Our New England Adventure – The Rhode Island Edition

After a weeklong tour of the New England coast, we’re back in northern Virginia with bellies full of fresh seafood and as much of a tan as the Massachusetts and Maine sun will allow. Simply put – the vacation was wicked pissah (see what I did there?). Because vacation recap posts are the equivalent of 70’s era slideshow of Aunt Esther’s trip to Acapulco, I’ve decided to breakdown the week into three separate posts. You have been warned.


We’re apparently machinists because we chose to drive through New York City and Connecticut on a Friday afternoon. In June. It quickly became obvious that we weren’t the only ones heading to the shore that weekend. I’m sure the big city hotshots in Maseratis (we spotted five!) were rolling their eyes at our Subaru with a car top carrier but that’s how we roll – we’re so pedestrian that it hurts. After about 10 hours, we finally arrived in Rhode Island.


The next day, we drove over the largest suspension bridge in New England to Newport and spent the morning exploring one of the oldest cities in the United States. Newport also has a strong Navy presence so as is the case with most Navy towns we visit, we cursed the majority of Army locations throughout the world (Fort Polk anyone?).


We ate on the water, enjoying a lunch consisting of fresh steamers, grilled shrimp, and a hot lobster roll.




Don’t worry, we brought Violet on this trip.


After lunch we walked around the harbor some more before getting back on the road. We left fans of the smallest state and hope to return someday. Next up, Cape Cod.


A Dreamy and Magical Light

While I fancy myself a literature fan, I’ve never been able to fully appreciate poetry beyond liking the occasional ‘real’ poem and dirty limerick. I just don’t really get poetry. So it’s of no surprise that I actually enjoy the majority of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s work because he was criticized for pandering to the masses and wrote principally in lyrical form – exactly my cup of poetry tea.

Then followed that beautiful season, Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints! Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.

excerpt from Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, Part the First II, 1847

The swamp effect is in full force in the DC area and our air conditioner is constantly telling us that he’s giving it all he’s got in a Scottish brogue. Our calendar is full of big and small trips alike and my hair is engaged in a constant battle with the humidity, which means I’m rocking a ponytail more often than not (because I am a girl with long hair it must be a rule that I publicly complain about the humidity at least once a week).


During the weeks we are home, I’m planning little jaunts for the kids in effort to encourage their sense of adventure and make the most of what will likely be our last full summer in the area. I’m not sure how often I’ll be writing here this summer. Maybe a lot. But more than likely, just a little.


We’re leaving for our first true vacation as a family of four later this week (we don’t count visits to our family in NC and GA as true vacations). I get to experience a state I haven’t been to yet (only four more to go!) and hopefully participate in a lobster tour and a whale watch. Clay is excited to show us where he vacationed every year growing up and we’re both ready to escape the national capital region for a little bit.

photo-2 So posting here may be sporadic throughout the summer. No one is gripping the edge of their seat in anticipation of what we’re up to next or what is on my mind at any particular moment, but the occasional reader family member may be curious (or just bored). So I recommend following my Instagram, which is shaping up to be my social media platform of choice as far as pictures are concerned. Please feel free to follow me @clemsonkaren. You can also see my latest pictures on the sidebar of this blog. Here’s to filling our summer days with a dreamy and magical light!

The Quest for Effortlessly Casual

I didn’t put on any make-up yesterday since it’s {unofficially} summer and I’ve been regularly using my moisturizing face sunless tanner. I thought I looked okay. Unfortunately, I was asked by three separate people if I felt okay and if I was getting enough sleep. So that’s nice. My daily make-up routine is less than five-minutes and consists of mainly ULTA products (i.e. not expensive) but apparently it is necessary for ensuring that I don’t look like death warmed over.

photo My right eye sort of looks like Marty Feldman’s.

Make-up and hair are not my areas of expertise. I use cheap drug store shampoo and conditioner with the occasional coconut oil treatment because they get the job done without requiring a second mortgage. As long as my hair is a shade of dark blonde, I’m happy. And I don’t even own a hair straightener anymore. My make-up stash is minimal and I still have been unable to master the art of using liquid eyeliner. And I think my eyebrows could use some help. Basically, I can be a hot mess at times.

That being said, I am still as vain as the next person. I care about what I look like and constantly work toward not looking like that mom. You know – the one wearing mom jeans/shorts, with a mom haircut, and carrying a mom purse (I’m 1 for 3 – my purse is a diaper bag. A very nice diaper bag but still a diaper bag). I briefly flirted with cutting my hair short a couple of years ago but thankfully snapped out of it because an ill-fated 9th grade haircut that left me resembling a mushroom. I once had a college friend tell me that long hair on women over 30 is unbecoming and reeks of desperation. She was the epitome of old school southern charm and since I am obviously not a debutante, I’m okay with bucking that particular hair rule.


This is how I picture our family outings.

My ultimate goal is to look effortlessly casual with perfect hair and make-up. An unattainable goal, sure, but a goal nonetheless. I like to think that I look better with age – I might as well capitalize on that. Currently, I like to wear breezy dresses and regular shorts because cute bermudas make my knees look like swollen weapons. I keep searching for a maxi dress that isn’t too short or doesn’t make me look five months pregnant but have come up empty handed. Apparently I am not meant to be that cool. And obviously I should wear at least a little bit of make-up when out and about to discourage concern about my well-being. I am a constant work-in-progress. So what are some of your favorite effortlessly casual beauty and wardrobe tricks? Please share!