Long Distance Friends.

Donegal Ireland 3

I’ve spent the past year curating my life a bit. I hate the word curate… it’s become overused (especially by both brands and bloggers, am I right?) but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. Spending more time with fewer people, cultivating deeper and more meaningful friendships. This isn’t very easy, especially in New York where the hustle + bustle can be a bit much. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without even seeing my sister, which I really hate. But I’m trying, and it’s getting easier to say no to the nonsense and focus on the things that actually matter.

My friend Aly is one of those friends who I wish I could see every day. Unfortunately she lives across the ocean, in Northern Ireland. So instead, we text pretty much every day. I decided it would be fun to surprise her for the fourth of July, so off I went. If you’ve never surprised a long distance friend, I highly recommend it… it’s a lot of fun. I planned it so that I could crash her family vacation… up on the coastal town of Donegal, Ireland (which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and somewhere I’d always wanted to go.)

Donegal Ireland

Donegal Ireland 2

Aly is also incredibly talented. She took all of these photos while we were at Narin Beach in Donegal, and is an amazing artist. My own home is full of her “scribbles” as she calls them (I have 3 prints + one original!), and she also has a print shop. She painted the beach we were at below (available here)… isn’t it amazing?

Aly Harte Narin Beach

She captured it so perfectly.

Donegal Ireland 5

Oh and she’s a mother to two boys too (two of the sweetest boys in the world, I might add…) When I complain about being busy, I think about Aly and shut my mouth.

Gold Birkenstock Sandals

Aly, me, and our other friend Emma have this fun little imessage chain and talk pretty much constantly. The conversation ranges… usually matters of the utmost importance. Selfies, nonsense, and the overuse of the #gwyneth hashtag. We also share our dreams, bounce around creative ideas, and help each other think stuff through for our own respective businesses. The other day, our conversation was pretty exciting. I was telling them about the results from my BaubleBar collection, Aly was talking about the painting commission she’d just received, and Emma was sending us photos from her upcoming handbag line. It was really inspiring to see everyone doing really great things.

Donegal Ireland 4

Donegal Ireland 6

Girls Feet in Sand

photography by Aly Harte.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. I loved this post – what a special idea to surprise her…good friends should never be taken for granted. Also you look simply radiant in these photos!


    7.21.14 Reply
  2. This post rings so true…a few years ago, a friend basically moving away basically meant we’d lose touch, but as I’ve gotten older, some of my truest friends are scattered across the country. It’s almost like a long-distance relationship, though- you value your time together that much more. And at least you have awesome new places to visit them!

    7.21.14 Reply
  3. Lovely heart warming post! 🙂 I want to surprise a friend now! My ex boyfriend once surprised me… by turning up at my doorstep in the UK all the way from Australia! It was amazing.

    7.21.14 Reply
  4. This is such an amazing thing to do! I would never have thought to have surprised a long distance friend with an in-person visit, but it sounds amazing.


    7.21.14 Reply
  5. Great post and photos! What an awesome surprise and I bet Ireland is absolutely gorgeous!

    7.21.14 Reply
  6. This must have been such a lovely surprise for her!

    7.21.14 Reply
  7. Such a sweet post! You can tell by the pictures that you girls had a great time.

    xo Michele @ prettysmartme.com

    7.21.14 Reply
  8. Aww, this is such a sweet post. It looks like you had an amazing time and so sweet of you to surprise your friend!

    7.21.14 Reply
  9. What an incredible thing to do and what great photos to remember it by! Sounds like you have a wonderful friendship. Just checked out Aly’s shop – wow! Talented indeed! Those beachy landscapes are fantastic and a great price!

    7.21.14 Reply
  10. absolutely agree… it’s something i’ve focused on more this year as well. purging (for lack of a better word) “friends” and creating stronger, meaningful and fun relationships with some incredible women. it’s a work in progress but I’m proud of the forward steps. i absolutely love that you surprised her… and the location doesn’t hurt.


    ps: aly is SO talented! beautiful work.

    7.21.14 Reply
  11. You look gorgeous in that black and white photo. So naturally radiant!

    7.21.14 Reply
  12. Love seeing pictures of CC Grace! Hope you had a wonderful weekend reconnecting!



    7.21.14 Reply
  13. Aw! Love this 🙂

    7.21.14 Reply
  14. jillian:

    that is SO awesome that you surprised her!! really good friends are the best and totally worth the extra effort to keep in touch 🙂 xo

    7.21.14 Reply
  15. Cortney:

    Eyelashes. WHERE in the city do these magical eyelashes happen?

    7.21.14 Reply
    • Grace Atwood:

      haha I go to Eye-lure in Soho! I love it!! 🙂

      7.21.14 Reply
  16. Nnenna:

    You look so happy in these pictures- it’s great to see. What a wonderful thing to do and surprise your friend with a visit! My best friend lives in California and I wish I could see her more regularly.

    7.21.14 Reply
  17. Megan:

    LOVED this post, Grace! My best friend lives in Chicago (I’m in San Diego), and on my birthday this year, she showed up on my doorstep – a complete surprise and totally unexpected. It was the best birthday gift in a really, really long time… And isn’t it the best to see the people you love doing really cool things?

    7.21.14 Reply
  18. Beautiful sentiment behind this post, Grace. You’ve mentioned in the past that so many of your friends here aren’t actually bloggers, and it can be tough to get caught in between the two especially when it comes to events, etc for bloggers, and I can definitely relate. My closest friends here don’t blog, either, and I’ve found that it’s important for me to really invest my time with them and not get caught up in events and coffees with people I don’t know as well (not that new friendships aren’t great—but I like to keep my existing ones as healthy as possible!). Unrelated, I LOVED getting to see photos from your trip, it looked beautiful!

    7.21.14 Reply
  19. The photos in this post are so amazing. It’s awesome that you got to go visit. Friends like this are hard to come by.

    7.21.14 Reply
  20. I love my long distance friends! They are the best!
    Cheers to you and yours!

    7.22.14 Reply
  21. Samantha S:

    This post made me smile. Your happiness is contagious!

    7.23.14 Reply
  22. Love these gorgeous photos. Good friendships are good for the soul. You’ve got my thinking of planning a little surprise trip 3000 miles away 😉 xx

    7.24.14 Reply
  23. Megan:

    I read this the day it went live and keep thinking about it — we see you in outfit shots all the time (and don’t get me wrong, I love them) but there’s a degree of uncomplicated joy here that just can’t be captured when you’re worried about showing an outfit and accessories in just the right way. I’ve always loved the mix of fashion and life you share here on Stripes & Sequins, and just wanted to put a plug in for even more beautiful, happy Grace.

    7.24.14 Reply
    • Grace Atwood:

      aw thanks for the sweet comment megan… i know. sometimes outfit photos feel so forced (also — I take ’em at 8am before I go to work and let’s just say I am not a morning person!!) it was nice to just be with people I love and have a relaxing weekend! xo

      7.24.14 Reply
  24. Thank you for sharing. I ran into the problem of trying to have a very meaningful relationship with a lot of people, but instead of feeling great I just felt exhausted. I have slowly started to realize those that are truly present in my life and put my heart into those. I am glad someone else has felt the same. I love the photos from your trip as well…beautiful!

    7.26.14 Reply