Pet Portrait Class of 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019

When I shared I began exploring watercolor and was open to doing pet portraits for the holiday season... I was completely floored by the response! While I've always had a love of painting, I'm relatively new to the world of watercolor. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who placed an order this season and brought my artwork into your homes! These sweet pups (and kitties) certainly brightened up my holiday season - I can't wait to continue painting them in the new year!

And if you didn't see my instagram post, the shop is once again LIVE! If you see a portrait below that is in the likeness of your own pup and would like something similar, please feel free to download the image and reattach it with your order!


2019 Sorority Travels

Monday, December 9, 2019

My yearly recap of sorority travels has become one of my favorite things to do! I get to reminisce on all of the outstanding opportunities I have received to see the world around me and reflect on all that I have learned in the process. Often on each of these trips I get an "ah ha" moment that reminds me just how lucky I am to be part of an organization whose mission and purpose I resonate with so strongly; and feel grateful for my co-workers who I genuinely enjoy / have built close relationships with during my time here. This year was no exception!

If you've read my 2016, 2017, or 2018 recaps, you may notice that some of these events sound familiar. The nature of our organization requires that we host events that are experiences familiar to our membership - they look forward to it and we can easily update what is needed to accommodate new strategies or trends. Our collegiate leaders have regular yearly turnover - this means that the same or slightly updated material must be taught year over year to this new audience. Our premier recruitment education training program, The Workout, is hosted every year while our celebratory meeting, National Convention, is held every two years. My department, Membership Growth, does our best to host our recruitment-specific volunteers once a year for a retreat where we not only celebrate milestones, but also conduct training, set goals for the upcoming year and often welcome new volunteers into the fold. Other visits of course include getting to work with some of the chapters I virtually support daily!

With all that said, here's the recap on my fourth year of travels with Alpha Xi Delta!

January | All Staff Retreat | Indianapolis, IN

Our staff structure is set up where about half of our employees work at our Fraternity Headquarters in Indianapolis and the other half, like myself, work remotely from our home offices across the country. We typically start off a new calendar year with an All-Staff Retreat so we can get some face-to-face time together to both get some work done and spend some quality time together! As you can see, outside of work, we got to try axe throwing!

April | OmegaFi Tech Summit | Columbus, OH

I started off my birthday month by traveling to the OmegaFi Tech Summit in Columbus, Ohio! While “tech” isn’t necessarily my speciality, I know for certain that the fraternity and sorority experience is more engaging today because of these innovative products and services!

We also celebrated hashtagWorld Autism Awareness Day by “lighting it up blue” and got to tour the new Kappa Kappa Gamma Headquarters! But even a tech conference can embrace good old pen and paper - a live note taker / artist created this masterpiece (bottom right) to help attendees visualize the experience!

May/June | The Workout | Atlanta, GA

This summer programming event is one of the most highly anticipated of the year. We get the opportunity to collaborate with other departments on staff to ensure everything from facilities to printed materials are aligned with our brand and deliver our standard quality of education. Plus, this event is the culmination of a lot of hard work in developing new resources and content related to strategic membership recruitment. It's long hours and hard work, but easily some of the most rewarding work we do!

We say this every year, but each year the leadership that attends this event gets better and better. What better testament is there for strategic recruitment than that? We tell our membership they should always be recruiting better than themselves. While this mentality can often be hard to swallow and forces us to identify areas of growth, the ability to do so makes us better people and an overall better organization. This year was no exception - I absolutely loved my small group and each attendee that I had the opportunity to interact with!

This year was incredibly special to me because I was able to announce my engagement to my fiance with all of my work and volunteer friends. Andrew and I got engaged literally the night before I got on a plane for this trip. It was an incredible surprise and incredible timing too (thanks honey!).

July | National Convention | Seattle, WA

This was my third Alpha Xi Delta National Convention and my second as a staff member for the organization. I was fortunate enough to attend my first Convention as a collegiate member in San Francisco, CA before joining staff and attending my second in Chicago, IL.

This Convention was the first that I had truly paid attention to the educational programming available. I graduated with my master's in adult education just a few months prior to this trip, so I feel that I had a heightened awareness of what others in my field were doing. I am constantly in awe of the talented, creative, and intelligent women that I am privileged to call my Sisters. Sometimes I look around and I think how the hell did they let me in here? I was totally pumped when I received news that a new program I developed was selected to be presented. This was so special to me because while I typically present recruitment-related programs, this one in particular was written on my own time on a topic I became passionate about during my master's studies: career readiness. I created this program to help Alpha Xi Deltas learn about personal branding, resume building, interview confidence, as well as social media presence when entering or re-entering the job market. Outside of this I helped write and facilitate our normal recruitment-relation education content.

In the hours we weren't working we got the chance to explore the city a little. Some thoughts on what we were able to see:
  • Space Needle - Did you even go to Seattle if you didn't get a picture of this? We didn't get the chance to really experience it, but a must-see when you're in the area.
  • Museum of Pop Culture - LOVED IT! I'm a big fan of museums in general, but this one is extremely interactive and good for all ages. Also, fantastic event space. 
  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery - I'm not a coffee drinker so I wasn't sure if this would be exciting for me, but this was SO cool! This was describe to me as a bar that incorporated Starbucks coffees and teas into alcoholic beverages. It was a massive space much like an open brewery with two smaller bars, multiple food stations, the traditional coffee service, and gift displays throughout. 
  • Pike's Place Market - Felt like this was a staple but felt a little too touristy for me. Most of the market has perishable goods that weren't really relevant for us to purchase while traveling and we visited on a Saturday afternoon so it was packed. Glad to say we saw it but probably wouldn't go again!
  • Gum Wall - Technically near the market but had to include it. This was WILD. People were having photo shoots with gum and some people ATE the gum off the walls. 
  • Pier 57 - This is where the Seattle Great Ferris Wheel is... I got to see the water and a ferry boat (shout out Grey's) and it was just a good photo op (see below). It was mostly tourist attractions and we could see the entire are in about 30 minutes. We lucked out and the weather was beautiful, so we enjoyed this time to see the views!

August | Oklahoma State University Panhellenic Recruitment | Stillwater, OK

I feel like I'm most helpful for during recruitment season when I can support hands-on - I can see the event space(s) we are working with and provide data support with more context. I began working with our chapter at Oklahoma State when I first started on staff and this was the first year I was able to be there in-person for recruitment! As usual, little sleep, but I loved being back in a town that everything revolves around the university!

December | Recruitment Territory Director Retreat | Orlando, FL

And to wrap it up, one of my favorite trips of the year! Our RTD Retreat gives our team a time to reflect on the year together, identify how we can improve, and set new goals for the upcoming season. Our organization is so lucky to have volunteers that truly enjoy the work they do and enjoy each other! 

Now I'm ready to kick off year FIVE! Crazy, right?

Hosting Friendsgiving

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The key to any successful Friendsgiving is preparation, organization, and communication. Oh, and most likely cooking a turkey on your own with limited parental guidance. Yikes... but more on that later. The further I move from home the more I've come to appreciate my friends. I'm not saying adult friendships are hard, but I am saying that we have way more responsibilities now. I literally have SO. MANY. THOUGHTS. on hosting and entertaining and there's no way this post will capture everything, but here's a healthy preface that this post is a little lengthy.

Something about October makes my body crave turkey. When that hits, I start thinking about Friendsgiving. The women in my family have our ~real~ Thanksgiving covered and I rarely have any ~real~ responsibility, so I relish hosting my own gathering each year where my Type A / Enneagram 1 / OCD event-planning tendencies get the opportunity to shine. In the process of planning this year's Friendsgiving, I figured jotting down my planning process might be helpful to others (or at least my future self - looking at you 2020 Kenz).

Let's face it - everyone's busy. The earlier you get the date on the calendar, the better. However, that's not saying you can't throw together everyone's favorite dishes and rally the troops in just a few days. If you've got the time, start in early October:
  1. Find a few dates on your personal calendar that would work for you. Decide what you're comfortable with (weeknight / weekend / daytime / nighttime). 
  2. Text your key players to get their availability and thoughts. You want to make sure that these people can attend first before widening the circle. Ask preferences on dates/times/locations, people they think should be included on the guest list, and any must-haves for the event.
    • If you're hosting on a Saturday and your group plans on going out after, you may want to have either an earlier in the day (lunchtime) affair to give people some time to regroup (read: nap) before the night. OR go for a traditional dinnertime and head straight into the evening festivities. 
    • People love their Sundays. Don't make it too early where it will either interfere with church (or sleeping in) but don't make it too late where guests will worry about getting home / regrouping to start their work week off strong.
    • I like to tell guests to arrive one hour before you're expecting the turkey is ready to be carved. Take the 30-40 minutes your turkey is resting to let guests use your oven to keep dishes warm. Ex: Guests arrive at 2:00pm, turkey out of the oven at 2:30pm, turkey is being carved around 3:00pm. Plenty of room for late arrivals and you won't feel either rushed or behind. 
  3. Set Up Sign Up Genius for menu planning and assigning - here's a template for the one I've used the past three years! Even the most friendliest of friends don't like getting blown up in a group chat. Do this before invites so you can send the link in your initial communication!
    • When choosing your own dish to bring, remember it is the hosts' job to cook the bird. If you're hosting and choose to make additional items, remember that your oven will be occupied the majority of day. Go for a charcuterie board, salad, or dessert you can make the night before.
  4. Send out invites with ALL details. My personal preference is through a Facebook event. Everyone can see who is invited plus there's an easy way to both communicate and keep and eye on the head count. Outside of date and time, think about the little stuff. Do you have room for your friends to invite others? Are we looking fly in the kitchen or are leggings the move? What about food allergies or dietary restrictions? BYOB?

The week before you have three main objectives:
  1. Follow up with the larger group - and individually as necessary - to confirm who is attending and reminding them about the dish assignments. If there are any changes to the guest list throughout the week, you'll want to communicate these so friends know how many they need to prepare their dish(es) for.
  2. Purchase your materials! There's going to be an array of materials and ingredients you'll want to have on hand. Outside of what you need for your dish(es):
    • If you've got enough china, glassware, and cutlery to serve your lot - awesome! If not or if you're looking for an easier cleanup, you can go disposable, just make sure it is heavy-duty! Disposable water cups, cocktail cups, napkins, and plastic serving utensils are also great to have on hand!
    • Non-alcoholic beverages can be difficult to transport but are necessary to provide. You should always have water and iced tea but you could get creative with a La Croix station or punch (people can then use these as mixers as well to add their own alcohol if desired). Also, pick up a fresh Sharpie so friends can keep track of their drinks by writing their name directly on their cup (an Expo marker works great if you're using glass)!
    • You can always have the above items and those similar on your Sign Up Genius as an option for friends who aren't comfortable in the kitchen (read: can't cook to save their lives). 
  3. Lastly, BUY YOUR TURKEY! Find your turkey recipe and call for help if needed! Seriously, do not wait until the last minute on this, especially if you're making your first.

I believe that any Thanksgiving feast is not complete without a turkey. If you've never cooked one before, it can feel quite intimidating. Here are a few quick tips to help with planning:
    • ***Frozen turkeys will take 24 hours for every 5 pounds to defrost. Remember, it won't hurt your turkey to spend an extra day or two in the refrigerator, but it will derail your day if you wait too late and try to prepare a fully or partially frozen turkey. *I've always used a frozen turkey.
    • ***Fresh turkeys are great, but most stores won't carry them until around the week before Thanksgiving. Don't count on this being available if you're preparing your Friendsgiving weeks ahead of the actual holiday. 
    • ***You'll need 1lb. per person OR 1 & 1/2 lbs. per person if you want leftovers.
    • ***Give yourself about 45 minutes of prep then 20 minutes of cooking per pound.
    • ***Basic Materials: roasting pan (never had any issues with the disposable), baking sheet large enough to hold the roasting pan if disposable (the turkey will most likely be too heavy and cause your pan to collapse on it's own without the sheet underneath), bulb baster, tin foil OR turkey bag, meat thermometer.

Do a dry-run of your event. From start to finish, what do you need? While you're doing mise en place for the dishes your cooking the next day, go ahead and survey the rest of your home too. Decorations aren't necessary but if you're like me, they're mandatory. I like to make decorations interactive when possible; have friends write down their favorite holiday tradition or guess the weight of the turkey (prizes are always fun). I also like to have a seat for every person attending - it doesn't have to be formal or even at a table. Bring in tailgate chairs if you need to; it's Friendsgiving, not a wedding.

Also.... Clean. Your. House. Remove the clutter and simplify your space. Think: Where will people put their jackets when they come in? Is there enough counter space for all the food? Should we create a separate drink station? Also, remember to spread out around your space. Consider putting appetizers and drinks in the living room or even outside as to not create kitchen chaos. An ice bucket (or even clean ice in a cooler) is a great idea to have on standby.

Lastly, prepare anything and everything you can the night before. Pick out your Spotify playlist and make sure any technology is charged. Figure out which games will be on TV and which channels they'll be played on. Brew your tea, hang that banner, and get that pie in the oven!

The rules of hosting are simple and finite. Did I mean to use a Legally Blonde reference? Yes. Is it still applicable? Absolutely yes. You're first and main obligation as a host is to make your guests feel welcome. Not everything will be perfect - but what fun would that be? Do your best to relax and enjoy the moment. Whether you've got the perfect turkey or a bucket of fried chicken, remember the reason of the season and enjoy time with your people. At the end of the day, focus on the friendships and the rest will fall in line. Oh, and for the love of all things good in the world, if you're invited to Friendsgiving: bring what you signed up for and don't show up late.

Super Simple Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I've been working on the perfect sugar cookie recipe for almost two years now. I've made them for everything from work retreats to asking my bridesmaids. Designer cookies without the price (because your girl is not paying $20+ for sugar and butter). Even my cousin who is a pretty decent chef in her own right said - and I quote - "these cookies are pretty good". She's not one to heave out compliments often, so I'm taking that stamp of approval and running with it. I've also not received a complaint yet, so I figured I'll share my recipe with those who are interested! I do have one disclaimer... in the world of casual-baking, I'm relatively new. But I've got a few ground rules about anything I try to tackle by myself! The recipe must:
  • Be easy.... aka no fancy tools, no crazy ingredients. If I can't find it (without help) at the Harris Teeter or if I don't have the tool in my pantry (pre-wedding registry), then it's just not happening.
  • Look pretty when it's done. I love to make things as much as the next person, but I fall under the philosophy of "pics or it didn't happen" on the homemade goods. If it's going to come out and you have to say "just wait until you taste it", then I'm probably not making it.
So that's why these cookies are so easy. If you have the right tools (cough, hand-mixer, cough) then they're super easy. This particular recipe makes cookies that are meant to be covered/decorated with royal icing - this is not the recipe I would use for a more traditional sugar cookie that is sprinkled with granulated sugar!

Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • Tools: Two mixing bowls (large and medium size), rolling pin, cookie sheet, cookie cutters, parchment paper is optional but I prefer it!
Here's how you do it:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Optional: throw your cookie sheet(s) into the refrigerator. I like to keep my cookie sheets cold so the cookies keep their shape as I'm preparing the whole sheet. I usually use two medium-to-large size cookie sheets so I can alternate cutting shapes and cooking a batch until I run out of dough.
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Cream together butter and granulated sugar until smooth. You can use a mixer to help with the butter, but if you're mixing by hand, pop those bad boys in the microwave for like 15 seconds before adding to the sugar. 
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Mix in egg as well as vanilla & almond extracts.
  • Bowl #2 (medium) In the separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Little by little add in the dry mixture to the wet. Mixture should be roughly like Play-Doh. You DO NOT have to chill this dough. If you need to make the dough in advance, you can chill it, but bring back to room temperature before rolling out.
  • Scatter some all purpose flour onto a clean surface.
  • Roll out workable sections of dough onto floured surface - you want this dough to still be relatively thick (about 1/4 inch but not less).
  • Cut desired shapes and place onto cookie sheet (cooled and with parchment paper if desired).
  • Bake 6-8 minutes per sheet. I have found that in my oven, 7 minutes is perfect!
  • Place on cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating! 
  • If not decorating until the next day, remember to cover cookies so they do not get stale overnight!

My biggest tip for these is to make the cookies one day and decorate them the next. Altogether can feel like a bit much for one night - not matter how precise you are with a pipe bag. You HAVE to let these cookies cool before you decorate them. If you don't have time for that and you're reading this in an attempt to make something tonight... just go get yourself some break-and-bakes and call it a day. 

Sharing more about royal icing soon... I promise. This post was long enough. 

Wedding Day Inspiration

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Although I went to school for event planning and even worked as a wedding planner for a period of time, I cannot say that I've always had a clear vision for what I imagined my wedding would be. I've always loved weddings, but I've never been the girl who always dreamed about hers being a certain way. Nevertheless, I couldn't be happier to be back in my element - planning out details that I know will remain sentimental to Andrew and I throughout our lives.

In the process of selecting our venues and vendors, almost everyone we have inquired with or solidified has asked for us to identify three words that we would use to describe our vision for our wedding day. At first I felt the exercise was a bit cheesy - BUT it ended up providing us some guidance as moved throughout the process and kept bringing us back to our overall goals. We used the words of elegant, timeless, and festive to help guide us into selecting Sacred Heart Church for our ceremony and the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel for our reception.
While North Carolina has some of the most spectacular views and destinations, we've never imagined our wedding as an outdoor affair. We wanted the pomp and circumstance of big church wedding and are going the route of a ballroom reception to help us create the atmosphere we want to achieve. The church is historic and the ballroom has stunning, modern chandeliers with a neutral pallet. With many outdoor-focused venues, there's so many elements you have to bring in or create from scratch. Rentals can get more costly and catering staff may have to work kitchen spaces where they may be unaccustomed. I loved the fact that our venue is already a formal setting with their own kitchen and staff housed in the facility. I also knew that our budget would most likely not allow us to fully transform an outdoor space into an elegant and *comfortable* affair in the North Carolina August heat. We feel confident that no matter which elements of decor we select, our venues will provide us an aesthetic backdrop that we love.
As someone who loves color and especially loves a good event theme, I have to constantly remind myself that "timeless" is a goal of our event. I want to be able to look back on our wedding photos, eighty years from now, and feel that the style and aesthetic is something I'd still feel comfortable with and proud of. Andrew and I are lucky to share the same viewpoints on our style and what we'd like to prioritize. We've decided to stick with a classic white and black scheme with hints of "greenery" - meaning that we are hoping the elements of green come from our florals or other aspects not as obvious as guest table linens or bridesmaids dresses. Green is my all-time favorite color and I think will be a great "pop" to mix in during this season where depending on the weather, it could be extremely hot, middle of a hurricane, or finally starting to cool down for fall (fingers crossed!).
You know that feeling when there's something in the air that just makes you excited? For some its tailgating before a big game, others it might be a graduation. There's something celebratory about the feeling of "festive" that I'm hoping to capture for our wedding day. Of course Andrew and I are excited to begin our lives together as husband and wife - we want to ensure that our guests also feel that sense of excitement and liveliness that we will be feeling. We want to celebrate the making of this moment - our fondest memories and favorite shared items, whether it be a signature cocktail or our home state's designated flower. There's also something hospitable about festivities. There's good food and beverages - let's not forget about entertainment. But more than that, people are taken care of. We want our guests to feel that they too are a priority on our day because they mean so much to us. We wouldn't be the people we are today without our friends and families who support us.

All that being said, here are the pictures I've gathered to help guide our planning process! Fingers crossed as we continue bringing this vision to life!

My Blue & White Obsession

Monday, September 9, 2019

Photo: Randi Garrett Design

Growing up I was always given the opportunity to make my room my own. My childhood bedroom's walls had every color under the rainbow and my room hosted a vintage furniture set that had seen even more color. My parents even let me paint a cheetah print pattern on the side of my dresser for a brief period in high school. Mind you, this was before I realized the value of vintage furniture or discovered furniture lacquer. I have been known to take flea market furniture and make a weekend project of it and absolutely love to rearrange furniture (several times a year) - a quality Andrew is still learning to love.

It wasn't until my later years in college that I felt that I was finally developing a style that could mature with me as I aged. I started to value more quality decor but still loved that flea market feel - something with a story. My grandmother's collection of blue and white chinoiserie is the perfect example of this; her curating abilities are quite impressive. I began to take an interest in her pieces and upon moving into my first real home after college, she gifted me my first piece from her very own collection. I quickly learned that these antiques were tough to find and could get quite expensive. Being a recent college graduate then, I didn't have the time or money to support my newfound addiction. In browsing for inspiration on Instagram I stumped upon an account selling all sorts of antique goods.

It didn't take long for me to fall down the rabbit hole that is the Instagram antique scene. There is literally an entire community of sellers who spend their time curating collections of all types and at all price points. I'm not a gambler, and thank goodness, because the rush you can get during one of their sales is quite intense! Limited quantities or even one-of-a-kind pieces mean that you have to act fast or the good stuff gets gone. Read below for some of my favorite accounts who I affectionately call my "dealers" - remember to read through each page's rules if you plan on shopping. Most require that you drop your zip code in the comments to reserve the piece and most also allow you to write "backup" in the comments if the piece is taken but you'd like to be next in line if it falls through. I've scored a few pieces this way so don't be afraid to show your interest; you never know when they'll come across something similar and reach back out to you first!

Anyone who has been to my home can vouch for my obsession and many quite frequently ask where they can find some of their own. Well, here's my answer!

Plate & Plaid | @plateandplaid | Mondays @ 7:30pm EST
     J. Cline Vintage Collection | @jclinevintage
Affordably Chic Art | @affordablychicart
K Sweigart Collection | @ksweigartcollection
Lillian Grey's Vintage Home | @lilliangreysvintagehome
The Paisley Pagoda | @the_paisleypagoda
Pepper Leigh Eclectic | @pepperleigheclectic
Curated & Company | @curatedandcompany | Thursdays 7:30pm EST
   Seven Street Market | @sevenstreetmarket
Turner & Moss Vintage Home | @shopturnerandmoss
Le Grand Collier Estate | @legrandcollierestate

I used to hoard as much blue and white as possible, but now I prefer to seek fewer, higher quality pieces and mix them in with other elements like brass, wicker or rattan, tortoise, tan leather, and silver (this last one is a new one for me, I used to be a strictly gold gal!). In addition to browsing pieces through Instagram sellers, there's a ton through more traditional retailers as well. I love supporting small businesses, but if you're in a time crunch and looking for something specific, you may need to branch out. Here are some of my favorites available online now:

And finally, if that wasn't enough for you, there's a lot of blue and white inspired decor / entertaining items / gifts as well. Here are some of my favorites:

From left to right: Monogrammed cocktail linen | Bed Bath & Beyond throw pillowTuckernuck tumblers

From left to right: Jayes Studio pajamas | Kiel James Patrick earrings | Oak Lane ginger jar square tray | Frontgate ginger jar ornaments

Our Engagement Session

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

We just received our full gallery of photos from our engagement session in downtown Raleigh and I’ve been itching to share from the moment they hit my inbox! Our photographer, Becca Rizzo, is so talented and fun to work with - I cannot say enough good things about her.

I met Becca while attending the Making Things Happen Conference this spring in Chapel Hill. We were the last two standing in the running for the 'spring chicken' award - or youngest in attendance.  Following the conference we became friends on social media and I quickly fell in love with her light and airy style of photography. I also knew by her personality that she’d make an outstanding vendor for our day! Having someone you enjoy being around is important for one of the most important days of your life.

Andrew and I loved getting dressed up and exploring our city before we move to Washington, DC in just a few weeks. I think these photos will always serve as a sentimental tribute to a city that means so much to both of us and played a major role in our relationship. Spoiler: this wasn't the first time we had 'real' photos taken, nor will our wedding day be our first time as 'bride and groom'. Back in 2014 when I was a wedding planner, we had the opportunity to step in for a styled shoot I created with my team for Southern Bride & Groom. Yet, our engagement session felt different... new and exciting for many reasons. I'm so happy with how they turned out: a little silly, a little celebratory, and definitely reflective of our style.

Next, on to August 29, 2020 when we tie the knot (for real this time)!

Dresses: Calvin Klein (at Macy’s) and Gal Meets Glam (at Dillard’s)

Articles Club

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Last night was my very last Articles Club while living in North Carolina. A bittersweet ending during my last few weeks here before I begin this new chapter in Washington, D.C. with Andrew! Our monthly club was created in 2015 and has been co-hosted by the fabulous Stephanie Shaul and Emily Thomas. I began attending not so long after I graduated college; I was in a new city with a new job and searching to connect with people with whom I had something in common. I had been following Stephanie on Instagram as a (then) fellow wedding industry professional, but had never met her in person when I saw her blog post about starting an Articles Club.

As Andrew and I finalize packing for our big move in August, I realize I can't pack up the club with me to Washington. BUT I can start a new group once I get there! If you're in the D.C. area and interested in joining, please see the details below and shoot me an email!

Articles Club is very similar to a book club - minus the books. Friends get together to share their thoughts and questions on whatever was selected. Everyone brings a dish and there's typically a bottle (or five) of wine to help get the conversation flowing. We've always hosted within someone's home, but you could easily host it at a favorite restaurant or coffee shop!

Articles (as opposed to books) allow multiple perspectives on a single topic or theme and most importantly, allow others to participate even if they only have a few minutes to dedicate to reading. My favorite part about Articles Club is the mixture of individuals who attend - different backgrounds and viewpoints spark much more lively discussions. In a world where people often struggle to face differing opinions, I cherish that our club created a space where religion, politics, race, and other dividing factors can be discussed openly.

Each month we get together to discuss two or three articles - usually related through a common theme - that were selected by one of our group members. I love that we also usually end up discussing related books, television series, blogs, podcasts, or documentaries related to the topic. I usually leave feeling a little more 'in-the-know' than when I came. I've created a master list of most of the articles we discussed (see below) to give you a feel of the topics or help you out if you're looking to start your own club in your area! I know that getting together with friends during the busy seasons of life can seem difficult, much less sifting through the surface level of 'catching up' to have deep conversations. But from my experience, my friendships that experience these levels of connections are much stronger and fulfilling because of them. Start small, take the plunge! And if you end up being able to rally the troops, make sure you select the next month's meeting date/time/location before you leave the current meeting. It's much easier to schedule when everyone has their calendars in front of them rather than coordinating through text or email!

With that being said, I've come to realize I'd be a little sad without these monthly get-togethers. Plus, what better way to get to know people in a new city than by discussing all the things you're not supposed to discuss?  So, if you're in the D.C. area and want to join me on Tuesday, September 17th at 7:30pm, please shoot me an email at so I can add you to our group!

Well, that's all she wrote! Or in this case, read. I absolutely can't wait to connect with those of you who are interested in creating a D.C. Articles Club. If anyone has a great article or theme to add to this ever-growing list, please shoot them my way!


Articles (grouped by theme, alphabetically):

Photo credit: