My Sister’s Love Story [Featuring BHLDN]

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

I’ve been incredibly blessed to have extraordinary men marry into my family. My youngest sister, Rebecca, and her husband Paul have a relationship that makes me cry for utter joy any time I see or hear anything that even reminds me of them. I mean that literally. Songs, smells, recipes that Rebecca makes for Paul, people that resemble one of them…it’s a real thing. And now, my middle sister, Rachel, is getting married to a man named Eric. I feel just the same. I call him “the good egg”.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

BHLDN was lovely enough to partner with me on sharing their story! So I photographed Rachel in the Ephra Gown on a snowy day in Lexington, KY at the beautiful old apartment building I used to live in with Rachel — the one that will be their first home!

Rebecca sat down with Rachel and Eric a few weeks ago to talk about how it all began…

Rachel: Ahhhhh, well, Eric was working at Amazon as a workflow analyst. I got hired as a seasonal costumer service associate and we were taking a tour of the building.

Eric: She was wearing a purple coat and high heels and was a full head taller than everyone else.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: While we were taking our new hire orientation tour of the building…

Eric: I was going to get some coffee and ran into their group, and their tour guide introduced me to their group, and I awkwardly waved with my handlebar mustache. And the 6’4” girl, at the time, because of her ridiculous heels…She was easily noticeable.

Rachel: Well, I smiled and waved because that’s what you do to strangers when you’re introduced, but I had no thought that he noticed me in particular. So while I was going through training and stuff, Eric made it a point to find out my name…

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: And I stalked her on Facebook a bit, and I didn’t think it was her, because, your Facebook picture at the time, looked like a model. It was the cover of that magazine you were on.

Rachel: Umm…and then, the new hires were having a debrief with Workflow so they understood how their time off worked, like how to request it and stuff. And in that meeting, he called me out by name, but he shouldn’t have known my name at that time, which was curious. But he played it off really coolly as if he knew everyone’s name.

Eric: It was a fallacy.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: So in that meeting I had asked if I could have my lunch hour moved on a certain day, and he said it wasn’t possible. But he found me in the hallway later. He said, “I just wanted to let you know, I had to say ‘No’ about moving your lunch hour, but I would not have to say ‘No’ if your manager asked me to move your lunch hour.” So he was being very sly and helpful. And, when he was done telling me that, I thought he would just walk away, because he was a big analyst, and I was a nothing seasonal hire, but he stuck around to talk to me even though I was a nobody, and I thought that was very sweet. After that he would come by my desk at times, just to chat, and he was always drinking Earl Grey tea. And when I found out he lived in Lexington, I invited him to come hang out with a group of us that worked at Amazon and lived in Lexington, and would just hang around, like bowling and getting sushi or watching Disney movies on Walt Disney’s birthday.

Eric: Yes.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: So the more we hung out in groups, and the better friends we became, the more it became clear that he was developing feelings for me, and he ain’t no slouch neither.

Eric: Well, I did slouch a lot, I had poor posture.

Rachel: And, eventually, he got up the nerve to ask me out on a date.

Eric: Via text message…

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: But it was after a conversation, so there was context. And we went out and we started going on dates. We went to Table 310 on our first date.

Eric: We got a cheese plate that included Camembert and chorizo.

Rachel: That was a really good cheese plate.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: I won her over with my charms and my humor and my general shape.

Rachel: So then we kept going out, and the more time that we spent together, the more we fell in love with each other. We found out we have a lot of random things in common. He was just really easy to fall in love with.

Eric: I’m kind of a nice guy.

Rachel: He’s so sweet and thoughtful and wants to do the right thing,

Eric: And she’s really hot, and there’s other things too.

Rachel: And, at the same time, he’s so smart and humble. Because I had never been in a relationship before, and I was 24 years old when we started going out, at that time, there were so many criteria that I had trimmed off my list, like the guy being taller than me, the guy being able to pick me up and carry me around a building, the guy being sweet and thoughtful… but Eric turned out to be all of those things.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Eric: She is intelligent. I can have a conversation with her. That was it [laughs]. She is very lovely, um, she is very friendly and kind. She made me feel very welcome in her presence. She gives good presents.

Rachel: Do you feel appreciated because I believe in you? [yells passionately] Do you feel encouraged and inspired because I believe in you!?

Eric: I do.

My Sister's Love Story [Featuring BHLDN] - offbeat + inspired

Rachel: Well that’s too bad, because I don’t believe in you. [laughs]

Eric: [sings] I believe in a thing called love!

Rachel: I can be completely myself, my best and my worst, and he appreciates me and encourages me…and feeds me. [laughs]

Me: So, Eric. I just have one question, and it’s not, like, a part of the interview or anything. I’m just curious. What was it, after you saw Rachel, that made you search for her on Facebook and find out her name?

Eric: She was my size…and she had a very lovely smile.

// THE BEGINNING //

More soon. They will be married on April 2, 2016.

Campfires, Cocoa + Minnetonkas

Campfires, Cocoa + Minnetonkas - offbeat + inspired

This is definitely one of my favorite combinations in the world…campfires, the outdoors, hot chocolate, cozy clothes, sunsets and good friends. Simple, magical, and getting to feel adventurous right in the backyard. This was such a welcome retreat from the craziness that is November/December. The holidays seriously snuck up on me this year! I’ve been so busy settling into Nashville that when I finally came up for air, it was Thanksgiving week! And now Christmas is right around the corner. It’s ok though, campfires like this one will be my reality check - all is right with the world when you’ve got sweet ones to share life with and a good pair of shoes.

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Hard Lemonade Bonfire Chicken

Hard Lemonade Bonfire Chicken - offbeat + inspired

The house I’m renting in Nashville is amazing. It’s a little 2-bedroom cottage in a charming neighborhood and the backyard is HUGE. There are big old trees, lots of shade, even a little lattice & ivy covered swing! But my FAVORITE thing about the yard is how perfect it is for bonfires.

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Mocha Sorbet

Mocha Sorbet-6

Warm weather is finally here! (At least it was for a few days until it promptly disappeared from the Chicago area in favor of the more familiar cold, gray days.) But regardless of the current temperature, there’s always a reason for frozen treats - especially ones that combine my two favorite ingredients: coffee and chocolate. I’m not sure there exists a better flavor pairing (but I welcome your ideas in case I’m missing something epic!). They’re a match made in recipe heaven…especially when the chocolate is dark and earthy the coffee bold and rich.

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Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

It’s been forever since I last posted, so I’m long overdue for some life updates and serious recipes. I’ll start with a recipe because pancakes. (Life stuff soon though because soo much exciting stuff has been going on!!)

Anyhoo, if you follow me on Steller or Instagram, you may have seen these decadent little things already. If not, I hope you’re in the mood for some intense spring brunching and a recipe that takes pancakes to a WHOLE new level.

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GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - offbeat + inspired

I love making friends that share my gluten/dairy intolerances. I hate that they have intolerances because of how fun intolerances aren’t (wouldn’t wish them on anybody), but it’s just awesome to be able to feed my crazy ingredient-ly (??) acrobatic recipes to people who will appreciate them for their health benefits as well as their flavors, and say things like, “WHAT?! I don’t have to stop eating ACTUAL cinnamon rolls?!” No, dear friend. No…you don’t!

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Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel

Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel - offbeat + inspired

As promised, the delectable Autumn Squash Strata recipe as seen at the orchard brunch with Poppy Barley! This one was created by my lovely friend, Elizabeth Cauvel, at my apartment the day before the event. It was kind of funny, two tall girls, tons of food and a honkin’ DSLR crammed into my tiny kitchen — but she cooked, I photographed, and we loved it. Here’s a photo journal of the process. Recipe at the end!

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Crust-Lover’s Layered Apple Pie

Crust-Lover's Layered Apple Pie - offbeat + inspired

Apple pie. It’s in a league of its own. And for such a highly revered dessert, it’s very forgiving. There are thousands of recipes and renditions of “traditional” apple pie being celebrated all over the country. From the type of crust, to the variety and cut of the apples, to the spices and toppings — apple pie lends itself generously to adaptation.

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Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5

Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5 - offbeat + inspired

Meet Elizabeth! You probably already know her because she’s kicking butt on MasterChef Season 5 right now. The girl just made top 3! Hashtag awesome.

How we met is kind of crazy. She had been following offbeat + inspired for about a year prior to the airing of MC5. I found this out because fellow Lexingtonian and early MC5 competitor, Dan Wu, told me that when Elizabeth found out he and I lived in the same city, she flipped! Well I flipped too. We all flipped. Before I even knew she was a fan of the blog, I had picked her as my fantasy BFF from the show. Naturally, Dan and I lured her to Lexington with the idea that the three of us should host a MC5 dinner together. [I posted all about the dinner here!]

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The Coffee Ice Cube Latte + My Steller Obsession

The Coffee Ice Cube Latte + My Steller Obsession - offbeat + inspired

First, Steller. It’s an app I started using recently, and I’m completely hooked. It’s the most visually stunning, sleek and intuitive storytelling app I’ve ever seen. The idea is to create stories with photos, video, sound and text. There are different fonts and layout options that have the look and feel of an uber-stylish coffee table magazine, flipping pages and all.

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