Being a Lady

The first guest post is from Brittany. Brittany went to my high school and is one of the nicest people I know. She inspires me daily with her blog and her lifestyle. I also think she is so beautiful. Whenever my single guy friends ask if I know anyone for them she is the first person I think of. She is really beautiful inside and out - I really like her so much.

Hello everyone! My name is Brittany and I'm excited to be posting today because I just think the world of Mandy and her blog. Her ladylike way is so evident in her poetry, her opinions, her aesthetic, and the bits of her life that she shares. I am inspired by women like her--women who are ladies.

Since reading Tom Ford's five commandments for gentlemen* several months ago, I've been creating my own unwritten list. I've been deciding what it means, at least for me, to be a lady. I don't think a lady necessarily has the largest jewelry collection or knows the prettiest way to fold a cloth napkin. She's not even precisely groomed or perfectly mannered.

I would say that I think a lady is thoughtful. That she has opinions and beliefs that are her own. I'd add that a lady is kind; that she listens carefully.

But my lady list is irrelevant.

All of the wonderful ladies I've known have some things in common, sure; but they have more differences. They've written their own lists and created their own lives. I know a great woman who feeds her family the best foods. I know a true lady who has red glasses and carries literary journals in her purse and another who paints late at night and prays in her car each morning. I know a lady who sings loudly in the shower. A true lady is herself. She is authentic and genuine. Honest. She knows her uniqueness is what agitates the pretentious and the prejudiced. She is not afraid of her own influence or her mistakes. A lady finds her own way to do what Tom Ford suggests: "You have to be passionate, you have to be engaged, and you have to be contributing to the world."

Really, she is her greatest self. And that's all I really want to be anyway.

But I want to know, what does being a lady mean to you?


celebrating and leaving




On Saturday Kevin and I went to our favorite place ever - Pizzeria 712 for dinner. We had set a savings goal a few months ago and when we reached it we decided to celebrate by going there.

While there, our waitress happened to be a friend from freshman year and she asked how often we go there. I told her only on special occasions so she asked what ours was. We didn't know what to say. Do you talk about celebrating savings goals with your waitress? We kind of awkwardly looked at each other until she filled up our water and walked away.

Pizzeria is never a bad choice. We have yet to have a bad meal there - everything is perfection, and the atmosphere is intimate and cozy. If you live in Utah and haven't been, you are really missing out. If you don't live in Utah you are still missing out, but I am sorry you live so far away.

I am heading to Canada until Thursday to do some training in our stores there and then have a commercial shoot to style on Friday. It all sounds more glamorous than it really is. In my absence I asked three gorgeous friends of mine to guest post. They are all so lovely and inspiring, I think you will really enjoy what they have to say.

Follow me on twitter if you want to hear about my adventures this week.

Have a good week friends.


Bees Knees

My work gave me tickets to the Salt Lake Bees game for Friday night. We sat on the second row which was awesome, because then when the cheerleaders with weak arms (not judging, mine are weak too) throw out t-shirts and burrito's, we actually had a chance to catch them. There is nothing as American as a baseball game in the summer. Home-runs, vendors selling cotton candy and hot-dogs, and getting second-hand drunk because of the excessive amounts of beer.




Such a perfect way to start a weekend.



I didn't want law school. My parents always told me I should be a lawyer. "You would be good at it," they said. They think I am smart enough to do it, and I know they are right. I could do it - but just because you can do something doesn't mean you should - or that you have to.

Right now I work from 9-5, I teach from 5:30-9:00 two nights a week, and when I am not doing that, I am working on freelance writing projects or using those precious hours to relax with my husband, cook for pleasure (read: bake sugary treats) and read. I think that this schedule suits me because I am very busy, I feel a great sense of fulfillment at the end of the day - - and I contribute to my life and the lives of others. Still, I think about other things.

I see other people (including my husband) prepare for graduate education. My friends are going to medical school too, or law school, or graduate school - chasing the dreams they have always had. Other friends are having babies, or going on missions, or moving across the country for new jobs or schools or marriages. I wonder if maybe my education is not finished - I want desperately for it not to be finished, but I feel no need to become a lawyer or doctor or professor like I once thought I would. I feel no need to have kids yet. I feel no itch to move across the country.

I think it is easy to lose ourselves in school and work and ambition - because to be ambitious is to be fulfilled, right? To become something - to have that title is drastically important at this time in my circle. I am not saying this higher education is not important because it is terribly important. I just want it to feel important for the right reasons. To live a simple life with the ones you love doesn't seem to be enough. We are always in such a hurry to get somewhere, to become something - and my husband and I are as guilty of that as anyone.

So for now for those who are constantly asking, my plan is on not becoming anything. (but becoming everything at the same time.) I may never have a title in front of my name and pray my title never reads, "Doctor and Mrs. Voisin." I do not want to be the addendum to my husband's life and accomplishments. I do not want to ever be labeled as a "Housewife". I want to further my education whatever that means to me, and I want to be a mother someday but not yet and I want people to stop asking me when.

I want sheer happiness to be enough. I want my inspiration to come from simplicity. I want an honest life - not in the way that I am honest with others because I always try to be, but I just really want to be honest with my own ambition.

I want to be honest with myself about this life.


Red pants

I fell in love with red pants on pinterest. There are so many ways to make them look classy while still being bold with your colors. I also tend to wear a lot of black, white and gray and red is the perfect pop of color for those tops.

The thing is, all of the pants I found everywhere else were super expensive but I found some on Amazon of all places for $23.00. 20. 3. I was worried about the quality but they actually look great and feel pretty good for pants I won't be wearing every day. (I always invest in quality jeans and classics) but for a pair of red pants I will probably wear... every other week at most I thought they were perfect and am considering getting them in Royal Blue as well.


I first ordered the medium which were much too big but the small fit perfectly. They also send you a free gift with every purchase and both of them were hilarious. (Yes I kept the free gift even when I exchanged the size.)

What I'm saying is, if you ever thought like me about investing in a pair of colored jeans early 90's reminiscent that you will eventually give away so you don't want to spend a lot of money, I found the source.

P.s. if someone can fix the images on my blog where I put my about, contact, friends, etc. from not showing up I will bake you a pie. You pick the flavor.

all images via


She's my Cherry Pie




My dad was in a bit of an accident this weekend. Nothing too serious, but he did break some ribs and was in a lot of pain. Knowing that Cherry Pie is his weakness (despite my general dislike for it), I decided to practice my baking skills and make him one to cheer him up.

The filling I used from a can, but the crust I made from scratch for the first time in my life. Although completing a successful pie crust isn't exactly something to write home about, having it turn out so well gave me the confidence to push my baking boundaries even more. I love Nick Malgieri's book Bake so much I decided to cook everything in the book (that doesn't involve poached pears or walnuts) and can't wait to become a better baker.

(Oh - and my dad loved the pie. He said he it made him feel a little better already.)


Words of Encouragement

Yesterday I guest blogged at Kristen's blog From Keen. She is so honest in her blog posts and so open about her life - so when she asked me to guest blog for her I knew it had to be an honest, heartfelt post. Most of the other posts were about love, so I knew mine would be about it, but it contains a lot about my past, what was different about mine and Kevin's relationship, and the best dating advice I have.

Visit her blog here if you want to read more - I think you will find it becoming a daily read for you. She is such a beautiful and kind person.

And, happy weekend friends.


Shopping Thoughts

My husband and I stood together in the new mall
which was clean and white and full of possibility.
We were poor so we liked to walk through the stores
since this was like walking through our dreams.
In one we admired coffee makers, blue pottery
bowls, toaster ovens as big as televisions. In another,

we eased into a leather couch and imagined
cocktails in a room overlooking the sea. When we
sniffed scented candles we saw our future faces,
softly lit, over a dinner of pasta and wine. When
we touched thick bathrobes we saw midnight

swims and bathtubs so vast they might be
mistaken for lakes. My husband's glasses hurt
his face and his shoes were full of holes.
There was a space in our living room where
a couch should have been. We longed for

fancy shower curtains, flannel sheets,
shiny silverware, expensive winter coats.
Sometimes, at night, we sat up and made lists.
We pressed our heads together and wrote
our wants all over torn notebook pages.
Nearly everyone we loved was alive and we

were in love but we liked wanting. Nothing
was ever as nice when we brought it home.
The objects in stores looked best in stores.
The stores were possible futures and, young
and poor, we went shopping. It was nice
then: we didn't know we already had everything.
- Faith Shearin

Kevin and I are guilty of this same kind of desire for materialism. We want to live comfortably, surrounded by pretty things. But Faith is right - - -
we already have everything.


Summer Storm

I used to worry that all of the content, the words had been spoken before me.
I wondered if there was anything original left,
if there was anything more for me to say and contribute,
if the Austen's and the Wordsworth's and the Oliver's had taken it all
and left nothing for me, no words left to say.

But I woke up the other night to hail pounding on my window,
flashes of lightning squeezing their way between the spaces in the blinds,
terror pounding through my heart.

I held tight to Kevin's hand and he smoothed my hair back sleepily,
whispering over and over,
"It's okay. It's okay. It's okay."
I fell asleep again, and woke to the brightest morning
and summer, welcoming me into its warmest rays
as if to apologize for my fear that night.

With all of those small moments of fear that are calmed with love,
there will never be a shortage of my words.
There will always be something new to speak.




Kevin took me on a surprise whirlwind trip to Vegas over the weekend for our anniversary. He didn't tell me where we were going until we got there which made it so exciting and funny. Once we got to Vegas, he took me shopping and spoiled me with dinner and new clothes.

Around 9:00 he led me to Treasure Island, where we saw Mystere by Cirque du Soleil. I told him a long time ago that I had always wanted to see one of their shows, and he found tickets and planned our whole weekend around it. It was the most incredible, strange, and interesting thing I have ever experienced. I felt so encompassed by the talent and raw beauty of it all. We humans are such interesting creatures.

The truth is though, I wouldn't have cared if we had driven the entire weekend with no destination. Just to be alone with Kevin in the car where we could really talk and have fun together with no school or work or other time constraints was exactly what I needed. Sometimes I can't believe we have only known each other just over two years, and married for only one. He is such an essential part of me and who I am I wonder how I made it 21 years without him.

(the only picture from the trip - we were having too much fun to ruin it with pictures)


1 Year


Kevin and I celebrate our one year anniversary this weekend.

This past year he has carried me through more tear-filled nights and panic moments then seem fair, and he does it so gracefully. If ever I felt unloved in my life, he has cured that entirely. He does not expect love to be reciprocated exactly - - it is not symmetry to him. It is altruistic. It is guileless.

The thing about being married to Kevin is that I don't just love him more after being married to him for a year now. His example of compassion and kindness has given me the ability to love everyone I know and meet with more love than I ever had before.

He has made my life more than I could have ever made of it alone, because he truly believes I can do anything I want to do in this world. His love is empowering.

Happy Anniversary Kev. The best thing I ever did was marry you.


Driving At Night

Up north, the dashboard lights of the family car
gleam in memory, the radio
plays to itself as I drive
my father plied the highways
while my mother talked, she tried to hide
that low lilt, that Finnish brogue,
in the back seat, my sisters and I
our eyes always tied to the Big Dipper
I watch it still
on summer evenings, as the fireflies stream
above the ditches and moths smack
into the windshield and the wildlife’s
red eyes bore out from the dark forests
we flew by, then scattered like the last bit of star
light years before.
It’s like a different country, the past
we made wishes on unnamed falling stars
that I’ve forgotten, that maybe were granted
because I wished for love.
- Sheila Packa




I keep this picture propped up next to my favorite book on my shelf so I can look at it all the time. I am wearing my favorite chicken dress, and I think - - I am prancing. I don't know what else you would call it.

Being an adult really takes a toll on you. There are so many things you cannot change, so many difficult experiences, and an overwhelming amount of responsibility. This picture makes me smile every time I see it as I realize that there is so much to look forward to. If only I could tell this prancing, carefree girl that things always get better, that you make it, despite the difficulty, that you graduate from college and you marry for love and you find happiness.

Back then, happiness was all I knew. Today, happiness is what I make. I don't know what's better, but I do know the alternative.

I will take any form of happiness I can get.

(this makes me the happiest, though.)



Kevin and I are celebrating our one year anniversary this upcoming weekend. He has a surprise get-away planned that I can't wait for, and I have a little surprise up my sleeve too.

He asked me what I wanted for our anniversary as far as gifts go and here is the list I gave him. How I love that man.

Printed iPhone cover

5 Models Wearing Fashionable Dress Suits at a Race Track Betting Window, at Roosevelt Raceway Photographic Print

(and if we're dreaming... this sofa)

My birthday is two weeks away from Christmas, and I have never made a wish-list anytime other than September. Although I don't expect to get more than one small thing on my list, it was a fun change of pace to make one in the summer.



I am not ideal.
I do not have a perfect life -
or marriage (and especially not a perfect blog.)

I don't spend all my days taking pictures of myself in cute outfits,
Most days I feel like I don't have any cute outfits.
I get home too tired to cook almost every day of the week,
and I redecorate my house on a monthly - maybe weekly basis
because I never really feel satisfied with it.

I can't decide what I want to be...
Some days I think a designer - some days an author - some days a mom.
Most of the time I am just happy that I am a wife.
That I am surviving.

It is easy to get frustrated,
to feel like you are failing at everything, but - -

I would like to do this with as much failure as possible.
I would like to peel this life slowly and surely.
I would like to see what is inside this girl.



Sister told me I was way behind the times and set up a pinterest for me last night. What I have so far is nothing to write home about, but if you are interested you can follow me here.

If I can figure it out, I will probably follow you too.


creative power

The other day I sat on the edge of my bed - the first moment to myself I felt like I'd had in weeks. I put my head in my hands and asked myself why things feel so out of control right now. I have never been one to meditate, and maybe this is the closest I will ever get - but it felt necessary at the time.

I realized that while I have so much going on right now in my life, maybe more than I ever have before, I am not stressed about that. I am not stressed about the looming possibilities my life can hold. I am not stressed about medical school, future jobs, future children - - Mostly, I am stressed that I will disappoint myself.

I have been on a Mary Oliver kick lately (obviously as seen here and here) - but there is this one quote, this thing that haunts me. It is the reason I am stressed. It is the reason I feel so overwhelmed.

"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time."
— Mary Oliver

I knelt down and prayed after this moment, pleading over and over again,
"Please don't let this be me.
Please don't let this be me."


Perfect Room

in the details framed art on doors

I spend hours every week reading design blogs and looking for inspiration, but I almost feel that after looking at this image - - I could stop.

This is exactly what I want my home to look. My aesthetic summed up in one photo. Brilliant and modern yet traditional with a little bit of glam. Love love love.



Afternoon Picnic at Rock Canyon Park






"Summer afternoon -
Summer afternoon;
to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words
in the English language."
- Henry James