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Personal

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Hiya

melissaschollaert-dianabenjamin2016-090Dress: For Love & Lemons (similar) / Shoes: Charles David (similar) / Earrings: J.Crew (old, similar, love these) / Fur: Vintage

Hi! I miss being able to ramble, it’s my sanity. Right now the list of things to do is getting a bit too long for my liking – primarily due to the holidays and my over ambitious Type A personality of just over committing because I like to work. The other day I had a wonderful “just me” day getting my hair touched up then going to a long late lunch. I was in no hurry to return home because returning home meant me wasting time away in front of my computer.

I mean I’m working, I am. But some days do you ever feel like you’re just sitting in front of your computer all day waiting for an email? Or responding to emails? Then at the end of the day you’re like, did I even accomplish much or should I have just gone outside and played?

I’m determined to not entirely miss gardening season this year. I’ve really missed it and right now my beds are so so pretty – I hope to step away from the computer and be able to get outside and share. I enticed myself by buying new garden gloves from Anthro and it’s about time I toss the other five shabby pairs that have seen better days.

I relaunched my graphic design site here, it had been neglected for an entire year! I had to concentrate on other things of course and the jobs still came from referrals, but I felt like this was a part of my work that was unfinished and I hated that! So I’m glad it’s complete and out in the world to see.

I also moved agencies for the third time in my career, earlier this week. I know, what’s going on. Well nothing, really, which is exactly why I moved. Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands or jump when the opportunity comes, and in this case, I’m returning to my agent who knew me when I was 19. She took a chance on me then and still believes in me now after I have been off her roster for 6 years. I’ve made the rounds being represented by the best agencies in town and I’m at the point where I’m either going to leave the industry, or I’m going to give it one last shot. I’m not a quitter but I also know when I feel defeated and it’s time to walk away.

If you are still reading, God bless you. Thank you for being my soundboard. The great purge continues, out with old towels and I bought several new sets from Pottery Barn, I also crazily organized my linen closet that it is totally blog worthy but I didn’t want to share because I think you might think I was crazy or going overboard with my purging and organizing (I am). Clothes are on the floor ready to be dropped off to consignment, and I’m even cleaning out cupboards. A big blogger/stylist yard sale will be happening in the new year, so stay tuned, lots of us together getting rid of home, style and props all in one place!

I figure I should leave you with something since I’ve taken up your time. In the middle of our busy lives as we try to be selfish with our time because we value it, I want to encourage you to also give a little of yourself. There are friends who just need our company, an emergency babysitter to take a meeting, or our creative feedback and encouragement. Maybe we think our schedules are overflowing, and perhaps they are, but sometimes when we give a bit of ourselves, we find that we get back so much more. xx

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Photo by Melissa Schollaert / Makeup by Lizzy Marsh

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North Carolina Biltmore Estate

asheville-biltmore-north-carolina-0504asheville-biltmore-north-carolina-0205Location: Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina
Hat: H&M (similar) / Bodysuit: Forever 21 (sold out, similar) / Skirt: Banana Republic (sold out, similar, love this) / Booties: Seychelles (old, similar) / Handbag: Madewell (old, similar) / Jacket: Wilsons Leather

Here I am in one of my most favorite places in the country, perhaps even world. North Carolina is a place where I’ve always said once I visited that I could see myself living. The countryside roads, the people are kind, and its where my favorite season, fall, makes the most beautiful debut.

Biltmore was created by the Vanderbilt family – a family who got it’s fortune from an ambitious young man, Cornelius Vanderbilt from Staten Island, NY who quit school at age 11 and at age 16 borrowed $100 from his mother buying a sailing vessel to start his own ferry service and by the time he died at age 82 turned it into about $100 million.

It was one of his 13 children, George who opened the Biltmore in 1895 after 6 years of construction. Can you imagine the entertainment here?

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I’ll save the rest of the story for you to learn when you visit – because you must visit, mmmkay? And you must also do the audio tour to get the dish on every room in the house, the stories, the reasons why they were created, oh I could tour it again and this was my second time!

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The grounds are everything, everything. I visited Biltmore years ago with my best friend from college, Jackie, on a road trip about 7 years ago – she did all the research and pretty much planned out entire trip.

Benjamin had a great time, to his surprise. He wanted to stay all day and one really could. If you visit there are two hotels and you can eat dinner there as well. You really could drive around and take everything in all day and I do hope one day we visit yet again! I cannot get enough.

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A little hint of Christmas was sprinkled around, and staring November 4 is when Biltmore really gets Christmas-y. Which means, I should get Christmas-y around the Steffen House. *wink* I still need to find my skinny tree.

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Getting to see the servant’s quarters reminded me of Downton Abbey, the size of their laundry room, kitchens and pantry were a dream. I also loved seeing the indoor swimming pool and bowling alley!

There are many guest quarters, and accommodations. Back in the day they entertained handful of guests at a time – not just one family. There would be horse riding, activities, oh the life of such people. I joked I would easily transition to that lifestyle and enjoy it tremendously – as a guests and especially as a hostess, I love to entertain and see friends enjoy themselves.

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We stayed until it closed, which is 6 pm when everything started to wind down which was perfection – less crowds and the ability to wander at a slow pace. You can still wander the grounds, a total of 8,000 acres.

The conservatory was equally amazing, I cannot wait to get back to gardening once the weather cools in Phoenix. It’s still hot, very hot here. Hotter than the rest of the country’s summers and it’s end of October. Aye. And so, back to North Carolina fall perfection –

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History, weather, an estate I like to just consider a castle, this was all eye candy for me.

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Happy Fall! Let me know if you’ve visited the Biltmore or when you plan on going!

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