"To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one's Mother's side, is an Introduction to any state in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Above."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First Blog Award

I want to thank Annie of Classic Annie for giving me the Sugar Doll award. She's made a new blogger feel welcome, and I really do enjoy visiting her blog. You should check it out!

And here are the rules that go with the badge:

Thank the person who gave you the award, share ten things about yourself, pass this award onto ten bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fantastic and finally contact the bloggers to let them know you’ve picked them for an award.

And here are 10 random things about me:

1.I'm a litigation attorney.

2. I once had a witness ask me out while I was cross-examining him on the witness stand.

3. I love to cook and bake. I don't always have a lot of time during the week, but I cook a lot on weekends.

4. I'm working on various renovation projects in the house, so it's hard for me to have people over. Not being able to entertain is making me a little down because I love having people over and cooking for them.

5. I love to travel, and will go anywhere I have a chance to go. Most recently, that was a jaunt to Kingsmill in Williamsburg, but I think my favorite place to go has been Austria. I lived and worked there for a few months in college.

6. I want to leave the world around me better than I found it, and I enjoy doing volunteer work and helping with causes I believe in. I do a lot of volunteer work with a local domestic violence shelter where I teach classes on repairing your credit, how to read a lease/not get taken advantage of in finding housing, etc..

7. My favorite color is green - just about any shade of it.

8. I enjoy a good cup of tea. It can be just me, lounging by the window with a book or shared with a group. I just enjoy it.

9. I love to read, and it seems that there are never enough bookcases in the house to suit me.

10. I have a husband and three cats, and I adore them all quite madly.

And here are 10 of the wonderful bloggers who have made a newbie feel right at home online!

1. Lexilooo
2. Dixie Gator Gal
3. Whitney and the Preppy Puppy
4. Southern Living: Preppy Style
5. The Preppy Princess
6. I Do Declare
7. Worthy Style
8. Windy Poplars
9. The Company She Keeps
10. If I Can't Wear Heels...I Don't Want to Go

Hope everyone has a lovely Wednesday!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blackberry Pie Season

Blackberry season marks one of my favorite things about June. The lady who cooked for my grandmother had a wonderful recipe with an absolutely perfect crust, and I have an aunt who used to make pies from the berries that grew along her back border. I very rarely have time to bake, but I really do love the blackberry pies from Mom's Apple Pie Company in northern Virginia. The company is based in Leesburg, but they also have a shop in Occoquan for those on the eastern side of northern VA.

The owner of the store grows blackberries on her farm for the pies and they're only available certain times of the year. When I saw a flyer proclaiming that blackberry pies were in, I immediately found an excuse to detour out to Occoquan to get a treat to bring into work this morning. It was worth the little drive - the blackberries in this pie tasted so fresh!

Blackberries this year have been excellent, with just the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It makes for a delicious pie. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. I saw this shop's blackberry pie featured in an issue of Southern Living that I was flipping through at the vet's office this morning.

For those who don't know northern Virginia, Occoquan is a quaint little fishing village on the Potomac River that has been there for over 200 years. Nowadays, not much fishing goes on and their famous grist mill burned down after running 175 years. However, with the ever sprawling expansion of the federal government, there are plenty of people living in the area who travel to Occoquan to ooh and aah over the cute little town and enjoy a view of the river from the restaurants and cafes. It's a very fun place to get away from DC traffic for an afternoon. Mom's Apple Pie Company is set back from the river and shares space with a general store. I love the cute little gingerbread men decorating the front of the building, and the contents of the pie shop are even more delightful.

Smells Like a Monday #3 - Un Lys

I've written about lilies of the valley and Diorissimo. Now for lilies, and one of my very favorite lily scents. My perfume this morning is a little more obscure, but very lovely. One will not find it at Sephora or perfume counters everywhere, but it's worth the search. Un Lys, made by Serge Lutens, is a lily soliflore (scent focused on a single fragrance note) that has a clear and luminous quality about it.

Serge Lutens is more well-known as master of darker and more unusual scents, but with Un Lys, it is clear that this perfume house can do florals beautifully as well. When condensed down to its notes, the perfume sounds deceptively simple - lilies, green leaves, musk and vanilla. However, the perfumer has blended it so well that one cannot help noticing how polished it seems. It just seems to drift over one gently while being worn and I find the clarity of the lilies quite surprising. There's a certain crispness to it that keeps the floral notes from being too sweet or smothering.

As you can probably guess, Un Lys is a very feminine scent, but I wouldn't describe it as frilly or girly. It has too much polish for that. Serge Lutens scents are notorious for being difficult to find as many from the line are available only in Europe. However, Un Lys has been given limited release in the United States and can be found at Luckyscent. You can also buy samples and smaller decants of this one at The Perfumed Court.

I find Un Lys one of those rare scents that works both for day and for evenings out. I wear it to work a lot, particularly in the spring. It matches well with things like my wedgwood blue skirt suit. And it's also pretty for weddings or evening events with a pretty dress like this one from J. Crew:

Hope everyone has a lovely Monday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fashion Dilemma Resolved

I posted recently about my hunt for a white eyelet skirt. I did try to resurrect my much-loved older skirt, but no such luck. I tried the RIT as recommended, and while some of the yellow came out, the skirt still doesn't look wearable. However, Lilly Pulitzer to the rescue! I did some more digging around online and found a lovely Magnolia skirt in my size on EBay. It just came in today's mail, and I think it will be exactly what I wanted. It's not too overly dressy, but it's still very pretty and feminine. If you'd like a better idea of what the lace pattern looks like close-up, here is the same skirt in pink:

I'm going out to dinner with extended family tomorrow, and I think that will be the perfect occasion to debut my new skirt.

Follow Friday

Today is Follow Friday over at Maryland Pink and Green! I'm a very new blogger, so I've been finding fun blogs over there. Bethany at Maryland Pink and Green is trying to get 50 blogs listed for people to follow, so hop on over there and put up your link.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pink and Green Thursday - the "I Spy" edition

This week I'm playing along for my first Pink and Green Thursday. I thought I'd post some goodies I'd seen in my travels around the internet. First up is Beauty Story, which is having a sale on Caron perfumes. They don't do referral links, but if you'd like an invite, please email me and I'll get you one. Among the treasures there today is the soft, powdery Fleurs de Rocaille. This one has been around since 1934, and is a beautiful, very feminine scent. And doesn't it look lovely?

The men aren't left out either. For them, we've got the nice green of Caron pour Homme. Isn't that a lovely shade of green?

And then I headed over to my budget downfall - EBay. That place gets me every time! I saw all kinds of lovely pink and green on offer there, and here are a few highlights. First of all, I am in love with this Lilly Pulitzer girls' dress. I had one very similar when I was little!

And this craft ribbon is pretty cute too:

I also like this pink and green glass vase.

Though for a real handbag, Etsy has all kinds of options. This print from DragonDesigns has a very retro look and I'd wear it to spice up one of my neutral work suits.

And for the babies and toddlers, here's a little headband from PrincynParis:

Hope everyone has a good pink and green day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Favorite Pajamas Ever

When I was small, I used to get Lanz of Salzburg nightgowns as presents every year. They have their charm, but I'm glad I grew up and discovered pajamas. There's something almost glamourous about swanning around in one's pajamas, reading a good book. Some of my favorite memories involve being in the living room of a suite in Kingsmill in a crisp pair of cotton PJs reading a good book and basking in the breeze from the open balcony door. And then there's the winter evenings curled in in flannel with a cup of cocoa and a purring cat. Lovely ways to wind down the day.

My very favorite pajamas these days come from Needham Lane. Not only are these comfortable, but this company designs the most beautiful prints! Seriously, just go to their site and check these out. I like most of the prints there, but this one (Tulips) is the one I'm currently longing for. What do you think?

Winters get chilly here, so I live in my flannels, but for summer, I love the short sleeved capri sets. The fabric is lovely, and the cut of the tops is very flattering. I feel almost Grace Kellyish in mine - there's something about them that just makes one more elegant. And now I must find the perfect tea and good book to go with them....
Edited to add - I just got an email from Needham Lane! They are running a sale right now, and you can get 40% off of all bamboo sleepwear. The code is Bamboo40, and it's good through Sunday, June 27.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer

Happy summer to all! Even though it was well into the 90s here, it was still a satisfying first day of summer. No lazing about the beach for me, but I still had sunny joy aplenty. It was an unusually quiet Monday, and I knew I had fun things waiting for me when I got home.

It is National Wear Your Lilly Day and while I couldn't do that at work, I came straight home and threw on a little shift. It's not pink and green, but I love it!

If anyone knows the name of this print, do enlighten me. I know the names of a couple of my Lilly prints, but not this one. Here's a closer look:

I had a political fundraiser to go to for a candidate running this fall, so I had a fun evening of eating yummy cookout food and beer. I got to meet some more of the local political crowd and chat with old friends as well as meeting some interesting new ones. There was one man there who works in preservation of historic buildings. He had all manner of fascinating stories to tell from his research. Next time I walk through the historic district, I won't look at it quite the same way.

It was a very pleasant way to start the week. Hope everyone else out there is having a lovely Monday!

Smells Like a Monday #2 - Faith Hill

This week, I'm wearing a perfume that breaks quite a few rules that have been drummed into me from the time I was a wee small child. As a child, I remember watching my mother get ready for the day or sitting at my great-aunt's feet in her parlor and learning all manner of beauty rules. Not only should a lady not overpower others with her fragrance, but I also learned not to wear "cheap" drugstore perfume or scents named after celebrities.

As I grew up and travelled and lost my luggage in various locales, I learned two more things on my own. Thing #1 - some of the "cheap" perfumes are so finely blended that no one would ever guess they came from Target or CVS, and Thing #2 - given the vagaries of modern travel, it's best not to pack one's greatest treasures to take along on a trip. I kept these in mind when I sampled Faith Hill last year, and instantly began to adore it.

First of all, this is an absolutely beautiful floral fragrance. It has a sweet and deeply feminine quality without being overpoweringly heavy. It's the sort of thing I like to take with me to the Outer Banks. I can wear it to dinner and/or drinks on a warm summer evening and it just works perfectly. Something about that sweet floral drifting on the warm sea air just creates a very soft, romantic atmosphere. Matched up with a breezy white sundress like this one from J.Jill and a big straw hat, the world feels a little more civilized.

The notes of Faith Hill which I got from Now Smell This sound like a Southern belle's dream to me. They are pear, neroli, pink peony, magnolia, gardenia, jasmine, cashmere skin musk, iris and vetiver. Celeb scents may raise eyebrows in some circles, but this one really is beautiful. It gives off a lovely Southern lady vibe and even if it does break a few rules, I really do enjoy this feminine, easy-to-wear fragrance. From what I've seen of her on television, Faith Hill seems like a graceful person and a wonderful performer, and her fragrance does her credit.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Nowadays, I know so many fathers. While my college friends' families were (and still are) scattered all over the place, my circle of friends here in town all seem to have family nearby. So I not only socialize with my friends, but with their parents, their in-laws, and so on. I enjoy it, and I see so many close-knit families.

I'm also at a point in my life where many of my friends are having children. There is something startling and very touching about watching these friends fall in love with their babies, and become good protectors of them. It's an amazing transformation, and a glimpse into a deeply sacrificial love that many see but of course most men won't ever get gushy about. Especially not the traditional southern WASP gentlemen of my acquaintance.

And then there's my dad. I could tell sappy stories, but I know that's not his thing. A nice glass of wine and a good joke are much more up his alley. So, I'll just say that you mean so much to me. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Proposal Story

I'm feeling inspired by the sweet story on DixieGatorGal's blog , so I thought I'd join in the Share Your Life fun and write my proposal story, too. My DH and I had been friends for YEARS before we ever started dating. Even though we went to college together and were friends through church and a Christian fellowship we both joined, we didn't start dating until I was most of the way through my graduate program.

At the beginning of my last year, we had been dating six months and I just knew he was the one. Actually, pretty much everyone around had decided he was the one. We must have been giving off quite the powerful vibe. He was out of school and working 2 hours away, so he would usually come visit me on the weekends.

This weekend seemed to start off like any other. My roommate was acting rather mysterious, but since we were coming up on fall break, I just thought he had something fun and special planned for the break. Apparently I am Captain Clueless. I thought he might propose at graduation, or maybe even Christmas, but I had no idea what was coming. I thought it would be a very nice weekend just like the other wonderful weekends we had spent together. This might explain why I did not put extra effort into straightening my hair or agonizing over the most perfect date night outfit. I had time to clean up and put on a pretty sundress before my sweetie got to town, but from what I've seen in pictures, my hair that night looked pretty unique.

It was a beautiful evening, and so we drove to Lexington. He suggested going for a walk, and asked me where my favorite place was there. I loved walking around the chapel and out by the colonnade, so we went meandering on down there. We stopped to sit on the wall by the chapel, and he started telling me how much he loved me and that he wanted us to be married and stay together forever. Suddenly, next thing I know, he is pulling out a little box and getting down on one knee. That was the point at which I understood what people meant by tears of joy, because I certainly had them. It was a magical evening, and I just knew that I was with the man I was meant to stay with always.

My parents were down at the beach house, so we went back to my place(I don't think we even stopped to get dinner) and called them to tell them about the engagement. It was at this point that I started to figure out that pretty much everyone knew what was going to happen that night except me. My now-DH had plotted with my brother to get the number to the beach house so he could call my parents in advance. He had also been in touch with my roommate getting her to figure out my ring size. When I found out later just how much care he had put into learning about jewelry and stones and picking out a ring, I was so touched.

I got to have the rare joy of blending wedding planning with being a student. Driving all over creation for dress fittings and cake tastings was a blast, but trying to fit it in around actually getting my thesis written and defended was a little hair-raising. Still, it was a wonderful time, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Fashion Dilemma - White Eyelet Skirt Edition

So, here's my problem. I have an old J.Crew skirt that I love. It's white eyelet lace with a thin gauzy white underskirt. It hits just below the knee, and is a lovely full/A-line skirt. However, since it's old, it's starting to yellow and get too dingy to wear. I've been looking for a replacement, but most of the white eyelet skirts I see are short, flouncy minis like the Banana Republic one in the picture up top. Some of them are cute, but not really what I'm looking for.

I've been hunting around online, but haven't found too many possible replacements. I saw this pretty skirt from Lafayette 148 at Bloomingdales.

However, it's made of linen. I like linen in the abstract, but when I wear it, I have a tendency to look like I've been sleeping in my clothes. Some people look adorably rumpled in linen. I, on the other hand, look like a moderately well-groomed vagrant.

The other skirt I saw online, which I actually like a lot, is from Garnet Hill.

I think that lace is just breathtakingly pretty. I'm seriously tempted to splurge on this skirt, but it's more formal and more lacey than what I had in mind. Eyelet can be dressed up or down, but this seems a little more dressy and it doesn't have that charming quality eyelet often does. Lilly Pulitzer sometimes has cute white dresses and skirts, but I didn't see any white eyelet skirts when I checked the website this time around.

So, if it's not too presumptuous for a new blogger to ask a favor, has anyone seen a good eyelet skirt out there? Thanks and happy Friday!

How Much is Too Much?

I'm a big believer in perfume. I just don't feel polished and "done" if I don't have a little dab of it on when I leave in the morning. However, I'm noticing a distressing number of people who seem to be marinating themselves in either Red Door or Angel. Personally, it wouldn't take much of either one to smother me in this heat, and these folks are not using just a little spritz here and there.

I was always taught that a lady's perfume should never enter the room before her. I also remember seeing my grandmother spray her perfume once and them walk through it. Personally, I can see some fragrances such as light citrus cologne needing a little more than just 1 walked-through little spray. There's a lot of ground between the single walk-through and the woman whose scent can be detected and identified by diners halfway across a crowded restaurant.

So, what do you think? How much perfume is just too much?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I just saw that Le Creuset will be on Ruelala on Friday. I've been wanting a dutch oven like my mother's for a while, so I'm hoping they'll have those in the mix. If you're not a Ruelala member and you're interested in checking it out, consider yourself invited.

It all starts at 11:00 on June 18, 2010

Why BBR?

So, why do I call my corner of the internet Beyond the Blue Ridge? Well, the short answer is that I live out beyond the Blue Ridge now. More importantly, though, I grew up in the foothills of the mountains and my life once revolved around family visits and events in that area and in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. No matter where I roam, that is my center.

My current town actually does feel like home and I have no immediate plans to leave, but there will always be something about the Blue Ridge that will pull me back. After all, this is the place where my earliest memories were formed, where my parents and their parents grew up. It's actually where many generations of family lived - all the way back to the first ones who moved in from another part of Virginia in the 1760s! My grandmother's sister still lives on property purchased by a forebear of mine in 1853 and even though many in my family have travelled away for various reasons, this region never truly stops being home to us.

So, no matter where I move and no matter what I do, I tend to think of myself in relation to my home mountains. And coming from a world that looks like this, is it any wonder?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where's That Pink and Green?, or Preppy Confessions

One of my college friends saw my last blog post and emailed to tease me about the absence of pink and green attire. Sad but true. I love pink and green, but since I'm a natural redhead, there's just not a lot of it in my wardrobe. I'm just not fated to wear the pink. I decorate with it all the time, and my DH is so kind about all those pink and green floral arrangements. However, I just can't wear it well unless it's on my accessories. Hence the picture in my last blog post. Now navy and kelly green? I'm there!

Note: That cake photo is from the Retro Bakery out in Las Vegas.

School Clothing Drive!

Schools aren't even out yet for the summer, but my big summer volunteer project is already in full swing. I grew up in a town with an active Junior League and have now found myself living in a place which, while wonderful, is located over an hour away from the nearest JL chapter. You have no idea how much I wish we had Junior League. However, through my church and through Zonta (service league for business/professional women), I've found wonderful groups of women who have banded together to really make a difference.

One of my favorite projects is the summer collection of clothing. We collect and sort(and chat!) all summer and then we get information on ages/sizes of children who otherwise wouldn't have new outfits for school. My favorite part of all this is helping the kids pick out clothes. Most of the families I've worked with have been so nice, and I just love talking to the children. Some of the stories I encounter are very sad, but I also meet lots of smart, resilient children that I am convinced will better the world someday so long as they are given the right tools do it.

The kids won't be in until much later, but I've been setting aside pieces from my closet all year and now I need to get them all folded up and organized. I send business attire to the local women's shelter, but I have plenty of tees, sweaters and items like that to donate. Originally, I hadn't thought of setting aside clothes for the kids, but then someone pointed out to me that at 5 foot 2, many of these "kids" are way bigger than I am. Point taken - and I'm glad to see someone enjoying the things I just don't use enough to warrant keeping.

And here's what I have to organize now....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #1 - Diorissimo

I love perfumes and perfumery, so I've decided that every Monday I'll write a little bit about a scent that I love. For my first entry, I've chosen a real classic - Christian Dior's Diorissimo. This perfume was launched in 1956. It's been reformulated a few times, but still smells absolutely lovely. This one is a creation of legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, whom Helg discusses here far better than I ever could, and is one of the best lily of the valley scents out there. It's been beloved of debutantes and brides for generations, and was reportedly a favorite of Princess Diana.

Though lily of the valley is the main thing most of us smell when wearing Diorissimo, it actually has a rather complex formula of notes. In addition to the lily of the valley, there are greens, bergamot, calyx, jasmine, lilac, rosewood, sandalwood, and civet mixed in there which give the scent depth and a poignant, haunting quality. Though deceptively ethereal, it can have real lasting power on some people. It's the perfect thing to wear on your wedding day, or at a cotillion. I like to wear it when I'm wearing something pastel or softly floral, like a vintage Laura Ashley dress or perhaps something like this little number from Anthropologie:

Not only is Diorissimo feminine and lovely, it's a scent with a lot of memories for me. Many women in my family have worn it, and I've caught whiffs of it at almost every wedding, debutante cotillion and garden party I've ever attended. It's one of the few fresh and girly scents that also comes across as being both poised and elegant. It's the perfect gift for a dear friend's birthday or perhaps a bride-to-be. The packaging has changed slightly from what I have here (the pink and white on box are now reversed), but isn't it pretty?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Little Sunday Shopping

Even though it's ridiculously hot, it's been a beautiful and sunny weekend. I go to an old historic church, and there's just something so peaceful about morning service in the summer. The sun just seems to light up the sanctuary more than at other times of the year. Definitely inspires reverent feelings in one.

After church, it was so hot that I didn't want to go anywhere, but I do desperately need blouses for work. I live in an area where one must drive for a long time to get to any good shopping, so internet shopping is a wonderful thing in my world! Nothing terribly interesting this time around, but I did pick up some shirts on the Brooks Brothers site. I love these shirts - they fit well and the fabric holds up better than any other brand I've ever purchased. And isn't the aqua color for summer just darling?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Taking the Plunge

I've been thinking about blogging for the longest time, and I've been enjoying myself lurking and occasionally at blogs all over the internet, so I finally decided to just jump in! This is just a rough template so far, but I'll decorate more as I go along.

By way of a brief introduction, I will just say that I am a native Virginian, and a traditional Southern gal who is very proud of my home state, its history and its traditions. I'm active in my local Republican party as well as in a variety of charitable causes. Though I'm from the Blue Ridge, I'm now working in exile. I love my job and I love the area where I'm living, but I miss my old Virginia home sometimes!

So that I don't ramble, I'm borrowing this little quiz from Monograms and Manicures to organize myself. Here's a little bit about me, and I hope to get to know more people by blogging!

Favorite color: Green

Favorite Brands/Designers: Lilly Pulitzer, Tocca, Milly, LL Bean, and J.Crew

Favorite Restaurant: I love to eat out, and I have a lot of restaurants that I love. However, my top favorites would have to be the Ivy Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Jaleo in Washington DC.

Hobbies: Reading, cooking and baking, hiking, gardening, knitting; I also love my volunteer work, though in my mind it seems to be more than a hobby even if it's not my actual career.

Favorite thing about yourself: I like that I'm brave enough to try new things. Even though I'm very introverted, I do enjoy the company of people and I find I like being social now that I have learned how to pace myself.

What does your room look like (color scheme, theme, etc.): My husband really wanted white walls, so the room is painted a bluish shade of white. We have a blue and white toile quilt, and cherrywood furniture. It's a simple little haven. The rest of my house is a little more eclectic and filled with various family antiques, but this one is a little simpler. Everyone needs a place to which she can retreat.

If you could have dinner with 2 people (dead or alive) who would they be: It's very hard to narrow it down to two, but if I have to only pick two, then I would say CS Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. Both are amazing authors, and had interesting ideas(some I agree with and some I do not), so the conversation would never be dull.

What is your next “big splurge”: One of these days I really want to get an Hermes bag. The Birkin itself is too big for me, but someone I know has a mini, and I think it's beautiful! Realistically, my next big splurge will be a car. I have been researching them, and have my eye on the Volvo S40, and would love to know more about how it handles.

What is your favorite joke, quote, or saying: Psalms 23:6, and also "People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed
only if there is a light from within." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Anything else you would like us to know about you (random fact)!?
Here are two:

(1) I am very interested in perfumery, both the history and the more technical aspects of it. I have a modest little collection of my own. My favorite houses are Guerlain and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz .

(2) I dearly love to travel, and go on a big trip every two years or so. This fall I'm going to Italy and can hardly wait!