Libations 101: La Bella Donna, vol. 1

Lauren:  And so it was.  Two girls met mid-morning at a coffee shop.  They talked blogs, travel (Halley had just returned from Italy), neighborhoods, backgrounds.  They went to lunch.  They talked love lives, jobs, plans.  Now after many dinner parties … Continue reading

A Family and a Home

I write about my family a lot.  We’re a bold, boisterous group and we spend an ample amount of time together, namely at our grandparents’ home.  My grandparents have lived in their colonial style house for three decades.  It’s cholk full of fond childhood memories.  Before family dinners we’d roam through trails in the state park behind the house or peek through Nannie’s illustrious closets.  My sister, cousins and I would have sleepovers on her floor and keep her up until ungodly hours.  You know, the good stuff!  As for Papa, he rules the roost from his jean-blue chair in the family room.  Every Christmas Eve about thirty of us gather around to steal food off each others plates and exchange gifts, always resulting in an inevitable wrapping paper explosion.  Papa hands the kids a stack of dollar bills.  Such endearing chaos.

A few weekends ago we delighted in the chaos once again, call it “summer edition.”  We had a wedding.

AH! What a classic.

My cousin Mark married his girlfriend of more than 7 years, Amanda.  And that day something really fantastic happened.  Winding through each doorway, you could find a relative in total game-day mode, attending to their ceremony duties.  My Aunt Susan, the Officiant a.k.a. Judge, my mom – the mistress of ceremonies, my Aunt Cathy – the florist, my sister Holly – music coordinator, my cousin Catherine and her husband Billy – overseers of the flower brigade (their kids and our cousin Addie), and the list goes on.

This home, more so now than ever, became a testament to what we’ve helped one another through and the good times we’ve celebrated.  It was as if each room was a living facet of the experience, tying together our intricately woven past with a new chapter:  Mark and Amanda’s ever-promising future.  Hint, the couple recently announced they are expecting!  The picture shown above is especially perfect, as it’s tradition on holidays for each family (we’ve got 5 of them and counting) to sit for a photograph on the living room sofa.  Here’s their first.


The girls got ready in my personal favorite, I call it the “toile room.”  One Christmas Nannie threw us younger girls a tea party in there, decorated by the largest ginger bread house ever.  Know Lee’s jealous she wasn’t in attendance!

I mean, c’mon!

Meet the flower brigade:  Matilda, Addie, and Liam, holding it down on the front step.  Catch a glimpse of Amanda and her sweet dad behind them!

In true Malbon fashion.

Here in the back yard we have the ceremony complete with some typical dysfunction.


“Markie” and I are two years apart and have always been close.  He’s happily fulfilled the role of obnoxious older brother, pinning me in painful wrestling moves during Thanksgiving dinners and such.  I gotta love him, especially when looking at these photos.

Photogenic spaces. Photogenic faces.

Speaking of photos, could these get ANY better?  Meet Kathryn Whitworth, former Interior Designer turned freelance photographer.  Our family is crazy about her and her work.  We like to bring ones like Kathryn around for keeps.  Initially, my cousin Patrick is in charge of laying down the charm and then it’s an utter whirlwind from there.

Aunty ‘Rude Sue’ as Officiant/Judge for the day

Smiles all around.  I’m a fan of the smaller wedding parties.  Mark chose his dad and brothers along with a best friend of his, Justin, to stand by him.  I think these pictures tell it all:  everything turned out perfectly!

The heart of it all.

Here’s one of the best moments of the evening.  During his toast, Mark thanked Nannie and Papa for their love, support, and hospitality.  I’m here adoring my grandmother as usual.  And look at Billy, smiling at her.  I wish I could tell you all of their great stories, but we’d be here forever.

In summary, I’d like to give a toast myself:  To a family and a home that have helped define my daily perspective, my goals, and my values.  Take credit for all of my redeeming qualities and none of my bad ones! ;-)  Simply, I love you!

In honor of our families, let’s reach out to those ones affected by the Colorado shooting.  Here’s a link if you want to find a way to help.

Love as always,


“I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Yesterday I went to see this acclaimed flick with some of my family.

Let’s Build A Kingdom!!

Romancing, fantastical footage charmed me even when the lulls in the plot line couldn’t.  (I’m a Wes Anderson fanatic and was hoping for the next Royal Tenenbaums.)  Obviously when Suzy and Sam started dancing on the beach, I was all smiles!  There is this sensitivity to Sam, but meanwhile he’s very no nonsense.  Quite funny.  My favorite line has to be “I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about,” in reference to Suzy’s delusional self-pity.  Another significant part of the film, although somber, was the scene in The Bishop’s bedroom as the couple shares apologies with one another.  We could all use a hard, honest moment like that.

Go see it.

I was also was rooting for the girl behind the pencil:  Jessica Hische.  Her typography, namely in the opening credits, set the tone for this quirky, nostalgic film.  I love to see a talented artist catch her big break.

Get it Girllllll

The “About” section of her website is probably the best I’ve ever read.  Gumption is the name of her game. Rare to find among the portfolio websites of freelancing professionals, she also has a “Thoughts” tab where she dishes advice to other hopefuls in the industry.  I applaud her efforts and am always seeking inspiration from the design aficionados.  Frankly, I need it!  Sometimes I just don’t know what I’m talking about.

Your 23-year-old self

Last Thursday I met with the Lifestyle editor at 303 Magazine to discuss a weekly online column.  It dawned on me how easily things begin to take shape once you’re focused.  In retrospect, it’s been an uphill climb, well let’s be serious here – gondola ride – since I started communicating with the folks at Houzz around Christmas.  I cannot say enough good things about  the company; my editor,Janet; and my contributor’s schedule.  Quote. Un. Quote. > Dream Job.

So for coffee that morning, I donned my new Free People ‘Spellbound’ blouse and received a good luck kick in the bum from my dear friend Emma.  (That’s a new one, but she was onto something!)  With talks of my second freelance position underway and my nearly approaching 24th birthday, it was the perfect time to stumble upon The Everygirl’s interview with Blogshop founders Bri & Angela!  As most of you Serendippers know, I attended the “pilot” class back in Angela’s studio last year.

The Dynamic Duo… Starting Trends & Taking Names

Couldn’t Appreciate this segment of the interview more:

What advice would you each give your 23-year-old self?
Bri: Oh gosh, 23 was my worst year! Although it wasn’t that long ago, I still feel like I have grown so much in that time. I would tell myself that I shouldn’t be so scared to go freelance, because it has been the best experience!
Angela: There is NO talking to that girl. She wouldn’t listen anyway!

A+ for relevancy girls!  Many of my friends are around the same age as Bri, 26, and I feel like that’s no time at all.  On the other hand as she’s saying, there’s a lot of room for improvement and growth in these next few years.  I have a lot to accomplish, namely a college degree.  Ideally, a company website for wanderlusters too. (You readers will be the first to know if that goes down!)  And referencing Angela here, I’m most certainly aware that sometimes my actions are just plain foolish.  Blame it on the excess collagen.

When I fast forward to 26, I first wince at the notion that this fancy free decade will be 60% complete.  I can’t see exactly what’s going on or whom I’ll be surrounded by – but I know I want it to be big.  Big projects.  Big deadlines.  Big response on the web.  Big travels.  Big lenses for big travels.  And this degree of uncertainty is motivating.  I am the sole provider of my next step forward.  My direction has wavered throughout the years, as is natural for anyone, but my belief system never has.  Uncertainty can be interpreted positively because  I do not settle, it’s not in the cards.  I have spots of total naivety/mediocrity that necessitate tough love.  Additionally, I have the softer comfort of my instincts encouraging me along.  Wherever I am at 26, I know I’ll be enjoying it – most likely in shades and possibly with a glass of Prosecco.  Let’s face it, some things never change.

Please comment and let me know what you have to say to your 23-year-old self.  Or mine.  And if it’s “Stop procrastinating.”…”Paint your nails.” or “Get a real planner.  You’re not so hot at managing that iPhone calendar.” – all I have for you is: touché.

Flower Heads

Floral anything is in, and thankfully so,  as it’s pretty standard to find me in some kind of floral frenzy (view my latest arrangements here).  Hold them, wear them, spray them, drink them, and my new favorite – crown them on your head:


I wrote about Midsommar in my last post, but I didn’t do it any justice.  Here are a few more photos… Oh, and have I told you I love instagram?

That was nice.

So – here are some favorites of mine in the world of floral trending:

Options are endless…

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  Floralize.

– L

The Rebel

This Christmas I recieved the lovely Canon Rebel T3.  Long story short:  I’m a fan.  Although I’m no pro, I really enjoy being behind the camera.  It was time for the Rebel to take a transatlantic field trip.  Off to Ireland and Sweden we went!  Here are some shots from an adventure outside of Gothenburg, my favorite Swedish city:

The Sun & Sea combo… I’ll take it every time.

“Fribad” means “free bathing” and that you’re welcome to swim.  I didn’t partake that day, but I certainly felt free.  Travel is an art.  It’s about taking care of yourself.  It’s about being honest about your intentions.  It’s about removing yourself from the routine so you can reflect on whether or not you’re on course.  There is a fine line between the pursuit of adventure and over extending yourself.  Thankfully, this trip was well balanced and filled with good friends, new and old.  I’d say it was perfection!

Somewhere between the Irish smiles to Swedish sun rays, the refresh button was pushed.  I spent time in Dublin, Stockholm, Gothenburg, and one night in Lund for the Swedish holiday of Midsommar.  Suitcase real estate necessitated a few hard choices, and I had to forgo my iPod doc (my friends tease me mercilessly for my attachment to the thing).  Therefore, I listened to tunes on Spotify via my laptop instead.   When in Stockholm.  Here are my top 5 favorite discoveries:

  • Ritual Union by Little Dragon
  • Limit To Your Love by James Blake (Feist cover.  Amaze.)
  • Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Everything Goes My Way by Metronomy  (Enchante Remix is good too.)
  • Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem

Hopefully you’ll find them enjoyable too.  I’d like to encourage my readers to find The Rebel inside and get out of town!  It doesn’t matter whether you get on the interstate or on a random standby flight to Dublin:  opportunities are boundless regardless of distance.

Much love and happy to be back on Serendipping,

P.s.  Stephen Colbert, move over!  I’m taking the spot for #artificialswedener.

Summer Camp

It’s rare that I take the time to sit still and read a book.  Ironic, seeing as Lindsey Iverson and I just started the Paper Plate Book Club. When I have an aspiration, such as becoming a paper page aficionado, I have … Continue reading