What a crazy few weeks it has been. The wrath of Hurricane Florence has been felt across our community over the last two weeks - the preparation, the storm, and the aftermath. This week is hard to dive into. We've spent the last 5 days cleaning up our yard and home and we're fortunate that we had a home to come back to!

Now, as we head into a new week, I've been working on store preparations and am also getting ready to head to the Outer Banks for one of my best friend's wedding! It's a week we've looked forward to for quite some time, and I'm thankful to spend time with friends over this next week. 

Fall is officially here, so I'm excited to share some favorites over the next few weeks. All items are from the store but you can also find them at various retailers if we don't have your size! If you feel so inclined, I'd love if you shopped with us this week - we're donating 20% of sales to hurricane relief here in southeastern North Carolina!

This little sweater is the cutest - loving the knit detailing (I'm wearing the small). I've also been so ready to wear these mules! They were best sellers when we put them out at the store and I'm definitely not surprised. The little heel detail is my fave. 

Cheers to a new week! I hope it is a great one!

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My heart is hurting. There is no other way to put it. Putting the collection of thoughts into words is difficult this time around - because what do you say when there is devastation around you? I started writing this on Tuesday night, but I've had a hard time hitting publish because it's hard to know what to say. I am thankful that the storm is past us, but for many, the true storm is just getting started. When I pulled out of Wilmington, skies were grey, fear was looming, and the unknown of the days to follow were all-consuming. We locked our house, where valuables inside were in a waterproof safe or in plastic bins in case the worst occurred. My car was packed full, complete with our dog and cat, and we drove off down Interstate 40, unaware of what the days before us would hold. 

When I pulled back into Wilmington on Tuesday, skies were blue, after days of pouring rain. I was beyond thankful for the sun, and on the surface-level seemed like a perfect September day. And yet, it's another day in the aftermath of a storm that our state will never forget. My family and I are lucky - Stephen and I, along with my parents, made it back to Wilmington safely to find minimal damage, and I thank the Lord for this blessing. Sure, there is a lot of cleanup ahead with downed trees, leaks, damaged property, etc. But as a whole, we are safe, happy, and healthy. We are home. And many people will not have that same experience in the coming weeks.

The pit in my stomach started last Tuesday. It's been a week, and it's still here. Not because we aren't safe, because we are. But because from the moment we realized this storm was headed our way, I've had this sick feeling that I haven't been able to shake. We all knew the devastation this storm could cause and I can't imagine what it would've been like if the forecast of a Category 4 landfall had occurred, because the devastation I have already seen is unreal. The Category 1 storm that wouldn't leave North Carolina has left flooding beyond belief. People have lost their lives, their homes, everything they own. And it truly has me sick. When Hurricane Floyd hit this area in 1999, we all hoped and prayed that we would never see that kind of damage again. I was a little girl when we evacuated my home due to flooding. And yet, not even 20 years later, the damage is even worse and my heart breaks for those whose homes have been overtaken by flood waters. 

I've seen some of that devastation first-hand, both in Wilmington and outside of it. In the neighborhood where I grew up, many homes have 5+ feet of water inside. Some of these homes belong to my family members and friends. In rural communities in Southeastern NC, homes were swept away or completely submerged, leaving owners with literally nothing. I can't imagine being rescued from my home - thankful my life was saved - but knowing that everything I have is completely gone. Can you? 

The positive I have seen from this storm is the way that North Carolina and states beyond our borders have come together. Before the hurricane could even hit, a group of students from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington had put together a group called We Wilm Rebuild, so that as soon as the storm passed, they could be on the ground helping others. Churches have opened up as shelters to both evacuees and those in town to help others. The Cajun Navy has arrived on their own dimes to perform water rescues. Fundraisers are popping up everywhere - anything and everything to help those in need. First responders have been responding to calls since the first bands of the storm - they haven't slept, or had a meal, or seen their families in days as they seek to help their communities.

There are linemen everywhere you turn in Wilmington - restoring power and order to our city, which two days ago, was cut off completely from everywhere else due to extensive flooding. I took the photo below on Monday morning - and I40 was truly an interstate turned river. The same road that I took out of town is now covered in water, looking more like a body of water than a highway. Flooding was so bad that at one point, Wilmington was virtually an island - with no access in and out of the city which meant no access to supplies. And that water that covers the interstate in Duplin and Pender Counties also covers peoples homes.
People are ready for power. For the debris in their yards to be removed. For the line at the grocery store to subside. And I get it. I do. Life has been turned upside down for North Carolinians. But so many people don't have that luxury to wonder about, because they have truly lost everything. I have never been more thankful for the roof over my head as so many go to sleep tonight wondering what the next weeks will hold for them. 

So how can we help? There are so many people and organizations who are putting together programs to benefit these victims directly. Shelters need more food and water, individuals need clothing due to loss of home, and those responsible for putting our community back together could use a meal and a bottle of water. Below is a list of programs that I will be supporting in one way or another. If you have one you would recommend, please share so that it can be added to the list. 
  • We Wilm Rebuild - UNCW student-run organization to get Wilmington back on its feet
  • ZIA Boutique - will be accepting clothing and personal item donations for organizations in New Hanover and surrounding counties 
  • CAREolinas - 100% of funds raised from these tees will go toward recovery efforts
  • Volunteering - there are organizations everywhere looking for volunteers to help with disaster relief efforts
  • Hurricane Relief for Willard, NC - local area relief program with proceeds going to those who were left with little
If you are able to help - even just a little bit - please consider doing so! 

And a few more thoughts on this last week:

Hurricane Florence is pulling away from your driveway and wondering if you'll have a home when you return.

Hurricane Florence is sitting on pins and needles as tornado warning after tornado warning pop on your phone. And throughout all of that, your brother and two cousins are in a trailer close to their farms praying it doesn't hit them. 

Hurricane Florence is the gut-wrenching heartbreak of seeing a mother and her child killed by a fallen tree or of a family left with nothing to their name. 

Hurricane Florence is a lot of things - devastation, heartbreak, fear, unrest - but what I've found through all of this is that there is also hope.

Hope is communities coming together to help each other.

Hope is linemen coming from states far and wide to help put our cities and towns back together. Countless teams were working until dark on our road to provide power to our community.

Hope is working with others to move personal belongings to higher ground in preparation of rising flood waters.

Hope is perfect strangers sharing information with each other as they try to find ways home.

Hope is the bags and bags of clothing that fill a dressing room at my store, waiting to go to those that have lost everything.

Hope is rescue teams like the Cajun Navy who traveled on their own dimes to offer water rescues, support and more.

Hope is our state coming together to help the communities that were gravely affected. 

It's been a dark week for North Carolina - and the darkness isn't ending. But there is light! I am hopeful that our communities will continue to come together in the coming weeks to help others. I pray for our state in this time of rebuilding. For the people who have lost loved ones. For the farmers who are fighting to save their livestock. For the first responders out on the flooded waters. For the linemen restoring power. For the people who have evacuated and wonder where they will live. I pray for our city. Our community. Our state. Our state is strong. And we will rebuild.
As I ventured out this morning, nothing seemed all that different. The sun was shining, few clouds in the sky. A perfect September day, some would say. Boats were being pulled down our city's streets and there was a line of traffic waiting to cross the bridge onto Wrightsville. A fairly normal Wednesday in the port city, where summers seem to last forever.

But you see, today was very different. Despite sunny skies, there was an ominous buzz that seemed to fill the air. Boats were being trailored out of our town in hopes to find a safe haven and the line onto our beautiful beach was a checkpoint for residents only - those still around and trying to finish that last minute storm prep. The offices, stores, and businesses that normally have filled parking lots sat empty, aside from the grocery stores, gas stations, and a few lone restaurants. And that same strand of sand that would normally be scattered with beach goers on a beautiful day was virtually bare, aside from a few news crews. 

When people ask me where I'm from, I'm always proud to say the word Wilmington. For me, it's where I grew up, where I graduated from high school, where I engrossed myself in its rich traditions, where I chose to open my first business. I don't take living here for granted. I can't count the times I've looked at my husband as we're driving over the Wrightsville Beach bridge, or walking the streets of downtown, or spending the day on the boat with my parents and said, "How lucky are we to live here?" And I mean it every single time.

Those who have grown up on the coast are no stranger to hurricanes. I'm sure many, like me, didn't bat an eye when they first heard the name Florence. And yet, as the storm quickened and strengthened and continued its churn toward the North Carolina coast, it's now the one thing on everyone's mind. We've all seen this kind of storm on the news. We've prayed for those affected. We've counted our blessings that it wasn't happening to us. But now it is. 

On the eve of Hurricane Florence's approach to our beautiful town, I am devastated. And I think our entire city feels the exact same way. I've done a lot of reflecting these last couple of days. This city - it's not just things. It's a place filled with memories and moments and life events. It's the dock where I got engaged to my husband, it's the house where I spent treasured time with my grandmother, it's the store that I've filled with blood sweat and tears, it’s the walls of my parents’ house where I grew up. As I watched the sunset from the dock where I've spent so many hours of my life, I hoped that when I return it will be the same. Yet I also came to the understanding that things could be devastatingly different. 

But one thing is for certain. We are a strong city. A city filled with doers, with entrepreneurs, with young people anxious to dig their heels into our beautiful sand and spring into action when the time is safe. It's filled with first responders and doctors and nurses and kind people who have left their families in an effort to protect others. I believe in Wilmington, in our people, and that we can face the days to come. 

Someone once said to me, "There's something about you Wilmington people. You all think it's the best place in the entire world." I took it as a compliment - I do think it's the best place on earth. It's our little slice of paradise. I pray to God that our paradise will be spared. But most of all, I pray for all the people in this storm's wake. For the people of Shallotte, and Ocean Isle, and Wallace and Myrtle Beach and everywhere in between. I pray for the business owners that left their livelihoods behind. For the farmers that have spent more hours than usual trying to save their crop and for those worried about the livestock that will no doubt be affected by this storm. I pray for the first responders, the power crews, those who have traveled far to assist us after this storm passes. I pray that we find comfort in the days to come. God bless our beautiful city, our beautiful state, and its beautiful people. 
Cue the Rihanna song "Where have you been?" I've been a little MIA over here on this side of life! I have a lot of content prepared for the coming weeks but life over the last few days has certainly caught up with me! On Labor Day weekend, I took a trip to Charlottesville to celebrate one of my best gal's bachelorette's. Then we had an incredibly busy week at ZIA, complete with our one-year birthday celebration. This week was supposed to be spent planning for our market trip to Coterie in NYC, but we are changing our preparation plans. We are now preparing for a hurricane, so I'll probably continue to be off schedule for a little bit longer.

The East Coast, particularly my little beach town, is in full-fledged hurricane prep-mode. Though exact landfall is uncertain at this point, Hurricane Florence is a Category 4 hurricane with its eye on Wilmington - and y'all. That is scary! I have spend today (Monday) making a hurricane plan for the store. Thankfully, my mom and I stocked up on some supplies over the weekend but the closer this storm gets, the more worried we all are. 

The upside though is that I'd love to share a few of my recent finds!
1. Noteworthy Planner
I have finally found a planner that works for me! And it's under $20... amazing, right? I have always loved a paper planner. I do our store schedule through iCal but everything else has a place in my paper planner. I also love keeping a list but found that I didn't necessarily need a full two-page weekly calendar and the daily wasn't the best option for me because my to-dos are often weekly instead of daily. When I came across this one, I was sold! I love the monthly view and then the weekly page along with a notes page beside it. It's much more efficient than keeping up with two different things.  
2. Comfiest Athleisure
I seriously love comfy pieces, and I've already worn this tank multiple times (runs pretty big - wearing size small). And as we head into fall, I know these leggings will be a staple. I love the understated camo print. 
3. Paper Bag Shorts
Before I went to Charlottesville, VA for my friend Cameron's bachelorette trip, I stocked up on a few new pieces! I've been to Charlottesville twice before (read about one of my fun trips here), but both times I went, it was quite chilly! This time, the weather was in the 80s and 90s, so I knew I would need something lightweight. We spent the Saturday of the trip at a variety of breweries and distilleries, so these little shorts and this tank were the perfect option.
4. Distressed Denim Shorts
This tank makes an appearance again, but this time with these fun jean shorts! I've lived in a pair of shorts from my store all summer but these were too fun to resist. If you love a good pair of ripped jeans, give these a try! Reviews said to size down but I'd say they are true to size.

For all of my friends getting ready to brave this storm, be safe! Prayers for Wilmington, for our East Coast, and for everyone in this storm's path.

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I'm excited to share with you our master bedroom reveal! This room has seen quite a few changes since I first moved into this house almost 4 years ago. When I first moved back to Wilmington, I used a lot of the same furniture that I had throughout my three apartments (college, Huntersville, and Cary) and didn't really do a ton in terms of upgrading to new things for the bedroom. 

I don't have very many before photos but here are two: the first was way before I moved in and the second when it was just me inhabiting the room. And Stephen actually helped me paint the walls to its current hue before I moved in a few years ago. The carpet is also new as of about two years ago due to a leak in the upstairs guest bathroom... talk about a mess!
After Stephen and I got engaged and we decided to make this our first home together, I started thinking about ways to make our furniture blend before completely giving all of our items an overhaul. We currently have more bed frames and mattresses than our house can really hold at the moment (works great for guest rooms, though!) and so buying a whole new bedroom suite seemed a little silly considering we both liked what we had. At some point, we want to upgrade to a king mattress, but we decided to use Stephen's dark wood bed frame and mattress with some of my dresser. As an overview, here is what we kept/updated:

What we kept:
Stephen's bed frame & mattress
Zelle's white dresser
Zelle's white wavy mirror
Zelle's end of bed bench

What we updated:
Bedside tables
Bedding & pillows
Above-bed artwork

I didn't have any immediate idea as to how I wanted the room to change, but I wanted to get away from a super-girly room and transfer into something a little more appropriate for my husband as well. I also had no real intentions of our entire home having coastal vibes, but I gravitate towards blues and everything I picked seemed to fall into the coastal category! 

One of the things I love the most about our bedroom is our framed prints above our bed. I've long loved these frames from Pottery Barn and it just so happened that they worked great with our bedside tables (shop similar bedside tables here). I found the prints on Etsy for instant download, printed them on a luxe cardstock in my office, and then we framed and (Stephen) hung them. 

Some of the other little trinkets we have around our room are from years past - the coral dish that I keep my most-worn jewelry in I've had since high school! I also change frames out around our house and move them around quite frequently - just to change things up. 

One thing I would love to add to our room is a gorgeous light fixture like this one, but I am in love with our ceiling fan! It is nothing to write home about at all, but we sleep with it on every single night! I don't think that the comfort of having it is something I want to sacrifice for the sake of the aesthetic, but I may end up changing my mind at some point. 

Overall, I love how our bedroom has turned out. It has a lot of natural light, which is one thing I love. It is a very calming space (when it's clean, ha!) and I love going to this retreat after a long day. There are still a few things I wouldn't mind changing out (like new hardware on the dresser) but as a whole, it's slowly but surely turned into what I hoped it would!
Sources List:

Paint Color - Behr Shiny Luster
Lamps - Wayfair
Bed - Similar
Bedside Chests - Home Again (similar options)
Lumbar Pillow - Wayfair
Tassel Lumbar Pillow - Anthropologie
Monogrammed Pillow - Etsy
Bedding - Similar
Frames - Pottery Barn
Prints - Etsy
Dresser Mirror - Home Goods (similar here)

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This time of year is hard, am I right?! Especially now that I'm in the retail biz, I'm hyper aware of fall fashion beginning at the end of July and beginning of August (even though it's a million degrees out until around October if not later where I am!). That's why I love finding pieces I can wear now and later - and those transitional and layering pieces are 100% a must-have!

I ordered this top before heading on my cousin's bachelorette trip. I wore it with these shorts while in the Keys and then again over the weekend for my brother's birthday, but I'm loving how it looks with jeans as well. As we approach fall, the days will still be warm while the mornings and evenings cool off, so throwing on a sweater like this one will be my go-to for sure! Don't be surprised if you see this combo on repeat!
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