Happy Other Half

As I previously mentioned, my husband took a new job. This new job is such a great opportunity for him (proud wife right here!), but it will require him to travel 4 days a week. This means, I will only see him Thursday through Sunday. Only three weeks left to cram in as much “us” time as we can before he heads off on this exciting journey.

I love spending time with my husband. We actually joke quite often that we need more friends because we do a lot of things together that would probably be fun shared with friends. After 5 years together, most of which we’ve spent 95% of our waking time together (literally – working/living/working out/eating together), I feel pretty awesome about the fact that we still WANT to spend SO much time together. I think my husband is one of the funniest people I’ve met, he’s considerate, he’s a good listener, and he knows something about everything (helps keep the conversation going!). I consider us lucky to have that strong of a relationship – but it doesn’t come without work.

My husband is OCD about the house being clean – and I’m a little more relaxed about it (for lack of a better term). For instance, I’m okay making dinner, eating dinner and then watching some TV or a movie before we clean up. This does not work for my husband – the kitchen needs to be cleaned or he feels anxious. I know this – so I make a conscious effort to clean up post dinner. The same goes with our clutter catching ledge when you walk in the door – it’s so easy to lay mail, keys, or “stuff” down when you walk in the door, but equally as easy to hang up the keys, sort/trash the mail and put your empty lunch box in the cabinet. Knowing your other half’s pet peeves – and being attentive to them will help with keeping the relationship happy.

Another great way to make your other half happy is to sacrifice compromise on the things you do. We have very different taste in movies (and music). But instead of avoiding going to those things together, we tend to alternate. We have our musical groups that we both love and we always make a point to see those live: DMB, Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Amos Lee, Ben Harper; but we’ve both gone to concerts that we probably wouldn’t have if the other one wasn’t involved – Carrie Underwood and Jay Z are great examples. As far as movies go, I’m your typical sap. Who knows why girls love to cry in movies, but obviously my favorite movie induced emotions are laughing and crying. Romantic comedy? Perfect! Scary movie? No way, Jose! Luckily my husband isn’t a horror fan either, but he does enjoy sci-fi, Hobbit-type movies and some more gory movies than I do. At home, we alternate, and in theatres, we try to pick something that we’ll both like. Most recently, we rented Captain Phillips. Definitely not a romantic comedy, but I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. Compromise is definitely a key to happiness in our relationship.

Getting out of the house is important for us, too. I tell people quite often that running is not just for my physical health, but mental. I can be quite the grump if I don’t get to run for a couple days in a row. Does anyone else get cabin fever after a few days in the house? We sure do! This year, we joined the Young Affiliates of the Mint (YAM) and have unlimited access to the museums in Charlotte, as well as are part of a group of young professionals (more friends!). We share a love of art and history, so this was the perfect group for us to join. We also love going to Charlotte’s beer festivals and checking out the craft beers offered in our city (food trucks are an added bonus!). Hanging out with friends is always nice, whether it’s dinner, live music, a get together at someone’s house or a kid’s birthday party (most of our Charlotte friends have at least one bundle of joy by now). And sometimes, doing things by ourselves is good for us. I enjoy shopping, doing crafts, and long runs. My husband enjoys live music (thank goodness for his friends who share his love for Metallica/Gaslight Anthem/JJ Grey & Mofro) and NFL games. We’re okay doing things solo on occasion.

Our favorite thing to do together is travel. Ever since we first started dating, we’ve been traveling. Our first ever trip was to the beach and Swansboro, NC. We’ve visited the opposite coast. We’ve visited the NFL Hall of Fame in Ohio. We’ve walked the Freedom Trail in Boston. We’ve explored the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. We’ve biked around Jekyll Island in Georgia and saw wild horses on Cumberland Island. We’ve spent time enjoying the history of St. Augustine, FL. We’ve played on the beaches in Wilmington and the Outer Banks. We’ve marveled over the old trees in Savannah while carrying our drinks in our hands. We’ve run the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. We’ve had wine in Temecula, CA and enjoyed the waterfront in San Diego. We’ve jumped to Enter Sandman in Lane Stadium. We’ve swam in the natural pool in Aruba. We often remember dinners, events or experiences that happened on these trips and smile. Having experienced these things together only brings us closer, and leaves us looking forward to our next adventure.

I am so thankful that I met this man and get to share my life with him. I am dedicated to making sure we always work on our happiness and our love and our marriage. There’s a saying that “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Obviously we don’t have children, but if one half of the couple is unhappy, the other one can’t be all smiles and full of joy. I’m not trying to imply that life can always be all cotton candy and candy apples, but you can certainly aim for the highest level of happiness and then even on your “bad” days, you’ll be able to pull out something positive, right? This requires working together, working for each other’s best interest and giving 110% everyday. It’s a lot to ask, but isn’t it worth it?

 

Advertisements

Good things!

The last time I wrote was two weeks ago. Since then, my husband accepted a new job, I traveled to Boston and Indianapolis, we went to the Heat/Bobcats game (and Shane Battier sent me a personal message on Twitter), I ran 25 miles, I got certified in Change Management, my husband was interviewed for a follow up story in the New York Times, I turned a year older, and we bought a house. So, per usual, my excuse for not writing is that we have been BUSY. However, I could not be happier about the busy moments that are happening in our lives right now.

jarWe started a “good things jar” on New Years day and have been diligently putting in notes about any thing that we determine to be good (i.e.: new job, new house, fostering puppies, etc.). I love this idea because not only can we see how our jar fills up (cup overflowing much??) throughout the year, but at the end of 2014, we’ll be able to sit down and remember all of the good things that we might have overlooked otherwise. It will be a good reminder to us of how blessed we were throughout the year and how lucky we are to have so many good things in life. Bonus: the jar was used as a decoration in our wedding festivities!

handsAs we were frantically getting pre-qualified for our adorable new house, in the middle of a bidding war, and me having just returned home from -2 degrees Indianaoplis, my husband made the comment that he felt like everything was happening to us all at once. I had to remind him that we wanted all of this to happen: he wanted to go to grad school, I wanted to be certified in Change Management (which required me being out of town the week we were trying to buy the house – the same house that I had never even seen the inside of!), he wanted that new job, and we wanted to buy the house. None of these things just happened. Yes, it’s a lot and all at once, but isn’t that life? If it wasn’t this scenario, it would be me in grad school, consulting on social media, taking on new jobs, traveling for work and planning a wedding.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are not alone in our busy-ness. How we choose to handle the situation is up to us. I choose positive. I choose to be excited about everything that is happening in our lives (not to us). I choose to be happy about our new house, his new job, and all of the new adventures we are going to have.

I’ve decided to transition my blog from a bridal/wedding blog to a life blog about maintaining happiness in your life. More to come as I build out this place where I’ll share more of our stories and more on keeping a positive attitude and cultivating happiness in your life, your marriage/relationship and maybe even rubbing off on some of those Eeyores we know in life. I hope you’ll continue to follow along!

 

Puppy Love!

This weekend, we fostered puppies (through Dog Days of Charlotte) for the very first time. I cannot tell you how happy my heart is that we were able to do this and give those boys a place to stay, toys to play with and lots of love. If you’re not familiar with fostering, it’s a great way to get involved with rescues without adopting or donating money (although I’m all for adopting and give as much as I can to help those in need – including pups!).

On Saturday, I took the boys to an adoption event at Petco and they both got applications for adoption. I’m sure they will make those families very happy. But while I was at the event, I noticed how everyone cooed over the puppies and ignored the full grown adult dogs. It completely broke my heart, especially with Denver. Denver is literally THE PERFECT dog. He’s sweet, he’s up-to-date on shots, he’s heart worm negative, does well on a leash, what more can you ask for? I fell head-over-heels for this boy after spending the day with him. He gave me the sweetest kisses and he has such kind eyes. You can just tell that he’s going to be a loyal dog. I can’t believe he’s been in foster since August.

Bam Bam (also available through Catering to Cats & Dogs) was the other guy that stole my heart. (Yes, I was there with the puppies but they got lots of attention and both had applications before I starting hanging out with D &BB). This little guy is only 7 months old and so super sweet. He was so calm to be a puppy and just wanted me to hold him. He does well on a leash and being 7 months old, he’s pretty much grown. He’s the perfect small dog, with THE softest fur. I would have taken him home myself if I knew my husband wouldn’t kill me.

If you’re local to Charlotte and interested in getting involved with rescues or fostering or even considering adopting, here are some good places to start:

Fostering:

While all of these groups will gladly take you on as a foster for a weekend, a week, two-weeks or until the dog gets adopted, a good starting point is this Facebook page for Foster Charlotte Area Dogs. They post dogs daily that are on death row in the shelters and need out immediately, and just need a foster to step up. If you think you can’t do it because you’ll get attached or sad when they get adopted, think about the alternative: they’re going to die if someone doesn’t step up. Not to sound like a bully, it just the truth.

If you aren’t in Charlotte and want to get involved, just google it. Or even search on Facebook and you can often find groups local to you. If you insist on getting a purebred dog, please know that 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred and there are purebred rescue groups that can help you find your new best friend. Rescue groups will also help arrange transport to get the dog to you if you don’t live close by.

Give fostering a shot. A lot of times fosters fall in love with the dog and decide that’s the dog they want to adopt. Even if you only do a week or two, you’ll be saving TWO lives. One for the dog that was pulled for you to foster and one for the dog who now has space to live in an overcrowded shelter. If you foster puppies, while two are a handful, they keep each other company and ours slept through the night without crying AT ALL because they had each other.

It’s such a rewarding experience and at zero cost. You will get everything you need from the group you’re working with. Seriously, sounds too easy, right? It is! There are millions of dogs in shelters that will die this year, fostering for a weekend was the least we could do. I can’t wait to get more involved with these organizations.

Baby it’s cold outside!

Looks like everyone I know woke up to sub-freezing temperatures this morning – and we’ll all be lucky if those numbers climb past freezing today. Nothing we can do about the weather though, so why not make the most of it? Here are some ideas on how to stay warm and while spending QT with your other half:

Last night, I made “Beans & Greens” soup for dinner. A delicious concoction from one of our dozens of cookbooks and it warmed us right up (especially mine because I topped it with crushed red pepper flakes). Definitely worth trying on these cold winter days/nights!

Cozy up on the couch, or by the fireplace with a cup of spiked apple cider (recipe) and chat with your significant other or play a game. We like Scrabble when it’s just the two of us (or Just Dance for the Wii). If you’re not looking to warm up with alcohol, try hot chocolate topped with marshmallows or make your own peppermint mocha latte (recipe) if you’re in need of caffiene. A great chance to just talk and be together.

unnamed-5

Need to get out of the house? If you’re lucky enough to have snow, build a snowman, make snow angels, have a snowball fight (no hitting in the face!). Don’t have snow but plenty of cold air? Bundle up and go for a walk (take your hot chocolate with you!). Go to a show. Go see a movie. A basketball game. Don’t let winter make you lazy while you sit around watching random TV shows, use your “cold” time to warm up with the one you love. Last weekend, we saw American Hustle on Friday night and Wolf of Wallstreet Sunday afternoon, and we even ventured out on Saturday night for Jay-Z.

photo3If you’ve made a resolution to get in better shape, there’s no better time than the present to start working out. I mean, if you’re cold, and you start moving around, you’ll warm up, right? We hit the gym on Saturday morning together. It’s true what they say, “Couples who sweat together, stay together.” Okay, maybe no one says that, but you do have more motivation to work out when you’re there with someone else, and you can push each other to go a little faster, for a few more reps, or to do that one exercise they hate (squats, ugh!).

It’s hard to think of doing much more today than going straight home, putting on sweatpants and fuzzy socks and curling up in a blanket on the couch. That’s okay too, if that’s what you really want to do. But it’s more fun to get creative, avoid your phone, TV and computer and spend some time doing something fun. Maybe not the most memorable day ever, but it’s quality time and better than being bored alone on the couch!

Hungry hearts and happy bellies!

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is go out to dinner – especially if we’re trying a new place. This is our “us” time – without TVs, phones, dogs, or really any interruptions other than a waitress checking in. He’s definitely more adventurous with the things he’ll eat (rabbit, veal, sea urchin, foie gras…), but I do love exploring new menu options. We made a deal with each other to try at least one new place in Charlotte each month when we found ourselves becoming too routine in going to our “usual places.”  Since we made this commitment (pre-2014), we’ve done a good job of sticking to it. We went to Dandelion Market (Try the surf & turf), 5 Church, Queen City Q (delicious BBQ & smoked wings), and Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar (get the wild mushroom ‘za).We’ve been pleased with all of the experiences thus far.

We started a discussion around our Top 10 list with my in-laws, trying to determine where our favorite meals were created. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Elizabeth’s on 37th (Savannah, GA): the whole experience was charming and the food was delightful!

2. Fearrington House (Pittsboro, NC): Try the hot chocolate soufflé to end your evening. Recently ranked on USA Today for wine list and CN Traveler for best hotel and restaurant, and Open Table’s #8 restaurant in America!

3. Poogan’s Porch (Charleston, SC): You can’t go wrong with fried chicken in the South, with spicy collards on the side of course.

4. Eleven (Pittsburgh, PA): Best pork chop I’ve ever had. And the most adorable/delicious after dinner truffle.

5. Seer Sucker (San Diego, CA): First place I tried fish, and I loved it so much that I eat it on the regular now.

6. Passion8 Bistro (Charlotte, NC): Farm to table and table to full, happy tummy. We have loved every part of every locally sourced dinner at Passion8. Excited to hear about their move to the Elizabeth neighborhood in 2014.

7. Halcyon (Charlotte, NC): As much as we love the food at Halcyon, the drinks are what we really rave about. Their mixologist is insanely creative. I recommend the Southern Grit Bowl if you go for brunch (Geechie Boy Mill Grits. Pork Belly. Pimento. Greens. Poached Egg).

8. The Palisades (Eggleston, VA): This hidden gem is truly surprising in it’s atmosphere and delivery of high quality food. It’s on the outskirts of Blacksburg (Go Hokies!) and provides an eloquent yet rustic dining experience.

9. Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint (Atlanta, GA): Another delicious Southern meal full of fried goodness, hearty sides and live music. Doesn’t get much better than that!

10. The Fig Tree (Charlotte, NC): Fine dining just outside of uptown Charlotte. Top notch dining experience with to-die-for menu options. The perfect place for a romantic dinner.

This list was harder than I thought to make! We’ve obviously been lucky enough to eat a lot of delicious meals. A few more of my faves are Manna (Wilmington, NC), ONE (Chapel Hill, NC), Divine Prime (Myrtle Beach, NC) best steak I’ve ever had, Toast (Charleston, SC): Go for brunch and get a cucumber bloody mary!, Magnolias (Charleston, SC), Catch 27 (St. Augustine, FL), CODA (Boston, MA): Try the mussels, Lolitas (Boston, MA): you get tequila on ice upon arrival, Viet Thai Noodle House (Charlotte, NC): try the Pho, Atlantic Fish (Boston, MA): Try the cioppino.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite restaurants! In addition to trying new places, we plan to continue traveling as much as possible this year and we’d love to check out exciting new food in those destinations. Cheers!

PS – you can friend me on Yelp to see all of my reviews, check ins and delicious photos!

Be purposefully kind.

Who has signed up for a challenge for 2014? Perhaps you’re drinking 30 days of green smoothies? Eating clean for 100 days? Working out for 30 minutes a day for 30 days? Well those are great and I support them all (especially the green smoothies – they are DELICIOUS!). But I think if you’re going to challenge yourself, why not make it for the good of you AND others? Why not challenge yourself to be more active in your community? Donate $5 a month to a charity? Why not challenge yourself to do ONE thing each month that benefits someone else? It can totally be on top of your healthy eating and exercising.

I’m thinking 12 acts of kindness on purpose. Random acts are fun and certainly brighten the day of the receiver, but I’m kind of a planner, and I love really thoughtful, practical gifts – so that’s my plan for 2014. I’ll share each month what I’m planning to do and how I carry it out.

Some of the ideas floating around in my head are collecting cards for someone who could use a boost, some encouragement, some hope and delivering them all at once (similar to Help Letters). Gathering gift cards that you aren’t going to use or have a balance on them (you know those random ones you get from time to time that just collect dust?) and giving them to someone who would love to go out to dinner or buy a new outfit just because. Buying water, protein bars and some other necessities for someone in need (I try to keep some of these things handy in my car in case I see someone standing on the side of the road asking for help). You get the hint…

I’m all for the little acts, like buying Starbucks for the car behind you in line. I do this quite often actually. You’ll make two people’s days by doing this – yours and theirs! So if you’re in for this challenge, let me know. Leave your ideas in the comments sections so we can share and build off of each other’s creativity. Let’s make 2014 a great year – for those around us, too!