Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Gifts!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's time for another Wedded Bliss link-up, and this week it's all about Gifts. Who doesn't like to talk about gifts? You know those people that are like, "I'm not really a birthday person..." Yeah, I am NOT one of those people. I think you should celebrate the fact that you've been blessed with another year!
And if some new clothes or goodies happen to come with it, so be it!

What is the best gift to give your husband?
This is really tough, because he has everything! And he is really bad about waiting to see if "Santa" will bring it to him - he'll just buy whatever it is. 
I've had the most success with just asking him what he wants and then I shop around to get the best deal on it that I can. But I always give at least one surprise! Surprises make life fun.
Generally speaking though, I can't go wrong with buying him clothes. The man loves clothes.

What is a meaningful gift that you can give that does not cost money?
Love notes - I think it's sweet to find a little note in your coat pocket :)
Even if it's a quick "I'm thinking about you" text, it gets the job done. 

What is the best gift you have given to him?

Here are a few of my personal faves...
  • For our first Valentine's Day together (we had been dating 2 months and just said 'I love you' for the first time), I got him a key chain that had a little silver pair of golf shoes on it and a tiny tag that was engraved with "Love you and the shoes" - he had (and has) a mild obsession with golf shoes. I know he loved it because the little tag is still on his keys today!
  •  After we had been together for a year, I made him a photobook of the memories. Although I probably appreciate that now more than he does!
  • For our Anniversary this year, I gave him a framed picture of our first dance at our wedding with the lyrics to the song printed on the mat (Frank Sinatra's "The Way you Look Tonight." Thank you, Pinterest!

What is the best gift he has given to you?
I can't name one, so here are a few of my faves:
  • My engagement ring (duh). 
  • The first Christmas we were together (we'd been dating a year), he gave me a necklace. Only it was wrapped in a ring box and I thought he was getting down on one knee when he gave it to me - I was sure he was about to propose! Obviously, he did not. (I would have to wait nearly 2 more years for that...). But it was the first piece of jewelry he gave me and I always laugh at the memory!
  • He brought back a few pieces of costume jewelry from a golf trip to Morocco, and I love them because he risked his life in the Bazaar (okay, half true...) to buy them for me and they're really cool. 
  • On our wedding day, his gift to me was a gorgeous sapphire (my birthstone) and diamond necklace. It is soooo beautiful. 
Notice a trend here? I love all that sparkles and shines!

What are you giving this holiday?
Hmmmm...well now, I can't spill all my secrets, because I don't want anyone's surprises to be ruined! But let's say that I have a few things in mind for Alex - likely clothing, but I'd like to do something special for him - just not sure what! While we're on the subject, I am also planning to do some DIY this Christmas for friends, co-workers, and maybe even Alex. Not only is it (usually) less expensive, but it's heartfelt. The problem is that everyone that follows me on Pinterest knows the DIY gifts I've been pinning, so they totally will be like "Oh yeah, saw this on Pinterest..." Ha! Oh well - it's the thought that counts!

I can't believe I had my 10-year high school reunion

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wow...can it be that my 10-year high school reunion has come and gone? I think that's worse than just the sheer fact that I am old enough to have a 10-year reunion. This now means that I am staring down my 20-year reunion.

Well, maybe not "staring down," per se...but that's what's next.

I come from a small town that gets pumped for Homecoming each year. There is only one high school in the entire county, so everyone went there, goes there, has kids that go there, whatever. The whole town gets really into Spirit Week and the Homecoming festivities, which is when they host the returning classes each year. This year, my class - 2003 - and 1993, 1983, etc., were the "old people" to the senior class of 2013.

Homecoming this year was no exception. Or at least, it wasn't supposed to be an exception...

You see, there was this Hurricane...Sandy? Heard of her? Before she messed up NYC and the Jersey Shore, she was busy cancelling my high school's Homecoming plans in Florida. Biach.

The parade and enormous bonfire and pep rally that are usually held on Thursday night? Cancelled due to wind and rain. (Who knew wind and fire don't mix?)

The football game on Friday night - where the Homecoming Queen is crowned and the returning classes' Homecoming Queens are honored on the field, not to mention the returning classes get to actually have a "home-coming" on campus and feel nostalgic? Postponed until next weekend. Which does me no good as I live 2 states away.

Yeah, I took two days off of work to travel to Florida on Thursday for absolutely no reason. Other than I got to meet my best friend's precious baby, Avery! (More on that later!)

Have I mentioned that I was Class President and therefore had been planning our Reunion for the last few months? When things started getting cancelled and postponed, the rumor mill got going. Everyone assumed our actual reunion on Saturday night was postponed, too. Why people don't understand that you can't just postpone a private party is beyond me. Hello, people - there were things like, oh I don't know, nonrefundable deposits that had been made! By me personally, no less. Come on now. I told everyone that come hell or high water (literally), we were having a  party on Saturday night.

On Friday night, when we were supposed to be at the game that had been hurricane'd-out, my core group of high school girlfriends and I went to dinner and then drinks. I hadn't seen some of them in years. Honestly, after about 15 minutes, it was like no time at all had passed. We fell right back into the same chatter and ways that we had 10 years ago. And it was great for Alex to finally meet everyone, too.

Alex and I about to head to the party!
I guess  my "NO! The Party is NOT cancelled!" posts on Facebook worked, because at the Reunion on Saturday night, we had well over 100 people, and I was expecting about 70. I was stressing a little because me and my friend Rachel were the ones who had fronted all the expenses. We need at least 60 people to cover our costs. So with 100+ people, we ended up making money. Ohhh yeahhhh. But before you think I am a horrible person for profiting off my high school classmates, let me tell you what we are really doing with the surplus. We are going to donate some of it to the local Humane Society, and the rest will go into an account to help pay for our 20th reunion (which seems uncomfortably close right now).

Party food, mementos from our Senior Year, and the amazing cake my friend Megan made!
Anyway...the night was SO MUCH FUN. It was weird to see everyone 9.5 years later. I have to admit that I had not seen most of the attendees in several years - many I had not seen since graduation day. It was funny because everyone was so different but exactly the same, know what I mean? Like how some of the guys were telling dirty jokes in one breath but talking about their kids the next. Or the girls that were reminiscing over young love and then talking about their big-girl jobs. It was amusing (but predictable) that the old clicks still hung out together. The same pretty girls were still pretty; the same country boys were still country. To me, there were no huge surprises like you see in the movies. No "nerd-turned-hot-millionaire." No "pretty-and-popular-girl-turned-washed-up-loser." It was sort of comforting to see that everyone was basically still the same person they were at 18, just a little more grown-up (well, in some cases). 
Sorry for the lack of interesting pics. We had a photographer there, so I didn't take a ton myself. And the ones on my phone aren't really...suitable...for the blog! ;)

In a lot of ways, the weekend made me long for the time in my life that was mostly carefree, full of new experiences, was comfortable, and was filled with the expectations of the future. I really had a wonderful time in high school. But honestly? I wouldn't go back. It's fun to see everyone and reminisce for a weekend, but I can't imagine going back to high school now, knowing what I know, having had the experiences that I've had. Those 4 years were truly awesome, but they're part of my past.

No matter what, I always believe that the best is still yet to be.

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Alex's point of view

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This week on Wedded Bliss Wednesday, it's the husbands' turn to answer some questions! I love it. So I proudly introduce to you: this guy!
I am going to sit back now while Alex takes over the blog for the very first time!
What was the first thing you noticed about your wife?
The first thing I noticed about my wife would be two fold: her smile and her blue eyes!

When you first started dating your wife, what kept you calling/asking her out?
Well, since we had been talking on the phone for quite a while before we started dating, I would say everything. Our immediate emotional connection and the amount of fun we had just being around each other.

What is your wife's best quality?
I would say her personality. We always have (and always will!) had a lot of fun, whether its stupid inside jokes, our silly voices talking to the dogs, or her dancing in the car. {side note: yes, I dance in the car when a good song comes on. Mainly for Alex's entertainment.}

What is your favorite thing to do with your wife (ahem, keep it clean!)
Well for me it would have to be just being able to see her everyday, now that I am no longer playing golf for a living. So I would say everything!

What are you most excited for for the future with your wife?
I am excited to start a family in the future. In the more immediate future, I am excited to celebrate the holiday season coming up!

How do you make your wife feel loved?
I would say it might be a little different than some people. I am not overly romantic (traditionally speaking), but I show it in our silly voices and jokes to making sure I always kiss her goodnight and saying 'I love you' every time we part to go to work or get off the phone.

Awwww, thanks honey! You are so sweet. Thanks for playing along! :)

An ultrasound and a reunion walk into a bar...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hey peeps! Last time you heard from me, I was starving and about to head in for a fun-filled afternoon of an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Which was every bit as fun as you might imagine.

Here's the scoop: during the scopes, my doc found several small ulcers and is concerned that I might have an angry gallbladder as well. I'm not sure if anyone has ever been so happy to hear that something is wrong with them! Hearing that made me happy because it means we are closer to figuring out how to treat this junk.

So, the next steps: this morning I had an ultrasound on my abdomen to look at my gallbladder, and that was inconclusive so I will have a HIDAscan on Monday, where we'll take a more intense look at my gallbladder and how it is functioning. My doctor is also going to order some more blood work. Nothing too crazy but steps toward a solution (at least I hope).

The largest hiccup in the whole endos/colonoscopy process last week was that when I woke up from the anesthesia (during which I had no doubt been dreaming about food), they told me that I had to continue my clear liquid diet for the rest of the day, follow a full liquid diet on Friday, and a soft-solids diet on Saturday. Say what??? This was NOT the case last time I had this done. To tell a hungry girl that thinks she is about to eat for the first time in 42 hours that she, in fact, cannot eat normally for 3 more days is just cruel. I was pretty mad about that, even through my post-anesthesia high.

But alas, I made it. And - big news here, people - due to my fasting schedule, I made my goal weight - just in time for my reunion! Yes, this is on my list of 28 things to do while I'm 28! Now I don't consider this cheating because I wasn't too far away from my goal before the fast and I have been working hard. How long this will last, I'm not sure, but whatevs: seeing that number on the scale almost made my 3 days of a liquid diet worth it!

Speaking of my reunion - it's this weekend! Eeeek! I cannot believe my 10 year high school reunion is here. I am a little nervous, I have to admit. These days, I only see and speak to a handful of high school friends - not because of any bad blood, but mainly because I now live hundreds of miles away from my hometown. I just don't know what to expect between the old boyfriends, the girls who used to be some of my besties but are now almost strangers, and the casual friendships I had that aren't even Facebook friendships now. Will people judge me? Will they think I look bigger, smaller, better, worse, prettier, or older than I did almost 10 years ago? Or will they even care? Basically, I have to remember this:
Ha, so true! :) Hope you all are having a great start to your week!

It's OK Thursday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

After a few weeks off from this link-up, I'm baaaaaaaaaaack!

Let me fill you in on a few things before you read my "It's OK" stuff, or else it won't make sense.

The last time I had anything solid to eat was 9pm on Tuesday night.

No, this is not self-inflicted torture or some crazy diet (although my reunion is next weekend...)
I have been on a clear-liquids-only diet because I am having an endoscopy and a colonoscopy this afternoon. Yay fun.

You might know that I've been having some stomach pains and issues for over a year now. Last October, at the ripe old age of 27, I had my first colonoscopy and they told me everything looked pretty normal.
You know what I say to them? FALSE!
What I've been working with is NOT normal. So that's why I'm having another one, plus an endoscopy, today.

This process is so not fun. Besides the starvation, you have to drink this yucky prep stuff and it does not go down easily. And not to be graphic, but you can't get too far away from the ladies' room. The actual scope isn't so bad: the anesthesia puts you in a nice, deep sleep. Then you wake up and feel all weird and sleepy and drugged, but it's like nothing happened, for the most part. It's really not terrible.

The best part? When I get to eat whatever I want afterward!

And's OK...
  • that I have been fantasizing about the food I get to eat this afternoon since approximately 10pm on Tuesday. Should I get greasy, cheesy pizza or fried chicken??
  • to be so hungry that I could eat my arm. Or dog food.
  • to never want to have apple juice, chicken bullion, or pineapple jello ever again. 
  • that I'm getting a little nervous about my reunion next weekend and seeing my classmates after so many years
  • to want to buy Halloween costumes for Ellie and Penny, but Penny already has about 14 ensembles (mostly hand-me-downs from dogs that outgrow their puppy clothes), and I'm pretty sure Ellie would hate wearing clothes. And it's not like they go trick-or-treating. But still...
  • that I officially started Christmas shopping this week, but I still feel behind (I blame Target and their mid-October Christmas ad for making me feel this way!)
  • that I'm jealous of all the peeps in FL that have met baby Avery, and I have to wait until next Thursday! It's killing me.
Its Ok Thursdays

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Marriage Advice

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

 I just love this link-up - so fun!
If you could give one piece of advice to any married (or soon-to-be married) couple, 
what would it be?
For the bride: boys are messy, so you just have to get used to it!
For the groom: girls are set in their ways, so you just have to get used to it! 
No but really: choose your battles. Not everything is worth having a little spat over. Try to roll with it unless it's something that truly merits a discussion - and when it does, talk about it instead of fighting about it!

What is an absolute MUST for any marriage/relationship?
You have to have a wonderful friendship! 
If your spouse isn't your best friend, you should be working on changing that :)

What is the #1 no-no in a marriage?
Don't ever bad-talk your spouse to anyone ! It's one thing to vent a little to a friend ("he forgot to take the trash out again! Arrgghh!") but another to slam him/her about something that's a private matter that you're upset about at the moment. The thing is, no matter what it's about, you'll forgive them, forget and move on. But the person you told? Probably won't ever forget it.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your marriage?
That I can't be selfish anymore! Suddenly, everything I owned became "ours" instead of "mine." My paycheck that used to be mine all mine has to sometimes be spent on stuff just for the Hubs. It took a lot of getting used to this concept, even though it seems like an obvious lesson! And trust me, this is something I still work on learning almost every day!

The love story behind my ring

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I posted yesterday about the story of how Alex proposed, since it was the two year anniversary of the proposal. I mentioned that my engagement ring was a combination of two family rings, and I could not love it more. This is its story!

Each time I look at my left hand and catch a glimpse of my engagement ring, I think of something different.

Sometimes I think of the night I got engaged.

Sometimes I think of wearing my wedding dress and exchanging vows.

Sometimes I just get lost in the sparkle and stare for a few seconds too long.

And then there are times I think of my grandmother, Betty. Or my other grandmother, Reda.

The story of my engagement ring begins years and years ago. It was the early 1950s, and my maternal grandfather, Sonny, was ready to propose to my grandmother, Betty. He went to an estate sale and found a beautiful vintage platinum wedding set: an engagement ring with a marquise-cut center diamond and two baguettes on the side, and a wedding ring with a fishtail design of platinum and small round diamonds. The exact age of the set isn’t known, but it’s been estimated that the rings are now about 100 years old. A timeless set that had no doubt been beloved by the first owner (or owners), and was beloved and worn by my grandmother for many years.

In early 2010, my grandmother decided that she didn’t need to keep her original bridal set anymore. After nearly 60 years of marriage, she had other rings that she wore more frequently than the delicate antique set given to her decades before. At the time, both my mom and I were in serious relationships that were on the brink of an engagement. My grandmother offered her wedding band to my mother, and her engagement ring to me.

I told Alex that my grandmother was offering her engagement ring to me. Although I wanted him to have something to do with the selection of the ring, I asked that he hold onto it and use it somehow in the ring he would propose to me with (whenever that may be – no pressure!). As a sentimental person, I asked that he keep the integrity of the ring intact – the last thing I wanted was a jeweler melting it down and starting from scratch.

Around the same time, my paternal grandmother, Reda, had mentioned to me that she had several diamonds that she would like to pass down to her five granddaughters, should they want to use them in their engagement rings. These family stones came from different pieces of heirloom jewelry: the rings of her late sisters, or fancy cocktail rings and solitaire earrings given to her throughout her 60+ year marriage to my grandfather, Red. I put a bug in Alex’s ear that he could ask my grandmother for a diamond if he wanted to. I made it clear that it was up to him if he accepted a family stone, as I didn’t want to step on his toes if he wanted to purchase a diamond himself! 

Fast-forward a few months to September 2010. Alex and I drove down from South Carolina to Gainesville to attend the Florida football season opener. As is tradition in my father’s family, the whole family met up prior to the game for a tailgate party: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – the whole bunch. I was enjoying the time with my family in the early September heat and getting excited for the kickoff of football season. I was completely oblivious to the fact that my grandmother slipped a small box in Alex’s pocket that contained a ring that housed what would be the central diamond in my engagement ring. (Coincidentally, Alex asked my father’s permission for my hand in marriage that same day, at the game during halftime: I guess football can really bond men!).

my grandmothers and I and our rings on my wedding day
Jump to October 15, 2010. I knew an engagement was coming and coming soon. We’d had all the typical conversations a couple has before the guy pops the question, and with all the family jewelry that had been offered to us lately, I figured Alex would be proposing soon. It was a cool Friday night in Greenville, South Carolina, and Alex got down on one knee by the river and asked me to be his wife.

After I said “Yes!” with a lot of enthusiasm and a few happy tears in my eyes, I just stared at the ring on my finger for a moment, overcome with shock and amazement. I hadn’t been shy about telling Alex about the style of ring I liked, but I wasn’t sure if he would or could achieve that using my grandmother’s engagement ring, which was the most important thing to me. And little did I know that he had gotten a diamond from my other grandmother. Alex began explaining its pieces that made the ring a true one-of-a-kind. It was stunning: the platinum setting and band with two side baguettes, exactly as when it was purchased at that estate sale so many years before. In place of the original marquise sat a round diamond from Reda, different from modern diamonds because it had been cut in the 1970s, giving it a unique sparkle. And around the center diamond was a halo of 16 round diamonds purchased by Alex to complete the style of ring that I loved so much. Perfect didn’t even begin to describe it.

After the proposal, surrounded by my family and friends, it was in the restaurant light that I really got my first good look at the ring that housed as much family history and love as I imagine any piece of jewelry ever could.

my grandmothers Betty and Reda
My mom was remarried on May 28, 2011, and exchanged vows using her mother’s original fishtail-design wedding ring that my grandmother had given to her. Alex and I were married 6 weeks later on July 9, 2011, and I exchanged vows using a ring Alex had custom made to reflect the history of my engagement ring: a pattern of baguettes for Betty and round diamonds for Reda.

My bridal set is a literal combination of the three most important things to me: 
my mother’s family, 
my father’s family, 
and my husband. 

My engagement ring is itself like a family: individual parts from different beginnings, all beautiful on their own, but even more beautiful together. 
No part is more important than another. 
It is an heirloom made of heirlooms; it is two families’ histories paired with the new beginnings and promise that a wedding brings.  
Yep, I'd say Alex did pretty good. 

...and I said YES!

Monday, October 15, 2012 I said YES two years ago. To the day, in fact!
But since I wan't a blogger then, or during wedding planning, or when I got married...I guess I could fill you in, huh?

This is the story of the second-happiest day of my life thus far (second only to the day Florida won it's first National Championship in football in '96...kidding!).

Our Engagement: Friday, October 15, 2010

About two weeks before Alex proposed, April – a good friend that I worked with at the time (and one of my Besties today) – had casually asked when Alex would be in town next, since he still lived in Aiken at the time, and if the four of us (April, her husband Jacob, Alex and I) could get together for dinner. I told her that he would be in town Friday the 15th, so we made plans for dinner.

That same week, Alex Monday Qualified into the PGA Tour event in Sea Island, GA. When it became clear on Friday afternoon (Oct. 8th) that he was going to make the cut, I jumped in the car and headed south so I could watch him play his first weekend in a Tour event. April had asked if we were still on for the following Friday – I said “yep, unless Alex top-ten’s the event – then he’s going to California!” Little did I know the repercussions that making the top 10 would have had on his plans.

However, Alex finished a strong 45th and the next week, went to another Georgia location to play in the eGolf Tour’s final event of the year. He was playing pretty well, and then shot 8-under par in the final round on Thursday to win the tournament. To say it was a successful week in Alex’s career would be an understatement. Of course, I didn’t know just how fantastic that week was going to get.

It began as a normal Friday: I had gone to work, had had a long week, and was ready for the weekend. I was excited because Alex was going to be in Greenville for the whole weekend, which was pretty rare. I was looking forward to having him to myself for a few days.

At work that day, April asked me if 7:30 at the Lazy Goat, a favorite downtown restaurant, would be good for dinner and I told her that would be perfect. Alex came to Greenville as planned that afternoon. I knew he would probably get to my apartment before I even left work, so I texted him around 2:00 PM and he told me he was about to leave Aiken. When I texted him again around 5:00 to see if he was in Greenville, he responded: “No.” I asked, “Where are you?” and he replied “About 20 minutes away. Why are you wigging out?” I thought that was a little, er, strong of a reply but I just let it go. (Note: I had never heard him use the word "wigging" before. Clearly, he was the one "wigging" out. Ha!)

When I got home from work, Alex was waiting at my apartment. He greeted me hello and then promptly said, “You are going to change before we go to dinner, right?” I said yes, of course, I’m going to put on some nice jeans, maybe some boots, and so forth. I told him that April suggested dinner at 7:30 at Lazy Goat, and he said that sounded good to him. Around 6:30, he started pushing for me to get changed and ready. I kept telling him we had plenty of time, to which he responded: “We can get there early, you know. I’m hungry.”  Meanwhile, I was trying to find something to wear, since Alex was dressing up a bit more than usual and he vetoed a lace skirt that I had put on (“That looks like...lingerie!”). Finally, I settled on a simple black dress, grey boots and a colorful scarf. I was aware that he was acting a little strange and was much more outspoken than usual about my clothing choices, but it really didn’t faze me. Obviously, I knew later that he was just trying to make sure I loved what I was wearing since it would be a very special night!

Alex also insisted that I bring a coat, even though it was only about 60 degrees out. He kept pushing so I gave in and threw a coat in the car. We got downtown and parked in the garage below Lazy Goat around 7:30. When we parked, he said “Are you going to take your coat?” and I said no, it wasn’t cold enough and that I would be fine. Come to find out, he had put the ring box in his coat so it wouldn’t be as obvious as if it had been in his pants pocket. He wanted me to wear a coat too so it wasn’t weird for him to be wearing a coat. But when I dismissed the coat idea, he had to get the ring into his pocket instead. I was oblivious.

Rather than taking the garage elevator or stairs up to the Lazy Goat, Alex led me around the side of the garage to the river walk level. We had barely gotten riverside when he took me in him arms and said, “We’re not going to Lazy Goat.” I said, “We’re not? What about April and Jacob?” He ignored my question and very seriously said, “Ever since we started dating, you’ve made me very happy. And I want you to make me happy for a long, long time...” He continued and said a lot of other sweet things as well but at this point, I knew what was about to happen and all I could say was “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” and I really have no idea what he said. He then got down on one knee right there by the Reedy River and pulled a hunter green ring box from his pocket. “Kristin, will you marry me?” He opened the box. At first, I didn’t see the ring! It had fallen into the lid of the box. But then he took the ring in his fingers and I said, “Yes, yes, YES!” He slipped a beautiful ring on my finger. I looked at that ring for the first time and saw not only Alex’s love for me, but also the love my four grandparents have for one another as it was a combination of two family rings (I'll write more about my ring tomorrow!). It couldn’t have been more perfect.

We started walking down the river walk and I was still confused. “So…what about April and Jacob?” I asked again. Alex said, “The two of us have dinner reservations at High Cotton,” a wonderful restaurant just down from Lazy Goat. At this point, I realized I had my camera in my purse so I stopped two passersby and asked them to take a picture of us, our first as an engaged couple.
We're engaged!

We walked into High Cotton and Alex told the hostess that we had reservations. She led us to what I thought was our table – a simple table for two set up right outside of the kitchen! I was thinking, hmmm this isn’t a very nice table for a restaurant that has pretty river and city views! But then she opened a door and I heard “CONGRATULATIONS!” and saw the faces of some of the people I love the most: my Mom, brother, my two best friends Lindsey, Lesley – and April and Jacob, who of course, were in on it the whole time! I was so shocked to see my Florida friends and family in Greenville that I burst into happy tears and threw my arms around them all one by one. Amongst the “Let me see the ring!” and “Are you surprised?” questions coming at me from all angles, I heard, “So Alex, how did it go?”. He said, “Good – I mean, she said yes!”

my girls

I have never been so surprised in my life. I thought Les and Lin were at Gator Growl (it was UF’s Homecoming weekend) and I thought Mom was at home and John Louis was in Gainesville. They had all lied to me! Which in this case, was completely acceptable.

My love and I

On the phone with my Dad, telling him the news!

the group! 

I had told Alex about two years prior that my ideal proposal/engagement night would involve my family and friends. I knew that he was getting close to proposing, but I never thought he would be able to organize something so perfect and involve so many people (and that they could all keep it a secret!). 

I made a great choice when I said yes!
He confessed later that when he was coming down the stretch of the 3rd round in Sea Island (at which point he was tied for 5th) he was thinking that he didn’t know what he was going to do if he had to go to California the next week. But, like I said: it was a fantastic week. There had already been so many things to celebrate, and then Alex put the icing on the cake by putting ice on my finger to make our proposal night completely, totally perfect.

Tomorrow, I'm going to tell you more about the family history behind my engagement ring :)

I'm an "aunt"!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I had one fantastic weekend.
First order of business: Lesley, my Best Friend of 13 years, gave birth this morning to a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Avery! It killed me that I couldn't be there with Les and her husband Chris to celebrate such a huge milestone. We have celebrated every major event in our adult lives together so I wish I could have been there. But I'll see her soon and get my hands on this precious, cuddly baby!

This baby girl will be like a niece to me and I plan to spoil her rotten. What a doll baby! Congrats, Bestie! And great job on this beautiful baby.
Thank you Lord that Avery is here and she is healthy! You have blessed Lesley and Chris already with her arrival and I know your blessings will abound in this little girl's life. Thank you for the gift of life and the promise of a new generation we see each time a new life enters this world! Amen

The rest of my weekend truly pales in comparison to becoming an "Aunt", but I'll give ya a quick run down anyway!

Friday night we went on the "Nightmare of Vine Street" Halloween Wine Tour near Hendersonville, NC. We went to one winery and three vineyards. Vino + chauffeur + hubby, mom, stepdad and brother = one fun way to kick off the weekend!

On Saturday we FINALLY went apple picking! (Now I can stop talking about it, ha!). We ended up with half a bushel of apples, so I'm planning on making some yummy apple treats over the next few weeks.

We spent the weekend at mom's cabin and the girls had a great time. They love exploring the great outdoors!

On Sunday, we came back into Greenville (after I stared at my phone all morning waiting for the arrival of little Avery!) and went to Fall for Greenville, an annual downtown festival. You buy tickets and use them to sample all kinds of food from some of the best restaurants in town. It's pretty awesome (and filling!).


And tonight I am sitting here, thinking about my best friend and how much I miss her face. 
How I wish I could have been there today to experience her becoming a mommy. 
How I wish I could cuddle that sweet baby right now. 
How it's times like these that I detest the 450 miles between us.
When I finally get my hands on that baby, I know I will love her instantly. 
I can't wait! 

Friday's Letters

Friday, October 12, 2012

TGIF, my friends! I've been in Atlanta the last two days for work - it was really good, really informative, and really productive but my brain is tired! And we went out last night, so my body is tired too!

Tonight we are doing a Halloween Wine Tour in NC: not really sure what to expect but it sounds like fun. We have a few other fun things planned and will be spending the weekend at mom's mountain house, so I'm looking forward to it.

And one more [kinda extremely important] thing: my best friend Lesley is going to be induced on Sunday with her first baby! She is not due until the 29th, but the baby has intrauterine growth disorder, which means she has basically stopped growing in the womb and there's no point in her staying in there, since she is technically full term now. So the world will get to meet her 2 weeks earlier than planned. I am so excited, but so sad that I can't be in FL to experience everything with Lesley. I am praying everything goes well and easily and that little Avery is perfect and healthy!


Of course, I'm linking up again this week for Friday's Letters!


Dear Sarah: Eeek! Baby #2 is here!! I can still remember when you told me you were going to have baby #1 - and look at your family now! I can't wait to meet your sweet new addition. Dear Lesley: you're having precious, tiny Avery on Sunday! I cannot believe you're going to be a mother in about 48 hours. I pray for an easy, swift delivery and a healthy baby Avery! Dear wine tour: hope I don't overdo it on the tastings tonight - I don't need to wake up with a wine hangover tomorrow. Dear mountain house/Happy Place: can't wait to spend the weekend with you and your gorgeous views. Dear apples: okay, seriously now. I am going to pick you this weekend, I swear. I know I've said this for 3 Fridays now, but dang it, apple picking will go down this weekend. Dear husband: I have missed you these last 2 days! Can't wait to see you this afternoon. Dear followers: thank you SO MUCH for all your sweet comments and for your support! It makes me smile every single time I see that I have a new follower or read one of your comments. Keep it coming, lovelies!

I hope you all have a great Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Wedded Bliss Wednesdays: Date Night

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I linked up last week with Kay and Allie for Wedded Bliss Wednesdays and really enjoyed reading about everyone's hubby! This week the questions are all about Date Night. Who doesn't love a date night? 

 How often do you and your husband have a date night?
We probably only have a true date night about every 6 weeks (and by "true date night", I mean just the two of us, eating out somewhere a little special, dressing up a little, etc). But since we don't have any kiddos yet, we have the flexibility to go out anytime we want - so sometimes we'll go out just for the heck of it :)

What did you do on your first date?
The situation around our first date was a little different (I will be posting about that in detail soon!). But our first date was pretty normal: Alex met me at my place when I still lived in Gainesville. We went to my favorite restaurant there, Tapas and Tinis, which is a martini bar and tapas place (in case you couldn't tell from the name). Afterward, we went back to my apartment and watched "What Women Want", one of my all-time faves. And we had our first kiss: awwwwww!
What is your favorite kind of date night?
I love to get dressed up, but that's not always ideal or possible. But I think my favorite kind of date night involves multiple places - be it one place for dinner, one place for drinks, one place for dessert, or dinner/movie/entertainment, etc. That way, the whole night keeps getting mixed up as you go.
How do you do date night on a budget?
We buy a lot of Living Social/Groupon deals to nice places or places we've been wanting to try. I also grab coupons for restaurants whenever I see them. Alex likes to kid that we never eat out without some sort of discount, which isn't completely true but I'll admit it's not far from the truth!

What is the best kind of date your husband could surprise you with?!
Honestly, I'm pretty easy to please! But I would love to come home from work on a Friday night, have him greet me with a glass of wine, tell me he's picked out an outfit for me to change into and to hurry up and change because we have reservations at a new place we've been wanting to try! But I would be equally excited to come home to a meal that he had prepared. And wine - don't forget the wine. ;)

Fall at our house

I hope you are all finding the fall spirit! The last two days here in Greenville have felt very fallish. As I always like to say, cool weather makes me want to "frolic" - not sure why "frolic" is the verb there, but I like it.

Anyway, it's been cool here, albeit cloudy and rainy, but it has totally put me in the Holiday season spirit. Sure, I'm not quite ready for Christmas - let's get through Halloween first please, Target and Michael's - but Halloween is the first of the Holidays, so I say bring it on!

Our home is feeling very fallish, too. We have our front door all decorated and ready for trick-or-treaters - just need to carve one of the pumpkins before the 31st!

I also decorated the mantel/fireplace area. We don't really have much of a mantel because that's where the built-in for the TV is, so I made the most of the room on the floor around the hearth. When I got home from work on Monday, Alex had the fire going, and the crock-pot soup I started that morning was smelling yummy -- perfection on a cold autumn day!

Yesterday was another chilly day, so I made pumpkin chicken tortellini for dinner (adapted from this recipe from Adventures of Newlyweds). SO good. You're practically eating Fall with a fork.

My "Autumn Days" Pinterest board is chock-full of delicious-looking recipes that I am dying to try. Tons of pumpkin and apple infused mains, sides and desserts that I want to stuff my face with.
Yikes, I need to calm down. 
My 10-year high school reunion is in 3 weeks - now is not the time to pack on the poundage  ;)

What kind of fall decorations/activities/recipes have you been loving lately?

A weekend of Highs and Lows

Monday, October 8, 2012

The title says it all: it was a weekend full of highs and lows! In the end, it was a great weekend, but I am exhausted from all the  stuff that happened! Let me fill you in.

Friday was kinda a crazy day at work, and I was anxious to get up to Saluda to my happy place for the weekend, even though I knew we would be unloading the moving truck and getting my mom and stepdad moved in. We got away from Greenville later than we wanted, but were finally on our way around 6:45. Entering the mountain area, a deer ran out in front of us (a few car lengths ahead), and Alex and I watched as an oncoming car hit it. It was awful. I have been in an accident caused by a deer, so they already freak me out, but to see one get hit and mess up someone's car and all was awful! I cannot get that image out of my head. Needless to say, I burst into tears about the poor deer and those poor people that hit it and cried the rest of the way to the mountain house.

When we got to the house, I was feeling better. We grilled some burgers and relaxed for a little while, then started unloading the truck before calling it a night. We were all exhausted. None of us slept very late the next morning, which was okay because we woke up to this:
What a gorgeous way to wake up! After chowing down on a big breakfast, we got the rest of the truck unloaded. Even though there were boxes everywhere, the U-Haul was empty: success!

It was then time to get ready for the wedding we were going to in Franklin, which is about 2 hours away from Saluda. The crew got all cleaned up, hopped in the car, and got into wedding mode!

The wedding was beautiful - it was outside and the weather was cool and crisp. The leaves were just about at their peak - perfect! 

It was so much fun to spend time with old friends and family. Since it was the wedding of my dad's college buddy's daughter, both of my parents were there, as was my brother and all my "family" - the college buddies and their kids. So much fun! You know it's a good night when you end up wearing your husband's bow tie.

Sunday we got up early-ish and hit the road back to Saluda. We had a lot to do that day (remember, the plan was to go apple picking!) and we had to return the U-Haul truck, as well as continue to unpack. We were almost back to the house after the wedding - like a mile down the mountain road - when Alex suddenly got sick. We're not sure if it was because he had too much fun the night before or the winding mountain roads. Either way, not cool for the poor hubs. I will spare the details, but it was NOT COOL for me either, as I was sitting next to him in the back seat and...let's just say I had to shower immediately upon entering the house.

After we were all, ahem, cleaned up, we were ready to strike out to return the truck and then go apple picking! Just one thing stood in our way: we had to get the massive 26' moving truck turned around in the narrow driveway (on the side of a mountain) and then down the gravel mountain road. After about an hour of directing my stepdad, we finally got it out of the driveway. I am not exaggerating here. At one point, the front tire was lodged in between a small stone wall and a tree and the side bumper was bending, just a few feet from the steep mountainside. We thought we were going to have to chop down the tree to get it out (the tree was spared, however. Still not sure how). I cannot even describe how nail-biting this whole process was. I really thought we were going to have to buy the U-Haul and turn it into a guest cottage because that thing was not coming down the mountain. But in the end, a small miracle was performed and we got it out. Hallelujah.

By this point, it was past lunch time, and we were all starving and totally beat. It was actually my idea to forgo the apple picking festivities, as much as it pained me to suggest it. It was cold and cloudy and we were all so would have sucked all the fun out of the experience. So here's hoping we can go next weekend! (That's the plan for now. We shall see...)

Alex and I got home last night around 6, and I was ready to hit the hay. I managed to stay up until about 9, which I figured was a respectable time to go to bed.

The weekend really was a blast (minus the deer, the moving truck and the hubby's sickness). All in all, we can look back on the shenanigans and laugh. Except for the deer - can't. get. it. out. of. my. mind!!!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Friday's Letters + my weekend plans

Friday, October 5, 2012

I am so glad today is Friday! I mentioned in my last post that my Mom and step-dad are closing on their mountain house today, aka my new Happy Place, so I'm pretty dang excited about that! We're planning to drive up the road to the new place after work today to help them unpack and get settled in.

Tomorrow, we are going to a wedding in NC. The bride is like a cousin to me: our dads went to college together, so we have grown up together and our families are tight. I'm excited to see this group of special family friends this weekend and hey, everyone loves a wedding!

On Sunday, I am going apple picking. I don't care if I have to go by myself, I am going! With last weekend's yuckiness and subsequent high from all the medications I was on (and thus missing out on apple picking festivities), I plan to make up for it this Sunday. Dare me not to.

I'm linking up again this week with Adventures of Newlyweds for Friday's Letters.


Dear Friday: thanks for coming around again. It hasn't been a bad week at all, just kinda slow. I appreciate you showing your face. Dear Mom and Dave: congrats on the house closing! I can't wait to make memories there. Dear mountains: I am SO glad we will have a place to come and visit all your beauty more often. Dear apples: be afraid. Be very afraid. Dear brother: I hope you survived your week on the AT. Can't wait to see you tomorrow and I'm sure you're excited to bathe. Yuck. Dear husband: you are killing it at the new job, just like I knew you would. Congrats honey! Keep it up.

My new happy place: back in the family again

I want to introduce you to a very special place today.

This is the place I will now start referring to as "my happy place."

Everyone should have a happy place. A place you can go to feel at peace, to relax, to feel that all's right with the world. Whether that place is a mansion on the beach, a coffee shop, or a corner of a room in your apartment. The important thing is to identify where this place is for you. And try to go there often.

The story of my new happy place is pretty amazing.

You probably know by now that I am originally from Florida, and my family on my mom's side has been there forever. Like 7 generations (actually 8 now...). Honestly. And Florida peeps love the beach and lakes and all that jazz. But we Floridians also have a soft spot for cold-weather locales and mountain retreats because those are the places that we do not have anywhere in the Sunshine State. So it's not totally uncommon for Florida folks to have vacation homes in Colorado, or Maine, or North Carolina.

North Carolina. That is where my great-grandfather Frank built a vacation home when my mom was a little girl. He and his wife, Reeda, built a charming mountain retreat in the early 1960s and loved that home. They came to visit whenever they could. Their grandkids (including my mom) loved the house with its peaceful mountain views and dirt road straight uphill and windows that could be flung open to let in the crisp mountain air.

But he sold the house in the 1970s, as he was getting older and so were his grandchildren. My mom was about 13 when he sold her happy place, and this is a place she has spoken of so many times. I have heard her refer to her 10-year-old self as "Heidi" (yes, the little Bavarian girl) when she would throw open the window in the morning to reveal the gorgeous view from her loft window. And all the stories of lazy summer days in that house with her grandfather, and of playing with the kids in the small town who were her friends, if only for a summer. The good stuff that great childhood memories are made of.

My great-grandfather has been gone for years, and my grandparents couldn't remember the name of the town where the house was and neither could my mom. So in essence, "Granddaddy's Cabin" was somewhere, but we didn't know where, or how to get there, or if it even still was.

Now let's fast-forward about 40 years. My mom and step-dad had been talking about buying a vacation home in the mountains so they can have a place near Alex and I, and a mountain retreat away from the Florida heat.

This summer, they were driving through the mountains in NC, about 45 minutes from where A & I live. A sign for Saluda, NC caught mom's eye. She thought it sounded familiar. Curious, they drove into the town, and she was certain it was the town where her grandfather's house had been.

They ventured into the little general store and started asking around to see if anyone remembered my great-grandfather. No luck. Oh well, it was a longshot anyway.

But then...someone said they knew someone who knew someone (or something...) and anyway, this person led them to a woman who not only was one of the kids that my mom used to play with as a child, but is the current mail carrier for the house and knew exactly where to take them. To the house that was my great-grandfather's.

After driving up a mountain not far from the little downtown area, they pulled up at a cabin, and yes. It was the house. Only it was slightly larger (an owner along the way had added on), but it definitely was Granddaddy's Cabin.

They knocked on the door. The owner was home. She thought they were lost. Mom explained the story. The owner invited them in to look around for old-times-sake. For the first time through adult eyes, Mom saw the house that had given her so many memories another lifetime ago.

And here is where it gets good. The owner said she was planning to put the house on the market the very next week. 

If that's not a totally-meant-to-be, can-only-be-God thing, I don't know what is. 

Today at 1pm, my mom is getting her Happy Place back. And I am getting a new one. 

I am beyond thrilled for my mom - she has just been beside herself with excitement since this whole thing began. It's also completely amazing to me that this house is a quick 45-minute drive from my front door, meaning I might get to see my momma a lot more often!

I'm looking forward to many years of making memories there, and reliving all the things mom experienced as a kid. And I hope my future kids will have the opportunity to make their own memories there, in the house their great-great-grandfather built.

The view from the back porch -- my happy place
Many more pictures - and memories - to come.

Easy-peasy Fall Munch Mix

Thursday, October 4, 2012

By now, we all know it's Fall (but in case you haven't seen the memo floating around...IT'S FALL, Y'ALL). Which means that we are well into a season of par-tays, tailgates, leaf-looking roadtrips and snack-fests in which we all attempt to bulk up for our winter hibernation.

I threw together this snack mix last night that makes a great addition for any get-together (or just to have sitting on your kitchen counter if fall/winter bulk-up is your game. No but seriously, it's not that bad for you. All things in moderation). It's a great balance of salty and sweet. Warning: it might become addictive.
Fall Munch Mix

- 1 cup Honey Nut Chex cereal
- 1 cup Chocolate Chex cereal
- 1 cup tiny-twist pretzels
- 1 cup Goldfish crackers (or Cheeze-Its)
- 1 bag of Autumn Mix candy corn
- 1 bag of Cracker Jacks

Put everything into a gallon size plastic bag. Gently shake it up.
Put in a pretty canister and display, since it will match your fall decor!

You're welcome. 

Enjoy, loves!

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: meet the husband

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I saw this link up and just had to jump on it.

I mean, a whole post dedicated to the hubs?


I think he will love it, too. ;)

Introduce us to your husband! (What's his name? How old? What does he look like?) 
My husband's name is Alex 
(actually, it's James Alexander, but I only call him James when he is in trouble!)
He is 29 years old...turning the big 3-0 in January!
He's 6 feet tall with a slender athletic build, with bone straight brown hair and pretty brown eyes. 
He's a very, very handsome guy!

What is your husband's favorite thing to do?
He loves to play golf, 
but he also likes to watch his fave TV shows on the couch with me and the puppies.

What does your husband do Monday-Friday? 
Up until about a month ago, his Monday-Friday was more like Monday-Sunday as he was a professional golfer (always on the road). 
He now has a more traditional 9-5 and is in medical sales. So far, so good!

What was the FIRST thing you noticed about your husband when you met?
His deep, Southern voice. Sexy. 
Also, his great sense of classic Southern style that I LOVE.

What is your husband's BEST quality?
I really don't have to choose just one, do I?? are a few:
- he is kind (and has a great, big heart!)
- he is intelligent and can speak to almost any topic, making him exceptionally well-rounded 
- he is funny and is insta-friends with almost everyone
- he is the BEST fur-baby-daddy anyone could ask for, and I know he will be a great dad to our biological kids one day!

What is your husband's biggest pet peeve?
Slow drivers in the fast lane.
People who don't accelerate when the light turns green.
People who don't know where they're going. 
Okay, so bad drivers in general...nope, he does not like them one bit.

How does your husband feel about blogging?
I think he thinks it's cute. Since I'm still pretty new to it, I don't know if he thinks I am serious about sticking with it...but he should know that I am. :)

What is something you do/can do that makes your husband feel loved?
Bake for him. 
I love to bake, and I know he loves fresh chocolate chip cookies or peach cobbler, just 'cause. 
I like to show my feelings with baked goods. They speak from the heart.

So now you know about the most important guy in my life! I am such a lucky gal.

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