Paris Journals / A little neighborhood tour


Hello again from Paris!

Today we tried to start the day out right by making a short list of things to accomplish:

  1. Write a song
  2. Have lunch at Marche des Enfants Rouges (The covered market in Le Marais)
  3. Buy butter, eggs, bread, cheese & flowers
  4. Go for a long walk to take pictures in the neighborhood
  5. Read & have a glass of wine at a bistro
  6. Sit and chat in Place des Vosges (neighborhood park)
  7. Stop by for dinner at Cafe Hugo (we discovered it last night when passing by)
  8. Try not to nap for 4 hours again...

And believe it or not, this may have been the first entire To Do list that I've ever checked off. The list made for a lovely day with good food and inspiration. I can't remember my last Sunday that was this relaxing for us.


Here's somewhat of a walking tour of our apartment/street:

OUR STAIRWELL /

THE LOBBY (haha) & COURTYARD /

EXIT COURTYARD: LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD /

LOOK UP /

LOOK RIGHT /

LOOK LEFT /


The market today was quite a surprise. We went expecting a grocery market sort of place, and it was really a bunch of food trucks. The individual vendors also had wholesale booths behind their retail booths where you could buy the cheese, cream, pasta etc. for the ravioli you just ate. But we went expecting to buy groceries for the evening, and wound up eating lunch there. 

It was really such a pleasant surprise though, I think we'll go again and try a few other vendors. We ended up leaving with some beautiful butter, cheese and eggs, but had to go elsewhere for the bread & flowers. 

Ended up finding an open bakery on the way home, and a sweet little flower shop selling these beautiful peonies. I can't wait to see them open all the way up this week.

Our evening at the park was lovely. We brought our books and our journal, and made a little list of our Paris to-do's. I'm hoping the days start moving slower so we can get it all done--somehow these first 3.5 days have FLOWN by.

The Place des Vosges doesn't seem like it will ever get old. Only a 3 minute walk from our apartment, I'm hoping it becomes our little spot to rest and dream and chat. Today we sat by this beautiful fountain:

After we had been sitting for awhile and the sun was beginning to sink behind the buildings, we got up and wandered to Cafe Hugo around the corner. It was our first French cafe experience -- sitting in woven chairs at a marble round-top table, sipping wine and people watching. I love how the French always have both chairs facing the street, even when they're eating with someone. But I particularly love seeing people sitting alone, having a tea or a cigarette with the newspaper. They don't stare at their phones, they sit and enjoy.

I'm hoping to learn something about that while I'm here.

P.S. I've been so embarrassed at my rusty French that I downloaded an app and I've been doing French exercises every night. I'm really hoping that by the time we leave here I'll be a little closer to that old dream of speaking the language well.

Bonsoir!

xo


RECIPE: THE PERFECT BRUNCH MENU


Photo by the ever lovely Mary Caroline Russell, who took all the pictures for my last album, Hourglass.

Photo by the ever lovely Mary Caroline Russell, who took all the pictures for my last album, Hourglass.

Since we last spoke, I had a birthday...

I'm getting to the point in my life where I can't decide if birthdays are exciting or emotional. But either way, I turned 27 on April 7th. As per our usual tradition, Michael and I decided to throw a big party to celebrate. My birthday serendipitously fell on a Friday this year, so we used it as an excuse to celebrate all weekend (and actually for a few days during the week as well...bc YOLO). 

As I've mentioned before, brunch is pretty much my favorite thing. In years past I've thrown a brunch for my friends on the Saturday of my birthday week (it's a super fun tradition, you should adopt it as your own). We bake something with cinnamon (we've done everything from cinnamon toast, to cinnamon rolls, to cinnamon donuts, to churros...), have lots of fresh fruit, and of course mimosas.

Even just thinking about brunch right now makes me so happy. I hope you'll plan one for this weekend. Here are some recipes...in case you need a few home-run menu items...


Pineapple Mint Mimosa

serves 8

2 bottles of Brut champagne

2 cups pineapple juice

1/2 cup orange juice

4 Tbs mint simple syrup*

4-8 sprigs of mint, for garnish in the pitcher and in the cups

 

The best  thing about Mimosas is that you can't go wrong! Champagne is delicious on its own, but the key to this famously classy brunch drink is to give it just a hint of tropical sweetness. So my perfect mimosa tastes like champagne mostly, with mint, and a little pineapple-orange juice, as notated above. But YOUR mimosa may need to taste a little more like OJ to suit your fancy! So experiment until you find the perfect mixture. What a good excuse to test it out the day before!

*I like my mimosas ever so slightly sweet, so my secret ingredient is a little mint simple syrup. (or this year I made rosemary, as you can see in the picture). You can find mint simple syrup at the grocery store pre-made, or you can simply combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil while stirring until there are no more grains of sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then add 5-10 sprigs of mint, letting the mint sit in the mixture and wilt. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator, or if you're making it the day-of, try cooling it quickly in the freezer before adding it to the mimosas.


Mushroom & Feta Skillet Frittata

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serves 8

1. In an oven safe skillet, heat 1 Tbs olive oil.  Roughly chop the spinach and cook it over medium heat. After it's wilted, transfer the spinach to a colander and press all of the liquid out of the spinach. Let it sit for a few minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper.

3. While the spinach is resting, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in the skillet. Then add the yellow onion to the skillet, cooking until translucent. Stir in the garlic, spinach, and mushrooms, cook until fragrant. Gently fold in the egg mixture. Cook until partially set, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle feta cheese and remaining parmesan cheese over the top.

4. Place skillet in oven and bake until frittata is puffed up and golden, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve.

8 large eggs,

1 cup of half-and-half

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt + pepper to taste

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

10 ounces fresh spinach

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup shitake mushrooms


Caramelized Vanilla-Cinnamon Toast

Ah, cinnamon toast! The very first thing that inspired our brunch tradition. It's simple, but intricate. It's comfort food that can be mouth-watering. Follow the steps closely, but as always, you are the chef! Tweak and experiment based on what you like.

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Cinnamon Spread

4 Tbs Cinnamon

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 sticks of butter

Soften butter, whip ingredients together in a stand mixer until completely combined. The texture should be crunchy with cinnamon and sugar, but spreadable. 

THE Toast

1. Find a fresh, uncut loaf of bread at the grocery store. The Fresh Market makes a really nice white bread that is uncut, if you can't find that you can use a sourdough.

2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut thick slices of toast, about 1 inch per slice, and lay them out on a large cookie sheet, covered with foil. Butter the top side of the toast & stick it in the oven until the butter is melted. Remove from oven and spread the butter evenly over the surface and return to the oven for about 3 minutes, until golden.

3. Remove toast from the oven and flip. On what used to be the bottom side of the toast, spread a thick layer of the cinnamon spread, all the way out to the crust. Place back in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the cinnamon is bubbling.

4. Set the oven to broil and leave the toast for a final 1-2 minutes on high heat. Be careful not to burn, and monitor the toast based on your own crunchiness-preference.

5. Remove from the oven and serve with fresh fruit and fresh whipped cream (unsweetened or sweetened, adding vanilla is always nice). If you want to get crazy you can always drizzle some syrup on top. 


The backyard movie

This year we decided to switch things up a little and have the birthday brunch with my family, and then celebrate with friends by hosting an outdoor movie neighborhood party. The weather has been beautifully warm for the last few weeks, so we felt like it was a perfect night to celebrate the first of Spring. Michael and I have talked for years about throwing something like this together, but we hadn't found the perfect excuse to do all this for just the two of us until now.

This is the kind of weekend activity that can be an adult birthday party (throw in some mojitos & a popcorn bar), a kid birthday party (think candy and Finding Nemo), or just a fun neighborhood gathering to welcome Spring. 

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What you'll need:

1. A projector, laptop, and speakers

We used the speakers from our studio, Michael's laptop and an Epson projector from Best Buy. The higher the quality the better (we splurged for 1080p). Michael set it all up on a coffee table and it worked like a charm.

2. Black fabric + White fabric, plus a frame (or something to nail it to in the backyard)

We found some cheap fabric by-the-yard at Hobby Lobby that worked perfect for this. There is a little wooden shed in our backyard, so luckily for us it was as easy as measuring the size of the shed and buying fabric to cover it. We nailed the black fabric behind and the white fabric in front, doubled. Easy set up, easy tear down, plus a cute little roof on top of the movie screen.

3. Outdoor furniture

Because our party was a couples party, we set up little sections of two chairs with some sort of table in between. We knew people would have drinks, candy and popcorn, so its a good idea to give them something to put that on. Michael brought down his old futon from upstairs which was PERFECT. We had lots of cushions, and a fire pit going behind the movie area in case people got cold. Don't forget to tell everyone to bring blankets galore unless you're having your movie night in the middle of summer.

4. Candy + Popcorn

Kroger was having a beautiful candy sale--$10 for 10 boxes of candy. So my sister and I went through and grabbed every type of candy we've ever wanted to try, 4 different flavors of popcorn salt, regular popcorn and kettle corn. We planned for 1 bag per person and it seemed to work out about right. It's never bad to have a few bags of popcorn left for your movie nights at home later.

5. birthday cake

There has never been, and never will be a better cake than this. Michael and I actually ordered this Caramel Brown Sugar cake from The Grit here in Athens for our wedding cake. We love it so much. I haven't had it since our wedding almost 5 years ago, so we decided this would be a fun occasion to have it again. (Also, I grabbed this cute cake topper from Target).


What's better than having a reason to celebrate?

Get festive this weekend and have brunch with your friends, or maybe even host an outdoor movie. Here's a list of my (current) top 10 movies in case you need suggestions. This list is heavy on the RomComs because what's better than a little laughing, crying, and falling in love on the lawn under twinkle lights?

10 Things I Hate About You

Midnight in Paris

About Time

You've Got Mail

Brooklyn

Pride & Prejudice

Almost Famous

When Harry Met Sally

Harry Potter (all of them, sorry can't choose)

Notting Hill

p.s.

Speaking of cinnamon, If you want the recipe for these homemade brown butter cinnamon rolls, click HERE . You can click through the pictures below to get a glimpse at the decadence you'll be making.

Tuscany, you're oh so lovely...



When Michael and I started planning our trip to Europe we had no idea where to go.

A trip overseas is laced with pressure to do something amazing, because anything that requires a 16 hour flight and puts that kind of a dent in your bank account needs to be amazing. We racked our brains for the right cities, the best deals on hotels, the shortest amount of time that would be enough time to really see a city. We were out of our league.

Luckily for us, Michael has some amazing family members that have lived in Milan for years. We reached out to them and they gave us some extraordinary recommendations, including the ever lovely Villa Bordoni

The villa itself was gorgeous down to every detail -- the pool, the open-air workout room (check out the view from the treadmill), the food, the staff, and the wine was the best I have ever tasted.

When we first got there, we had to pick our jaws up off the floor and pretend like we fit in. Ha! It was gorgeous, and ELEGANT. We noticed the hand-painted tiles on the floor of the bathroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows that opened out onto a balcony overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills. There was an adorable garden with little tables for two where we ate breakfast and had several glasses of wine during our stay. Right outside our room there was a shared sitting room where you can play chess (...who has time for chess on the reg?) and enjoy a cocktail. The bar looked like a scene out of the roaring 20's. Everything about this place felt like a breath of fresh air.

Click through all the pictures below:



The first day, Michael and I took a cooking class with their chef where we learned to make handmade pasta, a rustic marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes from the garden, tender Veal Osso Buco, and classic Italian Tiramisu for dessert. We love cooking so this was a real treat for us, not to mention that all-you-can-drink wine was being served all afternoon. The pasta process was almost therapeutic. The chef gave us tips on how to chop vegetables correctly, how to find the best olive oil, and how to cook in-season. His broken English and the glasses of wine made it more of a lighthearted Italian experience rather than any sort of real cooking school. 

And we were great with that.

The next day we visited the Antinori Vineyard for lunch and a flight of local wines. The whole place reminded us of a James Bond movie -- the towering concrete building with a vineyard literally built on top of it. The entrance was lined with swirling barbed wire, and you can't help but to feel fancy (and underdressed) when you're there. We kept catching each other’s eye with that “play it cool” but “I can’t believe we’re doing this” look.

When you're trying to pack light for a 10-day road trip across Europe you don't typically bring a whole lot of fancy clothes. But man I was so glad I brought that one dress.

On our last night, we cuddled up in our room, opened the floor-to-ceiling windows to our balcony, and we watched Under The Tuscan Sun (my first time ever seeing it). We laughed, we cried. It was absolutely perfect.

The next morning we picked out a case of local wine to preserve all the dreamy memories (never gotten a case of wine before...wow) and headed on our way to the train station. As sad as we were to leave we could LITERALLY not afford one more night (hehe). So we got the heck out of there and headed to Rome where our hotel was tiny and crappy, which is pretty much what we can actually afford.

So here's my blog tribute, to hoping that we’ll be able to return one day, but grateful for the beautiful moments we had there.

As beautiful and extravagant as Villa Bordoni was, there was something more that really impacted us when we were there. 

IT WAS ALL ABOUT TAKING IT SLOW

We all have an everyday pace that is so fast-- it never stops. We can even feel guilty for having a lazy Saturday. But everything about the place was designed to help you retreat for a day or two from the usual stresses of life and just be. I don't just think that's nice--I think it's necessary.

Up until this trip, Michael and I hadn't really taken a vacation, we were always traveling for work. As wonderful as that can be, and as blessed as we were to be able to travel together for work, we realized we had never really de-stressed and enjoyed ourselves like we did there. 

But I don't think we were able to relax just because Villa Bordoni was a swanky place to vacation.

I think you can tune into that feeling wherever you decide to go. Maybe it's a retreat to the mountains or to the beach for a weekend. Maybe it's a stay-cation at home. Maybe it's saving airline points and eating Ramen Noodles instead of eating out so that you can go live it up for a weekend. Go somewhere you've always wanted to go, or buy a bottle of $30 champagne because there's something worth celebrating.

I know it's not possible to do this stuff all that often, or to rush off to Italy, but it is always possible to enjoy yourself, be grateful, and relax. I hope we all decide to do that sometime soon.

XO,

Emily

Memories from Italy


In May of 2016 we decided to put everything on hold and take a crazy 10 day trip to Europe. The plan was to hit Scotland, England, France and Italy all in this time. Ambitious? Yes. Memorable? A thousand times yes. 

It's so difficult to choose a favorite, but I'd say that Italy took me the most by surprise. I didn't expect to, but I fell in love with it.

Italy is romantic, magical, rugged. 

It's been almost a year now since we were there, but I can remember it all so vividly. The plan was to hit a few of the highlights in just 5 days. Michael and I have a lot of experience with making the best of 24 hours in a city, so we figured why not hit Italy road trip style.


Here was the itinerary:

1 Night in Florence 

(rent a car and drive to Tuscany)

2 Nights at a villa in Tuscany

(followed by a train ride to Rome)

2 Nights in Rome

(fly home to GA)


It was crazy, it was stressful at times, it was completely beautiful, and it was the perfect way to end our trip.

Over the next few days I'll share details and photos with you, one city at a time >>

Day One: Florence

They say that every trip has a hiccup, and Florence was ours...

Here's my recommendation for anyone who loves to travel: go ahead and expect at least one bad entire day. 

On that day for us, the bad stuff just. kept. happening.

Go into it ready to laugh, and even ready at some point look at your travel partner and say..."Ok, so this is the day. Lets see if we can make some of it good!" 

If you go into it with that mentality, your chances of still having a good trip are so much better.  

I think we all know this, but it's worth saying out loud...

A good attitude changes everything


I wasn't able to jump right away into the good attitude...as you can see in the picture above.

To sum it all the Hiccups up quickly: 

We were traveling from Paris to Florence, and by some CRAZY airport language miscommunications (even though we were there on time) we missed our flight. The next flight was 6 hours later. Too short to leave the airport (Paris is about an hour away), and TOO LONG to sit at the airport.

Flight was delayed twice. When we landed the line for a taxi was 2 hours long. So we decided to wait for a bus...which also took 2 hours.

So we didn't get into Florence until about 10:00pm. Who knew that all the restaurants in Florence closed before 10? Except one, "late night" pasta place, similar to Olive Garden, but much worse. (seriously, it was bad)

We left the next afternoon, but not before we got lost in Florence and were late to check out of our hotel, because we were lost. With no phones. And Michael got a $200 ticket. Cool.


So now for the FUN stuff

The most exciting thing was that our apartment was right beside the Duomo. We were truly in the heart of the city. The view was incredible and the winding cobblestone side streets right outside of our window were so whimsical. It made our initial travel misfortune a little less painful.

The next day in Florence was only a half day, but we made the best of it. We found an adorable little family owned restaurant called Trattoria Mario. The seating was limited, so Michael and I got seated with two other solo travelers. At first we felt awkward, but once the server came and took our order there was something so beautiful about sharing a meal with these two strangers. Our food was so homemade and delicious. Couldn't have asked for a more authentic experience.

Then we explored the town, popping in to get some gelato, some coffee, and to see the famous Ponte Vecchio--the old bridge with colorful buildings and shops built on it. The scenery and the atmosphere were incredible.

We wandered around and found an adorable little Italian man painting with watercolors, and he happened to be painting Tuscany, where we were heading that same day. So we bought a few of his small paintings to bring home with us. It was dreamy.

I really believe that every bad day has something to celebrate.

For us, a sweet little surprise came in the form of a FREE upgrade to a super fancy rental car. I was lost, running (and sweating) back to our Airbnb trying to check out on time. I didn't check out on time. BUT I was waiting on the curb for Michael to come pick me up with the car, expecting something cheap and grungy. And he drove up in this:

WIN.

Looking back Florence was lovely, and even though it was our hiccup, it was so special.

XO,

Emily


BUCKET LISTS & PARIS


I love Georgia

I was born and raised here, and for my whole life I've lived here. In fact, I lived in Griffin, GA for 18 years, and then I moved 70 miles up the road to Athens, GA where I've lived for 8 years, which brings us up to date.

I was always such a homebody, never wanted to be too far from home. So sometimes it blows my mind that I ended up as a touring musician, spending most of my life away from home. And even though the tours and the traveling have been exciting and even life-changing, they've always reinforced the idea that Georgia is home.

But Michael and I were talking the other day about our Bucket Lists. Both of ours are pretty simple -- we want kids, we want to buy a house, I want chickens (I know it's weird but I do!), he wants to do a big building project, we both want to see the first sunrise of the country at Acadia National Park in Maine, maybe eat some lobster while we're there (hoping to check that one off next year). 

There was one list-item that I couldn't get off my brain. As much as I love Georgia,

I want to live somewhere else.

Not for long, not forever. Just to be able to say I lived outside of this (beautiful, adorable, homey) 70-mile radius for awhile. 


So we started brainstorming together -- where could we move? What is long enough to be considered living in another place? When could we realistically do this?? And we landed on a plan.

1 month // May 2017 // Paris

It's my favorite city in the world, the one place that I would truly love to say I have lived, and a time that happens to perfectly work with our schedules. So we're moving to France for a month.

We're renting a furnished apartment and while we're there we'll be writing our next album from our tiny Paris residence. 

So in honor of our plan (which I'm calling moving to Paris because it's more fun)...

10 things you must do in Paris //



1) Eat Berthillon ice cream

The best. Hands down. You have to try their Salted Butter Caramel and sit in the tea room.


2) Try Snails at Au Pere Louis

This sweet restaurant was walking distance from our hotel, and it was our instant favorite. They cut fresh charcuterie in the front, they have delicious cheese, a spectacular wine menu, risotto that will kill you dead because it is so amazing, and of course, snails (don't worry, the green is pesto). 


3) See the view from Sacre Coeur

The highest point in the city, and a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower and all of Paris' architectural glory. We went all the way to the top for the view, and we were so glad we did. Out in front of the church there are famous street performers, and on some weekends they will hold a market there.


4) Go to a Marche 

You absolutely must find one of the open air markets and go shopping. Buy a fresh baguette, several delicious cheeses, a bottle of wine, some fresh berries, and some salami and take yourself to a park for lunch. This is my favorite Parisian experience.


5) take wine to the Eiffel Tower at Night

It's so beautiful. Bring a bottle of wine from your marche finds and soak in the sights. Beware of all the other people doing the same thing, but even if you hate crowds it's SO WORTH IT.


6) Ride the river cruise to see the city

There are several different river cruise companies that will take you around the city on the Seine. Although you can find really nice ones that include dinner and drinks, I'd suggest the basic boats that are somewhat like a taxi. The boats are mostly windows so that you can take in the sights as you ride. Michael and I brought our bottle of wine and a few snacks, caught the last boat of the night, and rode our way around to the Eiffel Tower and got off in time to see it just as it lit up. 


7) Go to Shakespeare & Co.

The most amazing, inspiring book store. If you've ever watched "You've Got Mail" and thought to yourself that you'd love to own a bookstore or explore a magical little book shop, then simply walking into Shakespeare and Co. will actually blow your mind. There are shelves full of special editions, multiple different covers of each book. There's a section of rare books, where no pictures are allowed and you can just cozy up and read. I think anyone would love this store, and it's walking distance to Notre Dame.


8) Eat all the sweets

Crepes, Chocolate Croissants, Eclairs, truffles, YOU JUST CAN'T GO WRONG. Try the chocolate croissant at Boulangerie Jocteur, it was my absolute favorite. And if you stop at a crepe stand, order it with speculoos inside.


9) Relax in Luxembourg Gardens

Truly breathtaking gardens. Michael and I stayed next door and spent every morning taking a stroll through the gardens before we went anywhere else. My favorite place in Paris.


10) Smoke a Cigarette

Now this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is almost nothing that is more typical French than smoking a cigarette while standing next to the french floor-length gorgeous windows (or in our case, by the Eiffel Tower). I've never felt more chic, honestly. You should try it if you're ever in Paris, just to say you did.


Paris, I love you. Can't wait to see you in a few months.

xo, Em

 

       

"It's on you to make life interesting…"


Hello, for the very first time ...

My name is Emily Hearn Harrison and I'm a singer/songwriter currently living in Athens, GA, and the creator of WKNDS. I'm really excited to introduce you to this new project I've been working on slowly for the past year.

For starters, I'm reading a book that you should read called "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" I love Bernadette, and she is inspiring for so many reasons, but my favorite quote so far comes at a time in the book when her daughter, Bee, has decided that life is boring (and haven't we all felt that way). 

Bernadette looks at Bee and says, 

"I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it's boring now? Well it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn that it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be."

So yesterday, after months of stalling, I decided to finally launch WKNDS.
 


WKNDS is all about learning that it's on us to make life interesting.

I'm going to be trying new recipes, taking more photos, exploring new places, trying harder workouts, taking advantage of any cities I get to see, really going the extra mile planning awesome date nights & doing holidays the fun, festive way. I know that at some point over the past two months we've all talked about how amazing we want 2016 to be. So follow along with me if you're interested.

Explore the tabs at top right to see the different facets of the site. I'll be posting blogs on a weekly basis that will be focused on ways to make daily life a little more magical (think new recipes, interesting places to see, foodie fun, harder workouts, cool date nights, festive ways to celebrate the holidays + more), plus the thing that I'm most excited about--WKNDS City Guides. I'll be posting these monthly, and January's guide for NYC is currently up under the City Guides tab! Also, check out WKNDS on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

This site is meant to be a celebration of trying new things and learning how to make life a little more creative and wonderful, so be sure to EMAIL US with your experiences! We want to hear your story.



Because it's on you to make life interesting.

xo, Emily