Social Media and Mental Health

Taking a break from social media is sometimes extremely needed for your mental health. But what do you do when social media is part of your job? Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay and that is something very close to my heart. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for about 7 years now and I have had extremely close friends struggle as well.

social media and mental health-caitlin james-blog-tips-self care-self help.jpg

Content creators, social media managers, and entrepreneurs spend their days scouring the internet and digging through content, reviews, and blogs. It can be hard to unplug and get away from the triggering and depressing news or comments. I wanted to put together a list of five ways to handle social media while taking care of your mental health.

Meditate Daily

Meditation can help clear your mind, reduce blood pressure, and help with your anxiety. There are several apps that you can download to help with this. Carly from Carly the Prepster put together a great post on the effects the app Headspace had on her. I have not had the chance to try it but meditating on my own has been very effective as well in making me more productive and resilient.

Set Limits

It is important to limit your screen time and limit the accounts you are seeing. Instagram has a new feature that lets you see how long you have been on the app and how many hours you spend on it a week. Take control of that. Set reminders to put your phone down. If you take baby steps in the right direction, you will start to notice a freedom you haven’t experienced before. You can also set limits on comments. You can change your settings so that no one can comment on a specific post or you can block certain phrases and words. This will help keep the negativity off your feed. You can add words that trigger you to this list and no longer see comments from trolls and bullies. Also, make sure you are limiting yourself to only follow accounts and hashtags that bring you joy. If an account makes you doubt yourself or feel less than happy, hit that unfollow button.

Give Your Brain a Break

Take a break and take a workout class. You cannot be on your phone while your spinning or lifting weights. You won’t be able to check the apps and that will help clear your head. Your feed will still be there an hour later and your endorphins will have risen. Elle Woods said it best, “ Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!”…. or their phones? Not sure how to close that one out but you get the point.

Self-Care Goals

Set goals for yourself to accomplish. Your goals can be simple like an exercise class weekly like I mentioned above, or picking up a new hobby like journaling or painting. Writing them down and keep rack of them. I personally have set goals to drink more water and take my medicine every day. They are simple but definitely things I need to work on. I will even be your cheerleader if you want to tell me your goals. I will keep up with you and check in now and again to see how you are doing. Just leave a comment or shoot me an email. Let’s do this together.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Well shit. Easier said than done, I know. Little by little it is something that we can work on. It is also important to recognize those around you that won’t ask for help on their own. You should make sure to reach out. It can be as simple as grabbing a coffee or asking if they are okay. Open the door for conversation if you recognize the following; difficulting concentrating, exhaustion, stomach issues, difficulty sleeping, or muscle tension. A change in mood is also extremely common. Be there for your friends, family, and coworkers and they will be there for you in return.

It is safe to say you all know I am not a doctor so remember if you are feeling depressed, the best choice would be to reach out to a doctor, a loved one, or even me. I am here to talk to any of you at any time. This is a safe place to speak your mind.

Band of Dads

I am going to start by saying that the show ‘A Million Little Things’ has been amazing so far. We are only two episodes in and it has been so so great. Episode 2, ‘Band of Dads,’ really got me thinking last night. And for those that came here looking for the reason in posting that Instagram picture last night, it may not be obvious but those two little ones were their with dad and it hit me right in the feels. The moment I captured this picture, she was calling out to him and all I could do was think of the adventures my sister, dad, and I took on the regular. I felt like I was looking back at a movie of my own life. Definitely a special moment for me.

caitlin james-blogpost-blog-band of dads-death-father-childhood.jpg

There were so many times when my mom stepped in to take my dad’s place while my sister and I were growing up. She didn’t need a band of dads however, it was so helpful that there were always those men that my sister and I knew we could count on. Yes our family (uncles and grandfathers were and continue to be more than amazing) but a few other men stood out to me as well while I was digesting the episode.

My Uncle Chuck. Not a real uncle but that is the easiest thing to reference him as. When we were little, my sister, dad, and I were part of a group called Indian Princesses. It was a father-daughter group that would have meetings and go on outings once a month. Skiing, camping, haunted hayrides, bowling, beach houses, the works. Some of my absolute favorite memories from childhood are on those trips. Once my father passed away, my sister and I didn’t think that we would have the option of going. We didn’t want to have to be the girls who brought their mom (although now that seems crazy since Karen rocks) so our Uncle Chuck, who always brought his twin daughters, brought us. He cared for four girls instead of two. He always made sure we were included and could attend each event. He participated in each activity four times instead of two and he cared for us like his own. He is the reason that we got to continue living with the smallest bit of normalcy and that was huge to a ten year old. He doesn’t read this and I don’t think anyone else that knows him, other than my mom, does but he deserves some recognition.

There are two other men that never got to know my dad but were willing to step in even though they didn’t have to. At my high school, there is this thing for seniors at the end of the year called The Last Dance. It is a mother-son/father-daughter dance that used to be (I can’t tell you if it still is) taken seriously. My sister’s best friend lost her father as well so they chose to have their own fun their senior year. When my year rolled around, I knew my mom would take me, no questions. She had to stand up and fight for a ticket which is absurd since it was 2010. Clearly every family is different and a child should be able to bring either parent regardless of the situation but she eventually got her way (per usual hahaha) and got our tickets. I hadn’t told either of my best friends yet but both of them immediately texted me asking if I wanted to go with them and their dads. Abby and Dani’s fathers both offered for me to attend the dance with them so I wouldn’t feel out of place. Instead, my mom came and the six of us had the absolute best time. I still have pictures from that night and I still am so thankful for both of those men to be so considerate to share their special night with me as well if I needed.

I am lucky that growing up, my mom has always stepped in. She filled the shoes of my father very well and I never felt like I was missing out or that I needed my own band of dads per say. It is just nice to know that these men are there in case I did need one to step in.

Autumn in New England

Beautiful but fleeting is the best way to describe Autumn in New England. We get just a short amount of time to enjoy the firework leaf display before the temperature starts to drop and we are in hibernation (or skiing, either one really). I took advantage of the 70 degree day on Saturday and went to one of my favorite local Rhode Island farms, The Farmer’s Daughter.

caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel.jpg

I wasn’t alone in thinking that it was a great idea today, the entire place was buzzing with families and couples shopping for their homes. I loved seeing all the grandparents with their grandkids. It was absolutely adorable. They also had a ton of activities even if you weren’t planning on taking home any pumpkins. You could walk through the dahlia field, take a free wagon or train ride, head into the corn maze, or try out the pumpkin slingshot. There was also a ton of small activities and pumpkin painting. So. much. happening.

caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel
caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel
caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel
caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel

The Farmer’s Daughter also has these adorably styled greenhouses which I had only even seen in the winter. Their autumn display is just as good. They put so much thought into every bit of decor. It is amazing.

IMG_3395.jpg
caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel
caitlin james-blog-rhode island-farmers daughter-autumn-new england travel

I shot entirely too many pictures of the flowers and the bees (#savethebees yah know?) so I’ll include a handful below. I also managed to find the only living hydrangea in all of Rhode Island, naturally.

You will have to tell me if you visit The Farmer’s Daughter this season or if there are any other farms I should visit!

End of Summer Celebration

Over the last two or three years I have built friendships with a dozen or so woman online. Whether it was on Instagram or some other app, we have become friends and eventually taken the friendship from online to IRL. While connecting with all of these different women from different walks of life I noticed that there was a need for a community in Rhode Island to bring all of us together. I wanted all of these women to be able to meet each other and continue to foster and cultivate relationships.

I reached out to different brands and organizations in hopes that they would bring their events to our tiny state like they do to so many other cities around the country. I was rejected time and time again with responses always leading towards Boston this and Boston that. While Boston is the closest city, it is still an hour away for most of Rhode Island. We needed events closer and that is something that people that aren’t from around here don’t realize. Instead of getting frustrated and blaming those who truly don’t realize that there is the need for this type of community, I went out and decided to create my own.

caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors

While right now we are calling it Dîner en Dehors (translating to outside dinner party), it will most likely have a new name soon. In the meantime, you can still follow us on Instagram at @dinerendehors.

caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors
caitlin-james-community-women-rhode isand-dinner outside-diner en dehors

Outfit Inspiration

While I love following bloggers on Instagram, their styles tend to be different than my own. That silk slip dress looks bomb on you girl and that crop sweater is fire but neither are my style nor could I pull them off with my body type (I know and accept that by the way). So where do I turn for my inspiration? Pinterest is vibing the same way as Instagram and it is harder to find things I like or would look good in. I head to Tuckernuck.

caitlin elizabeth james-tuckernuck-fall-styling inspiration-clothing-fashion.jpg


Tuckernuck is a retail brand that I totally adore. They have a some of their own designs and pieces that are exclusive to the site or store and they also carry big name brands like VINCE, Emerson Fry, and Barbour. They have curated the best of the best to make it easy for us to shop our favorite timeless pieces. In their words, Tuckernuck is “a boutqiue curated for the classic, American lifestyle and inspired by good, old-fashioned fun.” If that doesn’t make you want to shop there, I don’t know what will.

Tuckernuck publishes a Lifestyle Guide seasonally (I believe?) and it is filled with inspiration. While it would be nice to have all of the clothes featured, I can easily draw inspiration and use it as a guide for the clothes I already have in my closet. The styling is amazing and the guide itself is pretty to look at also since the photography is top notch. Basically, it tells a story. They are able to capture outings and adventures that you could realistically take on the Eastern Seaboard. Tuckernuck does not make you feel like they are out of reach or above you. You are reading through an attainable fashion guide and I love that. I’ll give you an idea of what their photos look like below. These images are all from the FW 2018 lifestyle guide.

I think we sometimes forget that there are still look books and magazines out there to find inspiration in. We are so used to scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest (which obviously I still do) that we forget there are so many other ways to find inspiration. I often feel that people forget real blogs and websites exist since they are so often just turning to Instagram. I challenge all of you to find a new blog or website as a source of inspiration this week. I would love for you to come back and comment your favorite blog or shoot me an email and tell me. I can totally come back here and write another post with other sources of inspiration for all of you. Don’t forget to go outside and look around at your surroundings as well. That will always be my favorite source of inspiration.


Here is a little fun fact for all of you also… today marks Dakota’s 5th birthday. I cannot believe this little lady has been on Earth for five years. She may still act like she is a puppy but that post will be coming soon.

 
caitlin elizabeth james-dakota-little lady-puppy-dog-birthday


What is Art?

I think everyone has a different idea of what can be considered art. I am by no means an expert on the subject but I think anything can be art. Thoughts, movement, words. There are so many different ways to interpret the world around us and I think it is fair to say even the world around us is a work of art.

sunset-caitlin james-graphics-creative.jpg
waves-caitlin james-graphics-creative.jpg
clouds-caitlin james-graphics-creative.jpg

I am the farthest thing from a graphic designer but sometimes I like to create random graphics and they always end up just going on my external hard drive never to be seen again. I thought it might be fun to share some of the artwork I have created on here. It might not make much sense to others or even be considered art to some of you but after all, this is my space, right?

If you are here for writing, there will be some of that as well but today, I am sharing a series I did called Land, Sea, and Air. I would love to know what you consider art or see some of your work if you want to send it! This is a safe space and I promise I won’t share it.

Brand Spotlight: Booty by Brabants

Founder, designer, and all-around booty boss, Kelly Brabants, was born and raised in Massachusetts. After a career in NYC and LA, she made her way back to Boston, got her personal training ceritifcaiton, and is now one of the area's most sought-after fitness instructors and personal trainers.  Booty by Brabants classes are a high-intensity, booty-shaping workout infused with energetic dance moves and bootcamp style exercises to ignite your core, booty, legs, and arms.  Brabants' classes can be found all over the city and now, her fashion brand can be found all over the country.

After hearing Brabants speak at the Grander Summit, and seeing people I know post about her classes, I knew I had to visit her pop-up shop.  The store is part of the pop-up experience going on in Seaport but you can most definitely order them online and the product ships FAST.  (I ordered my sports bra Friday and it arrived Saturday.)  When I walked into the store, there were already a handful of other woman in there trying on sports bras, leggings, and shorts.  I was immediately drawn to the v-neck sports bra and the olive green croco leggings.  I went to search among the wall of colors and fabrics when I was told that they were one size fits most.  All I could think to myself was that there was no way a one size sports bra was going to fit and the leggings were going to be too uncomfortable.  

I am happy to say I was proven wrong.  I ended up purchasing the olive green croco set above and I am #oBBBsessed.  I want to be 100% honest with you all so while the v-neck sports bra definitely fit me, it would not have been supportive enough for me to work out in (I am a DD).  The regular cropped sports bra is perfect for me though.  I also saw a half dozen woman purchase or try on the sports bras in all different styles and they fit every. single. one.  Small chest, large chest.  All of us fit.  We also all fit into the different style leggings and shorts.  I could not believe it.  I have shorter and thicker legs and the woman in the fitting room before me had to be 5 inches taller with thin legs and we both fit.  Yes, they looked different on us both but both flattering and we were both comfortable.

I have already worked out in the set once and I loved it.  The croco skin is a bit thicker material so it will also be perfect for the cold winters here in New England.  While working out, the leggings hugged me in all the right places.  The fabric is sourced from Brazil and Brabants has legitimately handpicked the best of the best.  Each piece is stretchable to fit all of your curves ands till remains breathable through the toughest of workouts.  I didn't have to pull and tug at anything, each seam stayed in place.  I also was super nervous because I was sweating a lot in this particular Body Pump class (it was over 90 outside and the fans weren't pumping great).  I had sweat a little through the back of my shirt (TMI? sorry.) but never once did I have sweat marks on the leggings.  They definitely passed my test.  I also got three different compliments on the leggings while I was at the gym that day so I would take that as an all-around win.

Seven Ways to Practice Self-Care

I originally had planned to write about another topic today but after an incredibly inspiring weekend at the Grander Summit, I wanted to talk to you all about self-care.  It is so important to take care of yourself.  I think that people get so busy with life, their work, and their loved ones that they forget to take a second and listen to their bodies and their own minds.  I have a few takeaways from the summit and just a bit of experience with anxiety and needing to take a breather so I came up with this list of seven ways to practice self-care.

self-care_caitlin elizabeth james_blog_self-help
  1. Meditate.  Easier said than done, I know. During the summit, Nastia Liukin (Grander is her company) asked about how we can stay out of our own head while mediating.  What I learned was that you should breathe in through your nose, counting to three.  Then breathe out through your mouth, counting to four.  Focus on that.  It is okay if thoughts creep.  Act as if they are clouds passing by.  Acknowledge the cloud and then let it continue on its' way.
  2. Drink enough water.  Most people do not drink nearly enough water throughout their day.  This could lead to things like dehydration, headaches, tight muscles.  Use a fun cup with a reusable straw.  I always feel like if I am using a straw, I drink more.
  3. Create a ritual that brings you joy.  It could be making the bed, lighting a candle, hugging a significant other, or diffusing essential oils.  Whenever T and I get home from work, we always make sure to give each other a hug before doing anything else.  It makes me happy that he knows that I will always need a hug at the end of my work day, good or bad.  Simple and joyful rituals help us to stay grounded.
  4. Exercise.  This one is something that I dread but it truly does help.  After I retired from gymnastics (aka graduated), I was a bit lost on the whole working out thing.  I will write a post about that another time but when I do get into my groove in the gym, it feels so so good.  I often find that working out clears my mind and refocuses my energy on what I am doing instead of what is running through my head.
  5. Forgive yourself.  Holding things against yourself is never a good thing.  You need to learn to let. it. go.  Anger and grudges hurt no one other than the person holding them.
  6. Let go of people and things that don't bring you joy.  These things are holding you back from living your happiest life.
  7. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling.  If you hold onto something, those feelings will persist.  If you are able to feel those feelings and get the tears or anger out of your system, the sooner you will be able to move on.

 

Gray Malin's Rhode Island Series

For those that aren't familiar with Gray Malin's work, prepare to have all the heart eyes.  Gray (let's pretend he and I are on a first name basis) travels the world creating stunning works of art while hanging out of a helicopter.  He creates cheeky moments that you wish you could live in forever.  His tagline is "make every day a getaway" and I think that is something we should all live by.

You may recognize his fun animal or balloon themed photographs or his overhead beach shots but most recently he created a Rhode Island collection and I am dying over it.  He shot in Newport, Westerly, Narragansett, and on Block Island (or should I say above).  While I absolutely love Gray's Nantucket collection, wish I was on safari with some of those animals, and dream about laying on the beaches in his Hawaii, Thailand, and European shots but there is something special about living in Rhode Island and seeing his vision on the state.  

The below are my top three but I think any Gray Malin piece would be a dream to own.

Is there any other photographer you think I would love?  Currently saving for a Gray Malin piece (one day) but would love to know who else I should be following.

Brand Spotlight: Micale Lynn

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a good scrunchie.  Yes, those giant hair ties that we wore when we were little.  I never really stopped wearing them.  Being a gymnast for 18 years, I have grown quite the collection since every leotard came with a matching one.  Since my leotard days are long gone (gymnastics wise), I had to figure out another option.  While I have bought a few from leotard companies, I found a company that makes fashion-forward options that wear just as tight and comfortable as my old go-to's. 

Enter Micale Lynn.  Not only is the woman behind the brand inspiring and a total boss, the scrunchies seriously rock.  My first experience with Micale Lynn was purchasing a waterproof scrunchie before leaving for my bachelorette in Miami.  I think I wore it every. single. day.  It held my hair in place and it also didn't irritate my wrist while wearing it.  The perfect accessory for any beach or pool day.

caitlin james-scrunchie-micale lynn-brand spotlight
caitlin james-scrunchie-micale lynn-brand spotlight-honeymoon

I then brought my trusty waterproof scrunchie on our honeymoon and it was perfect for snorkeling.  I was able to see all the fish without my hair annoying the bejesus out of me.  It also looked great on my wrist while I held that delicious rum punch!

While the waterproof scrunchie was my first purchase, they sent a chambray scrunchie along with it.  It was such a nice surprise and seriously matches everything.  I was so obsessed with wearing it everyday, I went and bought a striped one.  

caitlin james-scrunchie-micale lynn-brand spotlight-striped-stripes

I have gotten so many compliments on them when they are around my wrist and in my hair.  If you are nervous that they may be too thick for your thin hair, Micale Lynn has you covered.  While I feel like any thickness works for any type of hair, they have options for those who don't!  There are three sizes Micale Lynn makes; regular, medium, and thin.  My most recent purchase has been a thin, sparkly, pink one that I love.  It is just a tad smaller than my others and reminds me of my old gym scrunchies.  

If you don't want ones that are as colorful as mine, they have so many others to chose from.  Solids, animal prints, leather, velvet; so many options!  There is a sleep collection that is a bit silky, a workout collection, and of course the swim ones I mentioned.  If scrunchies aren't your thing at all, Micale Lynn also carries banana clips, claw clips, and styling clips.  You truly need to look at their stuff for yourself.

caitlin james-scrunchie-micale lynn-brand spotlight-striped-stripes

Even Birds Need Nests

Okay so I wrote this post in May of 2017 after attending the Create and Cultivate conference in New York City.  I am clueless on why I never posted it.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is not really a take away for all of you.  (or that I don't think I ever really finished it?) Either way, I think its something that still rings true.  I'll let you read it first and then explain my thoughts.

Gloria Steinem spoke at the conference I attended a few weeks ago and she totally blew my mind. Throughout the day, when speakers were presenting, people were still dilly dallying and talking in the background at different booths. It was irritating but I understood that every speaker was not going to be everyone's cup of tea. I was just hoping that by the time Ms. Steinem took the stage, the other women would quiet down and boy was I pleased because the moment her name was announced, the several hundred women went silent. She has an incredible stage presence that draws you in. We were clinging to every word she said. 
I had a few takeaways from her time on stage. A major key was that it is okay to be a "hopeaholic." You can hang on to hope and believe in yourself and others because sometimes, that really is the only way you're going to make it through (whatever it is your stuck in).  You have to have hope that the future is brighter and that change will happen if you believe in it. Steinem called herself a hopeaholic and I am pretty sure I am one as well. 
Another key that Steinem spoke of really hit home for me. She said "even birds need nests." And boy did I almost cry. For some reason I have been extra emotional lately and her saying that struck that cord in me. You may interpret what she means differently than I did and that is great however, this is what I got out of it; it is okay to go home. Wherever or whomever you call home, it is okay to miss it.  Home is the place you feel safe and sheltered and sometimes, that is all you need.  You can fly anywhere you want and explore the world but you will always have a place to go back to. 

Besides the fact that I am indeed a "hopeaholic," I think I was trying to get at that it's okay to miss home and want to go home.  It is human nature (or bird nature? not sure) to have a home base.  You can be a nomad, a traveler, and explorer, but there is always that place or those people that you will want to go back to.  Even birds need nests.

Selecting a Wedding Venue

Full disclosure here because I am all about being honest... I did a blog post about selecting a wedding venue for my work, Longwood Venues, so I may or may not be using some of the same information.  I promise I'll change it up a bit and add more personal information from my experience.  That being said, we could not have had a better experience with our venue, The Carriage House.  It blew us out of the water and I have pretty high standards since I work for a company that owns five luxury event venues.

caitlin elizabeth james-elizabeth friske photography-selecting a wedding venue

Now that I let you know where I am coming from, I will tell you as much as I can so that you can select your wedding venue with ease.  For starters, decide on the aesthetic of your day.  When you begin your search, you need to make sure you and your fiance are on the same page for what you are looking for.  Make sure your personalities shine through.  Walking into one of the venues I toured screamed Philadelphia to me.  While it was beautiful and I loved the chapel on site, I knew it would not fit the aesthetic I was aiming for.  In addition, T has no connection to Philadelphia other than me.  Why would he want to get married at a wedding venue with nods to a city that means nothing to him?  After leaving that venue, I learned that even though you can make each space your own, it is not easy to plan a style-specific wedding at every venue.

The quality of food is another huge factor when selecting a wedding venue.  As stated on the Longwood blog, "It is important to ask questions about where the food comes from and what items are made in-house.  Find out if the food is prepared on-site or in a commissary.  If the venue’s food is prepared in a commissary, be aware of the use of hot boxes (aka food warmers, meaning food probably sits in these boxes for a period of time before being served to guests).  You should also find out if the food is frozen.  Frozen products are usually lower in quality."  I wanted to use that exact quote because it rings true for so many reasons.  You want to make sure the food is delicious and fresh.  It is a huge part of your day and something your guests will talk about for a long time after the wedding is over.  People are still telling T and me how delicious everything was at our wedding and that The Carriage House had amazing food.  We feel extremely lucky that that was our friends and family's response.  Imagine if it was horrible? Yikes.

The-Carriage-House-Navy-Wedding-by-Elizabeth-Friske-Photography_0086.jpg

Another thing to know before starting your search is a rough estimate for the guest count.  You don't want to waste your time looking at venues that can only fit 100 people if you plan on inviting 230 people.  We assumed that we would invite around 150 when we started selecting a wedding venue.  While we ended up inviting 198 people, we knew ahead of time that our venue could accommodate that because it was something we kept in mind when our search began.  Many venues also have varying spaces that can accommodate different guest counts so make sure you look into that when selecting a wedding venue. 

I also think it is key to have a connection with the employees and salespeople you meet at the venue.  If you don't have a connection, don't let that deter you though.  Find someone at the venue that you feel comfortable with.  You will be speaking to them often throughout the process so you want to make sure you get along.  The saleswoman at The Carriage House made the process extremely fun for me.  She told me that all my dreams were possible (cheese fry bar included).  After we booked, our saleswoman left the venue however, they made it a point to make sure I still felt comfortable and confident in them.  The staff was amazing.  You must listen to your gut.  Take note of how long they take to respond to you and if they listen to your needs.  You want the relationship to be open and transparent.

The last thing I will say is to have fun and relax. Keep in mind that you are about to marry your soul mate so the day will be perfect no matter what.  Check out the Longwood Venues blog for a more in-depth explanation for selecting a wedding venue.  You can also always check out our venues.  We have five throughout New England and I guarantee one will be your dream wedding venue.

caitlin elizabeth james-elizabeth friske photography-selecting a wedding venue1

*All photography in this post is from our wedding photographer, Elizabeth Friske Photography.  I cannot recommend her enough.  Trust me on this. You can check out her blog post about our wedding here.*

#itsbacheloretteszn

Don't worry if you can't keep up, I can't either.  My family and friends have SERIOUSLY outdone themselves over the last year.  For those that follow me, you know I am getting married in about a month but we have been engaged for about a year and eight months.  

We have a super fun situation in which we both have huge families that we are extremely close with and friends in both states we grew up in (plus a dozen other states).  We live in Rhode Island, where Teddy grew up so that makes half the battle a bit easier.  The best way to sum up what I am trying to say is, we have been partying for the last year and a half.  Right after the engagement, we headed to Sea Isle City for an informal celebration with my close friends and family.  Then, around Thanksgiving, we had a second engagement party in New Jersey because the whole family was in town at my mom's house.  We then proceeded to continue the party in Rhode Island when T's mom threw us an engagement party in Newport.  Are you still following?

caitelliott-bachelorette-bridal-blog-new england-lifestyle-bridal post pictures1
caitelliott-bachelorette-bridal-blog-new england-lifestyle-bridal post pictures2

Fast forward to the past few months and I have now had two bridal showers (one in both states) and two/three? bachelorette parties.  It sounds totally crazy but it makes perfect sense to everyone involved, promise, haha.  The weekend of my Jersey shower, me and my besties hit the town in Philadelphia for a night of fun.  I then went to Miami a few weeks after with a smaller group.  Most recently, after my shower at T's mom's house, my girlfriends in Rhode Island surprised us with a night of fun and reckless behavior.  I am guessing you all understand the hashtag now, hahaha.

caitelliott-bachelorette-bridal-blog-new england-lifestyle-bridal post pictures3
caitelliott-bachelorette-bridal-blog-new england-lifestyle-bridal post pictures4

I had gotten a few questions about everything and although it shouldn't matter, I thought I would explain it for those curious.  Teddy still has his bachelor party coming up but his friends joined us this past weekend with mine.  If the last year and a half is any bit of a preview for the wedding, we are all in for the best. weekend. ever!

Target's New Line - Opal House

As much as I love our little cottage, we neeeeeed a new house.  I know it will be some time before we get one but I thought it would be fun to look through Target's new line, Opal House, and see what I would buy.  I fell seriously in love with some pieces.  That chair? Holy cow, I need.  The little elephant would be perfect for a house plant in a bathroom or living room.  It's even cute just styled on its own.  

I would definitely want to get that artificial fiddle leaf fig tree because your girl cannot even keep an air plant alive lately.  It looks pretty real too and the price is great compared to some of the other ones I've seen (exhibit A and exhibit B).  I would probably put the tree's pot into the large woven basket I was eyeing.  I have been loving the way people are using baskets as planters lately.

This bar cart is amazing.  We do have a bar cart already but we could definitely have two if we had a bigger house.  #neverenoughwine  But really, they could be styled in completely different rooms and hold different things.  One doesn't even have to be a "bar cart."  The trinket basket and pillow are just must haves if you ask me.  They would serve no purpose other than being adorable in a new home.

Target Wish List-CaitElliott.com-newengalnd-blog.jpg

Do you love the line as much as I do?  I kind of wish there was a bit more blue and white accessories but it may be a sign that I have enough of those already! 

Wedding Inspiration

We are officially less than two months away from the big day so I decided to finally give you some details.  We don't have a "theme" for our big day but more so an aesthetic.  You would think that my wedding would be all beachy and what not but honestly, that is not how I imagined my day when I was growing up.  I wanted my wedding to reflect my taste (and my future husband's but at the time I didn't have him picked out yet) and that is exactly what it the day will do.  Below is a small snippet of a mood board that reflects some aspects of our day.

wedding inspiration-caitlin-elliott-blog-inspo

For as long as I can remember, I have loved ginger jars and the combination of blue and white.  My dad's mother, one of my mom-moms, has always said that one day, all of her blue and white China would be mine.  Luckily for T and me (and our bank accounts), she has already started handing some down and we get to include it into our decor.  I think she is going to love what I end up using it all for.

The florals throughout the entire day will be white hydrangeas.  I kind of surprised everyone, myself included, when I made that decision.  Sunflowers have always been an obsession with mine.  I love the color yellow and everything that sunflowers stand for but I decided I didn't want them to be surrounding my on my big day.  I will have a sunflower bouquet to toss instead of tossing my own so they won't be completely absent. ;) 

I think the rest of the details within the mood board are kind of self explanatory.  The shoes are the ones I will be wearing that have been so kindly gifted to me by someone insanely special.  The "rsvp" is the font used on our invitations and the graphic I created for our custom stamps on the return envelopes.  I will have to put together a post all about our invitations soon.  They are everything I dreamed of.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this little peak into what our big day will be like.  You can follow along here and on Instagram with the hashtags #caitandtedfinallywed, #itsbacheloretteszn, and #greetingsfromjamestown.

You are a Badass Calendar Review

Not too long ago, I started posting inspirational quotes from my daily calendar on my Instagram stories.  I didn't think as many of you would take notice but darn was I wrong.  You all are constantly messaging me about the quotes, saying thank you, or asking where I got the calendar from. 

 
you are a badass-caitlin-elliott-inspiration-calendar
 

I purchased this calendar on a whim when I start my new job.  It had been sitting on my dresser in the box just waiting to be opened in 2018.  I decided to bring it into work at the end of December anticipating the new year.  I was looking to start the new year on a great note and knew that this would help with some daily affirmations.  I read the book, You are a Badass, about a year ago and it changed my outlook on life.  I think more positively and I do not let other's actions hurt my feelings as much as they used to.  I walk to the beat of my own drum (cliche, I know) and try not to worry about others.  I still have my moments, but the book really helped with my confidence and outlook on the world around me.

I was a little bummed when I realized the calendar is just quotes and excerpts from the book but the reminder every morning is still inspiring.  I suggest reading the book in its whole but having the desk calendar to look at each day is a fun reminder.  The fact that they are the same doesn't discourage me from recommending them.  I still would say they are both awesome to read, especially considering the inexpensive price tag.  

If you read the book or have the calendar, I would love your opinion on it.  Do you love it/dislike it?  Let me know!

North Moat Mountain

T and I went up to New Hampshire with friends to celebrate two (they're twins) birthdays.  We had the best time and came home sore as ever after climbing North Moat Mountain.  When I made it to the top, all I could think of was how that was the hardest thing I have done physically in years.  I totally regretted not having my inhaler but I am so thankful I didn't give up.  I didn't take many pictures that weekend other than climbing the mountain so here are some of those shots!

Treat Yourself

I decided to put together a gift guide for you to treat yourself.  This time of year, everyone is giving back and spoiling others so much that I think we forget to take care of ourselves.  A spa day or a simple manicure could do the trick or you could pick one of these (which I would totally do because seriously... all the heart eyes).

caitelliott-gift-guide-holiday
  1. Louis Vuitton Key Pouch - This is the best way to carry around your keys and cards and license when you are constantly switching bags (guilty!)  I know it looks small but trust me, it fits your cards as well.  I have been using one by Tory Burch from my aunt for years but I think it has seen better days.
  2. Velvet Hair Tie Ribbon - As most of my friends and family know, I am a die hard scrunchie girl.  Most of the time they are my old gymnastics schrunchies that all have matching leotards, might I add.  These little guys are so cute I might actually put the schrunchie away for the day.  I love both the blush and green colors!
  3. Yeti Rambler, 30oz. - I have heard the best reviews on this travel mug and although it is a bit pricier, it's worth it.  And I'm a sucker for pink so....
  4. Barbour Beadnell Waxed Cotton Jacket - I have been dying for this jacket since I was a freshman in college.  One day I will just treat myself to this New England staple, I swear.
  5. What do you Meme? - Similar to cards against humanity but with memes.  Do I need to say more?
  6. Reversible Belt - This Talbots belt is killer.  I spotted it a few months ago and have been lusting after it since.  I also feel like you could justify the price because a. good quality and b. its a two-for-one deal since it is reversible.
  7. Leather Tech Gloves - Sophisticated enough for work but also great because I constantly need to use my phone for work.  Win, win.  These also come in a beautiful pecan color and in black but there is something so fun about the pink.  Probably more practical if I got the pecan though.
  8. Wanderlust Map - This gold scratch of map is perfect for those who want to track where they have been.  I have an app on my phone that I use but kind of thought it would be cool to have something I could physically hang in my dressing/guest room.
  9. Bean Boots - I am obsessed with my bean boots but this pair looks so comfy and warm for those days when I am out shoveling snow or playing with Dakota.  Can you really have too many pairs of bean boots when you live in New England?
  10. Mophie - Here is a little extra that isn't feature above.  I totally forgot I wanted one of these until this very moment.  It is the most intense phone charger and I am pretty positive I am going to need one soon.  I am constantly killing my battery and my spare battery that I got a few years ago.  I have hear amazing things about Mophies and think that they would last much longer.

When was the last time you treated yourself?  My fall treat just came in the mail (hiiii faux fur coat), so these won't be in my hands for a while but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.

Bucket List Item

Similar to Mackenzie's 101 in 1001 list, I have started keeping a New England bucket list.  While yes, these activities and adventures can take place anywhere, I am looking to do them up here.  Some of the travel is out of the country so those do not exactly apply to the New England theme but I promise, for the most part, they all will!

My first list item that I want to share with all of you is... spend the night in a lighthouse. 

caitlin-elliott-bucketlist-lighthouse

There is a surprisingly high number of lighthouses to can rent for the night within New England but I narrowed it down to seven that I would totally go for!

  1. Rose Island Lighthouse - Newport, RI:  this one is right in our backyard practically.  The price is seriously affordable and it is on the national register of historical places. You have to take a boat out to the island but I can think of worse places to be stuck for the night.
  2. Race Point Lighthouse - North Truro, MA:  Depending on the time of year, you can see whales and seals right from the beach.  Talk about a dream to me.
  3. Goose Rocks Light - North Haven, ME: Goose Rocks Light has enough to room for up to six guests!  Lighthouse party anyone?
  4. Borden Flats Lighthouse - Fall River, MA:  Other than a few modern day conveniences (i.e. solar electricity and a modern kitchen), Borden Flats Lighthouse remains true to the late 1800s.  This lighthouse stands alone and has been around for over a century.
  5. Wings Neck Lighthouse - Pocasset, ME:  Wings Neck Lighthouse is a former Coast Guard property that can accommodate up to 8 guests.  Talk about fun!
  6. Little River Lighthouse - Cutler, ME:  Little River Lighthouse is situated on a 15-acre island with stunning views of Cutler Harbor.  Only accessible by boat, this little slice of heaven is a place for relaxation and adventure.
  7. Cuckholds Lighthouse - W. Southport, ME:  Cuckholds Lighthouse actually a luxury Inn.  You can rent a suite or even the whole island and it is the perfect for a romantic getaway or a vacation with family.  A lighthouse you can be pampered at?  Sign. me. up.

October Mood Board

Things have been a bit slow around here lately (not that they are ever really that consistent), but I am looking to change that.  I started my new job at the end of September and love is an understatement.  I feel like I was meant for this job and I cannot wait to continue to grow there.  

Since fall has arrived, the temperatures only dropped to sweater weather for a few days while a hurricane was in town. I am in no rush for the weather to cool down but getting dressed in the morning has proven to be difficult.  I have found that short sleeve sweaters are my go to right now.  They are they perfect in between.  And while I cannot sport my bean boots too often just yet, they will be in heavy rotation soon.

caitlin-elliott-october-mood-board

picnic image via sarah vickers | sweater | bean boot painting via meredith hanson