Top 10 Vineyard Vines For Target Picks

First off, it was really fun and exceeded my expectations. 

I only think of Vineyard Vines as a clothing store and that’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of other fun things! 

We got there at 10min to 8am, coffee in hand, waiting for Target to open.  There was a line that wrapped around the corner of the store but we were happy we didn't wait longer than 10min to enter the store.  We all figured the people were going to be nuts and harsh, as we experienced with the Lilly Pulitzer for Target line.  Thankfully, we found the whole experience to be great.  It was a bit crazy, but people all helped each other try and find sizes, and items.  I found the quality to be good, too.  I am sharing our top 10 picks from the sale:

1.  Citronella candle: My mom grabbed this not knowing what it was, and then got so excited when it was a three wick citronella candle! This is perfect for an outdoor summer bbq to keep the bugs away. $30

2. Pillow: Perfect for outdoor decorating.  $20

 

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3.  Cosmetic cases: So beautiful and fun for your next trip, or great gift for a friend!  $30

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4.  Wooden serving bowl in lobster print.  This is my favorite buy! It looks like great quality and I love the print.  Later that day I went to a store and saw a very similar one for $85.  This one was $35

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5.  Print shorts:  These run true to size and are fun for a summer picnic or day at the beach! $25

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5.  Striped off the shoulder top $25 - I paired it with our very own J. Shotmeyer lobster shorts for a fun look. 

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6.  7.   Place mats: America themed for all of the fun summer American holidays. $5 each

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8.  Print off-the-shoulder dress:  This runs true to size.  $30 

9.  Men’s “Everyday Should Feel This Good” t-shirt.  $16

10.  Striped dress $30  

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Hope you have as much fun as we did! 

- Jenna  

Criticism

How do I kill the critical beast

Who breaths heavy in my ear.

His thoughts are not inside my own,

But he remains close just to jeer.


He’ll go through my ear and take over my brain,

If my mind keeps letting him in.

He is not a friend, rather the farthest of foes,

And I want an end to this sin.


I remember in middle school someone came up to me and said something really mean. Instead of sticking up for myself, I just started crying and ran away... In a nutshell, that’s basically my relationship with criticism. I was always so shocked someone would say something mean... until I grew to expect it.  I started expecting that people were being awful to me in their minds even if they were not being awful outwardly.  

 This totally spiraled out of control, as I became ultra critical of myself and everything I did, hoping I could and correct myself before others could think the terrible things. 

This went on until the accident. After the accident there was so much to criticize about myself that I wanted to give up altogether. I allowed God to speak truth into my life, and that’s when the game changed.  

I think struggling with criticism is super common...

I have come a long way as I journey towards killing self-criticism. I felt like I was finally freed from living under my own critical eye, but I let a lot of criticism back into my life. A lie that I’ve believed is that people are not as critical of you, as you are of yourself. That used to help me as a defense mechanism before I hung out around some very critical people.  I’ve seen that others can point out my flaws a lot faster than I can nowadays. People DO see my flaws and criticize, it’s not just my imagination. Comments said by people I know have a way of staying in my mind, even when they’re not about me...  

The other night I took a deep breath as the heavy rain battered on my roof. I have to find a way to kill the critical beast holding me back from enjoyment, peace, and FUN. I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY... and I felt that as the bride this is my job... and then I realized that’s unhealthy.... 

The heart of it is that people ARE going to judge Matt and I, and our wedding. What we do, what we wear, where we go, who we are with, etc. will all be judged. Not necessarily judged in a negative way, but judged nonetheless. If the flowers are pretty or not, if the band is any good, if they like our wedding favors, if the food tastes good, etc. I would like to please EVERYONE. From Matt, to our family, to our friends, to the random plus 1 date who I do not even know...

Pleasing everyone is never going to happen (which makes me SO SAD), and the weight of if all but stiffled me this week. (And I’m SO early in the whole process!!!!!!!) When I’m trying to please everyone, I wind up pleasing no one (and especially not myself)...

So how do you stop criticism altogether?  Decide which voices are the most life-giving, and listen to those voices.

One thing I have learned is that in order to stop being critical about yourself, you need to stop being critical of other people. In the same way, in order to stop being critical of others, you need to stop being critical of yourself. It is a two-way street no matter how badly you try and keep them separate.

The voices we should  be listening to should be be growing us, challenging us, inspiring us, and always surrounding us with love.  Perhaps not always the “feel-good” love, but true unconditional love.

With a foundation of a secure identity in WHO God says I am (rather than what I can do), I can focus on a much healthier perspective. 

As I was praying, I asked God to show me His perspective. He did.

I saw myself as His daughter trying so hard to please Him as I walked down the aisle. I saw His love for me, and my love for Him. It relaxed me and made me so sad to think I could be critical of myself. I saw myself as someone that God took time to create, pour into, and love. In creation God took a step back and said it was good. God created me and believes I am good just the way I am; imperfections and all.

I then took a step back as I was on the phone with Matt. He is so happy to marry me. He wants to marry me just because I am me. He will not care what I look like because he always thinks I look beautiful (even when I ASSURE YOU I DO NOT). He will not care about the flowers, the centerpieces, the dresses I pick for the bridesmaids, or what the invitations look like. He will care about the food tbh.... but he will not care about what anyone tries to criticize. He is just thrilled to be marrying his best friend. I am still so in awe that that is me.

Moving forward I need to be choosing the voices I am allowing in. Some of the voices are completely made up in my head, and some are as real as a slap on the face.  Rooted in my identity of WHO God says I am, I have the confidence to do what He has called me to do. It is important to always remember that God does not criticize. He convicts of sin, and He loves. Shame, guilt, and condemnation are not from Him. Criticism wants to steal my joy in this time, but with a solid foundation I am FREE to enjoy the process.

 

One day instead of listening,

I looked at the beast in the face.

He was not big and scary,

Instead he looked out of place.


A waterfall roared through my ears,

Pushing the beast far away,

Coming from the source I let in,

And the current is here to stay.

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- Jenna  

Easter (WPW)

Easter week has me thinking about Christ and the quality of His love for us. He came down from heaven and humbled Himself as a human. He did not demand to be worshipped, but rather gave Himself up to death, in order to give us life.  

This is the kind of love that we are called to. Christ talks about how His bride is the church, meaning Christians.  In this beautiful illustration, we see Ephesians 5:25 played out... “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.  He gave up his life for her...” 

The illustration of marriage between Christ and the church is a very serious thing, just as real marriage is.   By saying yes as a bride, we also say no to all others.  There is an exclusivity that makes the relationship even stronger.  Jesus gave up His life in love for us.  He is our healer, our hope, our love, our strength, our peace... the Almighty.  Sometimes we forget about the exclusivity Christ calls us to.  When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  When asked what the second greatest comments is, Jesus replied, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is so interesting because God does not just ask us to “love Him” as if it is something we can muster up. God asks us to be in relationship with Him, and get to know Him.  In relationship with Him we see the holiness of who He is, and the depth His love for us.  We see our sin, and the grace that is so much greater.   This compels us to love Christ more than we could’ve imagined. 

As I am preparing to be a bride, I have two takeaways I am thinking about... 

Takeaway #1: not to lose sight of Christ being #1 in my heart 

When I am in a healthy relationship with God, loving Matt is oh so easy. Why? Because I am pouring into him the love that God poured into me (see previous post on “The Fountain”).  I have grace to give, because I have received so much grace. I have peace to stand on, because God has given me a foundation that is not dependent on the things of this world.  God asks us to love Him first for our own well-being.  It is in our best interests, and makes me the healthiest “me” I can be. God is also described in the Bible as jealous, and deserves the best place in our heart. I want to always put God first in my own heart, in our marriage, and I want Matt to be putting God first in his heart.  It is so important to me that Matt loves God more than he loves me.  It is also so important to me that I put Christ before Matt.  That could sound strange that I want my husband to love God more that me, but becoming more like Christ, is becoming more humble, gentle, and kind.  This will take sacrifice, huility, respect, grace, love, and so much more, but it will be oh so worth it.  

Takeaway #2: live in the humble nature of Christ  

I am not very good at saying I am sorry... Matt is incredible at it. He automatically humbles himself and asks for forgiveness. It’s AMAZING because it diffuses any argument or disagreement... In the scriptures we see that Jesus was very humble.  Instead of demanding love, respect, and honor, He washed the smelly feet of His disciples. Instead of calling heaven’s armies to destroy the earth, He humbled Himself to the mockery, pain, and death of a criminal.  I want humility in my marriage.  I want to grow in humility before God, and before Matt.  As I am preparing, I will be preparing my heart in this way.  

Some verses I’m loving:  

 - Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecuti8ons, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

- Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vein conceit. Rather in humility value yourselves above yourselves, not looking to your wo interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  

Here’s a pic following the shock when someone said for the fist time, “turn to your FIANCÉ”. That word sounded so strange and sweet.  Judging by the photo you can see we’re pretty excited about it ;) 

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Jenna  

Healing

It was 6-2, 5-0 as I walked back to the baseline. All at once my eyes filled with tears. Not because I was about to win, but because I never thought that this, this circumstance right here, would ever be able to happen. I gathered myself together to finish the last game of my second collegiate tennis match. My first match was 5 years ago before every aspect of what I have ever known would be tested and tried.  Dreams were left to die, and new ones formed.

Lots of people know, but some don’t.  5 years ago today I went to an on-campus event my freshman year of college and someone thoughtlessly threw a huge sports cooler that hit me on the head. My friends didn’t see it happen, but I was told it came from the balcony. I had a traumatic brain injury and was told I had 2 contusions on the top of my head...

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Blank Slate Tea

I love doing new things, checking new places out, and going where I’ve never been. 

Today is all about tea. 

My friend Julia found this cafe online and we made a day of it!  

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What to order? MATCHA MATCHA MATCHA!

From 3-5 each day is matcha hour! 

Their unique selections are delicious, as is their regular Matcha! 

We got the iced version because it was so warm outside.  

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Let’s talk about the DECOR. I recently came across the instagram page @accidentallywesanderson and just love their pictures. Wes Anderson is a director you may have heard of who created Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and other movies. 

He uses creative colors to make such a unique experience. I love the artistic nature of his work. 

Walking into Blank Slate Tea was like walking into a Wes Anderson set. The creative colors, the wallpaper, the chairs, the tables, the light fixtures, everything flows together in such a unique way.  

A splash of retro while serving modern cuisine.  

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The food is great, and its such a fun place to visit - I highly recommend!

 

- Jenna 

Drive-in movies!

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In our family we have these things called “Birthday Party Weekends” and they’re the BEST. You generally get two of these if your birthday is mid-week and if it’s on a weekend, well then, you usually get two as well.  

This past weekend was Cara’s big “Birthday Party Weekend” and it was Matt and I’s job to make it nothing short of spectacular.  

I mapped out two plans for Cara to choose from. She chose Coney Island Pizza and the Drive in Theater.  

The reason we chose Coney Islans Pizza in Riverdale is (bc it’s AMAZING duh... but also) it’s right on our way to Warwick! It was a perfect and fun dinner to have right in the back of our car. 

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Dogs are welcome at the theater which is awesome! What’s not so awesome is that a bigger dog tried to attack our sweet Teddy Freddy.... But we rescued him and snuggled him the rest of the time. 

The movie was Christopher Robin based on Winnie the Pooh, a childhood favorite of mine. 

I sat there totally content  in the trunk of my car with the best people ever.  We took in all of the sights and smells of summer. It was something I wish I could bottle up and save for a cold rainy day in January.  

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Get there at least an hour  EARLY and make a night out of it! The movies generally do not start u til 8:45 bc the sun has to go down, so settle in and have some fun. Being some games! And have a blast!

Some things we were glad we brought were big coushion pillows to rest on when we put the seats down, blankets, and battery-operated stringed lights. The stringed lights just added the cutest warmth and decoration to our setup. Also bring BUG SPRAY! I personally did not use it, but Cara and Matt both really needed it. 

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Lastly, if you’re going to go, go with your favorite people - it make it even more fun :) 

 It was a great “Birthday Party Weekend” adventure, something she had always wanted to do!

- Jenna  

First Time Apple Picking

“What?? You’re lying…”

“No, I’m not, I’ve never been apple picking before”

“Well you won’t be able to say that much longer!”

We grabbed our sherpas to stay warm, and we were off. 

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Ochs Orchard, in Warwick, NY.  Blue sky, crisp autumn air, and the promise of apples lingered in our minds as we passed beautiful lakes and hills decorated with autumn color.  Even though Julia is from the beautiful mountains of upstate New York, I had the pleasure of taking her apple picking for the first time.  We passed some fresh vegetables on our way up the mountain and we began to smell one of my favorite fall aromas - fresh apples!  I told her that one of the first “tricks” is to not go for the first couple rows of apples because they get picked over the most.  Even though excitement almost made listening to this “trick” too difficult to follow, we persevered up the mountain.  When we got to the top, we were in awe.  Not only can rows of beautiful apple trees be seen, but the expanse went for miles with hills and fields.   Fall foliage had just begun, and the crisp air filled our lungs.  The apples at the top were AMAZING and we were so happy we had persevered and did not fill our bag with the first apples we saw at the bottom.  We caught up on life, laughed, and ate our way through the rows of trees.  We stayed over an hour past closing time (oops!!) and the people working at the orchard were so gracious and did not even give us a bad look as we realized they were waiting for us and the sun had gone down.  

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The best part about apple picking is the apple recipes you get go make afterwards! Check out a new recipe by yours truly :)

 

- Jenna 

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Recipe! (makes two)

GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE! With so many dietary restrictions people have nowadays, it feels so good to make something lots of people can enjoy and still feel good! 

 

Ingredients:

- 4 large apples

- 1/2 cup brown sugar

- 2 tbsp almond flour

- 2 tbsp butter or “Good Life” butter substitute (I used Good Life)

- 2 and 1/2 tsp apple pie spice

- 1/2 tsp (or a dash) or cinnamon

- 1 tbsp water

 

For the topping:

- 1/2 cup Quaker oats (you can use Quaker gluten-free oats)

- 1/4 packed brown sugar

- 1and 1/2 tbsp butter or Good Life

(simply hand-mix these ingredients together)

 

How to make: Set oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the four apples and choose two that the ingredients will go into.  Hollow out two of the apples and cut the other apples into medium-sized pieces.  Place the cut apples as well as the contents of what was hollowed out into a saucepan with a lid.  Put the burner on medium and begin to add ingredients one at a time (do not add almond flour yet) stirring after each addition.  Bring the heat to low and place lid on top.  Wait a few minutes for the liquids on the bottom to begin boil.  The apples should release some of their juice and mix with the other ingredients.  Add the almond flour.  You do not want a “soupy” mixture, adding almond flour and/or a little sugar will help thicken it depending on the consistency.  You also do want some liquid so the apples do not burn, you may need to add more butter or a little bit of water in that case.  Wait for apples mixture to boil.  

Take your hollowed out apples and place them on a oven-safe baking dish.  Divide the hot apple mixture between the two apples.  Crumble the topping onto the apples and place in the oven for about 10minutes or until the apple mixture begins to bubble and the hollowed-out apples begin to bubble some.  

Take out of oven and enjoy! SERVE WARM

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