Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I'm Back!

I'm popping in today with a bit of a light post to highlight this dress! I wore it while on the cruise and it's currently on sale for under $70. It's such a steal and really reminds me of Dolce and Gabbana! It runs true to size, if anything a touch small. 

Today's post is lighter on content because I spent all yesterday unpacking and cleaning and getting my offline life organized so I am ready to tackle this shorter week. I also was able to edit ALL of the photos that I took on my trip, which was quite time consuming. But, that means I'll be ready to share everything sooner rather than later. I can't wait to tell you all about my trip. It was so. much. fun. We also took so many great photos. I'm still figuring out how to organize 

But today will be spent at the computer playing catch up...so if you e-mailed me, expect to hear back! However, it is 75 degrees and I'm going to take Henry on a very long walk to take advantage of the warm temps. I can't believe it's this warm here in Pittsburgh in February! 

Monday, February 19, 2018

In Loving Memory of Mac

My most recent photos taken with Mac in early August.
'The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.'
It was the fall of 2004- almost 14 years ago. It's so cliche, but I remember as if it were just yesterday. I was 14, perched at my usual spot, our family computer in the kitchen, chatting with friends on AIM (that's AOL instant messenger for those way too young to remember) talking about who was going with who to our first homecoming dance. My mom was cooking dinner as my dad and Callie walked through the door... with a dog.
As a family, we had never had a dog before Mac. Being 14 and just starting high school, I was 'too cool' to care about an 'animal'. But, sweet 10-year-old Callie was dying for a dog, so they came home with Mac, the cutest Australian Cattle Dog from the Washington Humane Society.

At first, I thought it was so crazy we had a 'wild animal' in our house. It took me a few days or a few weeks to warm up to the idea of living with an animal, but once I warmed up, I really warmed up.
Mac stole the hearts of everyone. He was SO full of life. I've shared this story on Summer Wind before, but for me, writing is therapeutic... and I really want to go down memory lane right now, so bear with me.

It was Mac's first Christmas at our house. We absolutely spoiled him with toys. He got so overwhelmed, he ran to our back door and looked like he was just dying to go outside. We let him outside, his toys in his mouth, and he raced towards the yard. All of the sudden, as we're all dressed in our Christmas pajamas looking out the window, we see him digging a hole by our swingset... something he'd never done before. He actually started burying his toys!

It was SO funny- We all laughed hysterically.. tears ran down our faces. The memory of it brings back so much warmth and really conveys how much fun Mac was. I will never forget that moment.

Mac brought so much joy and love into our lives. I hate for this post to be so full of cliches, but it is truly amazing to be able to love someone so much. I loved Mac as though he were my brother. And he was just that, my brother.

I went through high school with him. He comforted me when I had a broken heart. He watched me learn how to drive, he was there to support me in my excitement as I made cheerleading captain, he saw me off to prom. He kissed me goodbye as I left for James Madison University. He came to visit me in college and even came to my college graduation. Mac was sitting at my feet as I started Summer Wind. I was lucky enough to live with him for several more years as he saw me through various jobs, hardships, and wonderful moments.
"The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog...He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and the sores that come encounter with the roughness of the world. When all other friends desert, he remains." -George G Vest
Mac came on vacations with us. He celebrated all the holidays with us. He accompanied me to Starbucks. He loved our Bruster's dates. He lived for steak and watermelon. I truly believe he understood me when I would speak to him (which was often). He was so smart and so full of personality. As I moved out on my own, I missed him so much. I would go home just to check in with Mac... or go for a walk or a Bruster's date.

Mac was always there. 

He was such an integral part of my life for the past 14 years. This tribute to Mac, nor anything I ever say will ever be able to convey how much he has touched my life.

For those of you who don't have any pets, the personification may sound crazy. But, Mac was a true gentleman. He didn't bark much, he never snapped, he was always so well behaved, so polite, and so gentle with everyone.
Mac was getting old- he had been showing his age bit by bit over the last few years. But recently, he started to have seizures. I was in my parent's kitchen this summer and my parents were outside parking the car and I had just put food into Mac's bowl for dinner. All of the sudden, Mac fell over by his bowl. It was truly one of the scariest things. I started screaming for my parents because I had no idea what was happening. Eventually, he was back to 'normal'. But in the weeks following, as I visited him, I knew things were not going well. But he persisted and chugged along. The vet said he was not in any pain and could continue to live life.

Until recently. He didn't get up at all the entire day- couldn't get up. He didn't want his food. Nothing. He was still loving and 'with it', but I started to try to prepare myself (spoiler: nothing can prepare you). Not knowing what to expect, I would sit up at night and think about Mac and worry. Not that worrying was doing any good- but it hurt so much not to be able to cure him of his old age.

I've been very lucky in life to not know much loss... and those that I have lost, have died from old age and a life well-lived. I know now that they're all up in Heaven welcoming Mac with open arms and will keep him safe until we can meet again.

We aren't sure exactly, but we believe Mac was about 16. He lived such a long, full, wonderful life.

You know the saying, 'You don't know what you have until it's gone.'? It doesn't apply here. I never took Mac for granted. I always felt so lucky to have Mac in my life. I always knew he was something special. I will always remember him with the fondest, warmest memories and will love him always.

When my grandpa passed away 7 years ago, I came across this poem and knew to look for it again as the words comfort me. I'm sharing it in hopes one of you may read it and be able to connect with it, too.
"Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes, we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well."

I also wanted to send out a big thank you to all of you. So many of you sent me the sweetest e-mails, DM's, comments, texts, etc. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind words mean so much as I am feeling filled with loss. I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends, family, and each and every one of you who provide me so much comfort and support.

Hug your pups a little tighter tonight. I know I have been with Henry. They really are extraordinary, aren't they?

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to Care for Your White Bedding

How to Care for Your White Bedding

How to Care for Your White Bedding

I have all-white bedding. Am I crazy? I'm not so sure. I might be. Especially becuase I am someone who enjoys drinking my coffee in bed... coffee and white linens are certainly not a good pair. 

Then, I got Henry, and doggies and white linens are equally not a good pair! I have been doing my fair share of research and trial and error to figure out how to keep my white bedding looking fresh and white and I think I have come up with some really good tips and tricks. 

You are probably thinking, why not just get printed or colored bedding... and while that would probably be easier or make more sense, I just really love the crispness and sophistication of white bedding. It makes me feel like I am staying in a nice hotel! 

So here are some of my tips and tricks and if you have any to share, I'd love to hear about them in the comments! 

Wash your bedding completely separate from everything else. 
Then you can completely tailor and customize the products you are using to clean your linens for your bedding and there's no chance of any type of color transfer from anything else. 

Use detergent sparingly.
You may think that using more detergent equals cleaner linens, but over time, detergent can cause a yellowish tinge to form in pure white linens. I use the bare minimum... a tide pod for all of your white bed linens is plenty! 

Use hot water, always. 
I am a huge fan of hot water for most of my loads of laundry because hot enough water can kill bacteria! This is especially true for your bedding! 

Use Dawn soap.
My grammie taught me this one. If you notice your fabric yellowing around the top of the linens where your face and hands are, dab that area with regular blue Dawn dish soap and toss it in the washer. The dish soap will remove oil which is what is making those areas appear yellow. I also do this on any food stains on my clothes (like dressing stains) and it works like a charm. 

Use Lemon juice for a brightening boost.
This is a tip I learned from my mother. The acidity in lemon juice will kill bacteria and brighten your whites. It really does work. I just use lemon juice from a bottle!

Use Bleach Sparingly.
Bleach is great, sometimes. But it can often ruin fabric fibers and shorten the life of your linens becuase it is corrosive. A little goes a long way and if you find that it is not working, try soaking your items in a small amount of bleach diluted with water. The soaking will really let it work into your fiber without having to use a high concentration of chemicals. 

OxyClean is Your Best Friend. 
I swear by OxyClean. Sometimes, I think it works better than bleach and you don't even need to use a detergent pod when you're using OxyClean. The infomercials are actually right and they make your whites whiter! I use it in a regular wash cycle, but you can also do a soak similar to how you would soak with bleach. 

Rotate your bedding. 
I only have one white duvet, but I change my sheets at least once a week (but honestly, I'm a little nuts and change them every 3-4 days). I have 4 sets of white sheets so they can be rotated. That way, they aren't yellowing as quickly (so instead of using and washing the same set of sheets for 365 days a year, each set is only used about 91 days a year). 

Steam or Iron your bedding.
This sounds laborious and it kind of is, but it's so worth it. I've been doing this for years and it makes your bedding look so much crisper. Heat also kills germs, so one more reason to get to it! I like both a steamer and an Iron. A steamer is great for things like pillows, but an iron is especially good for the flat area of your bed/mattress. I do it while the bed is made and in place so you can make sure everything is looking good! 

Pair bedding with cool tones.
I'm not so sure this makes a huge difference, but it's science. Pair your whites with colors like grays, blues, etc. The cool colors will make your whites appear brighter and a warmer tone will bring out the yellow tinge in your whites. This is similar to when you are setting a diamond. A diamond that is not totally clear in color should be set in white gold or platinum. Setting a diamond that is not great in color in yellow gold will only magnify the tinge to the diamond (in case you are wondering, you can still have a gold band, but the actual diamond mount/prongs should be done in white gold or platinum). 

For fur, use a fur tool. 
Henry sleeps with me every night. He also sheds and his fur drives me NUTS. This is a pain, but, every single morning, I use this reusable lint remover tool. It really works (much better than the sticky lint rollers) and is very quick and easy to use! That way there is no build up of his fur (which has oils on it and can lead to yellowing of white fabrics). 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lately 2/15/2018

This is going to be a short one because I am on a boat in the middle of the ocean... WiFi is definitely a little spotty. My 'Late'y posts aren't really ones I like to do super ahead of time becuase I like to share what I'm loving this week. Considering I've been pretty unplugged, this week's is going to be very light. But I promise there is a great post tomorrow! 

Wearing: It's been SO hot here in the Caribbean (I mean duh, I guess, haha!) but this linen coverup has been the best because it's so light and breathable and still looks very cute!

Reading: I love this article highlighting interior designers and their pups. They offer a few good design tips for those living with dogs. I really liked the tip to have dog beds made to match your interior! 

Sale-ing: You can use code SYDNEY for 20% off one of my current favorite masks, this Kefir Ultimate Recovery Mask. It's super hydrating and makes my face feel so soft and hydrated. I have been doing it at night while I am winding down before bed.

Watching: Taylor Swift came out with her behind the scenes of End Game video and I loved watching it. I'm always fascinated by behind the scenes things becuase it shows you different angles and perspectives in order to get a final product. For example, you see around the 4-minute mark that they're literally dancing to a metronome in silence and Taylor is mouthing the words. Crazy! 

Listening: My mom and I went to a Frankie Valli show last night so all I can do is listen to him over and over! This is one of my favorites!  Seriously turn that one up and try to tell me you're not in a good mood! 

Loving: Drunk Elephant. I bought a skincare set during the holidays from Sephora. I had heard SO many great things about Drunk Elephant. You all know how much I love trying new skincare products. I have been using the products when I travel (becuase they are travel-sized) and after using them in Paris, DC, Arizona, Cleveland, and now the Caribbean, I am SUCH a fan. So many of their products have thousands of 5-star reviews and there is a good reason for that. This glycolic acid is one of my absolute favorites. It's just a great, lightweight gel that goes so smoothly!

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