Archive for the ‘events’ Category

what if?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 6.44.46 PM

if any of you out there are jennie allen followers, you’re probably also aware of the IF:gathering and all of the subsequent events and movements that have come out of her annual gathering for women to be equipped and empowered in pursuing lives of purpose. if you’re not familiar with jennie allen, you’ve come to the right place because i’m new to the club too. i recently started reading her latest book, restless, which basically speaks to the heart of every woman who has wondered if this is all there is to life. i’m sure i’ll have more thoughts on that once it’s read in its entirety, but the Lord has been teaching me so much lately through jennie and through lara casey’s book, make it happen. i’m learning that following the lord’s plan for my life is basically the opposite of the boring, disappointing picture i have in my head. He’s been inspiring so much lately and i feel ready to take some big steps during 2016 toward dreams He’s placed in my heart.

anyway, all that said, i’m extremely excited to share that the IF:gathering is coming to charlotte in two weeks, and is being hosted at my church, new charlotte. it’s technically free (although they ask for a $20 donation to help cover food and such) and essentially you’ll be joining 80-100 other women to watch the simulcast of the main gathering that will be happening in austin over the same weekend.

i’ve never been a huge fan of “women’s ministry” in many of its forms personally, mainly because i’ve never been able to relate to the young-christian-wife-mom-of-three-only-listens-to-christian-radio stereotype that i assume attend this type of thing. i will take full responsibility for that terrible misjudgment and admit that i’m sure it’s held me back from meeting many amazing women in the past, regardless of how our backgrounds align. i believe so strongly we are made for community and one of my prayers this year is that i will find deeply rooted friendship and community among more women in charlotte. i’m sure the IF:gathering is a great place to start, and i’d love it if you would join us. i’m excited to continue considering the question what IF i actually lived like Jesus? alongside other women in charlotte.

the details:

when: february 5 – 6, 2016 (starts at 7:00 p.m. on friday, so you can make it after work.)

what: the IF:gathering seeks to gather, equip, and unleash this generation of women to live out God’s calling on their lives. the world around us feels like it is crumbling and almost nothing seems certain, until we look to Jesus and see that our Hope is very clear and certain. He didn’t just give us salvation—Jesus is our salvation and the example of what it means to live in the fullness of grace and truth. what the world needs is His redemption, the very redemption and hope that lives inside of us. rather than shrink back, it is time to love like Jesus loved, serve like Jesus served, pray like Jesus prayed, and pursue holiness like Jesus pursued it.

where: new charlotte church, 11011 monroe road, matthews, nc
(don’t live in charlotte? check to see if there’s a local gathering near you!)

more info here and here. register to join us here!

and, as a fun additional note, i’m working with some great ladies to do the decor for the event. new charlotte is already pretty awesome-looking, but here’s a little inspiration board teaser of what we have planned for you…

IF Charlotte

image credits: 1. if:gathering; inspiration board clockwise from top left: 1. wedding chicks 2. frida vega solomonsson 3. brit+co 4. a daily something 5. mod wedding 6. apartment 34 via domino

christmas is for cookies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Christstmas card - cropped

this past weekend, my mom and sister-in-law and i hosted a little cookie exchange party for some of our closest friends. (part of our invite above, ordered from wisemonkey paperie on etsy). if you don’t already know this, cookie exchanges are really fantastic because you make one kind of cookie and then you leave with one million different cookies. it’s like magic. delicious magic. we also had a hot chocolate bar, a festive photo booth, and we watched the panthers win number 14 because when you live in charlotte in 2015 that’s what you do on sundays (alternate reason: when your quarterback looks like cam newton that’s what you do on sundays).

grace, my sis-in-law, is always an incredible encourager of my creative endeavors and gave me free rein in her house for decorations. the good news is, her dining room is already beautiful, so there wasn’t much to be done. i’m completely obsessed with eucalyptus at the moment, so i used it (from trader joe’s) and some greenery i cut from a bush in my yard to adorn the mantel and the center of the cookie table. these snaps were taken before most of the guests arrived, so the full cookie effect cannot be appreciated, but alas.


i don’t ever decorate with red in my own home (more on that to come tomorrow!), so it was really fun to pull it into the decor here. the brass reindeer are one of my favorite decorations for christmas and i’m so happy i snagged them a couple of years ago at a yard sale.

now, on to the cookies. see those gorgeous gingerbread ones? my mom made them and she does every year. they’re my favorite. personally, i opted for a simpler less labor-intensive recipe, one i got from a cookie exchange at work last year. they’re simple, delicious (super citrusy – always my personal preference), and don’t require baking. this is awesome because it’s been so ridiculously warm in north carolina, and turning on my oven generally means i then need to turn on my air conditioning. in december. which is terrible. anyway. i modified the original recipe a bit because directions are hard and that’s what i always do, but they turned out well using the proportions below. you can also add coconut, if you’re into that. christmas is for cookies, so enjoy!

orange refrigerator balls
(pictured to the right of the gingerbread in the photos above)

1 box of vanilla wafers, crushed (i used the blender to grind them up)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (used the blender here too)
3/4 cup of orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 pound of powered sugar (this worked out to about 3.5 cups but it’s hard to mess this one up)

mix all ingredients. form into one-inch balls. roll in powered sugar and refrigerate until firm. eat all of the cookies.


partying like it’s my birthday

Friday, August 29th, 2014

2014-08-02 23.28.34

this year, my birthday was exceptionally fantastic. i realize it happened a month ago, but i’m still thinking about it. i have extremely thoughtful friends and family who made me feel very loved and very special. you know how when you were a kid and your birthday felt almost as awesome as christmas? this year was probably the closest to that feeling i can remember in ages. i don’t even mind that much that i am now one year away from 30. i had a taco party at one of my favorite charlotte restaurants. there was rainbow cake, a balloon bouquet, lots of new friends and a waiter who looked like and was probably much nicer than john mayer. i spent my actual birthday not working and playing with my mom. we ate lunch on the lake and shopped at goodwill, which is basically my ideal day. i bought a shirt with a cat on it that says “let’s get cray” (see here and be jealous) and then i ate more cake with my family. finally, the following weekend, i spent time in southern pines playing with my favorites, who threw me an incredibly sweet and very unexpected surprise party (see images above and below) that also included cake, with the best homemade icing i’ve ever tasted. made by my professional cake baker and all-around-amazing friend amy. i’m sensing a trend here. cake and general cray-ness. anyway, to my friends and family who are so wonderful: i love you and the cakes you make for me.

photo 3

the other fun part of birthdays is the presents. and when very generous people give you birthday checks so you can go shopping. even though it’s literally almost 100 degrees here today (i sweat through my work clothes just driving home this afternoon), i am naturally way excited about fall. and fall clothes. and boots and fall jackets and sweaters and flannel and boots. in an effort to thank those who were kind enough to finance this afternoon’s online shopping extravaganza, i would like to share with you the following purchases that have been sponsored by your generosity. these boots though. and this jacket though. i am crazy about them. and you. and fall. and boots.

birthday buys

buying these things today made me feel like it’s my birthday all over again, and that’s never a bad feeling. excuse me while i go find some more cake.

photo collage credit: 1.sole society 2.forever 21

olympic fever

Friday, February 7th, 2014


while every legit fashion blogger is descending on nyc right now for fall fashion week, i’m over here like “heeeeeey the olympics are on”. while i’ll admit my sincere interest in all things fashion, there is little else i want to do for the next two weeks besides root for team usa in the warmth of my unworthy-of-fashion-week cozy winter clothes. i am so excited about the olympics that (you can ask all of my friends) it’s been my main topic of conversation for weeks now. i’m not entirely sure what my go-to small talk conversation starter is going to be come march.

for whatever reason, i become this emotionally unglued train wreck during the olympics. i cry basically every time a medal ceremony occurs – no matter if americans are on the podium or not. i cry every time nbc runs a dramatic athlete profile story with an inspiring come back story and musical montages. i cry every time an athlete finishes and exhibits any emotion. i suddenly care about unknown sports like luge or cross country skiing as if i’ve been watching them my entire life. i am moved (to tears, typically) by the powerful stories of dedication, perseverance and underdogs. i am amazed by the fact that in this day and age that there still seem to be countries in existence that i’ve literally never heard of, and even more amazed by the fact that ralph lauren is capable of creating such insultingly ugly team usa sweaters. and, i am overwhelmed by patriotism. in a time when our country is quickly losing the respect and power it once had, i’m still proud to live in a place with so much opportunity and which is represented by so many outstanding athletes.

and finally, this year, maybe more than anything else. i am awed by the transformational power of a simple haircut…



in honor of the start of fashion week, the start of the olympics and the fact that i’m feeling particularly patriotic these days, here are some of my favorite fashionable, yet subtle patriotic looks that don’t look like you’re about to crash a 4th of july party. show some love for team usa and look fabulous while doing it. that’s worthy of a medal in my book.

usa8 collage2 collage1 collage3

image credits: 1.weheartit 2:morphosis/today 3:this time tomorrow 4.britta nickel 5.dash of darling 6.dash of darling 7.atlantic-pacific 8.pennsylvania preppy 9.atlantic-pacific dolce vita

new year, new blog!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

2014 collage

the new blooming branch is here! eeeeeeep! i am so excited to put this site – which has required a great deal of hard work over the past two months – out into the world. blooming branch has evolved a great deal since i started it in 2008, and i am beyond ready for this new chapter.

the original blooming branch was created long before pinterest or instagram existed and provided me with a creative outlet to capture the things that i found inspiring. since 2011, the blog really hasn’t been a priority of mine as i’ve found a great deal of what it previously supplied through the use of these social media sites. over the past two years, however, i have discovered that i miss the writing that comes along with my blog, as i’ve recently begun writing freelance articles for some online sources. i’ve realized that i don’t only love writing, but i love how much i learn about myself through it. i’ve also discovered that while i often feel like i’m alone in the things i am learning or struggling with, that so many other young women are experiencing the same. it’s been a tremendous blessing through conversations and the publication of these freelance articles to find that so many others can identify with the same day-to-day experiences i have. it is through honest community with others that we can best navigate life in Christ, and i want to continue creating that connection by being genuine and honest about myself and my life. blooming branch has truly been on my mind extensively for the past year, but my own fear and insecurities kept me from continuing to blog. with so many other lovely sites out in blogland, it was hard not to play the game of comparison. a re-brand and re-release of my blog, however, was something that i could no longer ignore. i believe that whether or not i gain a ton of readers or notoriety through this site, that the Lord uses it to shape me alone, and that’s important enough in and of itself. as i began moving forward with plans for this site, i read this extraordinary article about comparison and knew that i needed to remember these wise words. quitting my blog because i’m intimidated by others is a sad and silly reason to do such a thing. there will always be blogs (lots of them) that are better than mine, but that definitely doesn’t diminish the significance of my own – even if it is only significant to me. that’s been a really extraordinary lesson for me and one that i’ve contemplated and prayed about a great deal as i’ve worked on this site.

in short, releasing this new blog into the world has been a challenge on so many levels. there’s been a lot of frustration and a lot of learning. i don’t know much about html code or owning my own domain or fixing things in my CSS folder. i don’t really even know what CSS is exactly. there will certainly be some kinks and learning experiences to come, but i’d like to take this moment to thank a few important people who have been instrumental in making this new site possible:

lindsey lee hartsell – this girl knows more about building a business and making a website beautiful that anyone i know. i am thankful for her time, her expertise and her valuable input. and for introducing me to the genius that is odesk.

ben burns – ben and i have never met, but we connected through odesk when i hired him to create a new logo for blooming branch. he was patient. he listened to me. he put up with my perfectionist high-maintenance needs. he made gentle suggestions like a true expert.  he created a logo that is exactly what i didn’t know i wanted, all in order to save a sweet little puppy named munch. he’s been a lifesaver. i am extremely grateful for his assistance and know that i’ll be hiring him again. you should consider it, too.

ello themes – as if i have the time, money or expertise to create my own website. ello themes created this lovely template and then gave me instructions to implement it myself. it’s been a learning experience, but a good one. i am thankful.

i also think i’d be remiss without thanking google. i learn so much from it. when i have questions i ask google and it usually helps me find an answer. google is nice like that. always there when you need it. i’d also like to thank people like my parents, mrs. laurie, lacey and others who have continuously encouraged me, challenged me, and reminded me that blooming branch truly was worth my time and effort. you’ve been such a blessing.

anyway, i’m excited to begin 2014 with a blank slate of blog posts that have yet to be written about a new year that has been written by my Creator. i’m wearing my favorite sparkle sweater and am about to clink some bubbly and celebrate what is yet to come – the good, the bad and all those days in between. thanks for joining me on the journey. here’s to 2014!

image credit: 1.weheartit 2.weheartit

an invitation

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

hello friends!

it’s a big day over at blooming branch. as of two weeks ago, i am officially a charlotte resident! i have a sweet little triplex house with a fireplace and a deck and a closet that comfortably fits all of my clothes. can you believe it!? it all happened rather quickly and while it doesn’t feel like home quite yet, i’m so happy to have reduced my commute to work by 45 minutes (seriously. it’s bliss.) and live among the cool city people. liam is adjusting well to big city life and i feel that i’m coming along quite nicely as well. i’ve been pulled between concord and charlotte for quite a while now, and while i’ll still be going back and forth fairly often because i like concord and i like my parents, it’s nice to feel settled and committed somewhere that i’ve wanted to be for so long.
the best part about this move has been all the downsizing. my new place isn’t really much bigger than my old one, so i’ve tried to be really cognizant of how much i actually need versus how much i actually want. they are very different.  so, guess what? i want you to have all the things i’m getting rid of. and by have, i mean buy at yard-sale-like prices. so. you’re invited to my in-house, invite-only moving sale. it’s basically like a yard sale but in the air conditioning, more dignifed and with no aggressive yard sale strangers (you know the ones i’m talking about) and with cupcakes and delicious beverages. how can you pass that up?

also, PLEASE bring your friends or share with anyone who may be interested.
p.s. i had a rather unfortunate hard drive crash last week, so i’m still without a computer at home (boo) but much more to come soon, including blooming branch’s first-ever GIVEAWAY.

here comes the bride(smaid)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

tonight i did some serious searching for a dress for next week’s impending nuptials. i haven’t blogged much lately (sad), so in case you don’t interact with me on a regular basis and haven’t heard me talking incessantly about next week’s wedding-of-the-decade, let me brief you. aaron is my brother. he is cool and stylish and has a swank job at one of charlotte’s best architecture firms. he is marrying gracie, a girl he met while in college. she is beautiful, sweet, so smart and creative, and has the best manners of anyone i know. i get a thank you note for something almost every time i see her. and they’re always the really pretty, fancy kind. the ones you get at paper source and want to frame. a + g are getting married in wilmington and it’s going to be a big fancypants affair with lots of events.

first, let me say how MUCH i love gracie for choosing this dress for her bridesmaids:

isn’t it gorgeous? (although the model is terrifying me.) it’s lilly pulitzer (go figure) and the stripes are actually little golden threads woven into the fabric. it’s one of those dresses i would see in the store and wish i had a reason to buy. now i have a reason and it’s going to be mine forever after. i can’t wait to wear it. seriously. i LOVE it.

i’d like to say i’m just completely amped about next weekend (because i am), but there’s been a little sadness too. i would be lying if i said watching aaron and gracie walk through this process together hasn’t made me jealous about the fact that i’m not getting married anytime soon. and insecure. no one wants to be the groom’s-single-older-sister. ew. so naturally i’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to have some fab frocks for all of the festivities. combine that with the fact that i’m ridiculously cheap, and i’ve been having a time finding anything i like. i hit nearly every store at southpark mall tonight. first, a few thoughts:

1. what is with all the one-shoulder dresses? they were cool last year and aside from an occasional re-wear, i’m seriously over them.
2. never in my life have i found so many beautiful white/ivory lacy dresses. why does that happen the one time that it’s inappropriate to wear such a dress?

3. why did this supremely perfect dress (alice + olivia) have to cost so much? if it had been up to me, i would have bought it and been done.
4. why do dresses cost so much and still fit so badly? i’m a size 6-8 here, people. pretty standard. most of what i put on was horribly unflattering and just fit poorly.

i had all but given up when i stopped in ann taylor on my way out of the mall. um. when did ann taylor become awesome? i think i might have found a new favorite store. i liked nearly everything in the place. color, neutrals, work wear, weekend wear. everything. i went a little crazy and tried on much more than dresses. look at all those goodies! that blazer was the best thing ever and if anyone wants to buy it for me, i’ll take a size 6.

i ended up surprising myself by falling in love with the bright pink deconstructed sheath dress. (even before i realized it was 50% off). let me say that these images above from the site do no do it justice. it is gorgeous and modern and so flattering. and totally unfussy. it has that oh-i-just-threw-this-on-and-look-fabulous air. after wearing it around the dressing room for a while soliciting compliments from anyone who wanted to give them, i walked out of the store with a fantastic rehearsal dinner dress. 

in a perfect world, i would style it up like this. given that i own nothing even remotely similar to these items, the likelihood that i’m going to pull it together in less than a week is probably not great. i may have to get creative with what i’ve got. the good news is the sock bun is always cool and won’t require any planning or effort.

in other wedding weekend fashion news, i plan on picking this little number up on monday at ivy & leo by my office. that is, if no one has bought it yet. i’ve been stalking it for a couple of weeks now and the verdict is in. i need it.

much more wedding goodness to come. for real.

photo credit: 1.brightyoungthoughts 2.lillypulitzer 3.nordstrom
 4. @cdcote on instagram 5/6.anntaylor 7.polyvore 8.designerbagsanddirtydiapers 

tomorrow’s the day!

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

runway for the ballet has finally arrived – i couldn’t be more excited!

someday i will blog again

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

but until february 11th, my life is consumed. quite frankly, i’ve never been more excited for something to end. nonetheless, the show should be super. come support dance theatre and all of our hard work please? see you then! (i’ll likely be the haggard sweaty looking one among all the pretty people.)

hometown holiday

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

the historic downtown concord holiday tour of homes was much more enjoyable than the charlotte one, to be honest. downtown concord is so sweet and boasts a lot of really beautiful historic homes. i love them and going inside them and enjoying all of their historic quirks and impressive renovations is so much fun. especially when your mom buys you a homemade peppermint ice cream cone at the cabarrus creamery after you’re done.

home #1 had the most fantastic art collection – including a lot of local artists – and was almost condemned before the current owners gutted and renovated the entire thing. very impressive.

my favorite pieces in the house – totally smitten.

 the cannon house, one of concord’s oldest and most well-known homes is for sale and can be yours for just 1.3 million. and just when you weren’t sure how to spend your christmas cash. you’re welcome.

my favorite home on the tour:

the dining room was the best, however i didn’t get a very good picture.

quite possibly my dream kitchen. my entire house could fit in this room.

love big prints in small spaces. this wallpaper was top-notch.

house #3 is also a favorite – i spent two summers nannying for the family that lived here at the time. it’s lovely and it was fun seeing the changes that the new owner has made over the last few years.

the owner collects antique british tapestries like the one shown here. cool.

quite possibly the sweetest girl’s room ever.

and i would really love it if this were my bedroom.

more gorgeous powder room wallpaper.
some shots from a few other homes on the tour…

yes, that’s a silver leaf ceiling. stunning.

my most favorite house in concord. if it were for sale (and i could afford it) i would live there. wish it had been on the tour so i could see inside!

love this living room (above and below).

why, yes, that is a coffee maker in the bathroom. genius.

i also used to nanny for the family that lives here. i didn’t take a lot of photos (it was crowded), but the home is also one of my very favorites. it’s so quaint and cozy with a great backyard. and, in case you’re interested, the front yard is a great place for sword fighting with a five-year-old.

stay tuned for my christmas house tour!