Sorry for my Absence!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | | 5 comments
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Sorry I've been MIA this last week! On Friday we packed up our lives and moved to Indiana! We are still in the process of unpacking, arranging, organizing, and settling in to our new place. I just got Internet yesterday and caught up on blogs and emails. I promise to make up my absence this past week with some really fabulous posts! Coming up you'll be reading:

1. A post about our new apartment complete with pictures of our new place!
2. A post about our new hometown which is a little Mecca in the Midwest.
3. A brand new, awesome, really cool giveaway from a new shop I discovered!
4. A Cardinal's Baseball Game in pictures, capturing the essence of baseball in photos.
...and our favorite weekly posts...
5. Friday Fashion Flashback!
6. Storytelling in 30 photos.

So bear with me as I catch up with the online world! Being without Internet for a week can be hard on a girl! As I get a few posts together, you can keep up with me on Twitter at: @AHastyLife.

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Storytelling in 30 Photos ~ Day 3

Sunday, June 26, 2011 | | 2 comments
{Storytelling in 30 Photos}

3. a picture of someone in the family ~ How could I choose between my Mom and my Dad?



In a Blue Dress

Friday, June 24, 2011 | | 3 comments
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Those socks are hot...and totally coming back into style! But they should probably be worn with heels, not flats...in case you're thinking about trying out the look. You can find socks like this at J. Crew...also in case you're thinking about trying out the look. Moving on to my outfit: let's start with those awesome silver shoes with a big bow on the toe paired with those hot socks. The socks look kind of lacy don't they? And worn straight up without being folded over...this must have been a more sophisticated look. I bet I grew out of the folded over sock look that I was so fond of earlier in life. I love how the silver shoes perfectly match the silver necklace I'm wearing. This is typical Ashley-style, I enjoy matching! I've always been better at matching than unique color combinations (I'm working on that.) I'm wearing a teal blue dress with long sleeves, a dropped waist, and a pocket. The hair cut is similar to last week's but the bangs are a bit thicker and the cut is a little longer.

I'm perfectly posed on a pinked striped chair (a chair we still have!) and my feet are propped on a crocheted foot stool. We had that stool for a long time, we may eve still have it? This picture was taken at our hold house in Columbia. I have no idea why this picture was taken. Easter maybe? It is difficult to tell. Maybe my Mom thought I looked super cute that day and just wanted to take an outfit picture. Do you think my Mom knew I'd be blogging about fashion later in life and wanted to document the cute outfits I put together as a kid? I think so.

Summer Reading

Monday, June 20, 2011 | | 6 comments
This summer I made it a goal to start reading for fun again. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me tweeting about the books I've been reading. I wanted to write a comprehensive list of books for those of you who have been asking for my list. Now, I'm not a book critic. I tend to like every book I read so this is by no means a way for you to determine which books are "worth" reading and which ones you can pass. I think all books are worth reading, it really takes a lot for me to not finish a book or to flat out not like it. I got something out of each of these books and I'd recommend them all! So with that being said, I ranked the books in order of my favorites since I can't say I didn't like any of them. Hopefully this helps! So here are the books I've read so far this summer, starting with my favorite:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. This is such a beautiful story of friendship and family, love and betrayal. I literally couldn't put it down. It takes a unique look at friendship and family and the love that is arranged in the Chinese culture. I found myself wishing for an arranged friendship! The writing creates a vivid image in your mind and it is truly a beautifully written book.
Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber. This book is about an American chef with a bi-racial background learning how to love without understanding. The dynamic and complicated relationship between the main character and her love interest left me rooting for them to work things out but wondering if it was the best thing for them. A twist in the story leaves you guessing until the very end. The author includes elaborate descriptions of food that inspired me to try cooking Middle Eastern fare.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. A graphic novel about two brothers born in Ethiopia to a nun who died in childbirth and a father who abandoned them. The book describes their struggle living in Ethiopia during a time of conflict and overcoming a personal betrayal. The author graphically describes surgeries as the brothers and their caregivers are all doctors. The story is captivating.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book is getting a lot of attention recently and will be coming out as a major motion picture in August. I can't wait. It is about the servants in Jackson, Mississippi and their "white ladies." Together the servants and one of the white ladies write a book about what it is like to be servants at that time. This is the first book I read this summer and I absolutely loved it. The book is written in the voice of each character which really got me into the book and loving the characters.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. This is a story about two friends living during the "re-education" period in Chinese history when educated children were sent to the country to do physical labor. The two friends had an intense desire to read and learn about other cultures. They risked their lives by stealing and smuggling books to read during their re-education.
The Girl who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow. This is a slice of life story about a girl who is the sole survivor of her family who fell from a roof-top. The book is about how she fell and the people who became a part of her life as a result of the fall. It is an interesting story of relationships and the result of one tragedy in a person's life.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. I'm still reading this book, I'm only one chapter in. It is about a man who walks a tightrope between the twin towers and two brothers who immigrated to America: one a part of a religious order and the other escaping a home country struggling with violence. I'm not yet sure how the two stories come together but I'm already hooked!





This is all I will read before moving to Bloomington. The first thing I'll do after we're moved in is get my library card! I still have many books still on my reading list! I doubt I'll read as many as I did before the move because I will need to start reading the text books for the classes I'll be teaching at Indiana University come Fall. But I'll be sure to post another list at the end of the summer with the books I was able to read between text books. I'm pretty happy that I got this many books read! I hope to continue reading for fun...maybe not a book a week, but perhaps a book a month!

If you have any suggestions for books that I should add to my to-read list, please let me know in the comments! I'm always taking suggestions!

Anyone can be a father...

Friday, June 17, 2011 | | 3 comments
...but it takes someone special to be a Daddy!

bob103

I am so stinkin cute in this picture! Holy moly! This is not a picture that I've seen before, or at least I don't remember it. I kind of want to frame it! This picture is perfect in every way! Especially my outfit...which is the important part of these Friday Fashion Flashback posts. Okay, starting with the blonde hair that you know I love! It is actually a timeless and super cute cut! Those bangs are a perfect length, none of that crazy 80s huge bangs (which I had and have pictures of) the cut isn't a bowl cut that was so popular among kids during this time (which I had a few years prior to this picture.) Nope, this cut is a simple bob with perfect bangs. Love it. And the perfect cut is sweetly accentuated with a large pink bow! Oh. my. gosh! The big hair accessory is coming back in popularity and looks adorable with that hair cut. Then a perfectly matching polo shirt, a fashion staple still in my wardrobe. But this isn't just any old polo, oh no. It has sweet tucks on the sleeves which make it more feminine. I wish this shirt was made for adults, I really want it! You can't see what I'm wearing on bottom but I imagine I'm wear a sweet floral skirt or plaid shorts in pink and purple and blue. And of course I'm probably wearing my Keds with fold-over which socks. And those temporary tattoos on my cheeks really bring the whole outfit together. Don't you think?

Let's not leave my Dad out of this post. Let's focus on that dark brown hair! If you know my Dad, you know he's had fabulous silver hair as far back as most of us can remember. But this proves at one point he had dark brown hair very similar to mine. I'm sorry to say I have hints of gray hair already sprouting from my dark brown hair. I found a cluster of 5 the other day and the only thing my husband had to say was "Like father like daughter." Humph! Anyway, he's also wearing a polo, his from Jeff Jr. a Jr. High School he used to work at in Columbia. It is the school he worked at when I was born and I loved his fellow teachers there. They all had nicknames like Z and KP...they called me AB (Ashley Brooke.) I loved it. I felt like one of them. Sometimes I miss my Dad working at Jeff Jr. He seemed to have so much fun there.

I have no idea where this picture was taken...but I'm LOVING those turquoise bowls in the background!! My heart kind of skips a beat at the thought of a lovely picnic in a park with those fabulous turquoise bowls. And they look like really nice ones, don't they? Like glass! Eeep! I love them. Too bad we have absolutely no extra space for turquoise bowls used for picnicking. Oh, to dream of a house with storage area! ;)

Bob's Famous Smoke Out

Thursday, June 16, 2011 | | 2 comments
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{The Menu}
Pork shoulder with a homemade dry rub
Baby back ribs with a Chinese 5-spice dry rub
Chicken thighs with a Jamican Jerk seasoning rub
Salmon filet with a Penzey's Salmon rub
Beef brisket with a homemade rub
Blue cheese cole slaw
Jack Daniels Baked Beans
Grilled squash, zuchinni and portabella mushrooms with Penzey's spices, feta cheese and reduced Balsamic and honey glaze
Quinoa with smoked butternut squash

{The Directions}
All rubs were put on the meat 24 hours in advance
All meats were cooked in the smoker anywhere between 10 hours and 1 hour
Used chunks of apple wood for the smoke

Inspired by Giada

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | | 3 comments
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I've recently got hooked on watching the Food Network. Why haven't I been hooked until now?? I'm not sure...but I've finally come around and I love watching Giada De Laurentiis (among others.) But I caught her Girl's Grill episode a few weeks ago and I had been dying to try the menu ever since. Eric and I have our kitchen things packed up already, so I had to rely on my Dad to make the meal for us. He did not disappoint! The Girl's Grill menu included:

Beet, Apple, and Cheese Pizzettes
Grilled Corn and Cheese Cakes
Grilled Pineapple, Bananas, and Grapes

(Click above for the recipes)

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Everything was absolutely delicious but the dessert was to die for. Who would guess that grilled pineapple, bananas, and grapes would make such a sinfully delicious dessert? I never would have guessed. For the longest time I thought unless it had chocolate it wasn't dessert. I had been missing out! This could possibly be my favorite dessert of all-time. I'm telling you, this dessert was amazing. So good, I had to include the recipe. There are three parts (the glaze, the cream, and the fruit) and nothing should be skipped. It is the combination of all three that makes this dessert really work!

{Grilled Pineapple, Bananas, and Grapes}
Ingredients
Glaze:
* 1/2 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 large lemon)
* 1 large lemon, zested

Cream:
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
* 2 tablespoons dark rum
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fruit:
* 1 pineapple, skinned and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices, or 8 canned pineapple slices in pineapple juice, drained
* 3 ripe but firm bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise, then halved crosswise
* 6 to 10 red or green grapes, halved
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, for garnish

Directions

For the glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute until smooth. Set aside to cool.

For the cream: In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream until thick. Add the sugar and beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Beat in the yogurt, rum, and vanilla.

For the fruit: Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Sprinkle each side of the pineapple slices with brown sugar. Sprinkle the cut sides of the bananas and grapes with brown sugar. Grill the pineapple until grill-marked and golden, 4 to 5 minutes each side. Grill the bananas and grapes until lightly browned and warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes each side.

Place the grilled pineapple on 4 plates. Top with 3 banana slices and 3 grapes. Drizzle with honey glaze and spoon a dollop of the cream on top. Garnish with chopped fresh mint and serve.

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I'm sorry to say that the dessert was so good I forgot to take a picture. So that should tell you that this dessert is worth trying...right. now.


Mama's Garden

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | | 6 comments
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For as long as I can remember, my parents have always maintained a beautiful garden. I call it Mama's Garden, but really they work together keeping it so beautiful! When I was really little, I would bring my teachers roses from our garden on the first day of school instead of the traditional apple. I would always be so proud to tell them I cut it from our garden just for them. I can't remember a time when we didn't have a lovely garden. Dad was always into beautiful landscaping and Mom was always into colorful flowers so together they had the most lovely garden in the neighborhood. The pictures above are from their garden that I took over the weekend. (I have the ability to take some nice photos when I try.)

A couple summers ago (or was it just last summer?) Mom commissioned the oh-so-talented Fifi Flowers to do a painting of her garden. It was a particularly beautiful garden that year, all of the flowers seemed to bloom in unison and I was thrilled my mom thought of Fifi to document the beauty. I'm a huge fan of Fifi's work. She does commissioned work as well as beautiful original paintings with a French flair. I have a list a mile long of paintings I want to commission her to do (on a longer list of things to purchase when my husband and I both have real jobs.) If you haven't heard of Fifi before, click on the link above and check out her web site. The painting my Mom commissioned is pictured below.

As I'm preparing to leave "home" for the first time, I asked my Mom if I could take the painting of her garden with me to my new home in Indiana. She hesitated for just a moment and then said of course, that she would love for me to have it. I know it will be a wonderful reminder of my childhood home and hopefully keep me from getting too homesick. I'm very excited about our move but it will be the first time I've been away from my family for more than a summer...a permanent separation if you will. I know I'll only be 6 hours away, but my parents are my best friends and I'll miss them greatly. This painting was such a generous gesture on my Mom's part so that I can have a piece of home in my new home.

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My Joplin, MO Post + Fabulous Friends

Monday, June 13, 2011 | | 6 comments
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Most of my local blogging friends have done a Joplin, MO post. Usually a tribute to those who were affected by the tornadoes, giving advice on how to donate or help the cause, sharing articles about miracle stories and happy endings (and not-so-happy endings.) I didn't really know what to write about. I was in shock about everything, really. I was born and raised in mid-Missouri and we learn at a young age that tornadoes are fun to watch and when we hear the siren we go outside and look for it. When the weather gets bad sometimes (rarely) we'll go to the safest spot in the house with occasional trips to the window in hopes to see a dark funnel cloud. I had friends from the east coast who I'd tease about actually taking cover when the sirens go off. Then I hear about Joplin...

I just can't imagine losing everything.

My good friend Beth (middle) lost everything. She told us the whole story this past weekend and this is what I remember, some facts may not be accurate:
She and her husband had plans to go to a movie that evening. But it had started raining and she didn't want to get wet from the rain so they decided to stay at home. They were watching television and the t.v. flickered a little. Beth thought she better go to the bathroom now before they lose power because she didn't want to go when it was pitch-black. Her husband went to the window to check things out. (It's a Missouri thing, I think.) He thought he saw debris but it could have been birds, he wasn't sure. Beth took a look and together they decided it looked like roof shingles. It was a frightening sight, from what I can gather. They grabbed a candle and maybe a few other things (I can't remember.) Beth remembers wondering if she should bring in the brand new potted plants they purchased...they were in really pretty ceramic pots and she had to convince her husband to get the good ones. She would have felt bad if they were knocked over and broken. She decides to leave them and her and her husband hunker down in the bathroom. Mere seconds later they hear items outside the bathroom door slamming against the door and walls. At some point the bathroom door flies into the bathroom and an outdoor wall is ripped away. Beth is screaming and hiding her head as we were taught in Elementary school. Her husband saw a lot of it, including the wall being ripped away. An image Beth is glad she doesn't have in her head. The tornado lasted maybe a few minutes, probably less. Beth and her husband just kept saying how much they loved each other. When it was clear, Beth's husband took a look around at the damage. There wasn't much left of their house, pretty much their bathroom and their garage was the only thing still standing. If the wall hadn't be ripped away there probably wouldn't have been a way for them to get out of the house. The roof was standing vertical outside of the bathroom door. The rest of their house was rubble, as was their neighborhood. Beth escaped with a gash on her foot, but no further damage to either her or her husband. They are very well loved and many people were looking for them but the cell phone service was out. Beth and her husband began walking to a neighborhood that hadn't been affected by the tornado and where some of their friends lived. But before they could get there, they ran into other friends who had come looking for them. Those friends drove them to a hospital for Beth to get stitches in her foot and they got them clothing and the essentials for the night. Can you imagine better friends? I got shivers hearing Beth say how well she was taken care of.

They pretty much lost everything. They found a few items of clothing that they were able to salvage, their wedding album, and a few odds and ends. Her wedding dress can't be found, all of her pictures are ripped and soaked with rain, her furniture is ruined, her cell phone was gone, her brand new sleep number bed was destroyed, everything was gone. But Beth and her husband survived, which is more than some people got away with. So we all consider ourselves lucky to have her here with us.

She came back to her hometown to visit her parents this weekend so we hastily planned a brunch for her. Andrea (second from the right) really put the whole thing together. We've all been friends since at least middle school, some of us even Elementary school. So we were so excited to have Beth with us! We each brought an item to share (I brought mimosas because I thought Beth deserved a drink after what she had been through) but there was Monkey Bread, Breakfast Casserole, Mini Quiche, and bagels. Everything was amazing. We also put together a modest gift basket for Beth with some of the daily essentials that we thought she might need. Things such as Jenga (the game) and a laundry basket. Yes, we are great friends. :)

Storytelling in 30 Photos

Sunday, June 12, 2011 | | 4 comments
The 30 Days of Truth series I blogged about every Sunday came to an end last week. I've been searching for a new series to start all over the internet and this one really stuck out to me. Several of my blogging buddies have participated and I really enjoy their posts! I hope you enjoy this new series!
{Storytelling in 30 Photos}
1. Someone i spend a lot of time with ~ Who do I spend more time with than my husband?

2. a picture of myself
3. a picture of someone in the family
4. a picture of something that makes me happy
5. an old picture of myself
6. a picture of a sibling
7. a class photo
8. a random photo of you and your significant other
9. a picture i’ve never posted before
10. a relative of mine
11. a person i can tell everything to
12. a picture from everyday life
13. a picture from a place i love
14. a picture that reminds me of old times
15. a picture from a great night
16. an unusual picture
17. a picture of my spare time
18. a picture of people who are closest to me
19. a picture of a person who is always there
20. a picture of a time in life i miss
21. a picture from last summer
22. a picture that makes me sad
23. a picture i always laugh about
24. a crazy picture
25. latest picture of myself
26. a picture of my parents at my age
27. a picture from the best days of your life
28. a picture from my favorite vacation
29. a picture of an accomplishment
30. a picture i’m satisfied with


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Friday, June 10, 2011 | | 3 comments

Who does love playing in a bin full of plastic balls? And this bin was huge! I kind of wish I could have a bin of plastic balls in my house to play around in. Wouldn't that be awesome? Maybe I'll get one after I have children and use them as an excuse. ;) I have no clue where this picture was taken, I have no recollection of this event. But, I look like I'm having SO much fun in this picture!

It is difficult to tell what I'm wearing in this picture, but I have no doubts it was adorable. It looks like I'm wearing a red, white, and blue top with matching shorts (or a jumper perhaps?) I think I have a red bow in my hair, which I love even today! I will definitely dress my baby girl with large bows in her hair. And she will probably rip them out the moment I look the other way. I'm wearing white folded down socks (a staple of my youth) and I can only assume I'm wearing my beloved Keds. And again, the super blonde hair is back!

I have no idea who the other kids are in this picture. I seem to have no interest in them. But I love that the kid in yellow is preppy looking in his polo shirt. I imagine this is how I'll dress my son. A yellow polo shirt with plaid shorts and Sperry Topsiders. He'll be a mini-Eric. That outfit is definitely a classic Eric look. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with how Eric dresses. He often dresses himself better than I could dress him. I'm so proud of my husband. :)

Inspiration: Kitchen

Thursday, June 9, 2011 | | 7 comments

I. Love. Food. Big foodie here! Some may even call me a food snob. But I just see it as a strong appreciation for really good food! Thus, my kitchen is inspiration for....awesome food. Unfortunately, having spent the last three years in graduate school the time I have to spend in my inspiring kitchen has been naught. Sometimes my husband and I find a free day to make a really awesome meal, but they are few and far between. Currently, we are in the process of packing up our home and moving to Indiana so my kitchen isn't very inspiring. Thus, I seek inspiration from the kitchens of my favorite restaurants.

1. Sycamore: Pork Belly Sliders with Apple Slaw. Eric and I ate lunch at Sycamore this past Tuesday. He ordered a swordfish sandwich, which I tried forgetting it was fish and it was pretty good...I generally only like shell fish. But it didn't hold a candle to my Pork Belly Sliders with Apple Slaw. I can't wait to try to recreate these!

2. On the Rise: Croque Madame. The first time we ever had Croque Madame was at Taste by Niche, a restaurant in St. Louis. I've never had a better meal, it was too good to be true. I still dream of having a meal that good. I couldn't get enough. So when I saw a version of Croque Madame on the menu at On the Rise, I suggested Eric try it. We were surprised to find out that this Croque Madam was made with beef instead of ham. I can't wait to try making Croque Madam in my new kitchen!

3. On the Rise: Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza with balsamic red onions. Over the weekend Eric and I drove to Springfield for his cousin's wedding. On our way, we stopped by to grab lunch at On the Rise. I ordered this amazing pizza, I mean, doesn't a fig and goat cheese pizza with balsamic red onions sound amazing?? My mouth was salivating after just reading the menu. This seems like an easy one to recreate. This may be the first thing I try in my new kitchen!

I'm super excited about my move to Indiana. We are moving to a brand new apartment, in fabulous condition. Our kitchen will be smaller in our new place, but newer and nicer! It will surely inspire us to cook more often and Eric is even thinking about taking cooking classes! Talk about inspiration!!

Art in the Park ~ 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | | 7 comments
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Art in the Park is one of my favorite Columbia traditions. And one of the things I'll miss the most (but will probably come back for) after moving to Indiana. I discover the best artists at this event. Last year I discovered Jenny McGee and became her biggest fan (and I would be the biggest supporter if I didn't have bills.) I received my first Jenny McGee piece as a Christmas gift last year. It was a painting done on an antique window. I just adore it. My heart melts a little each time I pass it. It currently resides in my living room but it will be a focal piece for our bedroom after we move. This year, I treated myself to this piece as a moving/new job/graduation gift:

"The Dapper Dogwood on Brandon St" 30" x 40" - Milk-paint, clay, crushed pearls on sustainable forrest wood frame.
OMG, even the image on this blog post makes my heart flutter a little bit. I have a huge soft spot for original art work and a massive soft spot for Jenny McGee work. I would buy her out if I didn't (like I said) have bills to pay. This darling will be the key piece in our living room, hanging above the sofa. I can't wait to hang it! Unfortunately, It will have to remain packed for another several weeks. But I look at it everyday through the bubble wrap and am content knowing I have the most beautiful piece of art work ever made. ;)

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I've been looking for a unique mug to be my "office mug" for my daily morning coffee. Eric and I purchased a Keurig for my new office at Indiana University but now I need the perfect mug from which to drink my Keurig coffee. I really like the ones made my potters and there were many fabulous potters at Art in the Park. But due to my aforementioned purchase, I couldn't bring myself to buy yet another thing. So I've put my coffee mug purchase on hold. Maybe Indiana will have some equally talented potters. 

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Art in the Park has really taken off since the first year I attended. Each year it seems there are more and more artists and even more talented than the previous year. Even though Jenny McGee continues to be my favorite, I admire the talent of all the featured artists at this event. There may come a year that I can afford to purchase a Jenny McGee piece AND a mug! ;) Next year perhaps? Now that I'll have a real job? I wish Art in the Park happened more than once a year, although my pocket book is thankful it doesn't.

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Another very successful year for Art in the Park. Thank you Columbia!

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What I wore:
Tank top: Ann Taylor LOFT
Skirt: J. Crew
Sandals: Cole Haan
Purse: Coach
Sunglasses: Ray Baan
Sweat: c/o the blistering heat of the sun

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