My Sister’s Love Story [Featuring BHLDN]

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

I’ve been incredibly blessed to have extraordinary men marry into my family. My youngest sister, Rebecca, and her husband Paul have a relationship that makes me cry for utter joy any time I see or hear anything that even reminds me of them. I mean that literally. Songs, smells, recipes that Rebecca makes for Paul, people that resemble one of them…it’s a real thing. And now, my middle sister, Rachel, is getting married to a man named Eric. I feel just the same. I call him “the good egg”.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

BHLDN was lovely enough to partner with me on sharing their story! So I photographed Rachel in the Ephra Gown on a snowy day in Lexington, KY at the beautiful old apartment building I used to live in with Rachel — the one that will be their first home!

Rebecca sat down with Rachel and Eric a few weeks ago to talk about how it all began…

Rachel: Ahhhhh, well, Eric was working at Amazon as a workflow analyst. I got hired as a seasonal costumer service associate and we were taking a tour of the building.

Eric: She was wearing a purple coat and high heels and was a full head taller than everyone else.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: While we were taking our new hire orientation tour of the building…

Eric: I was going to get some coffee and ran into their group, and their tour guide introduced me to their group, and I awkwardly waved with my handlebar mustache. And the 6’4” girl, at the time, because of her ridiculous heels…She was easily noticeable.

Rachel: Well, I smiled and waved because that’s what you do to strangers when you’re introduced, but I had no thought that he noticed me in particular. So while I was going through training and stuff, Eric made it a point to find out my name…

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: And I stalked her on Facebook a bit, and I didn’t think it was her, because, your Facebook picture at the time, looked like a model. It was the cover of that magazine you were on.

Rachel: Umm…and then, the new hires were having a debrief with Workflow so they understood how their time off worked, like how to request it and stuff. And in that meeting, he called me out by name, but he shouldn’t have known my name at that time, which was curious. But he played it off really coolly as if he knew everyone’s name.

Eric: It was a fallacy.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: So in that meeting I had asked if I could have my lunch hour moved on a certain day, and he said it wasn’t possible. But he found me in the hallway later. He said, “I just wanted to let you know, I had to say ‘No’ about moving your lunch hour, but I would not have to say ‘No’ if your manager asked me to move your lunch hour.” So he was being very sly and helpful. And, when he was done telling me that, I thought he would just walk away, because he was a big analyst, and I was a nothing seasonal hire, but he stuck around to talk to me even though I was a nobody, and I thought that was very sweet. After that he would come by my desk at times, just to chat, and he was always drinking Earl Grey tea. And when I found out he lived in Lexington, I invited him to come hang out with a group of us that worked at Amazon and lived in Lexington, and would just hang around, like bowling and getting sushi or watching Disney movies on Walt Disney’s birthday.

Eric: Yes.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: So the more we hung out in groups, and the better friends we became, the more it became clear that he was developing feelings for me, and he ain’t no slouch neither.

Eric: Well, I did slouch a lot, I had poor posture.

Rachel: And, eventually, he got up the nerve to ask me out on a date.

Eric: Via text message…

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: But it was after a conversation, so there was context. And we went out and we started going on dates. We went to Table 310 on our first date.

Eric: We got a cheese plate that included Camembert and chorizo.

Rachel: That was a really good cheese plate.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: I won her over with my charms and my humor and my general shape.

Rachel: So then we kept going out, and the more time that we spent together, the more we fell in love with each other. We found out we have a lot of random things in common. He was just really easy to fall in love with.

Eric: I’m kind of a nice guy.

Rachel: He’s so sweet and thoughtful and wants to do the right thing,

Eric: And she’s really hot, and there’s other things too.

Rachel: And, at the same time, he’s so smart and humble. Because I had never been in a relationship before, and I was 24 years old when we started going out, at that time, there were so many criteria that I had trimmed off my list, like the guy being taller than me, the guy being able to pick me up and carry me around a building, the guy being sweet and thoughtful… but Eric turned out to be all of those things.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: She is intelligent. I can have a conversation with her. That was it [laughs]. She is very lovely, um, she is very friendly and kind. She made me feel very welcome in her presence. She gives good presents.

Rachel: Do you feel appreciated because I believe in you? [yells passionately] Do you feel encouraged and inspired because I believe in you!?

Eric: I do.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: Well that’s too bad, because I don’t believe in you. [laughs]

Eric: [sings] I believe in a thing called love!

Rachel: I can be completely myself, my best and my worst, and he appreciates me and encourages me…and feeds me. [laughs]

Me: So, Eric. I just have one question, and it’s not, like, a part of the interview or anything. I’m just curious. What was it, after you saw Rachel, that made you search for her on Facebook and find out her name?

Eric: She was my size…and she had a very lovely smile.

// THE BEGINNING //

More soon. They will be married on April 2, 2016.

Campfires, Cocoa + Minnetonkas

Campfires, Cocoa + Minnetonkas - offbeat + inspired

This is definitely one of my favorite combinations in the world…campfires, the outdoors, hot chocolate, cozy clothes, sunsets and good friends. Simple, magical, and getting to feel adventurous right in the backyard. This was such a welcome retreat from the craziness that is November/December. The holidays seriously snuck up on me this year! I’ve been so busy settling into Nashville that when I finally came up for air, it was Thanksgiving week! And now Christmas is right around the corner. It’s ok though, campfires like this one will be my reality check – all is right with the world when you’ve got sweet ones to share life with and a good pair of shoes.

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RiSE Festival + Letting Go

RiSE Festival + Letting Go - offbeat + inspired

I woke up before sunrise to catch an early flight out of Nashville with Kappel. I couldn’t believe we were only hours away from the Mojave Desert and only a day away from RiSE. I took a big (for me) leap a little over a month ago and shared on Free People’s blog about the struggle to find my identity through anxiety issues, miscarriage, divorce and eventually freedom and healing. I had a lot to release, and what I ended up experiencing was beyond anything I could have imagined.

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Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People

Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People - offbeat + inspired

I believe that the most beautiful things happen when our walls come down. It’s scary and painful, but it lets us breathe and live. It leaves us vulnerable to all kinds of hurt, but those hurts can strengthen us and grow our roots deep and strong if we let them.

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H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

My love for H&M has everything to do with this key combo: quality x options x price.

It can be overwhelming walking into a store with dozens of sections devoted to every possible mood. It’s like being asked to choose a personality for yourself on the spot with a debit card screaming at you from your purse — which is kind of genius on their part because my inner monologue always goes something like this: “Am I preppy/outdoorsy? Yes…but I also have yet to find the perfect LBD, which means I should go to the ‘party’ section. Vintage is always fun, buuut that classic European vibe over there is something I’ve always wanted to try out.” And after a few rounds of that, the inevitable, “WHO AM I?” and then, victoriously, “WHOEVER I WANT TO BE! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT…SELF!” This whole thing happens while I’m still standing at the entrance, mind you. Fast forward 2 hours, and I’ve burrowed through all the sections, raided the dressing room and emerged with an armload of personalities to test drive in the real world.

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Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles

Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles - offbeat + inspired

If I have any say in this at all — fall has arrived. It’s decided! This morning, I woke up at 6AM and it was perfectly chilly outside. My sisters and I had plans. We were going to eat spiced pancakes, drink hot coffee and watch the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls while the sun came up. We did, and it was wonderful.

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Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5

Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5 - offbeat + inspired

Meet Elizabeth! You probably already know her because she’s kicking butt on MasterChef Season 5 right now. The girl just made top 3! Hashtag awesome.

How we met is kind of crazy. She had been following offbeat + inspired for about a year prior to the airing of MC5. I found this out because fellow Lexingtonian and early MC5 competitor, Dan Wu, told me that when Elizabeth found out he and I lived in the same city, she flipped! Well I flipped too. We all flipped. Before I even knew she was a fan of the blog, I had picked her as my fantasy BFF from the show. Naturally, Dan and I lured her to Lexington with the idea that the three of us should host a MC5 dinner together. [I posted all about the dinner here!]

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Lexington Love | Adventuring With Ruthie

Lexington Love | Adventuring With Ruthie - offbeat + inspired

This is the most exciting time of year for me. Especially this year. I’m settled in to the downtown apartment — a gorgeous, old 3-story building on North Limestone. Our little nook is on the third floor above Le Deauville French Bistro, across the street from a blooming school courtyard. The city is popping with color now, which means it’s time to break out the list of springtime shenanigans and start hacking away. One of them was to have my dear friend Ruthie Lindsey come up from Nashville for a visit! If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love this girl. Goofing, laughing, heart-to-hearts, dance parties, music listening and exploring — all part of the typical, wonderful craziness.

When she pulled into town, we only had a vague idea of what the next 3 days were going to look like, but knew we were going to spend one of them shooting everything we possibly could. Ruthie’s personal style is just one of the hugely inspiring things about her, so we decided to show a few of her favorite looks in a few of my favorite Lexington locales. The rest of this post will serve as a photo journal of that day with outfit and location credits. I just love showing off this little city, especially alongside one of my favorite gals!

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Loving Libby Story [and a Giveaway!]

Loving The Libby Story Shop [and a Giveaway!] - offbeat + inspired

Spring and summer. Every time these two roll around, I swear they’re my favorite. Flowers, ice cream trucks, baseball, picnics, hiking, road trips with open windows, reviving my 90’s alternative mix CD’s (not sure why, but *always* at this time of year) — love. Dressing for all that adventure is half the magic. I’ve been collecting lots of flowery skirts and airy tops lately, mix-matching and layering while the weather stabilizes. Over the last few months, as I’ve been feeding my Instagram obsession with my springtime obsession, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with the adorable team over at Libby Story.

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Fashion For Your Face + A Giveaway [Featuring Rowley Eyewear] (Giveaway Ended!)

Fashion For Your Face + A Giveaway [Featuring Rowley Eyewear] - offbeat + inspired

Frames: No. 99 in “Tortoise” [Mr. Powers by Rowley Eyewear], Lip Color: Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss in “Temper” (dupe for MAC Lipglass in “Caqui”, discontinued)

All the girls in my family wear glasses. Except me. I’m not sure why I lucked out with the decent set of eyeballs, but being a daughter of 1 and sister of 2 ocularly challenged females, I’m familiar with the frustrations of finding stylish and affordable frames. Since glasses have been on my fashion radar for the past few years, I’ve realized that even though their sight-improving abilities are essential — as a pure accessory, I’m obsessed.

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