hello, july!

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Because I was born in the South, I’m a Southerner. If I had been born in the North, the West, or the Central plains, I would be just a human being.
— Clyde Edgerton

July on the blog is about all things Southern, from the culture to the food, the clothes, and the outdoors. The South certainly has a complex past (and present in a lot of ways) that, understandably, gives it a bad rep which almost makes it hard to write about to adequately convey its charm to people who aren’t from here. I’ve been lucky to live in a couple different places, including New York City, and I have to say, the South will always be my home and, save for some destinations abroad, I don’t see myself living anywhere else.

Aside from the obvious things like the weather, the food, the slightly old fashioned sensibilities, the friendly people, and the landscape, I think what I love about the region is its complexities. There’s a great piece in The Atlantic from 1997 about this, the “idea of the South”.

I could wax poetic and probably even write a dissertation on the complexities of the South or even the South of old versus the new South (as captured in my favorite magazine, Garden & Gun) but this month’s content will be more simply about the things I love. You’ll find ideas for your perfect Southern road trip, some of my favorite Southern meals (made a bit healthier), as well as books, movies, and other things that will inspire you to learn a little bit more about where I come from.

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pretty things no. 42

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Can you believe it’s almost already July? That means the big summer holidays are coming up. Whether you’re celebrating American Independence Day or Bastille Day in France or even just any ordinary summer day wherever you are in the world, here are a couple of red, white, and blue inspired pieces for your consideration.

If there’s a piece out there that’s perfect for summer holidays, it’s this one from English Factory. It’s got the red, white, and blue stripes in a simple t-shirt silhouette with little fluted sleeves to give some extra flair. Make it super easy and pair this with blue or white denim shorts with a pair of sandals, espadrilles, or white sneakers.

Here it is, the iconic Ralph Lauren flag sweater. Do you think there’s any 4th of July round-up that doesn’t include it? This oversized men’s piece is easy to pair with cut off shorts or even over a swimsuit when the sun begins to set.

Here’s why I think the Mila two-piece set from Gal Meets Glam is a perfect choice for summer holidays: It’s red, white, and blue so you’ve got the patriotic colors but the pattern has a different motif and vibe than your traditional stars and stripes.

When I think of a good, go-to summer fabric, chambray always comes to mind because it’s sturdy but not too heavy or hot and denim provides a casual element even when the silhouette is a little dressier. Case in point, this chambray dress from Draper James which could be dressed up with espadrilles or down with sneakers. Add a printed scarf in red and white for some festive flair.

Espadrilles are my go-to shoe in the summer, particularly for dressier events. This pair from Castaner comes in a gorgeous shade of blue that pairs perfectly with a little white dress.

How cool is this striped basket bag from Sensi Studio? It’s such a fun way to incorporate a festive Independence Day motif into just about any look. I love it with the chambray dress or a white jumpsuit.

book report: june 2019

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This month was such a good one for reading. I read four books, two of which will likely make my Top 10 of the year. I’m currently in the middle of what will be my fifth book of the month, although I may not finish it before this post goes up and I’m also listening to the audiobook of “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” which is great because of the wonderful narrator who really knows how to put on an old school Alabama accent.

Progress: 29/70

Rules For Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
If I’m being honest, it took awhile for me to get into this book but I’m glad I kept going. I’m personally just not a fan of short story collections and at first, this read like one. But, I’d say by page 80 or so, I started to get into it as the story became more linear. The story follows May, a professional gardener who is lonely and sets out to reconnect with her old friends. I will say, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character but the writing was quite good and the storyline revolving around travel was interesting. I do suggest you give it a try as most of the things I disliked were just personal preferences.

Yes Way Rosé by Erica Blumenthal & Nikki Huganir
I absolutely loved this book! It’s from the creators of Yes Way Rose instagram account and wine brand who are like your fun girlfriends who host wine tastings and Bachelorette viewing parties. The book gives a great overview of the wine making process that will likely make you the expert of the group at your next wine-related event. Plus, they also share some fun party and recipe ideas, all through gorgeous and fun photography.

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
If there’s one book I think all Americans should read this year, it’s this one. It does two things. One, it gives a really informative look into what three different departments of our government do and two, it shows how much of an honest mess the Trump administration has gotten us into by being woefully uninformed about and uninterested in what the departments are responsible for. When a president is elected, they are expected to send their transition team to attend important briefings at each department but the Trump administration failed to do that. So, Michael Lewis decided, “Why not me?” and received the briefings in order to share them in this book. Please, please read this if you are an American citizen and even if you’re not, it’s a very interesting, entertaining, and quick read.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
This. Book. Is the best book I’ve read thus far in 2019 and will no doubt be in my top three at the end of the year. The characters felt so real, the humor was spot on, and it was such a fresh story told in an equally fresh way. I was sucked in from page one! The story takes the trope of royal romance and turns it on its head in a few ways, one of them being that this is a boy meets boy love story. I feel like this story had every single thing I love in it: southern culture/characters, British royal culture/characters, politics, travel, and a sense of humor that’s so on point for the millennial generation. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it back up and read it again. I really can’t express sufficiently how much I loved this book.

a few ideas for summer grilling + s'mores

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What’s more quintessentially summer than a day spent grilling in the backyard? When you’ve got a good playlist going, a cute outfit, and cold drinks, it really can’t get better. Here’s a couple of things to throw on the grill this summer:

Classic Burgers & Corn on the Cob
You can, of course, use whichever burgers you prefer, but I adore the Beyond Meat Beast Burgers, especially for grilling. Along with the Impossible Burger (which isn’t available in grocery stores yet), it’s the closest thing to a real meat burger that I’ve had. They’re juicy and even pink in the center, which is amazing because I’m not very fond of the veggie burgers that have little carrots and peas sticking out.

So, I like to grill the Beast Burger, put it on a Hawaiian sweet burger bun with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and sharp white cheddar. Then, on the side, add some grilled corn-on-the-cob with lots of butter and salt and you’re good to go. 🙌

Grilled Peaches + Vanilla Ice-Cream
This is a must-try if you haven’t already had it. It’s sort like a deconstructed peach cobbler! Cut peaches in half and remove the pits, then grill cut-side down for about five minutes. Flip, then cook for another five minutes before serving with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Chocolate Coconut S’mores
I love this fun twist on s’mores. It’s all pretty much the same: graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate. Except, instead of using the traditional chocolate bar, try using Mounds, the little chocolate covered coconut bars. So good! You can also replace the graham cracker with a chocolate cookie.

Grilled Pizzas
These are so much fun to put together for a party because everyone can choose their own toppings. You can use pizza dough, but I think the easiest method is to use naan bread topped with mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you like. Some ideas are crispy sage and prosciutto, sliced tomatoes and basil, or artichokes, goat cheese, and lemon.

Grilled Fruit Salad
Skewer an assortment of fruits like watermelon, pineapple, and peaches then grill for five minutes on each side. Toss it all in a bowl with balsamic vinegar and chopped basil for a sweet and savory salad.

Spumoni S’Mores (from The Kitchen)
I saw this idea for s’mores on The Kitchen and thought it was so extra, I had to include it on the list and hope to try it for myself soon. They take two Pizzelle cookies, spread a layer of Nutella, crushed pistachios, and thinly sliced strawberries, then add the marshmallow and roast for an Italian inspired dessert.

a carefree summer weekend-in-the-life

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Okay, maybe not as carefree as I had anticipated going into the weekend since I ended up working much of the day Saturday but it was still a good one!

FRIDAY //

The weekend started after I finished work around five and had homemade pizza before heading off to group yoga for International Yoga Day. This ended up being such a good class and I managed to do my very best Crow Pose yet. Afterwards, my friend and I had margaritas and veggie tacos overlooking the sea to end the night on a perfect note.

SATURDAY //

I worked most of the morning, then went out to the library to pick up “Red, White, and Royal Blue” which was on reserve for me and I have not been able to put it down since! I got caught up on some YouTube videos in bed, a delightfully chill activity I haven’t had time to do for quite awhile. Later that night, I got in the pool for a sunset swim which was so nice. The water was warm and the temperature outside had dropped, so it was the perfect balance. You know it’s bad when you have to wait for it to cool down outside to go swimming. I read lots of the book in the pool and continued into the night until my eyes were too heavy to stay open.

SUNDAY //

As soon as I woke up, I wanted to start reading but I went downstairs for breakfast first. I had some good avocado toast (as usual) and a smoothie with banana, mango, pineapple, raspberry, and spinach. It wasn’t long before I was upstairs again, in bed with my Gingham candle lit, trying my best to pace myself with the book because I didn’t want it to end, yet I couldn’t stop reading. After having some pasta for lunch, I took the book with me to the pool again for another swim and came back to do some planning for some travel this upcoming week. When I finally wrenched myself away from the book (AKA when I got to the end), we watched Brooklyn. For some reason, I’d just been craving that movie ever since I did that style inspiration post on it a few months ago.

What did y’all do this weekend?