All in a Year

We made it.
Well, I made it.
I feel like I should have something profound to say.
Like I should have gained enough wisdom to tell you how to move cross country at 21.
I have to be honest and tell you that I have no life changing wisdom to share.
I've got a story, and it starts like this:

God is good y'all.

Today is March 17th.
The day that little leprechauns make mischief and we wear green.
But today also marks my one year Nash-iversary.

A year ago today, I was so scared. So happy. So unsure.
I boarded a plane in Seattle and wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.
I would soon be renting my first apartment, working several nanny jobs, buying my second ever car, volunteering with equine therapists, finally attending my dream school, getting a roommate, feeling lost, moving apartments, meeting my best friend turned confidant turned big sister inspiration, nannying 7 children, and looking back on my first year in Music City.

Oddly enough, I don't have a lot of sappy wisdom to share with this post. 
Usually I would drone on about the things I have come to realize and how my life has changed, all while in complete tears, but this time I'm going to give you a simple list.

Here it goes, Ali's Top 10 things (you must say "ten" in your head with an accent almost like "tin") to know about moving/life/joy:

1. Label everything before you move. Create a master list too
2. Collard greens are your friend, so are boiled peanuts and Chick-fil-a frozen lemonade
3. Double check before you go for a de-stress run/walk that you haven't left the stove on
4. Humidity is not your friend
5. Don't wait, don't settle, don't dally. Act. Live a life without "I always wanted to..."
6. Pray. A lot
7. Call your mama
8. Call your dad when you're in the hardware store/have a flat and ask for help, but stay on the line to tell him you're fine as well
9. Live local, don't go for the newest apartment complex, you'll miss so much of the fun and charm
10. A year is a little ripple in time, use it well, but don't try and squash a life into a year

Thank you Tennessee, I'm so glad you're my home.
I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings in with my new year.

Gossip in Gingham - OOTD

This weekend Tennessee kissed us with a little taste of spring, finally.
If you know anything about southern weather, you have about 2.5 seasons. Winter, a month of spring and the majority of the year is spent baking in the humidity of summer. 
So, as temperatures reached 60 degrees all of Nashville surfaced from hibernation to play in the sunshine. The bestie and I spent our Saturday in 12th South, shopping around, trying our first ever 5 Daughters "100 layer" Donuts and revisiting a favorite, Burger Up.
 The warmer weather meant painted toes and sparkle sandals for me. But I still could not leave behind my favorite winter staple, the J.Crew vest
The vest and long sleeve button up provided just enough warmth for me to be able to bare my translucent ankles and cold toes for the day. 

 The whole outfit needed a pop of color, and my gorgeous pink Kendra Scott necklace did the trick.
I adore my little Draper James key chain attached to my new bag, courtesy of my all to generous dear friend. Did I mention the bag is reversible?! 

We ended our day at Centennial Park, in true southern style. Picnic blanket, sweet tea and good company make for the best weekend in my book.

Shop my outfit below:

DIY Gold Leaf Acrylic Monogram

I am probably lagging behind the trends, but I love all things acrylic.
I love acrylic frames, staplers, file boxes, tables, chairs; make it acrylic and I will probably want it.
The only thing that makes acrylic even better is gold foil.
After our fourth snow day in Nashville, I found myself beyond stir crazy. I had gotten out and walked in my favorite weather every day, hitting up Starbucks too many times to count and tip toeing along hoping to avoid slipping on ice, but still I needed to get out. I did not care where I went, I just wanted to be at least five miles away from my apartment that day. So, the roomie and I packed into her car and made our way out to run errands. Low and behold, we ended up at Michaels instead of buying groceries, yet again
Wandering the aisles, I stumbled upon acrylic monogram initials. I had seen these backed in patterns at Home Goods, but finding solid, good old plain acrylic monograms had been hard up to that point. I knew I had to get one right away. With Valentines day fast approaching, I snagged one for the goodie bag I was putting together for my bestie. A few days before our girls day, I realized the acrylic monogram on its own just was not enough. So, back to Michaels I went. This time, I found myself in the paint aisle, which also happens to house gold leaf in my local store. I knew immediately that the monogram just needed a little bit of gold and it would be perfect.
This DIY is so simple, yet it makes the best gift or glam desk accessory to personalize your space.


Acrylic monogram letter 
Gold leaf sheets (I used Martha Stewart's)
Mod Podge, or another glue/adhesive 
Paint brush for glue & one for brushing off leaf 
Start by brushing some glue or some sort of adhesive onto your letter.
Wherever you put the glue down, the gold foil should stick, so choose wisely.
Allow the glue to get slightly tacky. I found with Mod Podge this happened a lot more quickly than expected. Mine was ready to go in under a minute.
 Lay your letter down flat onto the sheet of foil.
Try not to get glue all over your surface, or in my case pick up faux fur with the sticky glue.
 Fold the foil sheet over, wrapping the letter in foil.
Using your hands or a dry stiff brush, smooth the foil down. At this point, you still have the plastic sheeting protecting the foil so really go at it.
Then, remove the plastic sheet and you are left with gorgeous gold foil.
I recommend flaking some of the foil off, very gently, with a dry stiff bristled brush.
This gives the whole thing a more organic, gold dipped effect.
Let dry fully and you have a gorgeous statement monogram for your desk or office walls.
Are you still riding the acrylic train?
Or am I the only one left?

two thousand and fifteen

2015 began with a little seed.
A seed of wonder, excitement, nerves and potential.
I actually picked this little seed up in 2014, after traveling to Nashville to run the Rock and Roll half marathon and celebrate my birthday. I had always liked the idea of southern roots, tracing mine back to my mama's sun kissed hair blowing in the Alabama heat. After spending a few days exploring Music City, something got to me. Maybe it was an 'itch,' or intuition. 
More likely though, it was God's simple nudge, letting me know that if I planted my roots, He would see to it that I would grow and be taken care of.
For a while after that, I set aside my Nashville dream. Not too far though, as it aways lingered in the back of my thoughts. I would see something relating to Nashville and think how funny it was that suddenly it was everywhere to me.
2015 began on the West Coast with my mama. I had no inkling that in just three months I would be miles away from her and those grey sand beaches, instead in Tennessee.
January passed without much excitement. My seed began to tug more and more in the pocket I had placed it, but nothing seemed to be right. If you have ever been barely twenty and trying to rent an apartment on a nonexistent credit score, you may understand why.
I spent my days delighting in the #littlebesties watching them grow into the two best girls I knew.
But my seed refused to change.
Have you ever watched a seed grow?
When I was in elementary school we used to take a seed in a baggie of water and tape it to the window to do just that. The first few days, nothing. Then, slowly but surely that little seed begins to crack open. Out grow tiny, spindly roots that ground the seed in its surroundings. Next, comes the bright green shoot out the top, reaching upwards toward the sun. Growing on and on as the days pass by.
In January, I was that stubborn seed, refusing to let anything break my shell.
Then, suddenly, February came.
Just like in the childhood experiment, fissures appeared. Certain people would trickle little water drops of knowledge and love down into it, forcing it to change. 
I was terrified. 
This little seed had been my safety, something that I liked to hold and think of, but certainly never intended to plant, let alone have mature into a real plant. But as nature goes, I had no control over what was happening. The sunlight continued to shine down onto me, chaining my carefully crafted world, whether I wanted it to or not.
March came right along, and it would be the thing that broke my seed in two.
I have mentioned before that God's timing truly was the only way I made it to Nashville in one semi-whole piece. To make a long story short, I found an apartment, booked a plane ticket and moved across the country in two weeks. My little seed shook and rattled in my jeans as I packed boxes, said goodbyes and listened to Ashley Monroe's "On To Something Good" as though my life depended on it. And, in a way, it did.
I would listen to her gorgeous voice signing out the upbeat lyrics, hoping they held some truth.
Funny enough, I had gathered Ashley's seed the year before on that inaugural trip I had mentioned. She had been one of the many wonderful singers on the stage at the Opry the night I went. At that time, I barely knew who she was. But I recognized one song vividly. So, as she walked onto stage and began sining "Like A Rose," I was right there with her. Hoping that one day, I too would come out like a rose.
I honestly lived in a sort of bubble the first three months I was in Nashville.
I had the most delicate roots planted in my apartment, spending the days singing to myself or trying to forget the hours separating my family and I.
I found a couple places I deemed 'safe' for my new surroundings, and I would dutifully go to work and then volunteer as time permitted.
Eventually, a friend from home moved in with me and gave me one big root to plant close to home. We spent the majority of the summer exploring our new city, but finding comfort in each other's Pacificnorthwest bond.
As the days became increasingly more sticky, and I wondered why humidity was ever a thing, my seed began to shoot out the top. I found out that, for the third time, I was accepted to a college whose seed I had picked up in 2014 as well. For whatever reason, this time, I knew it was the right time to plant that seed. Semi-awkward orientation came and went, I overloaded my course schedule and found worth again in my intellectual abilities.
Around this time, I met a blogger friend in person. God must have had a good laugh that day, because He knew we were destined to be in each other's lives forever. Just like in the Kate Spade video. And so, leaves began to emerge. I put my hand out to a girl I had chatted with where I volunteered, and we too hit it off. A family I had reached out to needed a new nanny and little did I know I would soon become #nannyplus7. 
October through December were the biggest blur.
I felt my little seed growing each time I dared let it, not to say things were perfect by any means.
There were a lot of downs. Of almost deep freezes, threatening to send us into a deep hibernation. But the sunny days far outweighed the storms. 
I began to realize all the things I had done since picking up that first shiny seed a year prior.
No giant flower adorned my head yet. But even still, I had moments of shining, florescent, green beauty for all to see. I was braver than I had ever been. Stronger. Wiser perhaps. Yet, still so naive. I laughed a lot. I cried when I needed to let go. 
But, most of all, I lived.
Really, deeply, in a way I never had before, I lived.
Two thousand and fifteen was, without a shadow of a doubt the best year of my life thus far.
Here is two thousand and sixteen being the year I finally let my seed mature, and let it's tale be witnessed by all who inquire.

Pictures following with short descriptions. After all, how will I remember it all with only words?

First Apartment:

New (to me) car, second car I purchased with my savings:
Running around town with Dad, scoring deals for furnishings:

An often needed reminder:
#LillyForTarget score:

Country Living Fair on My Birthday:
Greenway explorations:

Radnor Lake:
The Wasp Wall:

Summer Nanny Job:
Peach Truck!
Hiking Percy Warner w/ Roomie:

Burgess Falls w/Roomie (GORGEOUS):
Historical Tours w/Mom:
Just before moving out:

Care Packages for #LittleBesties:
And baby makes 7! #Nannyplus7
Popsicle & Some Perspective Amidst All the Changes:
A Cupcake (or two):
Snuggle Filled Visit Home:

First Sleepover w/Rachel:
Ben Rector Courtesy of Nanny Family:

Somedays were no good, so I studied my Bible:
Rachel's Showcase:
New Apartment!