Linen & Dahlias on the Beach.

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Details:

Gal Meets Glam Abigail Dress (also available here), Soludos Wedges, Stella & Dot Cuff, Wrap Bracelet & Letter Necklace, Raw Bronzing Studio Tan


This day is even more vivid in my memory than these photos can capture. The water was euphoric, the joy in my heart was vibrant, and I was wearing the prettiest happiest dress. We were playing frisbee on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, just the two of us, laughing and joking together like we were still 18. After all these years together, no one can really infuriate me or endear me more than him.

Our time in Santa Barbara was meant for celebrating the wedding of our friends, but we also treated it as a really good excuse to toast our own 11-year wedding anniversary. I remember this day because I felt a tangible sense of bliss and elation and it was finally, a sigh of relief.

To be honest, these emotions were a pretty stark contrast compared to how I've been feeling for most of the summer. It's been a season of unforeseen circumstances and Stevie and I have clung to each other as we have been grappling with how to be adults through it all.

Sometimes the blog and Instagram world can look like a whirlwind of fun and endless joy, when the truth is that everyone has things they're going through and dealing with. This summer has been especially rife with emotion and decision making in our little family, and I have carried the weightiness around with me (that instead of a diaper bag, which I keep forgetting to bring with me lately). We live with the very real feeling that everything we do affects not only ourselves, but our two precious little boys, and this summer especially we have been examining how we are living and how it impacts our kids, for the good and the bad.

This trip was a refreshing break from all that emotion. I don't share this with you because I have everything figured out and I can tie a pretty bow around it. There is nothing really to share. No big conclusions or life changes or evidence of anything new (except that I cut my hair - like an inch). I feel like change happens first on the inside, and I can feel a shift coming even though my life might not reflect any tangible difference yet. Does anyone know what I mean? Perhaps I am just rambling, but I feel like I haven't really disclosed all of these feelings here on the blog because I haven't known how to put words to it yet. And also because there isn't anything to share! Except that I might be even more sensitive and emotional and contemplative now that I'm 30 and maybe I should just chill a minute. But that Pacific Ocean did me some real good and I am grateful that we got time to play on this beach, just the two of us, and revel in the beauty of the Earth. Just up the beach from us was a 150 year old fig tree and one of the figs fell square on Stevie's head as we walked beneath it - we both took it as a good sign.

P.S. - What we did in Santa Barbara for the weekend ;)



What we did in Santa Barbara for the weekend!

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Oh my GOSH Santa Barbara is some kind of dream. I am so excited to share this post with you because I have been living on the memories from this beautiful trip since we returned. I hope this post is helpful if you are planning a trip out West! We were so stoked to visit this place that we had heard about for so long but failed to visit when we lived in California. On this trip, we were busy seeing friends, exploring this incredible stretch of California and eating & drinking a lotttttttt of good stuff :)

We flew into LA and headed up to Santa Barbara for the weekend, to attend our friends' wedding and also to celebrate our own 11-year anniversary. We explored the town but I wish we could have had even more time there - Santa Barbara is an absolutely decadent, luscious and exotic place. From the hand-painted Spanish tiles trimming the cobblestone streets to the volkswagon-sized succulents growing wild, I was on inspiration overload. So much intricate beauty and divine details spilling out of each vignette.

We stayed at the Santa Barbara Hilton Beachfront and had an awesome experience. The beach was steps away and the pool and gym were used by us on more than 1 occasion. As were the chips and guacamole that was available at the pool. And the breakfast was so good too! We kind of regret not going out to eat more in town, but the food at the hotel was outstanding and we were tired people so...

Things we LOVED that were recommended by locals:
- Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley - One of my favorite memories! (separate post coming on this!)
- Coffee at Handlebar Roasters - we visited 3 times!
- Santa Barbara Historical Museum - it was honestly so stunning.
- Funk Zone (wine tasting rooms and art galleries) - My favorite was The Valley Project! The Sauvignon Blanc & Grenache were my favorites!

Restaurants Recommended that we didn't get a chance to visit!
- Barbareno
- Bouchon
- Lily's Taqueria
- Ice Cream at McConnells

We also ate at some food trucks (the names which I can't remember any more - #blogfail), but even though I could keep talking I figure I should just show you around so you can FEEL ME here. Santa Barbara was truly more than I could have imagined.

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We drank coffee at  Handlebar  everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order  ever , but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

We drank coffee at Handlebar everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order ever, but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

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There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

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My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at  Raw Bronzing Studio , I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)

My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at Raw Bronzing Studio, I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)



Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

Wedding guest style! I loved wearing  this gown  from  Rent the Runway  for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get  20% off your first time  if you try it out with code FIRST.

Wedding guest style! I loved wearing this gown from Rent the Runway for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get 20% off your first time if you try it out with code FIRST.



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The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

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Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

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This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??

This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??


Dress - 50% off with code SISTERS / Bag / Earrings - similar / Necklace


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I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

We loved our time in this town and we really want to take another trip back! I think my boys would absolutely go nuts for the little park in downtown Santa Barbara we found. And also, I need more oat milk cortados because Georgia hasn't caught on yet. May the trip planning commence!


P.S. - Later this week I'm sharing some beachy dress photos and a review on some wineries in Santa Ynez Valley!

Like Mother, Like Daughter.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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Last year for Mother's Day, my mom treated me to a sunless tanning experience - a bronzing session at RAW Bronzing Studio. I had never had a spray tan before and I remember thinking this was a funny new activity for us to do as mother/daughter. Afterwards we went to lunch and she was doing her mom thing, asking me lots of questions about my life, and then she leaned over and looked me seriously in the eye. I wasn't sure what she was about to say, but I prepared myself to enter into a deep conversation about whatever it was she was about to propose. I caught a twinkle in her eye as she said to me, "Don't you love it? Your tan?" I breathed a sigh of relief - my mother! She's a hard one to peg, with all her simultaneous humor and depth. And I had to admit, I did love it. The bronze tone of the tan looked so natural and pretty, but my favorite part was that I had no tan lines. No tan lines, you guys! #dreamtan

My mom is the reason why I've started paying extra special attention to taking care of my skin. Over the past few years, she has had some basal cell carcinoma spots removed, so it's made me super aware of how seriously important it is to take care of my own skin. She's always saying that it was because she wasn't taking care of her skin when she was younger, so I want to heed her advice and take better care of the skin I have!

I'm pretty wretchedly terrible at washing my face at night (I know, it's so immature not to do this but I'm just always so tired), but I am trying to be more aware of how much sun exposure I am getting throughout the day. Especially as the weather is heating up and I'm outside more and more with my kiddos. I'm used to enjoyably baking in the sun, because I have olive skin and I don't burn as easily as some. However, that's almost all the more dangerous - I don't always feel the damage happening! But I'm getting better about being aware and taking preventative measures. I shared here about how I have been prepping my skin for the spring/summer season and I've been pretty consistent about that protocol.

My mom and I were at the beach together last weekend, and we had both gotten a bronze at RAW two days prior. I was like, DUH - mother daughter beach photos for the win! Thanks to my sister Rachel, who snapped these for us. I wanted to share with you all how real the sunless tan looks - my mom and I have very different skin tones and it still looks so natural on both of us! She has a lot of pink undertones in her skin while I favor my Dad's side more, with all those good yellow undertones. Note the sarcasm. Yellow = sallow.

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Now I'm not going to go mega-cheesy here, but I do want to say that I am immensely grateful that my mom is here with me, continuing to share her life's experiences. I don't take it for granted, because my mom lost her own mother at 19, and wasn't able to ask her questions and have the kind of relationship that I'm able to have. I am still learning so much from my mom - from skincare to how to navigate friendships and motherhood and taking care of my body and mind and heart - she is a wealth of wisdom and I am so thankful that she is here with me. Leaning in. Asking me hard questions and helping me answer them in my own way. With Mothers' Day approaching, I just wanted to share this little tribute to my mom. She's amazing. And she's funny. Never underestimate a woman with a good sense of humor.

All that to say - take care of your skin, you guys! Because my mom says so.


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Discount & Giveaway!

RAW Bronzing Studio is located throughout the metro Atlanta, Georgia area, and the studio local to me (location here) is generously offering my readers 25% off the price of a full-body bronzing service at the RAW South location with the code OYKRISTEN. This is an awesome deal for those of you local to me, and with all this warm weather approaching I hope you are able to take advantage of it!

Over on Instagram, I am giving away an awesome gift package to one lucky local, including 4 full-service bronzing sessions ($162 value!) - make sure to check it out, enter and tag your local friends! xx

P.S. - I'm wearing an old Victoria's Secret suit (remember their bathing suit line? RIP, similar here), these high waisted shorts and this leather wrap bracelet. The bandana is my sister's a my mom's outfit details are lost on me - although if you were really curious I could probably figure them out for you ;)


Spontaneous Trip to Florida!

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We took the most spontaneous, last-minute, throw-stuff-in-the-car-and-GO kind of trip last weekend. The kids had a winter break, which means they were off school all week long, and of course, I'm always dreaming of sunny days. My sister-in-law Lauren texted me and my other sis-in-law Katie and said, "Wild idea - wanna take the kids down to the beach??" We were all like, YES. Lauren has taken like 10,000 church group trips down to the Panama City area over the years, so with her hook up we found a last minute rental that was available. Then we all basically tossed our children into their carseats and HIGHTAILED down to the ocean.

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The water was too cold for me, but kids are so resilient! Everett and Daxton had such a blast with their cousins. These kids are the cutest - they really love each other and it brings back such amazing memories that I have of growing up near my cousins.

And I have no idea how I ended up with no pictures of Katie here, except that she must have been avoided my paparazzi eye. She wins mom of the year award, because she toted her kids down to the beach solo while pregnant. #momsohard

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Daxton was so much fun at the beach this year! Last year it was a ton of work with him, because he was still so little. But this time around he just crawled everywhere, ate a lot of sand, and really played, with sand toys and everything! It was so much fun to see him coming alive in a new way! Also, he started walking while we were down here. Just another sign from the LORD that the beach is always, always a good idea.

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Oh - and we biked! In the same impromptu fashion, we bough a bike trailer while we were down there so we could take both of the boys on the back of our bike and ride to dinner! I've wanted one of these for a while, because I know it will come to good use this year. Everett is learning to ride his bike right now (he's getting really good!), but when we want to take longer rides this is such a great option and you guys - they hold hands while riding. I could just die.

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I mean. We weren't having a bad time you guys.

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These two just make me laugh SO MUCH. I cannot handle Brent's shenanigans. In all honesty - I lucked out in the in-law department. I love them so much!

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Found a purple wall that was incredible. Unfortunately it was a little too dark when we tried to take some pics in front of it - but I love this one of the kids jumping off the ledge!

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I think this trip was just so refreshing to my soul because it was just so spontaneous. January was such a crummy month, haha. Everyone in our family dealt with different forms of the flu bug, so we were kind of down for the count. And February was suuuuuper busy for me - my essential oils business has really picked up the pace and I'm still figuring out the "balance" (muahahah the elusive myth - BALANCE!) of how to work and still do all the mom things I love to do. This was actually a really busy week for me, when we decided to come down to the beach, but I figured that working with an ocean view is still way better than not! Plus Stevie was able to take a few days off and it was really great for all of us to be together down there.

It makes me want to simplify our travel - less planning time meant bringing way less stuff and it was easier to make decisions when we were down there - pb & j for lunch because that's all we've got! This ONE tube of sunscreen because that's all we brought! This ONE bathing suit - because that's all we grabbed when we packed!

Simplicity and spontaneity. I think they might be my new love languages. xx

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A Bird's Eye View in Perdido Key!

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Beach buddies!

Beach buddies!

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I'm a little blinded here but I love this pic of me and my boys!

I'm a little blinded here but I love this pic of me and my boys!

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Our canopy crew!

Our canopy crew!

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I wish I would have gotten a picture of the end result - this guy was a true artist! Check out his tools strewn all over!

I wish I would have gotten a picture of the end result - this guy was a true artist! Check out his tools strewn all over!

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Matching jammies were a happy accident!

Matching jammies were a happy accident!

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Dinner outside at The Gulf - a perfect restaurant for big groups and families. The kids could run around and play on the soft grass while we ate by the water.

Dinner outside at The Gulf - a perfect restaurant for big groups and families. The kids could run around and play on the soft grass while we ate by the water.

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All the daddies with their babes :)

All the daddies with their babes :)

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We spent last week at Perdido Key Beach with friends! It's so great being able to connect with friends who have kids the same ages - they played together so well and we were all equally inconvenienced by our kid-whipped schedules. So it was great! It was especially nice to be able to put the kids down for bed at night and play games and eat dessert and catch up on life. Nothing like friends who totally understand your stage of life because they are right there alongside you. Also, I learned to play Settlers of Catan and I'm a little obsessed - anyone want to come over and play a tournament?!

The weather was unbelievably perfect and the view from the 12th floor condo was kind of unreal. I've never stayed so high up before and been able to drink in the view from above. The birds are so lucky, you guys. They see the world so beautifully!

That view actually really inspired me, gave me reason to pause. I don't take enough time to just let my mind be free. I am always busy, wrangling kids, writing, taking care of life things, and when I do get a free moment - I check my email, respond to messages, scroll Instagram, etc. But I never let myself just sit in the quiet. Think about it - when was the last time you just sat alone, quietly? I did that up on this 12th floor terrace with my feet kicked up and my heart high to the Heavens and I have to say, it was nourishing for my mind and soul. I can't remember the last time I really, truly gave myself enough room to let my mind wander and, I don't know, have original thoughts. I'm so busy during the day pouring my energy into my family and all my leftover mind space usually get put into this blog and my other writing work. But I haven't given myself freedom to think about whatever I want in such a long, long time. I've got to take time to do this more! I have a great brain. I almost forgot that.

With Labor Day coming up this weekend, I hope you are able to rest and relax and give yourself some quiet time to think! We are trying to decide if we take one last spontaneous trip to the beach, but the weather is looking a little rainy, so it might be hometown house projects for us :) Happy Labor Day weekend to you all! xx