Be Spontaneous

GIVEAWAY IS STILL HAPPENING – ENTER HERE!

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My husband and I saw that one of our favorite bands was going to be within 4 hours of us (they haven’t been to Charlotte yet!), so we scooped up tickets and booked a hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee for the following weekend. We realized that we would be going right through Asheville, NC on the way and made plans to stop in for lunch and a stroll.

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First stop was at Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB) for some beer and lunch. We walked around a little beforehand but quickly decided on a place when our hunger set in. This place had a creative menu, craft beer and no wait. Triple winner.

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We each got soup (roasted pepper bisque with cilantro oil for me, stew for him) and then split a couple small plates (or ridiculously large portion of bison nachos).

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After loading up on some dried lavender from the Herbiary shop, we started the second leg of our trip to Knoxville. I searched for bears on the mountainside while my husband drove.

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We had a great view of Knoxville from our hotel. My only experiences with Knoxville previously were one short stay for work two years ago (oddly enough, same hotel), and many stops through on my way as a kid from VA to Nashville to visit my cousin. I had no idea what Knoxville was really like!

IMG_1051We had about a half mile walk into the ‘Old City’ area, where we had planned to have dinner. I took this opportunity to play with the art in the city.

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Dogs? YES. Also, can I get a replica of this for our yard?

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The old city area was ADORABLE. It was bustling with people who were watching March Madness games, heading to our same concert and just out and about. The place we really wanted to go (Stock and Barrel) had a two hour wait. They served s’mores and nutella milkshakes which sounded amazing, so I debated on this wait for all of three seconds before realizing it was absurd to wait that long. Next time, Stock and Barrel, next time.

IMG_1064We ended up at Not Watsons, which was delicious. My husband had chicken and waffles, which I found to be amazing. His only complaint was that it was chicken tenders versus a whole breast. That syrup though!

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I got a black bean, kale and avocado wrap which was also amazing and healthy. I felt pretty good about that choice after seeing how heavy the chicken and waffles were (but again, they were delicious). After dinner, we headed towards the Tennessee Theatre for our show.

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The inside of the theatre was intricate and beautiful. And the sound…. wow. It sounded incredible. The openers were surprisingly good, although new to the scene.

IMG_1089Alabama Shakes were everything we expected and more. Brittany’s voice is even more incredible than it sounds on their records. I loved watching her on stage. She’s so passionate and full of energy and just totally rocked that place. It was definitely worth the four hour drive.

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We figured we might as well explore UT’s campus while we were there and check out the football stadium. It was pretty impressive in size (compared to Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium) but the design looked industrial and uninviting.IMG_1124
I’m sure it gets pretty rowdy in there and clearly people love going to games but aesthetically it’s not the best looking stadium.

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But it’s always fun to check out other stadiums when we’re in town. Looking forward to the UT/VT game in Bristol! GO HOKIES.

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We made our mid-morning commute back to Asheville with plans to stop in for lunch again. We walked around a little, enjoyed some street music and then grabbed some burgers at Jack of the Wood.

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No pictures of the food because we devoured it but we did decide to make a stop in French Broad Chocolate Lounge for some dessert.

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And I snapped pictures before we scarfed it down. We couldn’t decide on one thing (or even one thing EACH) so we picked three small items to share and the hubs got some coffee for the ride home.

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I loved our weekend getaway and roadtrip. We saw so many things in so little time. We had amazing food, heard great music, and had lots of time together. spontaneity worked out for us on this one – now maybe I can convince my husband to take that spontaneous trip to Belize, Honduras or Costa Rica? *Wishful Thinking* But I can say that we both thoroughly enjoyed this trip!

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Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to support breast cancer champions!

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Saving Stella

On Friday, I decided to meet my old neighbor at Char-Meck Animal Control to check out a dog she wanted. That was probably mistake #1. Animal control is a bad place for me to go for a number of reasons: 1) I will inevitably leave crying (which happened); 2) I will want to adopt/save all of the dogs – and won’t be able to(which happened); 3: I will feel helpless (which happened).

I walked through the kennels and let the dogs sniff/lick my hands, all while my heart was breaking. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I met Stella. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. She looked like she was ashamed of being there. Hopeless. Lost. Confused.  Sad. Her eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I lost it right there.

I made another loop through the kennels, falling in love with Casper, the white boxer, Cooper the small shepherd mix, Jimmy, the border collie, Choppa, the big bully mix and Calley, an adorable pointer mix (all pictured above). I stopped to talk to Stella again. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned into the kennel to let me touch her as I sobbed about the situation these dogs were in. I promised her I would do all that I could for her and I would be back. That was a big promise, especially for a dog that I knew nothing about. I had no idea how she was with kids, dogs or cats. She wasn’t overly friendly. She wasn’t a puppy. She was a pit bull, for Christ’s sake. I got it together long enough to walk back through animal control, past the officers and then sobbed all the way home. Falling into my husband’s arms when I walked into the door and mumbling some non-sense about quitting my job to save dogs full time.

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I posted the video publicly on Facebook and asked friends and family to share her story far and wide. I tagged my friend, Laura, who founded a foster non-profit in Charlotte, (Dog Days of Charlotte) who I know loves pit bulls and she immediately started helping me find rescues to save Stella. We had a rescue (Catering to Cats and Dogs) within half an hour of posting and then we just needed a foster and/or donations for medical care. Some incredibly generous soul donated $160 right away. While a wonderful lady volunteered to foster and/or adopt Stella. We worked until about 11 PM solidifying details and once the plan was set, I cried some more. We were going to get this sweet girl out!

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On Saturday, my husband and I drove to animal control and busted Stella out. I had prepped him that I had no idea how she would be out of the kennel. I told the foster she would probably need a few days to decompress in a quiet place and realize she was safe before introducing to other dogs/kids. She probably wouldn’t want to give attention or play much those first few days. And then she came out, and she was… amazing.

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She gave us hugs and kisses. She took treats gently and let us put the collar and leash on her with no issue. She even played with the leash for a minute. She walked happily out of AC and hopped in the car and I swear she knew she was free.

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She took lots of opportunities to give us more kisses and rest her head on us. I may or may not have cried a million more times.

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We stopped at Petco to grab something from the rescue and let a few gals meet her and I grabbed her a stuffed squeaky toy and a bone to take to her foster’s house. She LOVED her toy.

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She was super sweet when meeting her foster family (and they hope to adopt her, too!). She was gentle with the kids, and didn’t want to put her toy down. The hardest part was saying goodbye. She kept pulling on her leash to come with us, which made me run back and hug her a few more times and tell her to be a good girl. We waved from the window and then drove off and as soon as we were driving, she turned and walked happily with her new family into their home. And yes, I cried again. Happy tears, though. I am so grateful for everyone that helped save her and that she will now live a happy life. I encourage everyone to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders. There are a million dogs like Stella out there.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison

Also, I know spending the morning at Animal Control, saving dogs, transporting, stopping by an adoption event and meeting fosters wasn’t my husband’s idea of a great Valentine’s day, but to me, it was perfect. I’m so glad he was with me for all of those moments yesterday. I think Stella was glad he was there, too. ❤

Find these amazing rescues on social media: 

Dog Days of Charlotte: Facebook and Twitter

Catering to Cats and Dogs: Facebook and Twitter

Weekend Wrap Up [Date ideas]

It’s officially my last day of being 28 – and it’s been a damn good year (and weekend). Friday, I spent the morning with my adorable niece and nephew. Damon and I went to Discovery Place Kids.

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And then I got to see my sweet niece who was super smiley and happy. She loves giggling at her big brother and she kept pushing up like she was getting ready to crawl. Won’t be long now!

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They are seriously cute together. He loves her so much!

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We had the most delicious shrimp tacos for dinner and stayed in instead of battling the cold outside. No time for pictures because they were so delicious I practically swallowed them whole and proceeded to talk about them for the rest of the weekend  (in my true OCD form). On Saturday, we had the most exciting morning ever: WE BOOKED OUR EUROTRIP! Here we come London, Paris and Ireland!

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Since it was my birthday weekend, the hubs agreed to go to Sephora with me so I could replenish my make-up collection. I was set on only purchasing natural items that were paraben free and not tested on animals. There were only THREE brands that lived up to that. Isn’t that crazy?

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First of all, I ordered this lavender Stress Less oil from Organic Bath Co. last week and I’m loving it. As far as the make up goes, I went with the Tarte Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer. I don’t need a whole lot of coverage (or like it) but I do love that this has SPF in it. A little of this goes a long way too, so it will last for a while. They were actually out of the color I needed, so I got a sample and they ordered one for me. I got a shipping notification today! So fast! I also went with the Tarte Pressed Powder. It’s not for coverage as much as it is to set the foundation. I also got the Tarte Amazonian Clay concealer and I already love it! Sadly, I couldn’t find a mascara that I liked so I floated over to the Benefit Cosmetics section and picked up “They’re Real.” It indicates they do not test on animals (and below is an excerpt from their website) but PETA says they do. And because of that “…except where required by law” part, they do. And I won’t be buying their items any longer.

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As I was checking out, I saw the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. Since I’m getting ready to travel again, I grabbed a sample for $12. It’s AMAZING. I used it today and felt great. I didn’t purchase the NARS lipsticks, those were a gift for my birthday. I was curious when I got home to see if they tested on animals. Their site says they do not, but other things I read indicated that their parent company does and therefore, any money spent on NARS supports the parent company and animal testing, so there’s another one to mark off the list. Josie Maran is a natural brand that doesn’t test on animals, but I didn’t find anything that I wanted in that section. Slowly but surely I’m making progress on changing over to paraben free and items that aren’t tested on animals. I have a battle with myself over being wasteful and throwing out things I already have and wanting to use items that aren’t tested on animals/paraben free. My conclusion is that I will replace when I’m done using what I already have. Here are some other products I like if you’re interested in switching over too!

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This morning after trying out a new church, we separated restaurants we want to go to into two jars: Weeknight and Weekend. We put the more expensive/farther away restaurants into the weekend jar. This will not only help us eliminate the dreadful “where do you want to go for dinner?” question, but also give us the chance to try some places that we put off in lieu of going to our usual spots. I’m excited to try this out and see how many new spots we can taste together! [Jars are from Beach Blues and the color scheme is “Aruba”]. There’s a 3rd jar that I’ve labeled “Be Spontaneous” and will put ideas in for things we can do together such as hiking, biking, golfing, tennis, running, kayaking, rafting, go to the movies, a day trip to Charleston, a day trip to the beach, a day trip to the mountains, a brewery tour, etc. Again, I’m excited to see how it plays out!

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My boys have been extra cuddly since they got home from their week at Grandma and Grandpa’s. I think they missed us (or they’re using me as an excuse to be on the couch). Either way, I don’t mind. They’re my favorite cuddle buddies!

Pig Pickin’ and Dogtoberfest

It’s hard to believe we’re in the last week of October already. This year is FLYING by. I’ve been focusing on raising money this month for some pretty awesome breast cancer patients and survivors, so I’ve slacked on my blogging. We’ve had some pretty special donations such as a hang-gliding experience for Michelle H (thanks Kitty Hawk Kites), a race car driving experience for Adrienne D (thanks Joey Logano Charitable Foundation), and a trip to Bald Head Island for Elaine P. – with ferry passes, golf cart and lunch at MoJos (thanks, Meg!). The donations we’ve received have gone to purchase the ferry passes for Elaine and her husband and a French speaking kit for Julie G. Thanks to the giveaway with $100 to Tieks has helped raise even more money so we can help even more items be crossed off bucket lists. There’s still time to enter (through 10/31!), go now!

Outside of the giveway, my husband and I traveled to Boston last week. Both of us had to work but we had the evenings together, which doesn’t happen often these days. It was nice to go out to dinner, have a few drinks, workout, spend time with his cousin Ryan + his wife Carrie while we were there. Our weekend was jam-packed with events, including Dogtoberfest. I work closely with a local rescue group called Dog Days of Charlotte. We work to pull dogs from high-kill shelters and find them foster homes for various rescues until they are either adopted or transported to their rescue (many of the rescues we work with are in the Northern part of the US).

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Dog Days is a 501-3c that operates solely on donations (seems like I’m talking donations A LOT lately). Dogtoberfest is our biggest event which raises money to help us with vetting dogs, getting dogs groomed, getting dogs transported and buying things like food, leashes, crates, etc., so that fosters are equipped with everything they need when helping us out. As a foster, you’re only required to give the dog a place to stay and some love, we cover EVERYTHING else. Which is why we need donations and events like Dogtoberfest help us. The day is full of vendors, raffles, music, a photo booth and tons of adoptable pups. It’s such an amazing event and so wonderful to see so many people coming out to support the organization. If you’re interested in fostering, here’s the application and more info!

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After Dogtoberfest, we hopped over to my aunt and uncle’s for a pig roast. They put on such a good party – and the food’s not bad either. It’s such a nice event where our family and plenty of my aunt and uncle’s friends gather and dance the night away.

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I wasn’t shy with food (although I was very careful not to eat too much earlier in the day) and I enjoyed a tad bit of everything. The food was seriously amazing and my uncle who cooked the pig is equally as amazing. I know how much work they put into this event each year and I’m so grateful that we get to be a part of it.

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Oh, and we got to spend time with our new niece, Andi and our adorable nephew, Damon, who was 100% obsessed with the tractor and kept telling us he needed the keys so it would go.

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We ran out of time to carve pumpkins, so we’ll be doing that this week, just in time for our first halloween in our new house. But we did have an amazing date night at Nan & Byron’s last night and a good day of shopping for me and golf for him. I’m loving these fall weekends with gorgeous weather. Not quite ready for snow and dark days, although I must admit, I turned the heat on this morning after letting the dogs out. Now that it’s in the upper 70s, I’ve turned off the heat and am ready to go for a run with the dogs. Happy Monday!

Weekend Wrap Up

I feel like we did nothing and everything this weekend. JJ Grey and Mofro came to a local theatre that is within walking distance of our house, so we had date night there – with dinner at one of our favorite pizza places beforehand.

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On Friday we felt like we had partied like we were back in college the night before. Funny how much differently three beers impacts you at 28 versus 21. So we hung low and decided to see “Gone Girl” and recreate our first date with a movie and dinner at Fox & Hound. The movie was amazing but sadly ends just the way the book did (which I HATED). However, I loved my dinner and movie date night with him. Saturday, I got up early (feeling better) to run the Rocktoberfest 5-miler with some girlfriends.

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Official results aren’t up yet, but I’m glad I got across the finish line in less than 50 minutes (according to my watch and clock time). On Saturday evening, we got to see one of our dearest friends marry the love of her life. We both met Brandy at work (we started on the same day) and immediately bonded. She is such an amazing person, I can’t possibly tell you how wonderful she is all in one post. So when she called to tell me she and Bill were getting married, I literally squealed (loudly) in the store I was standing in. This weddnig was a long time coming and such an amazing production.

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I say “production” because there was a comedian, pianist, singer, gymnastics performance, and two one-act plays. By far the most interesting wedding reception I have been to in my life. Brandy and Bill were just as wonderful on stage together as they are off. I am so glad we were able so share in their beautiful day! On Sunday, we woke up to rain and sniffles. I made pumpkin pancakes in an attempt to make us feel better. They didn’t do much for the colds we had caught but they sure were tasty!

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Pumpkin Pancakes:

  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 teas. baking powder
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. pumpkin spice
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix butter, milk, egg and pumpkin puree in another bowl. Slowly blend in the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until well blended. Heat griddle to 300 degrees and pour out 1/4 cup batter onto griddle (or skillet). Cook for about 2 minutes or until little bubbles appear and then flip and cook for 2 more minutes. I imagine these would be delicious with some powdered sugar or whipped cream, but we settled for just maple syrup. I made enough for leftovers for breakfast this morning – still good!

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I tried to ward off my cold symptoms some more with hot yoga but instead just made myself sweaty and dizzy. It did help to stretch out my sore leg muscles after Saturday’s race but I have to admit it was a very unfocused practice. Hoping to kick this cold soon so I can get back to the gym and yoga this week. Hoping we can make it to the pumpkin patch next weekend and finish getting ready for Halloween. How was your weekend?

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend, we took a little trip up to Chapel Hill to watch the Hokies kick some Tarheel booty on the football field. My in-laws live in the area and were sweet enough to let us bring our pups and crash at their house for the weekend.

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Friday night, we went to the Fearrington Granary for dinner. For some reason, we were both craving red meat and ordered burgers and beer upon our arrival. Both were delicious. I think if we lived in Fearrington, we’d eat there at least 3 nights a week.

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On Saturday, we spent the day at Kenan Stadium, cheering on our beloved Hokies. The weather could not have been more perfect. We lathered ourselves in sunscreen beforehand but stupidly didn’t take any extra with us so we both got a little unplanned color.

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I ran into THREE people that have been some of my best friends over the years. Jacqueline and I were inseparable for years 18-20. She graduated college before me but did come back to hang out for special events like my 21st and Quadfest. We only live 1.5 hours apart now but we don’t see each other very often. Looking forward to another hang out session this week when she’s in Charlotte.

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Matt and I kind of grew up together (he was my cousin’s best friend) and we went to college together. We ended up hanging out in the same group, doing silly things like chugging Mad Dog 20/20 and running the beer pong table at parties. And of course, my bestie, Seth, who moved to Charlotte just after I did in 2008. I got him in the break-up with my college boyfriend. Seth is one of my most favorite people in the world – and my husband loves him, too. Actually, my whole family loves him. We laugh constantly when we’re together, like laughing til your tummy hurts, laughing. It’s wonderful.

IMG_5612We were so exhausted after the game (I took a two hour nap) and we wanted to watch the Ole Miss/Alabama game, which left us starving at 7 PM. After half an hour on Yelp providing options for places to go, we decided to head out to either the Singaporian place or the Italian place. Half way there I announced that we should just grab a frozen pizza and a red box movie and curl up on the couch. Winner!

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I am not a fan of pizza (never delivery!) and rarely recommend it for a meal, so my husband was happy to hear this idea out of my mouth. He ended up falling asleep in the movie (Blue Jasmine) and I’m pretty sure I only stayed awake because I had a nap earlier.

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Before we left to come home, we took our boys for a long walk which totally wore them out. It was an amazing weekend (especially with that Hokie “W”). I ended the weekend with an hour and a half of hot yoga with a friend, and started my week feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

 

One year anniversary!

Yesterday marked one year of wedded bliss for me and my handsome husband. We’ve had a crazy busy year (new job + travel, buying a house, becoming landlords, personal travel, etc.) and it’s been pretty amazing.

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However, we discuss quite often that marriage is not all cotton candy and candy apples (not even in the first year). But marriage, as a committment you made in front of family and friends and most importantly, to each other, is a job. And it should be the job where you focus most of your energy. Not saying that it should be your toughest job, because if you’re with the right person, a lot of it comes easily and naturally. But it’s work to not snap at your sig-o when you’re hungry (or hangry, as I sometimes get), it’s work to step away from what you’re doing sometimes and focus on what your other half wants to do, sometimes we forget to put the phone/iPad down and listen to the other, sometimes we are preoccupied with our own thoughts, or sometimes we just want to be alone. But it’s important to remember that your other half is your partner, not your enemy. They’re on your side. They want to spend time with you, talk to you, and listen to you.

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My husband and I met as co-workers and I’m glad he’s still my co-worker in marriage. Working together is incredibly important. I know how much it bothers him when I slip my shoes off at the door instead of putting them in the closet, and while it seems like a REALLY LITTLE thing, it’s easy to get caught up in really little things that annoy you. It’s a really little extra step for me to walk over to the closet and something that I should do because I KNOW it bothers him. It’s important not to get caught up in the little things and to focus on the big picture.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

Ever since we started dating we’ve talked about goals for our life and our future and we continue to fous on those. We love to travel and continue planning out trips to places domestic and international. We made a list of our Top 5 destinations for each and cross matched (3/5 on both lists were the same). We’re managing owning two houses, although it’s not ideal, and I never wanted to be a landlord, it’s working. The plus is that we’re building equity in our other home and when we DO sell, we’ll be better off. We’re working on making our new house very homey and enjoying spending time in our yard, our rocking chairs and screened-in porch. We’re both very career focused right now and fortunate to be with a good company and doing what we love, or at least what our degrees are in. And we get to spend plenty of time with friends and family (including our new baby niece!). And yes, kids are in the future just not right now.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a darn good one. We’re still falling in love with each other day over day, laughing until our bellies hurt and there for each other when there are tears. I try to focus on the good, be happy and cherish all the little moments. I saw a quote this morning that said:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

How true, and how very bad of us. What people post on social media is not them at their worst, it’s laughing, smiling, happiness. Try not to compare yourself, or your relationship to that of others. Try to focus on how to continue, every day, making your relationship the best it can be. Your marriage is yours and your husband’s and you’re the only ones responsible for making it work. Social media has us questioning things that don’t need to be questioned. Spend time in reality, loving the most, focusing on what matters and sticking to your vows. Spend time cultivating a marriage that other people desire. You have your own highlight reel that is by far the most important one in the world.