living room mini makeover

i'm finally done with my black & white gallery wall project, and i love the way it turned out!  the second i saw this idea on a beautiful mess, i knew it would be the perfect update for our living room.  i made a random gallery wall over our couch when we moved in a few years ago, but i was getting kind of sick of looking at the same thing day after day.  for this project i chose a collection of family photos that are near and dear to my heart, and every time i look up at them i feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  in addition to the gallery wall, i added a few new pillows and a little record station for a complete (mini) living room makeover!  here's a peek:



i used a level, tape measure, painters tape, and a little basic math to get the frames perfectly spaced.  i learned this painters tape trick from a martha stewart magazine a few years back, and it has been life changing!  i made marks on a strip where i wanted the nails to be, then re-used the same strip for the other levels... easy peasy!

i  used these frames from target.

here's my cute little record nook.  i bought the record holder from urban outfitters, and the rug is from rugs usa!  it's really plush and well made... and it only cost $17!!! (in fact, i'm so in love with it that i'm trying to find an excuse to buy more for other areas of the house).


easy baked everything bagel dip

girl walks into trader joe's.  girl purchases everything but the bagel seasoning. girl is addicted to said seasoning and puts it on everything.

the above story pretty much sums up my love affair with this stuff.  seriously though, it's so yummy on toast, pizza, bagels, grilled cheeses, and anything involving avocados. i love it so much, that i decided to come up with my very own recipe for baked everything bagel dip.  this recipe is so easy to make, it's almost embarrassing!  it's a twist on a hot onion dip recipe i've made several times which is always the first dish to be wiped clean at parties!  and this baked everything bagel dip is no different... it's bound to be a hit for sure!


hello, lover.

mix cream cheese, mayo and parmesan.  spread into a lightly oiled baking dish.  sprinkle with seasoning.

bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

serve with bagel chips, bread cubes and tortilla chips.


easy baked everything bagel dip


2 8-ounce packaged cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup mayo
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
~ 2 Tbsp. everything bagel seasoning


  • preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • in a bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayo and parmesan cheese.
  • spread mixture into lightly oiled baking dish.
  • generously sprinkle everything bagel seasoning over mixture.
  • bake until golden and bubbly (about 20-25 mintues).
  • serve with tortilla chips, bagel chips and bread cubes  


annual north topsail beach vacation

a few weeks ago husband, the dog and myself packed up our swimsuits and a whole lotta food and beer and headed to the coast!  this was our second summer in a row staying in north topsail beach, and i fall more in love with it each time i go!  it's dog friendly, uncrowded, and there's lots of good seashells to be found!  my parents joined us as well, and it was so nice to spend some relaxing quality time at the beach with my family (they hadn't vacationed at the beach in years, which is crazy because they live in florida!  i think they really enjoyed being there).  the weather was a bit rainy (we at least got in one full beach day), but we had plenty of food, movies, and louie cuddles to keep us entertained in the meantime.  it cleared up each night long enough for us to enjoy looking for shells on the beach while watching the sunset (great time to take photos too, the lighting is so beautiful you don't even need to edit the pictures).  we lounged on sandbars, ate lots of delicious fresh seafood, and got some much needed rest and relaxation!  here's a look:

"i'm ready to go to the beach,  mom!"

my parents are adorable!

beach treats!

we ventured out on a sandbar that went really far out at low tide!  there were areas where the sand dipped down and formed our very own private pools  :)

the boats pull right up and deliver their fresh seafood!  we went here twice to pick up some shrimp and grouper.  it sure was tasty!

the grill masters!

louie loves his grandparents!

i sure do love me a good cactus!

this deer lives on the island, we spotted her munching on someone's knockout roses in their yard.  she's certainly chosen a nice place for a home  :)

it's safe to say that he loves the beach!

the sunsets were amazing!

until next time, topsail!  we will definitely need to make this a yearly tradition!


dear bentley...

i've been wanting to post something about this, since i suppose my blog represents what's going on in my life, but i haven't really been ready until now.  while it's easy to make your life seem happy and fun all of the time on blog spaces and other social media... it turns out life isn't always happy and fun, and at times you are forced to face sadness and loss.  several months ago, i lost a huge piece of my heart when i received the news that my dog, bentley (with whom i shared custody with my parents later in his life), left our world after being sick for several years.  he taught me so much, and was with me through many of my highs and lows in life (and we all know how many of those we go through in our twenties).  he had a tenderness and a soulfulness that i've never encountered with any other animal (or most humans for that matter).  below is a little letter i wrote for him (silly, because i know he can't read it... but it's the best way i can think of to sum up his life and the indelible print he's left on my heart).

dear bentley, 

one day (summer of 2005ish) while living in west palm beach, the urge struck me to go to the local animal shelter and just "look".  i walked swiftly past multiple fence-lined cages, when i saw a grey fuzzy blur to my right (i can still picture it so clearly).  i looked, and there sat the cutest schnauzer i'd ever seen (you!), behind a fence with a sign that read "my name is tommy, i can do tricks!"  i wrote down your ID number, and walked back to the information desk and asked to see you.  we sat in a play area for about twenty minutes, and you sniffed your way around the entire perimeter (true schnauzer form), giving me a sniff here or there, but not paying much attention to me.  we said goodbye, and since i wasn't in the best situation financially, i decided to go before i adopted a dog i knew i couldn't really afford or give my full attention to since i was in school full-time.

the next morning when i awoke, you were the first thing on my mind.  i couldn't shake the thought of this little grey schnauzer.  i got in the car, sped to the pound, and you were still there!!!  a tiny elderly woman was in front of your pen jotting your ID number down with a pencil, as she explained to her white-haired companion that she was going to take you home wither her.  i ran as fast as my legs could take me to the information desk (sorry, old lady), asked if you were still available (you were), and i told them to start filling out the paperwork.  as they were taking down my information, the elderly woman walked up behind me and inquired about you, but they told her you weren't available anymore.  she understandably looked disappointed, but this was a day that changed my life forever.  

there's so many unforgettable things about you:  that little spot between your eyebrows that i loved to kiss so much.  how you used to greet me and bark/jump as if it had been years since you'd seen me, even if it was only really a few hours. how you would ride in my lap in the car, basically all up and down the entire southeastern united states (and especially loved it when i would take off the circulating AC, so you could smell the outside air).  the way you would crawl on top of my chest and lay down, even though i couldn't breathe.  your cute nubby little tail.  how much you hated getting baths, and basically turned into a statue in the shower.  that time you pulled me around in the neighborhood on my rollerblades at night, that was fun.  how you were such a good sport when i would dress you those ridiculous costumes.  how much you loved chasing the waves as they crashed on the beach.  how you would always do the "bang bang" trick for me, even though i could see in your eyes each time how much you hated it.  the way you could identify all of your favorite toys by name ("go get quack quack")!  your beautiful brown eyes and the softness of your fur.  your lashes (super jealous of those).  the first time you saw snow (that's when i knew you wanted to come back to florida, haha).  your love for chasing squirrels out of the backyard.  how you always seemed to know when i was crying or sad, and you would cuddle me extra hard.  how difficult it was to leave you with my parents after i moved to north carolina, but how elated my heart was each time i got to see you again.  i will especially never forget your sweet, gentle kisses.

come to think of it, i never asked the animal shelter what "tricks" you could do referring to the sign they had on your pen, but i didn't need to.  clearly you had mastered the "trick" of stealing the hearts of everyone who had the pleasure to know you.  it was a true gift to have you in my life over the past twelve years.  i don't ever want to forget anything about you, and i hope i always become misty-eyed at the thought of you.  i miss you so much, my friend.

below is a video i made, and some of my favorite all time pictures of the little fella (it was difficult to narrow them down, as you can imagine there are many).  

this was the picture animal control posted on their website of bentley and his brother (they were surrenders... i'm not sure what kind of idiot would give him up, but whoever you are... thank you)!

his first day at home.

he loved car rides!

this makes me laugh every time i look at it.  he was such a good sport!

that smile!

bad to the bone!

dem lashes though!

such a handsome gentleman!

"dogs have a way of finding people who need them, filling an emptiness we don't even know we have"