Senegal Part III: Saint-Louis

After a couple of days in Latmingue, Natalie and I traveled to Saint-Louis, an old colonial city, the heart of which is located on a narrow island in the Senegal River. Saint-Louis was established in 1659 by French traders and is characterized by the distinct French and Portuguese architecture throughout the city. Today, Saint-Louis relies heavily on tourism and is full of shops, cafes, and street vendors, so there was no shortage of delicious pastries, beautiful textiles, and fresh fish. On our first day, we took a horse-drawn cart tour around the island and learned about the hard-working fishermen and families residing in the area, and saw the large wooden boats that take months to carve for their many fishing voyages.

We had a lovely Christmas staying at La Residence, which was a nice break before hitting the road again. On our way to Dakar, we stopped at Lake Retba – the Pink Lake – which is “pink” because of bacteria that is attracted by the lake’s high salt content. The salt is extracted by locals from the bottom of the lake using their hands, then placed into baskets to be transported to the shore where it is used mainly to preserve fish. It was an overcast day, so the lake was not as distinctly pink as usual, but we managed to get a light pink hue against the bright blue boats in the salty water.



Lace Details

There are some fashion trends that are super fun and are probably really comfortable – like crop tops and the daring comeback of the 90’s mini dress, for example – that I don’t event attempt to try because the older woman in me is yelling “you can’t get away with wearing those skimpy clothes at your age!”. I made an exception, however, to try a bralette – a light and delicate lace alternative to my standard underwire bra.

I hope it’s ok if I get a little personal and honest… I’ve always hated wearing bras, but was too self-contious to not wear one. Bralettes seem a little youthful – reminiscent of my first sports bra as an adolescent – but carry the more adult lacey details of an adult brazier (I was fascinated when I found out that was the “long word” for bra!). I was too curious about trying one, so on my next trip to T.J. Maxx I picked up a simple white Nicole Miller bralette.

As soon as I put it on I loved everything about it, mostly how light-weight it was while still providing support. I also love the lace that can peek through a flowy top, or just sit discreetly under an unassuming tee.

Wearing: Nicole Miller bralette (I found mine at T.J. Maxx, but there are so many cute ones at A.E.!), D.Jeans (similar), Green Envelope top (similar), Franco Sarto sandals, Stella & Dot necklace and wrap bracelet // Photos taken by Bryan Wallace

Black, White, and Chambray

Ever notice that when you’re not feeling 100 you don’t deviate as much from the norm? I usually put on my most comfortable clothes and eat comfort food that doesn’t take a lot of effort. That’s how I’m feeling now about this in-between time, where winter’s cold grip is slowly letting go and the sunshine of spring is just creeping in.

I’ve been gravitating toward neutrals and my go-to layers, like my trusty chambray, black jeans, comfortable scarves, and boots that will get me anywhere.

I’m also in the in-between with my professional life – switching from one career to another – which is amplifying my antsiness. I’ve heard that experiencing change is what pushes us to be better and do better, but I just can’t wait to get back into a healthy routine.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my patience and finding comfort in the things I love most.

Wearing: D.JeansRubbish chambray, Madewell scarf, Fulla&Fayda wallet, and GAP chelsea booties (on sale!) // Photos taken by Bryan Wallace

Comfy in Nike Sneaks

I think we are all ready for spring right about now, but in the meantime I’m happy to stay comfy and cozy – my two favorite words this time of year – both indoors and out.

Ever since I switched jobs and we added Luna to our family last fall, my exercise routine [oh heck, my whole life routine!] has completely flipped upside down. I used to be an avid Bar Method goer, taking class 3-4 days per week before work in Tysons, but with shifted work hours and a pup at home I’m lucky to visit the studio once a week. Now, between classes, my exercise mainly consists of long walks with Luna.

I really can’t complain about my new “routine”: I get a little workout in while enjoying the outdoors and spending time with my favorite pooch. I actually look forward to our morning walks because I can just live in the present for a solid 30 minutes, disconnected from my phone, which I leave at home.

Because the amount of time I spend walking has increased, I was desperately in need of a footwear upgrade and found the perfect neutral Nike sneaks at DSW. Now my feet can be as comfy as the rest of me [I’m LOVING this GAP sweater], and be a little fashionable too!

Wearing: Vince Camuto leggings, GAP sweater (on sale in “cream”!), and Nike Sneaks // Photos taken by Bryan Wallace


Senegal Part II: Latmingue

After a couple days in Thies, Natalie and I left for a 2-day trip to Koalack to visit her host family in the village of Latmingue. After a long drive, we were greeted with warm hospitality, attaya [the most amazing mint tea], and a cieb dinner. I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten as much and as often as we did in Latmingue, but it’s difficult to refuse all of the delicious tea, yogurt drinks, fresh melon, and homemade sauces! Between meals, Natalie and I explored the villages in the area, the local mosque, and walked to the river. Sharing their home, food, and customs, in just two short days Natalie’s family showed me the beauty of their simple yet rich life in Latmingue, which will forever stay with me.


Rainy Union Market Day[te]

Bryan and I have emphatically decided to spend holidays doing something fun together instead of exchanging gifts. Although he cheated on Vday with a bottle of bubbly and a box of Sugar Shack donuts [best boyfriend ever!], we had an awesome Valentines Day date the weekend before at Union Market, one of our go-to spots for a relaxing day close to home.

It was super grey and rainy, but Union Market has great indoor space and surrounding shops, so we plopped down at Rappahannock Oyster Co. for a delicious sampler platter before doing a little exploring. We visited our favorites, like TaKorean [snack #2 of the day], Salt & Sundry, and Peregrine Espresso, but we also discovered the new Cotton & Reed rum distillery around the corner. If you’re in the DC/VA area, you must check it out! Their cocktails are great, their bartenders are friendly, and the light-filled space is cozy and inviting.



Outfit Details:

GAP Brimmed Hat
GAP Chelsea Boots
Vintage Suede Coat
Vince Camuto Leggings
Fulla&Fayda Tote

Be Bold

The name of the game is to be bold this season, from head to toe, and your eyeglasses should be no exception. Warby Parker‘s new spring line is just that: bold and beautiful, boasting colorful hues and tortoise shell patterns. I walked around the corner to WP’s Shaw location in Washington, DC to check out some of their new line and immediately fell in love with the new frames. All of the frames are delicately placed on shelves in the bright corner store, neatly organized and just waiting for someone to lift them up and try them on for size. Chandni Sandhu, Store Leader, explained that the display is meant to resemble the inviting feel of library. You are supposed to pick up the frames and try them on as you would pick up a book and flip through the pages. The beautiful space, comfortable couches, and reading material all contribute to a pleasant experience while spending some time at the store.

I gravitated toward the straight brow line and blue fade of the Welty glasses, but I’m going to try some of the fun larger frames and tortoise patterns too when I choose 5 frames online! Our neighborhood is lucky to have a store, but in case you don’t have one nearby, the Home Try-On program is a great option to test out frames before making a larger commitment. I’m looking forward to getting mine in the mail, and to see what WP comes out with next! Sleek metal frames are next on their lineup, which are sure to stand out while complementing their blue and blush companions. Follow me on Instagram to see the frames I am trying, and which ones I pick! I’ll be back to the blog to share my experience with the Home Try-On program and how you can make an impact with your purchase.


Senegal Part I: Thies

I’m finally getting back to some blogging after a long break! After a busy fall and holiday season, I’m now editing and sharing photos from the trip I took to Senegal at the end of December. My sister Natalie has been a Peace Corps volunteer for the past two and a half years, so we decided to spend Christmas together in Senegal. She was with a host family in Latmingue for two years, but is now living in the city of Thies. We spent the first couple of days of my trip exploring her neighborhood and nearby city, walking through the markets to buy fabric for dresses, eating local beignets, and taking in the culture. The colors and patterns in the city are incredible, from fresh fruit, to spices, to long swaths of fabric hanging in shops and women dressed in vibrant gowns and headdresses.

Natalie and I are also in the process of launching a new business – Fulla&Fayda – so we took the opportunity of being together to do some planning and to visit the artisanal village where our handbags are made. It was so exciting to finally meet Tapha and his brothers, who are incredibly talented. Their shop is one of many in the village, among woodworking studios, jewelry shops, and textile galleries. After touring the village, Tapha invited us to have lunch in the workshop – my first (of many!) ceebu jen meal. Ceebu jen is a traditional Senegalese dish of rice, (usually) fish, and vegetables. The proteins and vegetables vary, but the dish is always flavorful and spicy! It is usually presented in a large bowl that everyone eats from communally, and with incredible thoughtfulness. The Senegalese are known for their hospitality and I have never felt so welcomed and included than when eating from a bowl of ceeb.

To round out our business ventures with some pleasure, Natalie and I took one afternoon to explore the mangroves of Saly. We found a car pool to take us most of the way to the beach, but ended up getting out to walk the rest of the way. It was a gorgeous 80 degrees and a great way to explore the area, which was more tropical than Thies with its palm trees and bright flowers. Once at the beach, Natalie found a guide who would take us on an hour-long boat tour. The water was quiet and still, letting us drag our feet as we weaved along the edge of the mangroves. We stopped on a small beach with a baobab tree decorated with shells and were told to choose a shell and make a wish as we added our own to the branches of the tree. Toward the end of our tour, we came upon a happy island with a string of restaurants and bars, so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the sun with fresh seafood and ice cold beer. It was a relaxing day, and a great way to end our time in Thies before heading to Kaolack!


Copp Family Portrait Session

I was so fortunate to take some portraits of the Copp family a couple weekends ago, on a gorgeous November afternoon at Green Hill Winery. The venue was absolutely beautiful and we picked the perfect day to catch Virginia’s fall foliage in its prime! This family is full of warmth, silliness, and fun, which was such a pleasure to photograph.


Assateague Island Inspiration Shoot


I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to create art with a wonderful group this spring. My sister, Natalie, and I were asked to model gorgeous and unique gowns designed by Sweet Caroline Styles, based out of Philadelphia, at Assateague Island. Natalie and I visited these beaches – home to roaming wild horses – while growing up, so the location holds a special place in our hearts. Even though we didn’t encounter any of the horses, our day was full of creativity, adventure, and mystical weather changes that pulled everything together.


photography: with love and embers| gowns: sweet caroline styles | flowers: falls flowers | hair & makeup: occasions by diana