Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bethany's Birthday: Gift Guide

Yesterday, my sister turned 23. She's strong, courageous, funny, has kickin' style, does things with her whole heart, and can cook like no other. She's not only my sister, but my roommate, business partner, and best of all, best friend. She is the most important person in my life and I love her like no other. So, in honor of my favorite person's birthday, I created a special gift guide tailor-made for her. Enjoy some of Bethany's favorite things!

Her favorite things include:
1. Cookbooks - especially signed ones (she collects them!)
2. Artfully designed cards
3. Dainty necklaces
4. Yummy smelling candles
5. Discovering new wines (and preserving them with cute stoppers)
6. Sipping a beer with friends
7. Makeup (especially beautiful lipsticks)
8. Relaxing with a puzzle
9. Drinking tea (in particularly unique mugs)

Want more? Be sure to check these out, too.

Happy Birthday beautiful!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Favorites: The Best Green Accessories

Happy St Patrick's Day everyone! In honor of this holiday, I'm sharing the best green accessories with you. If green isn't your favorite color to wear, but you don't want to get pinched, these accessories may be just what you're looking for!

If you're loving these green accessories, then you're sure to want these, too!






Hair Accessories

Infinite Scarves

Wondering how I'm accessorizing this St Patrick's Day? Check out my Instagram to find out!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Easy Chocolate Pie Recipe

Happy Pi Day! In honor of this lovely March 14 holiday, I'm sharing a simple chocolate pie recipe. When I saw this recipe on The Shabby Creek Cottage, I just knew I had to make it. I love to bake, but sometimes I don't have time to create baking masterpieces. This recipe helps solve that - and it's delicious!

One Oreo pie crust
One 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip
One box Hershey's chocolate instant pudding
¾ cup milk
One fun size Hershey's bar

In a mixing bowl, whisk together instant pudding and milk. Add in 4 ounces of cool whip and mix thoroughly. Fill the pie crust with chocolate mixture. Add remaining cool whip to top of pie. You can either do this by spreading it directly over the chocolate or by piping it on. An easy way to pipe the cool whip is to add it to a ziplock bag and snip one of the corners. This creates a make-shift piping bag. Once the cool whip is added, grate the fun size Hershey's bar, creating chocolate shavings to add to the pie. Once finished, place pie in the freezer for at least and hour. Then, enjoy!

What kind of pie are you eating on Pi Day?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

College Graduation: 6 Months Later

One of the proudest moments of my life was graduating from university. Earning my degree was a long and difficult process, so when those diplomas came in the mail, it was an indescribable feeling. 

You see, I started at UC Davis in September 2010, but didn't finish until August 2016. I began my journey studying biomedical engineering. When spring quarter began, I quickly decided that biomedical engineering wasn't what I wanted and decided to switch to bio-mechanical engineering with hopes of working on prosthetics. Throughout the next year, I continued studying engineering without truly feeling fulfilled. Going into my third year of college, I took a hard look at what my future was going to be like and decided that engineering wasn't the right fit. I officially changed my major from engineering to a double major in managerial economics and organizational studies. Changing my major was the best decision I made. Although I was basically starting my schooling over, I loved it. I finally enjoyed going to class and learning the material. It was a complete mindset change and it was great. To complete both majors, I needed to take a full fifth year. Unfortunately, when I filed to graduate that year, I found out I needed to take a foreign language, moving my graduation date 15 units later. In August 2016, I officially graduated. It was a long six years, but getting those degrees made everything worth it. I changed my major twice, double majored, dealt with two serious chronic illnesses, was a part of a sorority, made lifelong friends, and graduated with a Bachelors of Science and a Bachelors of Arts.

But what makes it the proudest moment was the fact that I dealt with serious depression and two chronic illnesses throughout those five years. I had to take a quarter off of school my freshman year, needed to go part-time during my third year, and was put on academic probation more times than I'm proud of. My illnesses were hard. I was constantly nauseas, either feeling like I was carsick or that I had the stomach flu, depending on which illness was acting up. Getting to class was a daily struggle, as was completing my work and learning the material. And that, right there, is why I'm so proud. When most people would have dropped out and given up, I pushed through and finished with two degrees.

To celebrate having my degrees for six months, I wanted to share some graduation photos with all of you. 

The first set I took at the end of my forth year when my five best friends graduated. We really wanted photos all together, so I borrowed a cap and gown and had a photoshoot with them. Here are four of my favorite shots:

At the end of my fifth year, I took some solo graduation photos around campus. Here are a few of my favorites:

And lastly, in June 2015, I walked across the stage at UC Davis and accepted my diploma. Although I still had to take my foreign language courses, I was, for all intents and purposes, graduated. Here are some photos from that day:

My Grand-Little, Ashley, sat through the ceremony to watch me graduate. She's a rockstar.

Emma, being the crazy girl she is, walked with each of the five of us when we got our diplomas. I'm pretty sure she beat the UC Davis system. ;)

James 1:12 "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial."

Now that it's been six months since receiving my diplomas, I'm able to reflect back on the years I spent earning those degrees. They were hard, frustrating, and scary. But most of all, they were exciting, memorable, and challenging (in the best way). I still feel a huge sense of pride when I take a look at those two pieces of paper, signed that I, Ainsley Laven, am the owner of two degrees from the University of California, Davis.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weekend Recap: the Reset Conference

This past weekend, the company my sister and I own, Southern Magnolias, helped style a conference in Indianapolis. The Reset Conference is a two-day conference for photographers across the nation put on by two photographers from my area. When we initially met with them, they wanted something dramatic as a backdrop to the stage - something that would really make an impact. We decided to take that to heart and build a giant 3D chevron backdrop. We traced, cut, folded, and glued over 1000 triangles in four different colors. Our result - a 12x12 chevron 3D triangular backdrop. 

We also had our own vendor booth set up at the conference. We decided to go with something very in-tune with our brand with an ivory and blush display. We rented two gorgeous chairs from Violet Vintage that really made our booth pop, floral garland from Afloral, vintage plates from Pier 1, simple linens from Herriott's, and printed photos of some of our past work. This was our favorite part of the conference, as we were able to meet so many photographers and really show off what we do best.

This past weekend was a new experience for us and something completely out of our comfort zone. I am so proud of the work we put into this event and the final product that resulted.

Such a fun weekend expanding our business!