Listen Here: Allen Stone

Have you heard Allen Stone yet? If not, you should definitely check him out. He is awesome. Here he is singing live, from his mother's basement in Seattle.

Don't believe me? Here are some nice things MTV says about him:

"Allow me to be blunt: Allen Stone has the best effing voice I've ever heard, and there's no two ways about it. Perhaps it's because Allen is literally the son of a preacher man or because he was raised on gospel music, but Stone seems to possess one of the most powerful set of pipes we've heard in a hot sec. And the public agrees: Allen's new self-titled album hasn't even been out a measly 48 hours, and it's already No. 2 on iTunes' R&B/Soul Charts. Oh, and did we mention he's still unsigned? Baller status."

Trust me, listen to Allen Stone. He's still new enough and unsigned, so if you start listening to him now, you'll just make the cut off of being the cool kid who was listening to him before he blew up. 

Wedding Registry 101

From my own wedding to all of the others I've been to, here the best tips and tricks I've learned about registering for gifts. Check it out after the jump...

Telling My Stories: Inspiration from Anne Lamott

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of hearing author Anne Lamott speak about her life, books, spirituality and family. A large part of her presentation focused on writing; her own process, methodology, struggles and advice for those who have just begun to write. It was fortunate timing for me as I’ve been doing more writing lately than normal with the launch of our blog in January. One of my hopes for this blog is to get more comfortable with writing and to begin to own my voice. It was inspiring to hear Lamott say that she still (after 12 best sellers!) “has no confidence in her writing.” She calls the critical voices in her head the “boo” voices who are telling her she isn’t a good writer, has nothing to say, and no one wants to hear her stories. But she said there is another voice in there that says “give it a shot, I want to hear what you have to say.”  Her motto is anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Lamott is dedicated to making her gift for storytelling a reality by disciplining herself to getting them down on paper...and for every paragraph that is published in her books, there are 2-3 pages of writing that don’t get included. She advised us to write A LOT in a draft and then do an updraft and take out all the extraneous info that people don’t need to hear (at least two thirds).

Anne Lamott challenged me to own my stories, the big ones and the little stupid ones. To be confident and disciplined enough to write them down and share them. And really this is what our blog is all about: owning our stories, the things that happen to us, the moments that we enjoy, that bring happiness and laughter to our lives. We want to share with the world all the things that make life good, whether that’s a night out with the girls, overcoming insecurities, fresh spring grass between our toes, or the simply joy of a cup of tea.

Lamott wrote a book called, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, that I’m now eager to pick up. Have any of your read it? Seems like it could be instructive, and she is hilarious.

At the end of her talk, she gave all budding writers in the audience one piece of advice, always carry a pen! I've got a few in my purse, along with my trusty iPhone which I took copious notes on during her presentation. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne!

(Pietro Rotari painting from Art Experts)

Linking up to Finding Beauty in the Ordinary

T-Shirt Scarf

We are on Mr. Kate! And here's the story of how it happened. Way back at Thanksgiving, my sister and I wanted to do a craft project together. We thought it would be nice to do something creative while we are all sitting around and staring at each other in a trypotpaen induced haze. We decided to try the t-shirt scarf tutorial from Mr. Kate. It was super fun and easy.

The finished product definitely wins the prize for oddest variety of people complimenting it. The first day I wore it a woman who appeared drunk on the street stopped me to tell me how much she liked it. It was also approved of by a very stylish friend and the guy bagging my kombucha at Whole Foods gave me a , "Whoa, cool scarf!"

I typically stick to crafting projects that don't involving sewing or anything too complicated and this is one of those: an old t-shirt, some broken jewelry, scissors and and a glue gun is all you need. It's a great option for a present too!
We ended up sending a few pictures in to Mr. Kate and she just featured us on her blog! Check out the tutorial and pictures here.

Oscar Fever!

Did you catch the Academy Awards last night? What were your favorite moments of the show?

I loved seeing both of the Best Supporting Actor awards presented. Octavia Spencer had me tearing up when she won for her fabulous performance in The Help. Then Christopher Plummer got Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners at age 82, the oldest ever to receive the award. If you haven't seen Beginners yet, I'd highly recommend it, one of my favorite movies I've seen as of late.

Who did you think was best dressed? I loved Jessica Chastain's look, her hair is so gorgeous. 

Gwyneth also looked amazing! It was cute hearing her talk about getting ready with Cameron Diaz in her red carpet interview.

Loved the color of Viola Davis' dress

How adorable is Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin?

This was a funny moment between Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, plus Brad and Angie are looking fabulous as always in the fore-screen.

(both gif images from

Check out the winner for Best Animated Short Film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on YouTube, it's worth a watch. 

PS. Apparently Angie's right leg has it's own Twitter account already. :) 

(Top image from

Monday Motivation

A lovely excerpt from the poem "Starlings in Winter" by Mary Oliver

Friday Roundup

Well, we've had a great week! Finally launched the blog and getting lots of positive response. You like us, you really like us! We'd love to hear what you think of the posts in the comments (it's still a work in progress) and appreciate you sharing anything you enjoy to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or your social media site of choice.

Here's some amusement from around the web to keep you entertained over the weekend while we are out and about. Teresa will be attending a baby shower for her niece who's arriving in April. She's already spoiling this still in utero baby! Being an aunt is going to be fun.

Speaking of babies, these clothes are adorable and 30% off for the rest of the month.

Check out this slideshow of pictures that capture the 90's. If you hadn't noticed yet, we are on a bit of a 90's nostalgia kick these days...

Super interesting letter from a former slave to his old master.

Make your own leg warmers/boot socks.

Think Geek is selling a Hunger Games Cookbook! Although we don't really recall wanting to eat any of the foods they mentioned in the book...The caption says "From Lamb Stew to Groosling!" What's a groosling?

This watch. Yes.

Have you ever seen a conversation pit? How sweet would it be to have one in your house!

Cuteness overload. Cat lovers prepare yourselves.

J Crew's Maxi dresses are getting me excited for summer.

Mad Men trailers! It's finally coming back on the air!

Fun fonts for free!

Are you planning to watch the Oscars this weekend? Great article about women nominees this year. And check out this Party Kit the Academy put out, complete with ballots and bingo. Wouldn't it be fun to have a ticket to the show! Here's one from 1965 and the picture above is Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews at the Oscars that year.

Click here to follow us via bloglovin! 

(images via Academy of Achievement and Hollywood Golden Guy)

Life Saver: Dry Shampoo

This stuff is AMAZING! I walked into work yesterday morning without having washed my hair for three days and got compliments on my “messy updo” after using this fabulous dry shampoo. Although it’s a bit pricey, it’s totally worth it for the time and energy saved in not having to wash, dry, straighten, curl, etc as often. I’m in love.

Girl Power! 90's Fictional Characters Who Shaped Me

I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately. I don't know what started it. Perhaps its all the crushed velvet and neon that seems to be coming back in style and then what would have been Kurt Cobain's 45th birthday this week. A 90's music post is forthcoming, but for now, my list of the fictional 90's girls whom I looked up to and aspired to be like.

1.  Clarissa Darling, Clarissa Explains It All. 
Clarissa was all around awesome. I wanted her room, clothes, hair, sweet computer skills and ladder climbing best friend Sam. Remember her pet alligator, Elvis, who lived in a wading pool in her room? Also, looking back on it, I was definitely positively influenced by her confidence and creativity. The actress who played her, Melissa Joan Hart just wrote a piece for Bullet, her take on where Clarissa is now.

2. The Tanner sisters of Full House. 
While I idolized DJ and her awesome hair, I related more to Stephanie in her dorky ways: glasses, allergies, trying to fit in with the cool girls and I wanted my real life little sister to have funny catch phrases like Michelle. I spent a good chunk of my childhood trying to get people to sit in a line and play with each other’s hair like they do in the opening credits.

3. Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), 10 Things I Hate About You
So, obviously, one of the reasons I thought she was sooooo cool was because Heath Ledger’s character fell for her, but, she definitely had a intellectual bad ass thing going on too. She made being brainy and feminist a sexy thing to do in my 15 year old opinion, although I still haven’t gotten around to reading the Feminine Mystique.

4. The Baby Sitters Club
A big thanks to Ann M. Martin for encouraging girls across America to not only earn money, but start their own businesses. I know I learned a lot of  practical tips about childcare from the 100+ books I read in this long running series. I wanted to be sophisticated and stylish like Stacey, or beautiful and artistic like Claudia but in reality, I was more of a awkward and bookish Mallory.

5. Tie!  
This one is a tie between all of the characters out there that fall into the “girls want to be her, boys want to date her” catagory. Kelly Kapowski (Saved by the Bell)  Topanga Lawerence (Boy Meets World), and Winnie Cooper (The Wonder Years) are all great examples. All smart, sweet, beautiful, assertive young ladies, pined after by male characters on their shows and 13 year old boys everywhere.

6. The Ladies of Clueless
Are you already writing this one off as being totally superficial? As if! Cher is like totally a betty with heart. If you'll recall, the plot of the movies revolves around Cher realizing there is much more to life than clothes an popularity and she starts to help people. Making volunteering, donating clothes to charities and the likes seem totally cool to girls like me. Dionne was always my favorite though, I appreciated her overuse of the word "phat". Did you know the plot is based on Jane Austen's Emma?

What '90's characters most influenced you? I'd love to hear in the comments.

Drink of the Month: Rooibos Tea

I’m a tea lover. On an average day I drink between one and five cups of tea (or more at work!).  I enjoy all types of tea: green, earl grey, jasmine, peppermint, Irish breakfast, calming, medicinal. But my very favorite tea is rooibos. This tasty, caffeine-free red tea is grown in the Western Cape province of South Africa and is now popular all over the world. Patrick and I spent six months in Pretoria, South Africa in 2010 and it seemed like nearly everyone drank rooibos all day long. Most people there drink it with lots of milk and sugar but it can be sipped plain, with honey and lemon, or iced. Some places in South Africa are now even offering Red Cappuccinos made from rooibos.

Lucky for me, rooibos is also an antioxidant and said to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. In South Africa, rooibos is used as a traditional medicine to alleviate allergies, asthma, colic in babies, and dermatological problems. What types of tea do you enjoy? Would you try a rooibos tea cocktail?

Cute photo taken by Jenny of her rooibos tea steeping in a cute mug from one of my favorite stores.

Wedding Wednesday: Three Tips for the Big Day

I’ve been to a lot of weddings. A LOT. Close to 300. Crazy, right? When I’m not blogging, I’m a professional photographer. My husband and I have our own company called JKoe Photography. We have been shooting weddings for almost 10 years now and in that time,  I have seen pretty much everything: the good, the bad, the totally unbelievable. One time, I helped a mother of the bride put her spanx on. After all of these weddings, Jason and I have come up with three pieces of advice, the three essential tips for having a beautiful, fun and stress free wedding. We share with this with all of the couples we work with and now, here it is for all of you:


Consider this a PSA for anyone like me who has spent hours unsuccessfully trying on every pair of boots at Nordstrom because their calves are not the uniform circumference as decided upon by the likes of Steve Madden and Frye. Duo is a British brand that makes boots in different calf widths. So you can get them as skinny or wide as you need. I stumbled upon the brand by googling "skinny boots" a few years ago and immediately ordered a pair. My Duo boots have held up really well and I still get compliments every time I wear them, so much better than walking around looking like a 5 year old trying on their dad's shoes.

Read This: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

How could you NOT want to read a book that has this on the back of it?

Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns has been one of my favorite reads this winter. Have you read it yet? Here's a great excerpt about chick flicks that was published in The New Yorker. After reading the article, I immediately ran out and got the book, finishing it in 24 hours. Since then, I've been buying it as a gift and forcing my copy into the hands of unsuspecting house guests. Teresa, I can't believe you have escaped me for this long, take a break from Game of Thrones, you're borrowing my copy next. Anyone who enjoyed Tina Fey's Bossypants as much as you did will love this one too.

Kaling strikes a great balance between hilarity and honesty. I love people who don't take themselves too seriously.  Check out her website, where she blogs about everything from yoga pants to The Royal Tenenbaums. This is were I found the back cover photo (above) and her witty explanation as to why she chose to share it with the world.

Sporty Milestone

Indulge me as I reflect back on the most sporty year of my life. Last February, after discovering my startlingly high resting heart rate (nearly 90 BPM!) at one of those machines in the drug store,  I decided that I was going to become a jogger. Mind you, this was not the first time that I resolved to start running. There was 7th grade cross-country (last place at my first meet, yikes), high school when I took up jogging for about two weeks with my super-fit mom, and college when all of my roommates were jogging and I tried to join them but eventually settled instead on a new-found love for yoga.

So that brings us to last winter when I once again resolved to hit the pavement 3-4 times a week and get my heart in healthy shape. I bought some women’s health magazines, surfed the net for running regimens and made a new jogging play-list on my iPod.

And amazingly, this time, I actually did it. That’s right, I am officially a jogger. It started more as wogging (ahem, walk-jogging) and slowly, slowly (6-8 months) evolved into what I am now proud to say is about a 11 minute mile! Some of you out there may not be too impressed by this, but anyone who knows me is downright shocked by my transformation into a jogger.

Blackrock Park where I started my weekly jogs, Dublin, Ireland

So, you may be asking, what was the difference this time? Why did it stick now and not before? I think the answer is that instead of wanting to become a “runner” or finally be “athletic” I just wanted to get my heart pumping, sweat a little and be more active. Truthfully, I have no idea how fast I run (slow) because I’ve never even timed myself. If I feel gross, I just walk a lot and jog a little. The important thing is I get out there and do it.

Stretching after a run at Lake Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps

One of the highlights of 2011 for me was when I was able to keep up with Patrick as we jogged through the streets of Rotterdam, Prague, Barcelona, and Vienna. We traveled for three weeks together and made a point of getting up early one day in every city and doing a jogging tour around town. We took pics on our phones, took in the empty streets, and had a delicious breakfast at the end as a reward. 

P and I after a long run through Rotterdam, Netherlands

I have no desire to ever run a marathon but I’m hoping to do my first 5k in 2012, and I have to say, I’m feeling great about it.

PS. My other blogs on being sporty: Sporty vs Athletic and Sporty on Skates. How do you keep healthy? Jenny and I are thinking about trying a Barre class soon!

Monday Motivation

(Photo via STG Theater Group)

Friday Roundup

Happy Friday! Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Teresa and I are having a girls night and going to dinner with friends at Palace Kitchen. The rest of my weekend will be spent hoping for sun, as we have a few photo shoots scheduled. Perhaps some cooking will happen too.

Here's one dish I want to try this weekend, Quinoa Mac & Cheese.

Then maybe some no-bake cookies for dessert. Am I the only one that was obsessed with no-bakes as a child? I think Teresa was too, she's the one who found the recipe. I'll have to share the cookies with her I guess... especially since they are gluten free!

Here's a great way to wrap books as gifts. So many thoughtful touches.

Looking for a good movie this weekend? I saw this one the other day and liked it enough that I'd actually go again. It's very original and it takes place in Seattle!

Hello Giggles has a post that made me smile, Famous Ladies and Their Cats.

Patterned tights.

Did you know, if you send Mickey and Minnie Mouse a wedding invite, you'll get a response? Here are the details.

What NOT to name your baby.

Incase you want to sound posh and work words and phrases like "holidaymaker", "serviette" or "cheerio" into your vocabulary, wikipedia has a page entitled List of British Words Not Widely Used in the US. There are also things like "bum bag" and "shonky". It's a fun list.

One last thing. I pinned this on pinterest the other day but it's getting no love. So, I'm forcing you to read it here. Enjoy!

A Weekend In: Portland

Patrick and I spent Valentine’s Weekend exploring the great city of Portland, Oregon. We both started new jobs this fall so it’s been a crazy season for us and we were looking forward to our weekend away. How appropriate to spend V-day weekend in the City of Roses! We spent three days eating delicious food, walking the waterfront, indulging in rich desserts and cocktails, and people watching on the streets of Stumptown.

Here are some of the highlights of the weekend. (Disclaimer: As you can see from the list below, we are foodies.  As much as we love to take in local culture, sight see, shop, etc, we tend to eat our way through the cities we visit, seeking out and devouring all the best local goodies.)

(photo via GlutenFree Portland)
Fabulous desserts at Papa Haydn (they have gluten-free cheesecake!)

Fresh and locally grown brunch at Tasty N Sons - try their bacon wrapped dates, to die for!
Lovely walks through the eclectically weird and wonderful Pearl District and lovely Portland waterfront.

(Photo via Flickr)
Sipping Stumptown Coffee and browsing the endless books at Powell’s.

One-of-a-kind cocktails and delicious local seafood at Beaker and Flask.

Things we want to do next time we visit: tour Portland's famous rose gardens, spend a night at the luxurious Nines or hip Ace Hotel, check out one of the local brewery’s (Deschutes looked like a fun place to hit up! Did you know one of Portland’s nicknames is Beervana?!), and eat a few strangely delicious Voodoo Donuts.

PS. Portlandia hit the nail on the head with this one:

Accessorize With: the Circle Scarf

Have you heard of the Circle Scarf from American Apparel? It's one long, super-comfy, infinity scarf that can be worn tons of different ways. It's so versatile that it can be thrown on casually or dressed up for a work environment. It can also be worn as a traditional scarf, as a dress, or (for the especially brave) a head wrap.

I'm wearing one belted with black pants and long sleeved shirt today at work. Trying to stop myself from buying one in every color!

Valentines Day- An Excuse to Do What You Love!

I've never really been a huge fan of Valentines Day itself, but I really do love any reason to bring some joy and excitement to the dreary month of February. Last year, since Jason was shooting in India, a girlfriend and I put together a fun day of activities. We started off in the studio audience of a local TV show, watching friends perform. Totally random, I know, but actually really fun and interesting to see what goes into a live broadcast. AND, added bonus, everyone there got a couple's Snuggie! We spent the rest of the day eating at two of our favorite restaurants, painting pottery, watching movies and eating sweets. 
The audience was forced to wear the Snuggies and cheer loudly.
 I was thankful to have a seat in back.

This year, thanks to Pinterest, I'd found great ideas for all things red, pink, chocolate and heart shaped and was getting excited to create and bake. Then, I was stricken with some sort of crazy debilitating death-flu right after I got back from Kenya last week and those plans went out the window. No one wants me to make them parasite filled bon bons, and I don't have the energy to anyway. I'm finally feeling better and will be spending the evening with Teresa, doing whatever we feel like, and that's what Valentine's day should be about. Doing whatever you love to do with people that you care about. 

PS. Looking for a great romantic movie? Check out my post on Two for the Road. It is one of my favorites!