The Details: A bright spot.


I love fresh flowers. Normally they're simply carnations or maybe tulips. Nothing expensive nor extravagant. Just some little spot of bright, fresh life to keep around the house. I wandered into Whole Foods the other day and came across these beautifully bright ranunculus flowers for just $5 and I snatched them right up.

I am in love with them.

Spring has not quite sprung here in Chicago. Most days are still cold and it even snowed a bit this past Sunday. But a few days here, the sun has shone so brightly it almost didn't matter that it was only 34 degrees.

So I'll keep waiting and throwing bits of Spring around the house until Spring decides to arrive outside.

(Also, be on the lookout this Monday for a "bloom" desktop wallpaper download. Eeek!)

In my closet: Easy vacation essentials

1 Lands' End sandals / 2 Kate Spade Twirl perfume / 3 mintgreen spiral-bound Paris notebook(found at Marshalls) /
4 Old Navy bow bracelet / 5 Coach sunglasses / 6 pink nail polish / 7 Old Navy gold bow headband /
8 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen / 9 Target metallic sandals / 10 Kate Spade gold bow earrings /
11 Vera Bradley watercolor floral clutch / 12 Marc Jacobs rose gold watch via Fossil Outlet

With Spring Break on most everyone's mind (whether you have time off or not!), I thought I'd put together a little list of my easiest vacation essentials. Since pulling together inspiration from around the internets always gives me a serious case of the gimmes, I wanted to put together my list using pieces I already own. 

I chose a theme, pinks and metallics, and then went through my closet to see what I could come up with. And I was pleasantly surprised with what I already own! The only new piece were the metallic sandals from Target (at a very affordable $16.99!). 

So here's the challenge: Rather than pulling inspiration and most likely pulling out our wallets, let's see how we can combine pieces we already have, no? I'd absolutely love to see what you come up with! If you decide to take me up on the challenge, would you be so kind as to link back to this post? And of course, I'd love to see what you've come up with so please, please leave a link in the comments so I can find you!

A little something to say thank you.

Happy Friday, all. This is an especially happy Friday because it's the Friday before vacation, which is mostly the best Friday there is.

You may have noticed the absence of the Radiant series on Wednesday. We're taking a little break from that for the next couple weeks until some new stories come in. If you'd like to be a part of the series, send me an e-mail at emily {at} ohhellolove {dot} com and let me know!

On Monday, we spoke about the importance of women supporting one another. If you haven't check out the comments, there are some great little stories of how you all have been supported. Leave your story and encourage us to keep encouraging each other!


On the Facebook page, I shared that I had made the graphic from that post into wallpaper for my phones and got some great responses to it! So I took a quick poll and asked what background colors you'd like to see, and these were the winners: Turquoise, purple and lime green.

I'm placing the files here for download for you all as a way of saying thank you for participating and reading and sharing and commenting and encouraging. I simply ask that if you do share the wallpapers, please link back to this post. (Files are copyrighted by me and cannot be sold in any way or included in any sort of download. They are for your personal use only and not commercial use. Thanks!)

Purple Dreams iPhone Wallpaper
available here
Turquoise Dreams iPhone Wallpaper
available here
Coral Dreams iPhone Wallpaper
available here
Lime Green Dreams iPhone Wallpaper
available here
To install as phone wallpaper:
1) Click on the link of the wallpaper you wish to download
2) Click on file, then download (or simply click the down arrow under "File")
3) Once downloaded, upload in an e-mail to yourself.
4) Open the e-mail on your phone and save the image then set as wallpaper.
5) Remind yourself daily that you got this and then go out there and chase down those dreams of yours!

Enjoy these and enjoy your weekend. Here's to hoping spring makes a real appearance sometime soon!

Enough.

A friend came over to my house the other night to try some clothes I had cleaned out from my closet. As she sifted through the piles, she'd pull out a shirt or a sweater and say, "I love this but I don't think I could pull it off. Do you think I could?"

I told her I thought, with a bit of confidence, she could pull off whatever she loved.

I think we, women in particular, have a tendency to box ourselves in. We think there are styles we can't wear, words we can't speak, dreams we can't chase down because we are not _______ enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Talented enough. So we wait for that ever elusive day in the future when we will finally be enough. But that day rarely comes.

When I started my job seven years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be in the position I am now in. I was younger than everyone else and less experienced. And each step of the way, each increase in responsibility, each new task, I've fought against it, always with the protest, "But I'm too young. I'm not experienced enough yet." 

But I've been incredibly lucky. There are many very talented women in my workplace. Women who saw something in me that I simply couldn't seen in myself. Women who have encouraged me and mentored me and helped me to see that I am enough. So each of my protests have been met with equal encouragements. With their support, I have grown and learned and come to believe that I am enough.



With the support of these strong and confident women, I have become strong and confident myself. 

We must remind one another that we are enough. That our dreams are possible. That we have within us everything we need to make those dreams happen. We must support each other, encourage each other and appreciate each other. 

So share with me, no? How have you been supported by other women? And how are you supporting other women?

Absurd hope.


When I was in college, John Paul II passed away. I remember standing in line at the coffee shop on campus, watching TV as they announced the next pope. It was the first time I had witnessed that in my life and I couldn't help but feel I had watched something important. In the moment, I felt the overwhelming awe of being connected with 1.2 billion other people and a strong sense of hope for the future of the Church.

Eight years or so later, turns out I wasn't 100% wild about this last pope.

Oh, but this next one, Pope Francis? I've got some big hopes and dreams for him.

Admittedly, being Hispanic myself and having graduated from a Jesuit university, I am decidedly biased toward this first ever Hispanic and first ever Jesuit pope. I am excited for this departure from tradition and I am excited for my (distant future) children to think, "Hey! The pope speaks the same language as me!" Furthermore, Pope Francis electing to use the name Francis is also, I hope, a sign of a changes. The name, from Francis of Assisi, has come to represent simplicity, humility, poverty. Accounts of him washing the feet of the often discarded populations only increases my enthusiasm for this pope and his values. I am excited for what I hope will be a continued departure from popedom and Catholicism of recent years and a return to what I think it ought to be about: love lived out.

I have written before about how I believe that to follow Jesus means to care about what He cares about. To rejoice when others rejoice. To hurt when others hurt. To place ourselves among the marginalized and forgotten. To seek justice for those in society who have been pushed aside. To love and to hope beyond reason. 

If you are not Catholic, you have probably grown tired of hearing about all this. It's overtaken every news station. It's hard to be enthusiastic about an institution that has hurt many and destroyed others.  For all those hurts, I am truly and deeply sorry. It breaks my heart to think about the way the Church has broken the hearts and souls of so many. 

Through the years, though, I remain Catholic and hold on to my beliefs. Faith is rarely easy. I'd venture a guess that if it's easy, you're not asking enough questions. But I hold on, despite it all, because of my hope. In the ability of good to prevail over evil. In the knowledge that we are imperfect and that an imperfect church is a reflection of our imperfect selves rather than a reflection of God himself. In the relief that there is something greater than our imperfections out there. 

I could be a cynic and in recent years, I have been to an extent. But I'd like not to be. At the end of my life, should it turn out that I was completely misguided in my thinking, I will (hopefully) be left with a life lived with passion, hope and love. 

I might be wrong about this pope and the direction the Church could be headed in. For all my unanswered questions, I might be wrong about faith and Jesus and the entire meaning of life. And if I am wrong, at the end of my life, will I be worse off for it? Will I look back and think that I should have loved less, judged more, given of myself less freely, spent less time with the despaired and forgotten? Will I regret believing in the transformative power of hope?

I might be wrong, but then, I just might be right. And whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong, would it change the trajectory of my life?

So I'll continue to take my chances on faith. I'd rather live with love and hope anyways.

Radiant: Hannah J. Holmes

Wednesday is becoming one of my favorite days of the week. I am enjoying so much all of these Radiant stories and, judging by your kind words left in the comments, you all are, too! 

This week, I've invited Hannah from Hannah J. Holmes to write some words on her experience of love. I've admired Hannah's writing for quite some months now and was thrilled when she agreed to participate. Hannah's story is the first in the series about romantic love.

I've always felt strongly that romantic love is in no way superior to other kinds of love, such as the love of a parent for a child, the love between sisters and brothers, or even the love between two close friends, which can be a strong and inexplicable force. And yet, as I mentally flip through the pages of my life and try to think of one small moment, one subtle but meaningful expression of love, all I can think of is my husband: the countless times he has made me coffee when I was groggy in the morning or brought home chocolate when I was feeling sad.


These small moments are the threads that hold together the fabric of our marriage; out of love, my husband buys ten boxes of chicken broth when I have a cold, and in turn I am so wonderfully surprised by his thoughtfulness that I can't help but love him more than I ever thought possible.

When I was a child, I thought of my wedding day as some sort of enormous turning point, some kind of epitome of my love for whoever I would marry. But now, my wedding day is over, and as time marches forward, it seems less and less important, as it fades into the distance. On my wedding day, I wore an extremely heavy ball gown and ate an expensive, delicious cake, but my marriage is something altogether different, something much more pleasant and beautiful and difficult to define. I feel like I am exploring some vast unknown territory and everyday I learn and discover more. My husband is unique and gentle and kind but also complicated and infuriating and excellent at cooking seafood. He is so many things, and our marriage relationship is ever shifting, growing, changing. And in some strange, almost magical way, though the roads are often riddled with bumps and potholes, every turn thus far has been for the better.


I could no more choose one single expression of love from my husband to pinpoint than I could choose a favorite sister or parent. I can think of so many moments of exhaustion or tears when my husband was my only comfort. He has cooked so many meals and told so many stories. There have been hundreds of cups of coffee and loads of laundry. I have folded his underwear, and he has folded mine. We have fought. We have shouted. We have hugged. We have watched many, many movies. He may watch a romantic comedy though he craves explosions, and I may watch an action movie though I crave romance. Love is demonstrated through actions and all of these small, perhaps seemingly insignificant instances between my husband and I are the very definition of our love for each other. I do not think of love as an abstract concept. I think of love as my husband, early in the morning, turning on the coffee pot then cooking breakfast. 

Hannah made such an important point that I think bears highlighting and repeating. She wrote about how as a child, she expected the wedding day to be "some sort of enormous turning point, some kind of epitome of my love for whoever I would marry." She then goes on to explain how her actual experience has been quite different as their "marriage relationship is ever shifting, growing, changing."

I think it's so important to share the truth of marriage, that it's beauty lies far beyond the wedding day. That companionship that grows over time, through difficult times and joyous times alike, in my experience, has been beyond my expectations.

So good news, brides and brides to-be: the wedding is wonderful but life after the wedding is even better. So don't fret over the sit-down dinner or the buffet, the roses or the peonies, the open bar or the drink tickets. It will all be okay. And if it's not, well, there's a beautiful life waiting for you afterwards.

For more in the Radiant series, check out these stories by fabulously talented women bloggers:

And be sure to check out more of Hannah's writing over at Hannah J. Holmes.

The Details: Book Shelf

Monday, right? That's about all I have to say about that.

I wanted to share with you some small glimpses of the little things in our house that make it feel like home. I don't plan on making this a formal series, but just something to share from time to time when the inspiration strikes. 

When I was a kid, I always slept with roughly a billion stuffed animals. My parents referred to my bed as a nest. Each night, we'd have to clear out a little spot for me to sleep. And while, as an adult, I no longer have stuffed animals in my bed, I love to make my home feel similarly cozy. 

These little parts of our home have become incredibly meaningful to me. Adrian and I have never been sure when we would leave Chicago, so for a time, our apartment went largely undecorated because I felt there was no point in doing so if it would only be temporary. Then one day, I realized, I have to make this too small apartment a home. It's in my blood and it's who I am. It's our little sanctuary.

So this, that I'm sharing with you all today, is the bookshelf in our living room. I struggle with this bookshelf. I love to read so it's necessary, but we just don't have the space to have the large, beautifully styled bookcase of my dreams. So in the meantime, we're making this bookcase work.

On a rare weekend off, Adrian and I headed out to a farmer's market here in the city. There we found these beyond adorable little succulents. We decided to put them in these glass jars, vases. I have no idea if that's right for them or how long they'll last. So we'll just have to see. I have a history of killing plants and I have a feeling that streak will probably continue.

I'm loving this little corner of our apartment.  And loving these little plants!

Flowers and a beautiful book.


If you follow me on instagram, you may have caught this photo from Valentine's Day. Each year on Valentine's Day, Adrian and I like to show some extra love to three of my very favorite lady friends. Two of them are single and I know that Valentine's Day can be tough on the fabulously independent ladies.

This year, Adrian actually came up with the idea to spray paint some vases and fill them with brightly colored flowers. We had to go a couple different places but we eventually found some suitable flowers.



A few weeks before Valentine's Day, I spotted this incredible little book, "She" by Kobi Yamada, on Alejandra's blog, Imaginale. I bought the book for myself immediately. The minute it arrived at my house, I sat down and read it over and over again. It reminded me so much of how I'd always dreamed I would be. With so much heart and radiance and joie de vivre. And after a few years of battling out some anxiety, I feel like I am finally headed back in that direction of bright smiles and a full heart.

So of course, a few days later, I went back on Amazon and ordered four more copies to give out to some important girls. Then, on Valentine's Day, Adrian and I headed out to deliver the flowers and this the greatest little book, reminding them that they are absolutely wonderful ladies whose friendship brightens our time here in Chicago.



I wholeheartedly recommend buying this book for every woman you adore. It is such a necessary reminder to keep chasing those dreams and to continue to discover whatever it is that makes us come alive.

Sigh. Flowers and a beautiful book. I am loving life these days.

Radiant: Lacey in the City

So it's March and the month of love has come and gone but I am loving the stories I've been receiving for this Radiant series far too much to stop. So Radiant continues until I stop receiving amazing stories!

This next story comes from one of my favorite bloggers turned google hangout friends, Lacey of Lacey in the City. When I asked her if she'd like to contribute, she was incredibly busy with work and wasn't sure she had an unwritten story to tell. She asked if I'd mind if she could share a story she'd written a few years back and I said that was completely fine with me. Then she jokingly asked if she could tell the story about how she pulled the fastest break-up and cross-country move ever because she discovered she loved herself too much to be in that relationship. And I begged her to tell that story! Luckily, she agreed.

I am so excited that Lacey wrote this story and was willing to share it. I think it's a story that needs to be told and needs to be heard.

August 2011.  That's the first time I rode in an ambulance with Dom.

We'd been tail-gating all day in the hot summer New Jersey sun, and singing the evening away with some friends while we enjoyed a sold-out Kenny Chesney concert.  Eventually, the combination of all day sun exposure, the many beers we'd consumed throughout the tail-gating and the concert, and Dom's clinical anxiety disorder made for a really negative turn of events.  Dom snapped at me, yelled at me in front of our friends, because he didn't like that I'd sat down in the middle of one of Kenny's songs.  I walked away, trying to avoid a fight.  He chased after me, lost me in the crowd, had a panic attack because he was so worked up, and unbeknownst to me, he passed out in the middle of Meadowlands Stadium.  I got a call from his phone, but the person speaking wasn't Dom - as the EMTs were getting him onto a gurney to take him to the medical wing, he had started yelling my name.  They found my name in his phone and hoped I was there to come claim him.  After two hours in the medical wing of the stadium with no luck at calming him down, the EMTs called an ambulance, and I followed as Dom was loaded in on his stretcher.  

I spent that night outside of his hospital room sobbing.  I was alone, so alone, and I had the weight on my shoulders of always caring for this man, who, at this point in our relationship, could only act as a fully-functioning adult fifty-percent of the time.  I was freezing, soaked from the rain that had started coming down earlier in the night, and I was starving.  And I had to figure out how to get myself and a drugged-up Dom back to our hotel room forty-five minutes away from the rural New Jersey hospital that the ambulance had taken us to.

After that, Dom's days came in even more extreme waves than they had prior to the concert.  I found out he had stopped taking his medicine.  I'm not crazy, I feel so much better when I'm not medicated, Lace.  I don't want to be drugged my whole life.  I begged him to see a therapist, or better yet, a psychiatrist.  Even more than that, I pleaded with him to take his medicine that kept his moods and anxiety attacks in check.  It was a constant argument, one that I could never win for more than a week at a time.

He had fits.  One time before he realized what he'd even done, he'd shoved me against a wall in our Connecticut apartment.  It didn't take him but a split second to snap back to reality once he saw the flash of anger in my eyes.  I am a strong and extremely independent woman, and he knew he had crossed the uncrossable line.

Despite it all, I loved him so much.  I forgave so much.  I forgave too much.  

In October, it came to light that he'd been having inappropriate conversations with the girlfriend he dated before me.  He said he'd stop.  (I found out later that, of course, he never stopped.)  In December, he stopped by home before he went to meet a client (who was not shy about making it obvious that she had a thing for Dom) for work drinks one Thursday night.  He said he'd be home by 730 pm, and I said that I'd have dinner ready on the table when he got home.  

I didn't see him again until 9 am, the next morning.  

I had been up worried to absolute sickness, calling the police station, the hospitals, even his parents and his best friend, all trying to find him.  When he finally came home that next morning, I knew the truth.  (If I'm honest with myself, I think I knew the truth even as I watched the sunlight creep into the sky that morning, but tried to deny that he would do something so blatantly cruel.)  He'd stayed out late with the client, gotten drunk with her, and ended up in bed with her that night, two blocks away from the apartment he and I shared.

That fateful Friday morning, we fought.  I sobbed.  I shook.  I couldn't breathe.  I made him leave for the weekend, and I told him not to come back until Monday night.  As soon as he shut the door behind him, I knew what I had to do.

By Sunday night, everything I owned had been packed into my car or donated to Goodwill.  Anything of worth that I couldn't fit into my SUV, I gave to my amazing neighbors who had provided me with unwavering support throughout the entire ordeal.

By Monday morning, my neighbor dropped me off at White Plains Airport in Westchester, NY, and I walked through airport security to board my one-way flight back to Los Angeles.

Dom never saw me again.

---

I found out about Dom's clinical anxiety disorder a year into us dating, when he decided to stop taking his medication.  After almost two years of loving Dom, and after a full year of dealing with an unmedicated Dom, I finally realized that I was offering love to someone else, in sacrifice of loving myself.  I'd been putting his needs before my own self-worth, and I was miserable as a result of it.  When I finally snapped out of it all and was able to reassess my situation and what I deserved, I knew I had to leave.

Because I love myself more than that.


I absolutely love this story. I so often hear stories of women, friends, who are in relationships where they are constantly giving and taking care of and sacrificing without that loving sacrifice being reciprocated. Where their partner is the center, the focus, the recipient of so much love. And the woman is left to attempt to take care of herself.

I love that Lacey left and I love that she loved herself enough to leave.

If you have missed other stories in the Radiant series, you can find them here:
Radiant with Empirically Erin



Signature Scent.


When Adrian and I first started dating, I loved that he always smelled good. I was 23 at the time and couldn't afford much more than Bath and Body Works body spray. He bought my first actual perfume, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and I loooooooooved it. Absolutely loved it. That was also the first time that I realized a decent perfume stayed with you throughout the day. No offense to BBW, but those sprays last about..oohh..five minutes.

I've always wanted to be one of those women who has a signature scent. A woman who wears the same perfume day in and day out so then when you're out and about and you come across that scent elsewhere, you automatically remember that woman.

When we were kids, we got out of school early on Wednesdays. My mom worked so we would go to our neighbor's house where she would take care of us until my mom got home. She was a wonderfully kind woman. Always with a smile and a laugh. She had a barn with goats and horses and all kinds of places to explore. She always burned candles in the kitchen and to this day, warm and cozy scents always remind me of her and her home and the Wednesdays we spent there.

So for five years now, I've been looking for that perfect scent. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but with every perfume I came across, I knew it was not that.

Until Saturday.

Oh Kate Spade, you just get me. Your bright colors. Your joie de vivre. Your light, soft and slightly sweet perfume. When you open up that precious little box of Twirl, it says "She had a cocktail in hand and confetti in her hair." Yes. Yes. Yes.

I am in love. I've finally found my scent and I am ecstatic.

And best of all? I found it at Marshall's for less than a Bath and Body Works perfume. I will be stocking up, for sure.

Okay, so tell me now, do you have a signature scent? Which? Do particular scents remember you of certain places, times or loved ones?

Oscars Party.

Each year when Oscars night rolls around, I think to myself, "I should've thrown a party!" And then each consecutive year I forget.

Not this year, my friends. Not this year. When I spotted these beautiful Oscars bingo and ballot cards on How About Orange, I knew this year it was happening. So I spread the word to some friends and Adrian and I got to planning. 


After doing a bit of Pinterest research (of course!), I knew exactly what I wanted to do: a champagne cocktail bar. I was thrilled when I realized during my research that I already had the sparkly tinsel stirrers already in my possession just waiting, waiting for the perfect event.

For the bar, we set out blood orange juice, peach mango juice, pomegranate blueberry juice, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and, of course, champagne for people to mix as they liked.


Adrian made egg rolls, some filled with shrimp and others with buffalo chicken. Then he stuffed mushrooms with onions, little pieces of turkey bacon, jalapeƱo, and cream cheese. A friend brought veggies and dip and another brought hummus. 

The ballots and bingo were perfect for my crowd. Not everyone was super into the Oscars, but they were definitely into the competition of it all. We had a great time yelling at the TV, hoping for one of our Bingo squares to happen so we could check it off. And my ballot? You know it was horrible. Suffice it to say, voting in less than 1 minute does not a winning ballot make.

We had such a great time with friends. Eating, drinking, live tweeting, shouting, and laughing. Adrian and I agreed. We would definitely do this party again next year.
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