Valentine’s Gift Ideas for the Mr.

It seems that whenever I write about post about gift ideas, Ted always asks what I’m going to get him. I like to think that me being his Valentine is enough, but nevertheless, he has a point. These are a few of my current favorite ideas, though I would like to add a disclaimer that these are ideas that are likely best suited once you’ve walked down the aisle. Trying to take over a man’s wardrobe before you’re married is risky business, let alone asking him to use a face mask. Ted and I passed that point a long time ago, and he agrees that his wardrobe and grooming is better for it. Before we were married, I stuck to things like electronics or tickets to something fun (whether a concert or sporting event).

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1. This commuter briefcase is a perfect blend of rugged man bag and enough polish to look professional showing up to an important meeting.

 2. Monogrammed cufflinks add a timeless personal touch to any professional wardrobe. I also love these as a gift idea for groomsmen.

 3. After a hard week at work, he can impress his friends when he offers them a drink sporting a giant ice ball just like the most popular craft cocktail bars.

4. The Tile makes missing keys, wallets, or even phones a thing of the past. It links to your phone so that you can “ring” your keys. A lifesaver for mornings in our house where the keys always seem to go missing.

 5. Born in Richmond, Ledbury shirts are some of the best fitting shirts around. The guys that founded the company are pretty great too. The start-up is still small enough that the founders often stop by pop-up shop events and customer appreciation parties.

6. I’ve been using Biore charcoal products for awhile, but splurged on this Beautycounter set for Ted for Christmas. The first time he used it, he left the mask on a little too long and his face turned red, but hasn’t had a problem since.

7. This slim wallet is perfect for today’s tailored suit and fitted jeans trend since it slips nicely in pockets without adding bulk.

8. It took me forever to convince Ted that throwing on gym shoes with jeans, even if just to run to the grocery store, isn’t the best look. Now I’m hoping he’ll abandon flip flops in the dead of winter to take out the dog, if there is a comfy casual alternative.

What are you planning to get your S.O. for Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Our first few years of marriage, Valentine’s Day always caused tension between Ted and I because he felt pressured to get me a gift. Inevitably, he’d ask what I wanted and I would say nothing since we just had Christmas and my birthday is around the corner. I would say to just pick up some flowers from the grocery store if he felt he really needed to do something. Rather than believing me, he would assume that I was “setting a trap” when I said not to get me anything, but really expected him to go find something on his own. That really wasn’t the case, but he’d get so worried about it that we’d usually get in a fight about something silly.

One year, I just so happened to spot a pair of sparkly pink earrings at J. Crew. I ended up getting them myself, but told Ted about them first we agreed that they could be for Valentine’s Day. Problem solved…Until the next year when he told me that he knows I like to shop for myself, but that he wanted to get something for me. That’s about the year that I started putting together a “gift guide” that he’s been able to use for Valentine’s Day and birthday ideas since. Last year the theme tended towards a cozy night in, but it seems that this year I’m in the mood for travel!

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Do you usually exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day? If so, what’s topping your wish list?

xoxo,

Kristen

Valentine’s Inspired

Despite the cold weather we typically have in Alexandria in February, I always think of feminine fabrics like lace and tulle when planning an outfit for Valentine’s Day. I also thinks it’s fun to incorporate pink and red hues, but favor blush and burgundy to typical bright reds and pinks. A flirty dress in a bold color would have been an outfit of choice in my younger days, but now that I’m in my thirties I look for more refined pieces that can be part of my everyday wardrobe and not just for special occasions. A well made neutral lace top can be a great investment and is easily styled with skirts or jeans.

What are some of your favorite finds for a Valentine’s Day date night?

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Christmas Card 2016

 

This time last year we were celebrating Christmas as new parents. Tad was barely two weeks old, and we weren’t able to manage getting Christmas cards out. I always enjoy receiving them from friends and family and like to display them on our mantle, so I wanted to make sure to send them out this year. Ted kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas so I told him I wanted pictures – a nice family photo, a one year old photo of Tad, and a picture with Santa. We were pretty ambitious in trying to knock them all out in one day, but we made it through and managed to get a few good shots, thanks to Amanda Donohue and her husband who is professional at getting little ones to laugh.

To our friends and family who were sweet enough to include us in their Christmas card list this year – thank you! We’ve enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures and reading about your year for those that included letters and milestone events. Even though I planned ahead for photos, I didn’t actually get them in the mail until we left town for the holidays, but they are on their way so please don’t cross us off the list for next year!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo,

Kristen

Photography by Amanda Donohue

My outfit: J. Crew sweater, Rocksbox necklace, Ann Taylor skirt (old; similar style here), MAC Rebel lipstick

Ted’s outfit: Ledbury shirt, Nordstrom Rack sweater and scarf

Tad’s outfit: Ralph Lauren Baby, Freshly Picked

 

Brunch with Santa

Rather than taking Tad to the mall to see Santa, we attended a brunch with Santa. It was the perfect opportunity for him to see the jolly old fellow and watch other kids he knows sit on his lap first. He devoured all sorts of treats like Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream while we waited our turn. There were also plenty of Christmas trees with bright, shiny ornaments for him to explore. He’s not really talking yet so I’m pretty sure he asked for a dadada and a nuh-nuh (what he calls our dog, Nutmeg), but hopefully Santa speaks baby babble because Tad’s been an awfully good boy this year. He loves going to school, reading books, and crawling all over the place. He’s learned to wave bye-bye, give kisses and high fives, and is a little speedster with his walker.

Oh, and he even gave us the classic picture you were really hoping for…

rosé all day

Okay, so, maybe not all day, but it was the varietal of the day for my sister’s bachelorette winery tour. I’m so glad that rosé is becoming somewhat en vogue, as I’ve been a fan ever since traveling in the south of France for my honeymoon. We had three stops lined up for the day, and agreed to try the rosé at each. While the wine at the first, King Family Vineyards, was my favorite (a dry rosé, named after the small town of Crozet in which the winery is located), the atmosphere at our third and final stop was unparalleled. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is nestled just outside of Charlottesville and offers pristine views coupled with rustic elegance. A joint effort of husband and wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill combines their wealth of professional experience in luxury properties and bespoke events. It’s no wonder that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were rumored to have been married here! As I imagine is the case most Saturdays, they were busy setting up for a wedding later that evening. Though I don’t have any weddings to plan anytime soon, I would love to come back here for a special occasion, like an anniversary dinner, to try their “vineyard to table” cuisine. While it was the perfect way to celebrate my sister’s final days as a single lady, I was surprised to see many young families with toddlers in tow at King Family and and Veritas Vineyards. It actually makes perfect sense as there are big grassy knolls to upon which to spread out a blanket where adults can catch up with friends over their vintage of choice, and the little ones can run and play. I can’t wait to pack a picnic, round up a few friends, and head back to Virginia wine country. I’d love to hear any recommendations of other Virginia vineyards or wineries that are worth trying. I know Virginia isn’t especially known for great wine, but it still makes for a nice day-trip and the scenery can be simply stunning. Salut!

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Back to Work

After five glorious months of maternity leave, I’ll be heading back to work next week. While excited about getting my professional life going again and seeing all the great people I work with, I’m a little anxious about my new role as a working mom. My nearest and dearest, myself included, weren’t sure how I would handle maternity leave. Would I be bored? Would I go crazy spending so much time alone with just my little one? No and no! I have absolutely adored being home with my little man, and have kept myself plenty busy with projects big and small from cleaning out and reorganizing to gutting our master bathroom.

I have truly cherished this time I’ve had to focus on learning to be a new mommy and am amazed by how quickly my tiny baby is becoming a little boy. It seems like he learns something new every day! I got to be there the first time he smiled, laughed, rolled over, and tried to give me a kiss. He currently loves grabbing my face and planting a slobbery wet one on my cheek, and I love it! I know that preschool offers great stimulation, socialization, and other development opportunities, but it’s still going to be hard leaving him.

To my mom friends that have gone back to work…I would love to hear any advice you have to share on how it went for you, and any tips to make it easier!