couple of staple pieces that I always reach for. Denim and a striped shirt is one of my go-to looks, and it's always stylish, no matter the season. I'll throw on a breton shirt with skinnies in spring, a breezy button down with cutoffs in summer, and I love a good pair of flairs with a silky striped blouse for winter. The vintage feel of high-waisted denim is back for fall, and I decided to pair this style with a simple, sleeveless top (striped, of course!) and neutral accessories. To be honest, I wasn't initially sure what to think of the high-rise/straight-leg combination, but now I'm kind of loving it, especially when worn with a wedge or heel to help further lengthen the look. The high waist is so comfortable, hugs your figure in all the right places, and the slim, straight leg creates an elongated silhouette. It's safe to say this pair will definitely be getting some wear all throughout fall! 

Shop my look:

A Guide to Southside Village

I was recently invited to explore Southside Village with Visit Sarasota as a part of their Shoptember event. If you've ever been to Florida's gulf coast, you'll know it's famous for it's beautiful beaches, vibrant arts culture, and fabulous weather. Aside from the beach, some of the best local spots can be found in the historic parts of the towns where chic boutiques and alfresco dining create the perfect place to shop, dine, and enjoy the day. Southside Village is one of the most charming shopping and dining districts, and it's got a lot to offer for both visitors and locals alike. I've created a guide with some of my favorite places for shopping, relaxing, and dining.

A great day usually begins with a great cup of coffee, am I right? If you're in town, I highly suggest forgoing your typical Starbucks and swinging by Perq Coffee Bar for a delicious coffee or tea prepared with precision and the utmost attention to detail. The laid-back, urban feel of the decor invites you to make yourself comfortable and relax with a good book or meet a friend for coffee and conversation.

Southside Village has some of the most adorable and elegant boutiques, and Blu Home is definitely a must visit if you appreciate stylish home decor and lovely accessories. Their design services provide a creative perspective on custom styling and thoughtful space creation. I love updating my space every season with a few new pieces, and Blu Home's showroom of beautifully curated, sophisticated items was the perfect place to gather ideas and inspiration.

For lunch, I swung by Morton's Gourmet Market for the freshest selection of delightfully prepared sandwiches, quiches, pizza, soups, and of course the incredible desserts in their bakery. A family owned Sarasota favorite for over 50 years, this specialty market is definitely not to be missed. Whether you're looking for something to take with you on a beach picnic, the perfect cake or catering for a celebration, a wide selection of wines, gourmet groceries, or artisanal cuisine when you don't feel like cooking, there's something delicious for everyone.

Marmalade Salon & Boutique is perfect for anyone who loves whimsical, beach-chic decor, and stylish fashion finds. This adorable boutique is brimming over with playful, trendy clothing and baubles. I loved their selection of bohemian inspired dresses, and wanted to bring home one of everything! The salon evokes the sun-soaked, surf culture vibe of laid-back island living, and the sound of happy chatter carries over from clients enjoying a fresh cut and styling session.

If you're in the mood for casual yet sophisticated dining with creatively crafted seasonal foods, look no further than Libby's Cafe and Bar. The contemporary atmosphere invites guests to gather for light bites on the outdoor patio, enjoy a celebratory dinner, host a company meeting in their private dining room, or meet up with friends after work. Each dish on the menu is created with the freshest ingredients, and their selection is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate. (I highly recommend the Four Cheese & Pear Tortellioni, so delicious!) Their attention to detail and artful combinations will keep you coming back for more.

Thanks to Visit Sarasota for partnering on this post.

Photography | Styling | Design: Lauren


Lessons From the Storm

Storms are a part of life, and while they are certainly not comfortable, and at times can be very stressful or even catastrophic, they do also bring with them a set of lessons. Here's a few of the things that I was reminded of through Hurricane Irma. 

1. People are good, no matter what the media may try to tell you. 
The abundant amount of kind acts, good deeds, and people caring for one another in this situation has been so wonderful to witness and experience. Expect the best of others and you will find it. 

2. When you're faced with the possibility of losing everything, you realize what's really important. 
Stuff is stuff and when you're forced to grab only the "most important" items, it is surprising to see what you really need. It's not the "things" that matter in life, but rather people, experiences, and memories. My goal is to invest more in other people, in experiences, and to enjoy the moments that turn into memories. 

3. The power of prayer is real. 
I think I can speak for many when I say that the comfort found in knowing that people are praying on your behalf is incredibly powerful. We need others who will stand in the gap and pray when we're stressed, tired, and awaiting the dangerous or unknown. Prayer changes things--if even simply our attitude toward the circumstance. I'm incredibly grateful for the many friends and family members that were in constant prayer for all of us in the path of the storm. Over the last few days, we watched as storms inexplicably weakened, tracks changed, and people were kept alive and safe, despite being in highly dangerous circumstances. Moral of the story: God answers prayer and will continue to do so. 

4. We need to rely on one another in good times and in tough times. 
Regardless of what political party we align with, sports teams we cheer for, or part of the world in which we live, it's important to come together and support each other. When things are great, let's celebrate together. When things are rough, let's support one another. Life was meant to be done together, in community, and while there are definite differences among us, let's remember that we're all given the gift of living and it's our responsibility to care for each other. You and I need one another. 

5. Even after the darkest of nights, the sun will shine once again.
Things in life can get scary from time to time--really scary--and sometimes the night will grow increasingly dark. At times the winds will howl and swirl and the rains will beat upon the walls, the strongest of trees will snap and things may seem grim, but this moment is not the point at which we should give up or give in. Remember: the darkest of nights always gives way to the gentlest of dawn. This is such a powerful truth for all of life. We'll all go through things that seem like the deepest, darkest point of night, and in that moment, may we all be reminded that there will soon come a time when the clouds will part, the winds will cease, and the sunshine will fill the sky yet again. Hang in there. 

While Irma may have come and gone, she has left a path of destruction behind her. I am grateful to have come through the storm with very minimal damage to the beautiful place I call home, but there were many who are not able to say the same. Please consider volunteering your time, or donating to an organization that will provide support and assistance to those who are in desperate need of our help to recover from this storm. Below is a great list of some organizations that are on the ground providing relief. 

Florals For Fall

Happy Labor Day! Long weekends are the best, right? This holiday marks the official transition into the autumn season, and while many of my friends up north are starting to don sweaters, I like to add a few fall-inspired pieces into my wardrobe that are still wearable in the warm weather. This custom dress from Eshakti would be perfect for a fall wedding, dressed down with ankle booties, and later styled with over the knee boots as it gets cooler. I love the movement of georgette fabric and how the black satin button detail at the neckline turned out. This blush daisy print is so feminine and happens to be totally on trend for the season. If you've ever thought about creating a custom piece, I highly recommend working with the team at Eshakti to design something beautiful for the new season or a special event. 
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