Always Aubrey: May 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dallas in Snapshots

I went to Dallas in April for a weeklong work trip, and while I spent most of the time in the hotel, we stayed at the Gaylord Texan...  so it was a really good place to be stuck!

Atrium in the Gaylord Texan

It was a beautiful resort, but I (biased!) like the Gaylord in Nashville better...  our atrium feels more jungle-y and unique.  But I did love the stores, the rooms with their balconies, the Starbucks/market, and the venue in general.



You may remember this picture from Instagram, but it was one of my fav snaps from the trip.  Bringing slippers on a trip to wear around the hotel is my little trip to feeling comfy and at home.  I was chillin'!



I had a free night, so I was able to meet up with my friend from middle/high school, AC.  We ate delicious pizzas at Fireside Pies.  Sorry no pics, but I do remember it was delicious!



I had fun with my coworkers too.  We did a volunteer event at an animal shelter, and we got to snuggle adoptable puppies.  PUPPIES!  I work for a pet food company, so that's what's up.



Overall, conference weeks aren't my favorite.  You're trapped in windowless rooms, getting fat because you I have no buffet willpower, and you're away from home.  But then you get to see friends, spend time with your best friends at work, and experience just a little bit of a new place.  I can't say that I really got to see much of Dallas, but it was a nice trip.



Oh, and when in Texas...  Whataburger!!!  It was really tasty.  It wasn't as good as Shake Shack or In-N-Out, but it was a solid fast food burger.  I'd eat it again!



Guess I need to get back to Dallas sometime... and see more than just the resort!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Lately: Updating, Remembering, Needing, Wearing, Being

I'm back with the Blogger Tribe girls linking up on Sundays!

UPDATING...
We got new wine glasses, from Crate & Barrel.  I ended up with getting the white and red Nattie glasses, even though I really wanted to be Olivia Pope and get these, the Nattie glasses are 1/3 of the price which is better for life with husband and kitties.  And they're beautiful, a definite upgrade.



REMEMBERING...
It's Memorial Day weekend, so while I'm 100% in support of BBQs and fun and all, because that's what freedom in America gives us, I'm remembering my fallen friends (read this great article, 'Charlie Mike' on Memorial Day).  If you'd like to join me, I'd love if you would read about one of my friends (I've posted a few here) to honor their memory this weekend.

These were my classmates, my teammates, my dormmates, my friends.
1LT Sal Corma, the sweetest, dearest man
and
SPC Charles Caleb Sloan, with whom I served in Iraq

Took this photo near my 5th great grandfather's grave; he fought in the Revolution


NEEDING...
More time at home.  And kitty snuggles.

This is how you watch TV


WEARING...
Ponte knit pants.  In black.  Best work pants ever, and I can't get enough.  They look fancy, but they're really like yoga pants for the office.

BEING...
More present.  It's easy for me to spend the better part of the day on my phone or laptop, whether it's for work or play.  I'm a planner, and I like to be constantly doing something!  But I don't take enough time to smell the roses.  I've been watching Fresh Off the Boat, and I keep laughing because the mother on the show reminds me of my mother... and me, in her kind of crazy way of dealing with the world.  Maybe it's an Asian stereotype, but my perfectionism and drive to perform/succeed/be amazing keep me from connecting to things like... smelling the roses, appreciating my surroundings, thinking of people other than myself.

On my trip to Cincinnati this week, I tried to soak up the city instead of hiding away in my hotel room.  I took in this view, snapped a photo, then put down my phone and just enjoyed it.  I need to do that more.

Cincinnati, OH


In social circles...
  • On the Blog:  I recapped this year's Tennessee state conference for Daughters of the American Revolution, because DAR-ing is one of the things that I do!
  • On Twitter:  I retweeted this story of the tearful West Point graduate whose photo went viral.  It gave me all the feelz, even more so since it was the 9th anniversary of my own West Point graduation.  You just can't describe how that day changes your life and is the culmination of so much.
  • On Instagram:  I bought some carnations at the grocery stores and made this arrangement that I love... cheap grocery flowers are so underrated for what they can become at home!  Carnations too, totally underrated.
  • On Pinterest:  I used this pin/recipe from Scoop Adventures to make cookies & cream ice cream yesterday.  I'll let you know how it turned out, but SPOILER ALERT I used Mega-stuf Oreos because everyone knows frosting > cookie.

What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe. We e-hang out every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the last week of life in our own worlds. 
Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Friday, May 27, 2016

Budgeting Bloggers: May 2016

I was a spoiled girl this month, as my sister sent belated birthday gifts and my Mom had some gifts too.  In addition, I got some graduation giftcards for places like Amazon, DSW, and Sephora, so I was a happy lady at the shopping mall!




  1. NY & Company Soho Legging Jeans in Black (originally $60, paid $31):  I just can't get enough of black skinny pants, I guess!  They're part of my office routine.
  2. NY & Company Floral & Dot Print Flare Dress in Paper White (originally $70, paid $25): I wore this as my graduation dress!
  3. NY & Company Julianne Sleeveless Dress by Eva Mendes in Twilight Blue (originally $85, paid $35):  I saw this dress on my friend Amanda, and I had to have it!  I got it for a great deal, and it was one I was considering for my graduation.  And it has pockets.  Tons of compliments all around on this one.
  4. NY & Company Sleeveless Soho Soft Shirt in Pineapple and Flamingo (originally $40 each, paid $20 each):  These look great under cardigans, and people love the print.  I need this shirt in a zillion prints.
  5. Hunter Adjustable Back Boots in Green (originally $160, paid $15 with giftcard):  I sold my original Hunter boots because they were tight in the calf.  I'd been waiting for an opportunity to get these boots, so when an Amazon giftcard came my way, I spent it on the boots!  I also had a little extra cash from gifts that I used to pay the difference, but I'm still counting that per my January guidelines. These are MUCH more comfortable than my old pair, and I love them!
  6. Keds Cali Flats in Grey Jersey ($50 retail/$40 at DSW, paid $5 with coupon and giftcard via DSW):  I wanted something casual but more comfortable for all-day vs. TOMS.  Keds have a number of shoes with this cushioned insole that are super!  I think I'm coverted.
(not pictured)

c/o Items:
purchased with a giftcard from a recent blog collaboration with my local mall, I bought:
  1. kate spade Grey Street Mindy in Island Deep (retail $198 via kate spade outlet)
  2. kate spade Perri Lane Greer in Black (retail $228)


Received as gifts:

  1. Lilly Pulitzer Riley Infinity Loop Scarf, Bright Navy 'Treasure' from Sissy for my birthday (retail $78, similar)
  2. Lilly Pulitzer Bennett Shift Dress from Sissy for my birthday (retail $288, similar)
(not pictured)
  • Navy Blazer (Kohl's) from Mom
  • Simply Vera Vera Wang Dress from Mom
  • Linen scarf from Positano, Italy, from my friend Lindsey

$204 spent -  $19 sold/earned = $185 total spent in May
$372+ savings

Quarter Budget: $500 - $160 in April  - $185 in May = $155 left for June 


I'm really impressed by NY & Co. this month.  I'm finding more and more on their site that I really want, whereas a while ago I ruled them out as kind of fuddy-duddy older women's clothing.  I LOVE that Eva Mendes collection, and they run incredible sales where you can get $100 off a $200 purchase, things like that.  Lots of deals and bang for your buck, so don't ever pay full price!

As an added bonus, here is a photo of one of the NY & Co. dresses I wore for graduation, and a photo of me in the Stitch Fix maxi dress.  (I'll explain the tombstones some other time, short version is those are the graves of my 5th great-grandparents that I found, including my 5th great grandfather who fought in the American Revolution.)





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2016 TSDAR State Conference

This site is not an official NSDAR Web site, and the content contained herein does not necessarily represent the position of the NSDAR. The President General is the official spokesperson on issues that have not been addressed as policy of NSDAR.




In April, the Tennessee Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution hosted their 111th State Conference.  For the fourth year in a row, I was in attendance as a member, and for the third year in a row, I was a page!  This year was very special, as it was the last State Conference with our current State Regent at the helm, a lady that I love and respect intensely.  In addition, the President General, i.e. the head of the entire DAR organization, was a guest in attendance!  You can read her detailed recap of our State Conference here.

This year's pages with our President General and State Regent

One of the reasons I love DAR is my exposure to so many women who are charismatic leaders, generous volunteers and fundraisers, and intelligent to boot.  After all, we all had to research family lineage and have in interest in our roots in order to join!  They are mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, wives, and daughters... as well as doctors, businesswomen, librarians, teachers, nurses, homemakers, lawyers, and on and on!

President General, our State Regent, and me!

This State Conference, I was more involved than ever!  I attended all of the meals, which was definitely a financial commitment, but it was great to see so many programs come to life.  I assisted with multiple programs, I designed a brochure, and I covered the event for social media.  Check out our NEW state Instagram account!  That and other odds and ends.  A page's work is never done, but we get to eat, sleep, and BREATHE these incredible events.

with visiting State Regents and other VIPs

A State Conference for DAR is an annual event.  We have both formal events and business meetings.  We touch on all three pillars of patriotism, education, and historic preservation.  We socialize, we share, we learn, we shop, we celebrate, we fundraise, we HAVE FUN!  That's really the best way to describe it.  Imagine hundreds of wonderful women, all together for three full days of fellowship.  It's exhausting and great.

Serving with a smile!

About that FUN...  I portrayed a past President General during a skirt, flexing my amateur acting chops.  There was a wig involved, my second year running in a wig (last year, I portrayed the 1960s in a fashion show), and it was a blast!  I also dressed like a kangaroo during a fun run to support Helen Pouch Memorial Fund, which helps support DAR schools and has the kangaroo as a symbol.

Skit during Junior Luncheon; dressed as a kangaroo to support Helen Pouch Memorial Fund

Another reason this year was particularly special?  This year my BEST FRIEND IN DAR won State Outstanding Junior.  Oh, it was so wonderful, I was crying into my white gloves.  State Conference and Continental Congress kind of feel like DAR prom, but with multiple nights of celebration, and some business added in.  It's one of the best parts of being in the organization, though it's honestly a small part of the BIG work we do on a national scale.

For one of the formals, I wore a Korean hanbok as my dress!


I'm headed back to Washington in June for Continental Congress.  I can't wait to report to you on that too!

Curious about DAR?
Read my post on why I joined, information about paging,
and my trip to last year's Continental Congress in Washington, D.C.!



Monday, May 23, 2016

Stitch Fix Review: 10th Fix

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!




Hey guys, I goofed up and didn't keep my price list, so I'm not sure how much all of my items were this round!  (Minus what I kept, that is.)  So these images won't have the price info that I usually include in my descriptions.

Adelyn Rae Carolyne Jumpsuit


I'd asked my stylist for a jumpsuit, so I got one!  I loved the color and the style of the Carolyne Jumpsuit, but it was tight around my thighs, and I wasn't sure I could zip it and then sit down.  So I didn't keep this one.  If it had been looser, I would have wanted to for sure!


Gilli Juri Maxi Dress

While the open back on this dress scared me at first (I'm an old, curvy dame... it did not compute!), once I had it on I wanted to keep it!  The material was great, and the cut where the black met the stripes gave me a narrower waist, so I liked it a lot!

Market & Spruce Char Geo Print Maxi Skirt

I liked this maxi skirt from Market & Spruce, but I remember feeling like the price was too steep.  It was comfy, but I could get a Lularoe maxi skirt for less that I'd probably wear more.

41Hawthorn Moni Studded Short Sleeve Blouse

I almost kept this top.  I loved the print and the studded detail.  That said, I didn't like the cut of the bottom of the shirt, because it accentuated my stomach, which I'm not trying to show off!  I was torn on this one, so it landed in the "maybe" category until I knew I was returning other items.


Brixon Ivy Cameline Pleat Panel Blouse

I really liked the floral print on this, and the pleating detail, but the sleeves felt tight because they were borderline (cringe) cap sleeves.  Cap sleeves are the devil, and they should fall off the face of the earth.  So I didn't keep this one, because it wasn't love.


Overall Review

Since I had a $25 referral credit, the final price on the one piece I kept, the maxi dress, was $53.  And I'm wearing this as I type this blog post, so I know it was worth it!  Super comfy, the perfect weekend dress!  I'm not upset that most of the items in this Fix didn't work out, because I asked my stylist to push some items my way that weren't in my usual repertoire.  I found one thing I loved, so it was still a win.  My next Fix is scheduled for August, unless I pull it forward for some reason.  Stay tuned!




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Lately: Creating, Finding, Switching, Forgetting, Craving

I'm typing this on Sunday morning, for immediate publishing, so apparently I'm not as caught up on my blogging as I'd hoped!  I'm at my parents' house, visiting them before I head to Cincinnati for a work trip.  Here's what's happening lately in my world!

CREATING...
Other than creating a big domain mess that even Google claims they can't fix (bottom line, if you click on my old links, you'll come to my main blog page but not the specific blog post you were looking for), I haven't been creating much else since the blog rebrand.  So far, my numbers haven't been negatively impacted, but it's early to tell in the first week.

On a different note, my artwork from Korean school was put on a plate for me to have as a keepsake, so here's that!  I painted a big plant picture and they shrunk it down to put on the plate.



FINDING...
New pins are finding their way to my American Legion hat!  One of my buddies gave me a U.S. Army pin, so people would know  (other than my unit pins) what branch of service I was in.   Then our previous 1st Vice Commander gave me his pin when he was promoted to Commander of the post, and I backfilled him as 1st Vice. So now my American Legion bling collection is on point, though it won't ever be able to touch my DAR bling!



SWITCHING...
I've been switching purses to my favorite new kate spade bag, which I got with the mall giftcard I earned for my #Accessorize event at Opry Mills.  Isn't the pop of blue perfect for summer?  It's also a super soft leather and the perfect size... including for transporting your leftover breakfast burrito to the office.  LOL.



FORGETTING...
I'm forgetting to blog.   I have 6-7 blog posts in the queue that aren't finished, including some for events/things that happened in April.  Oh well.  I'll get to it!


CRAVING...
The Pink Lady maki roll from Wild Ginger.  I had it for lunch on a Thursday, then when Dan wanted to go there on Friday night I was like YES let's get that in my tummy STAT.  The rice is pink from beet juice, and it has ahi tuna, mango, avocado, and a little crunch.  I feel like I could eat it every day.



What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe. We e-hang out every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the last week of life in our own worlds. 
Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Friday, May 20, 2016

Etch

My coworkers have been talking about Etch for a minute, so I've been wanting to go!  It's located downtown, next to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Schermerhorn, all that stuff.  I recommend a reservation, but also sitting at the bar overlooking their kitchen if you have that opportunity.  It's a bustling place, with a great selection.

We ordered a few appetizers.  One of my favorites was the butter tasting, which had rolls and baguette served with a medley of butters.  Dan loved the one that was flavored like a potato chip, and I loved the one that was like an Italian sub.  It's hard to describe them eloquently, looking back, but they were smooth and delicious and fun.




We also ordered their Roasted Cauliflower (one thing they're definitely known for) and the Lamb Frites.  I'm not big on lamb, but Dan loved it, and I did try some.  Tasty!  As for the cauliflower, it was pretty good and I don't even usually like the stuff.  I've heard some people come here just for the appetizers!



For my main course, I had a delicious ahi tuna.  It was their special that day, and it had a mix of vegetables, a puree of some kind of rice and other things that was smooth as hummus, and it was all so fresh and plated beautifully.




Dan has the grilled lamb loin, served with feta filo clutch, pomegranate walnut sauce, lemon black olive tapenade, confit pearl onions, Tunisian poached apricots, mint relish, grilled okra.  Isn't the plating just so colorful and delicious?




My mother-in-law had the grilled filet, cabernet sauce, horseradish & caramelized onion tart, parmesan, broccoli, mustard seed tarragon butter.  I sampled a bit, and it was delicious too!




Overall, the service and meal we received at Etch was excellent.  While I felt like the entrees were overpriced (for comparable meals in Nashville, anyways) the appetizers were outstanding.  I'd go back with friends and order all of the appetizers, tapas-style and share those for a great night out!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Always Aubrey

As you may have noticed, I've made a few changes to ye olde blog.  Just over a year ago, I got some help redesigning my blog's layout and look (details here), and I LOVED it.  But I still wasn't convinced (honestly, even after five years here) that I loved my blog's name.  "Adventures in Aubreyland" was whimsical and fun, but it was also a mouthful.  I actually blushed telling people the name of my blog sometimes, because it doesn't work as well in conversation.  I also admittedly dislikid my associated social media handles, @aubreyland325, because of the number (I know, it's ridiculous, just understand I'm nuts).  So I moaned and groaned and went ahead with the redesign even though I wasn't loving the name.




I don't know what hit me, but after months of fiddling with ideas in my head, I looked at my blog signature and found it:  "Always Aubrey".  I've been signing letters, my diaries, and more like that ever since I was a teenager.  I had always liked the alliterative quality of it, and I could add a heart or "love" before it and it looked cute.  So that was my blog sign-off even before the redesign.  I was able to change my social handles to either @alwaysaubrey or @alwaysaubreyblog, which I liked.  The domain name was available.  My crowdsourced friends (tiny focus groups!) liked it.  It felt like kismet.

I didn't want to redesign my blog's layout, just the header, signature, and some other social elements.  So I decided to keep the color palette, and add to it.  You can see how I took my mood board for the redesign (left) and added one additional font, plus some floral elements purchased via Etsy, to give it all a fresh coat of paint.  I made a brand kit in Canva, and designed my elements there.



I haven't worked out all the kinks yet, so please bear with me.  You'll find a lot of my old links redirect to the main page instead of the post, or they're broken.

Because I'm a DIYer for the most part here, I decided I could put on my big girl panties and move domains and whatnot on my own.  Um, BLERGH.  My big girl panties are a little soiled right now after all of this!  I've asked for help, and I'm hoping to resolve things soon.  Yes, my web traffic will suffer.  But mostly it's just my stubborn pride.

Why do I think this name will stick?  Because in some manner, it's stuck with me for 15 years or so, and it's simple.  And sometimes simple is best, even if you manage to eff it all up as you're trying to get there.  And believe me, I want to get to there.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Le Sel

I will tell you, one of the perks of work is the occasional corporate dinner; you know, where you're taken someplace nice and delicious and not on your own dime.  And then you snap sneaky food photos of it while trying to "be cool" and not look like a weirdo...

I was blessed the opportunity to eat at Le Sel, the French-inspired (someone said New French, I don't know what that means) restaurant at the base of the Adelicia building in Midtown Nashville.  I arrived early and enjoyed a delicious drink in The Bar on their lower level.  It was a smart move; I ordered the Mercédés with gin, a cocktail with lemon, spiced pear, grapefruit, and elderflower.  (Have you sensed a theme lately, if you follow my cocktail trends?  Gin, grapefruit, elderflower...  LOL)  It was delicious.



But for dinner, it was on to the upstairs.  I love the look of the restaurant, and its bar below.  Lots of pink, black, and white...  It's the kind of place you'd want to take your girlfriends for a fancy dinner or night out.  The decor is beautiful, and they handled our larger group very well. They even had their sommelier come around to help us pick out some delicious wine.




Restaurant and Bar

The Bar (lower level)


We ordered a number of appetizers, but two stuck out to me: the pate and the burrata. (Note, they do print their menu based on the season, even daily as of my last visit.  So these options may not be available to you, but similar things could be!)


Pate is one of those things that people love or hate.  It's something that I didn't appreciate much, even when I was living in France, until now!  The pate at Le Sel was excellent, and I'd order it again and again.  So smooth, perfect on toast, and something that I'd eat every day if I could.




The housemade burrata was also delicious, especially with a little olive oil.  I'm lactose intolerant, but sometimes there are things worth the pain... and this is one of them!  Definitely tasty and worth ordering.




As for my main dish?  I must admit I was feeling kind of, well, basic that night in terms of being adventurous for my pick.  Therefore, I was craving steak frites... and these were so good!  Skinny, crispy fries, steak perfectly cooked, exactly what I was craving.  Doesn't it look divine?  I also think that when a restaurant can do the basics really well, it shows how good they are.  Fries are definitely a sort of benchmark for me at restaurants, even fancy ones, because they're seemingly simple but could go so wrong.  And steak of course, another one that can tell you whether they know what they're doing.




We ordered desserts to share, again something they change out quite a bit.  We had their version of a chocolate truffle and eclair, delicious sorbets, some kind of panna cotta, and of course some creme brulee.  By then, the wine was making me a little warm and fuzzy, so I can't recall my favorite of the night.  But I got pictures, for you to enjoy.






Overall, I'd come back to Le Sel.  There are a lot of fine dining places in Nashville, so I want to work my way around them first, but this is definitely one I'll keep in my bookmarks in Yelp.  Even if it's just for a cocktail!


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