With beach reading season right around the corner, I'm excited to introduce a new series: Fine Print, a series that will highlight some of my must-reads. I have always loved reading, but I'm the first to admit that it has taken a backseat since I graduated college. But during the summer months, I always fly through books because that's my favorite past time when sitting by the pool or on the beach! 

Elin Hilderbrand is one of my favorite authors, so it's no surprise that I loved this book. I picked it up in the airport when my mom and I were on our way home from Coterie and I couldn't put it down. What I love about Elin Hilerbrand's writing is that it's easy to read but also involves complex storylines that keep you hooked.

The Identicals follows two sisters who have led separate adult lives despite being identical twins. With two completely different personalities, the sisters had a "Parent Trap-like" separation: in the wake of a divorce, one teenager stayed on Nantucket with mom while the other went with dad to Martha's Vineyard. The settings are juxtaposed against each other just like the lives each woman lives, and flashbacks finally give way to a tragedy that truly tore the sisters apart. It's a story of complicated familial relationships, finding love, and navigating the complexity of adulthood. 

It's a book I would read again, for sure, and just another in my EH collection.

A few other good reads as of late:
  • Lies & Other Acts of Love - Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Silver Girls - Elin Hilderbrand
  • The Rumor - Elin Hilderbrand
  • Everyone Worth Knowing - Lauren Weisberger

A few on my next-read list:
  • The Secret to Southern Charm - Kristy Woodson Harvey (we're having a book signing with her this spring at ZIA!)
  • The Perfect Couple - Elin Hilderbrand (can you tell who my favorite author is)
  • Georgia Bottoms - Mark Childress (this seems like a fun beach read)
  • The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah

Does anyone have any great book recommendations? Always looking to add to my list!
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I now have three favorite dresses in my closet: my wedding gown, that one dress, and this one. Seriously though, this dress - I just can't get enough of it and it's perfect for this time of year. Every spring in Wilmington, we have the North Carolina Azalea Festival. It's been a big part of my life for the last 10 years - I was an Azalea Belle (read about that tradition here), the North Carolina Azalea Princess in 2009, and served on the Queen's Court for two years when I was a preliminary titleholder for Miss North Carolina. It's safe to say I love the festival and I love this time of year!

One of the highlighting events of the festival is the annual Garden Party, which is held in beautiful Airlie Gardens. Stephen and I got tickets to go this year and I kept procrastinating what I was going to wear, though I knew it would be something from ZIA. As soon as I opened this box (week of the festival), I pulled this beauty out and knew this was it! What I look for in an occasion maxi is comfort, a flattering cut, and a beautiful color. This one had all of those elements, though I will say that the slit in this maxi is pretty serious and can result in some interesting experiences on a windy day. We also carried fascinators at the store, which is perfect for a garden party, themed shower, or derby party. 

My mom ended up being my date to the garden party as Stephen's dad unexpectedly got pretty sick (please say a prayer for him - he is thankfully on the mend, but all the thoughts and prayers are needed as it ended up being more serious than any of us ever thought it would be). 

The azaleas are blooming so beautifully around here. Both my yard and my parents' have gorgeous blooms (these photos are at my parents'), but while we were in Stephen's hometown over the weekend to be with his dad, we spend some time out at his grandmother's home, and her yard is filled with stunning Azalea bushes. They could easily hold a candle to the flowers in Airlie Gardens, which is probably the most beautiful place in Wilmington. 

Have you been to a garden party? What's your must-have for your look?

Dress is from ZIA Boutique. Shop the rest of the look below:

We just recently purchased an outdoor conversation set for our back patio, and I can't believe the difference that it has made in our little back yard! Our back yard is unique in that it is not very deep but very wide, and there are also steps that drop down to a lower level. 

Right out of our backdoor, there was already a concrete patio, and though we had a fire pit and a few chairs, we just never loved being out there. We'd been talking about getting some outdoor furniture but never committed to choosing something. And then the week before Easter, knowing we were about to have our families over, we decided to order something from Wayfair and we have loved how it turned out! I hate I didn't take a before picture because it's amazing the difference some potted plants, an outdoor rug, and some cute furniture will make! We also purchased a new grill, which of course my husband is loving. 

We've already used our outdoor area more in the last two weeks then we probably did all of last spring, and I'm really looking forward to our friends coming over this spring and summer to hang out. It's also safe to say that Sophie really loves it our new set as well - she keeps wanting to go outside but immediately hops on the couch. 

Her Picks:
Comfy Furniture
We went round and round (picture all the tabs open in Google Chrome) trying to decide on what to get. We had added a set to our shopping cart and were checking out when we both decided we didn't love it. I looked through one more time and found this set and we love it! It is a little smaller in height than we imagined it being but it's perfect for our little back patio. 

Cute Outdoor Pillows
One of those things you don't "need," but it certainly brightens things up! I found these pillows on Wayfair but accented with this adorable shell option from Pottery Barn. 
Citronella Candles
This past Friday night, we had two of our friends over for dinner and we sat outside while the boys grilled. Even with a cool breeze, the bugs were already out, so having a few citronella candles on deck was much needed!

Speaking of candles, I also picked up a candle a couple of weeks ago from my favorite local design store, Gathered. It's the Baronessa Cali brand and it has made our home smell so fresh. It's the perfect spring scent. 

Melamine Dinnerware
These dishes are perfect for indoor and outdoor! When we don't feel like using our "good" dishes, we break out these and they look nice but without the danger of breaking! We opted for the rope melamine from Pottery Barn in white (we also have these bowls) and we use them quite a bit! They were very handy to have on Easter when we had family eating outdoors. 

Potted Plants
My grandmother loved to garden and my mother certainly inherited that trait (something I'm trying to work on)! My sweet mama potted several plants for us, which has added some color to our backyard!  I love this adorable little pot that she snagged. We also found a Royal Palm at our neighborhood Lowe's and I can't believe how much it's done for our space. 

His Picks:
I asked Stephen what his go-to things were for our backyard, and it was the following. He loves being able to walk outside on a nice night and grill or light a fire when it's cold out. 

Fire Pit
We have enjoyed having our fire pit but I think we'll enjoy it even more now that we have comfier furniture. We've had ours for a few years but we have one very similar to this one.

This is probably Stephen's favorite thing we've gotten for our back yard, and he's already used it a few times in the two weeks we've had it. 

Storage Bin
We don't keep the pillows and cushions on our set unless we our planning on being outside. Especially with right now being pollen season (along with lots of rain), we're trying to preserve them as much as possible. We found a great storage chest that blends in with our furniture that's tucked away against our house that's perfect for keeping our pillows in tip-top shape. 

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Stephen and I hosted our families for Easter this past weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed putting place settings together for each table! We have a formal dining room and a breakfast table, and those two areas combined seat 12. However, we had over 20 guests coming to our home, so we had to set up an extra table both inside and out, giving me plenty of tablespace to decorate!

I had originally planned on having each table match, but instead, I decided to decorate each one a little bit differently. Each table featured hydrangeas as its centerpiece but in a variety of vases. We have quite a few ginger jars in our home, so I utilized those in several places along with this gorgeous Kate Spade vase we received as a wedding gift. 

In our formal dining room, I used our Vietri Rufolo chargers and Raynaud Argent White dinner plates with linen napkins and gold napkin rings, accented by a fresh tulip. I loved the pretty contrast of the dark wood with the pop of color.  
For our breakfast table, which is a white-washed table with a hint of blue in the texture, I used the same white and gold plate and charger combination but used these adorable shell napkin rings! I realized I didn't have as many gold rings (as used in the dining room) as I thought, so I made a quick trip to Pottery Barn for a new options and loved the combination of the round shell with the starfish. And the ginger jars were just the cutest on this table. 
For my secondary tables, I had these beautiful monogrammed linens that one of my best friends gave me for Christmas. Because they are accented with our last initial, I skipped any extras and let those speak for themselves. 
I also felt like I bought stock this weekend in fresh flowers between my trips to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Harris Teeter. HT always has amazing hydrangeas while I picked up some beautiful peonies from Whole Foods. And as if I didn't have enough flowers, I received the most beautiful arrangement from my step-grandfather as a hostess gift! I was so surprised when he showed up with these! I wish they would keep forever!
I have now moved my coastal decor to our front room since it's the first room you see when you walk in our house. I've ordered more so that I can have all tables the same if I want but I love the coastal napkin rings paired with our traditional table. 

What's your favorite way to style your table?

Source List:
Chargers: Vietri Rufolo
Dinner Plates: Raynaud Argent White (similar here)
Napkins: Crate & Barrel
Gold Rings: Crate & Barrel
Starfish Rings: Pottery Barn
Shell Rings: Pottery Barn
Silverware: Michael Aram

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Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! These last few weeks have seemed like a blur as we've been preparing to host our families in our home for Easter. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day! We spent much of it outside since the weather was so nice and I was so glad we had been working on our backyard to make it more entertaining-friendly (sharing soon!). 

I also can't get enough of all of the gorgeous straw bags that are available this spring! From large totes (perfect for collecting fresh-cut flowers for entertaining) to cute little bucket bags, there are so many adorable options available for this warm-weather season!
Spring Straw
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