Weekend Wrap Up [Christmas #1]

Our first couple Christmases together, we tried to do both families in one day. They were only two hours apart, so what could go wrong? A snow storm. That’s what. We got stuck in a snow storm coming back to NC from VA and I watched cars sliding off the road in my rearview mirror. The only time in my life I’ve been thankful my SUV has 4-wheel drive (otherwise not necessary in NC!). So, ever since then, we’ve tried to alternate. This weekend, we celebrated an early Christmas with my in-laws.

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My mother-in-law made a delicious dinner of fried turkey and delicious fixins for us and had a beautiful table where we dined.

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Santa came and was good to everyone, even the dogs!

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This guy has been obsessed with his stocking ever since we put it up. Every year he’s obsessed, but it’s to a new level this year. He seriously LOVES Christmas.

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On Saturday, we went to hear a storyteller at the Fearrington Barn. Donald Davis made us laugh, made us want to hug our families and made us want to visit the Grand Canyon but never ride a mule. If you ever have a chance to listen to him, DO IT.

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One of our families favorite things to do is play games when we’re all together. We’re big fans of Apples to Apples and Cranium. This year, we got new games which made us laugh until our bellies hurt. Smart Ass and Telestrations were this year’s choices, with Telestrations being played the most. Smart Ass challenged us all a little more with trivia but was definitely fun!

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On Sunday, after days of being tempted with cookies and squash casserole, I had to get in my 7-mile training run for the Key West Half Marathon.

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Not going to lie, I didn’t want to do it. I was a little sore from T25 the day before. It was cold outside. There was beer and football in the house. I had a million excuses. The first 4 miles SUCKED. I even took a break at one point and gave myself a pep talk.

IMG_8149Once I hit mile 4, I actually got in a groove. I felt pretty good and also, the setting sun sparked a fire under me (I am terrified of the dark so running after sunset is out of the question!). I got to see some pretty awesome stuff like the Fearrington House decorated for Christmas…

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And from the side:

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And I finished just before dark with my legs telling me I couldn’t run another mile and chills from my sweat combined with cool winter air. I didn’t hit my pace that I’ve been aiming for with my training. It was actually probably my worst 7 mile run ever but I told myself “Done is better than perfect.” And it’s true. I did it. It’s done. I ran 7 miles. Maybe not in 1:03 like I wanted to, but I did it.

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Oh, and my timehop reminded me on Saturday of a date my now husband and I had on our 6 month anniversary. Weren’t we cute?

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Hope everyone had a wonderful last weekend before Christmas (or just a good weekend if you don’t celebrate Christmas!). We’re both off work this week and excited to relax and spend some quality time together (and with our pups!). Happy Monday!

Sneaking away to St. Martin

During the week of Labor Day, we hopped on a plane to St. Martin for a relaxing getaway. The trip started off on a good note when we were bumped to first class on our US Airways flight and had the most wonderful flight attendant (Judy) waiting on us on our 3.5 hour flight to SXM.

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Since the planes land on the Dutch side of the island (St. Maarten), we got a tour of island in our taxi ride to our resort – The Grand Case Beach Club. It was nestled between picturesque mountains and turquoise water right there on the beach (or two beaches: Le Petit Plage and Grand Case Beach).

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We had a stunning view of Creole Rock, and even spent one afternoon snorkeling there with some amazing rainbow parrot fish, eels, and about a gazillion more caribbean fish species. It was some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done.

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Our resort offered kayaking, sailing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and snorkeling right off the beach, too. We spent an entire morning exploring the gorgeous water in front of the hotel and just for the record, I only fell off my board ONCE. (Fact: SUP requires some serious balance and core strength, and your feet will hurt afterwards from holding on).

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Each morning we went to the restaurant on site for our continental breakfast. My favorite was of course the chocolate croissant. I actually took my Shakeology with me on this trip so that I could remain somewhat healthy (and I embarked on my attempt to be vegetarian for a month on 9/1). Listening to the waves was so tranquil and such a relaxing way to start our mornings.

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We ventured into Grand Case (the best culinary experiences on the island) for dinner most nights. Our favorite spots were Le Cottage and La Villa, although we also had a lovely creole experience where the chef was also the owner and took plenty  of time to come out and just chat with us. The food was nothing short of spectacular on this trip.

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We ventured out to Orient Bay Beach one day, which is the famous nude beach on the island. However, since we were there in September, it was the “off season” and all the nudists stayed home. We pretty much had the run of the place while we were there and dined at an excellent beach restaurant before setting up in some chairs just steps away from a bar for the rest of the afternoon.

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Our resort was totally gated and had security guards walking around at all times which made it feel very safe. We were upgraded upon arrival there to a suite style condo with bed/bath upstairs, and living room, kitchen and another bathroom downstairs. Our patio led right out to an overlook over the beach (the stairs were no more than 5 feet away). We also had an upstairs balcony which provided amazing views of the island. The pool at the resort was one of the prettiest set ups I’ve seen, just dreamy!

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While we’re talking safety, nothing happened to us while we were there but upon asking advice on a couple trips we were thinking of taking on our own, I was told, “Just don’t take anything with you.” There was also a “theft insurance” charge for renting cars on the island and parts of it were not very well lit. That being said, the locals left us alone. Only once (on Orient Bay Beach) were we asked if we wanted to purchase something. Philipsburg was more touristy and probably the least safe place we went for that reason.

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In Philipsburg, we had lunch before walking around. It was gorgeous on the water. The shopping area was your typical Caribbean shopping area which owners out front asking you to come in and a few peddlers on the beach asking you to purchase their items. We didn’t spend TOO much time there before we headed off to Maho Bay beach to see the planes land. Since Maho Bay is also on the Dutch side where the casinos are, we popped into one while we were there. My (risk adverse) husband won while playing poker and immediately quit playing, so we weren’t there for more than 45 minutes before we headed back to Grand Case.

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Their signature drink on the island is the Guavaberry Colada since they have a guava berry rum factory on the island. Each restaurant offered their own specialty after-dinner (or lunch) rum. Some of the flavors we tried were caramel, banana, coconut and a delicious mixture of coconut rum, grenadine and pineapple juice.

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We very much enjoyed our trip to St. Martin and would recommend the French side to anyone going to visit. However, if you’re still deciding where to visit, our vote is Aruba. Aruba is still our favorite island. The friendliness of the people is unmatched (and they’re all so incredibly intelligent). Not for one second on the island did we feel unsafe, even when we walked or biked the .75 miles back from the high rise area at night. While Aruba has a desert climate and St. Martin has a tropical climate, we didn’t mind the heat and no humidity in Aruba. It never rains in Aruba (it only rained on us once in St. Martin). Aruba had happy hour which we loved, St. Martin did not. The food was amazing in both places but Aruba holds a special place in our hearts. If we had a free trip back to either of these islands, we would undoubtedly choose Aruba.

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.

Two tickets to paradise!

Life has been busy, what’s new? We have so many wonderful things that I’m dying to share (nope, not pregnant!), but can’t just yet. We have to let a few more things fall into place and then all news can be shared. For the time being, I’ll share that we are headed to St. Martin (French side, although we’ll definitely explore the Dutch side) to sepnd 5 heavenly days frolicking on white sand beaches, dining on 5-star French cuisine and celebrating a year of marriage. Hard to believe it’s been a whole year (in less than 2 weeks). St. Martin is our big trip for this year and we’re back on for our European getaway next year. We’re thinking Ireland – London – France will be a nice combo. For this year? #TheWhitesDoStMartin

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My husband has already been checking out restaurants for our trip. I’m leaving the planning to him on that, he always chooses so well. Our honeymoon in Aruba was full of delicious food!

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First year anniversary gifts are supposed to be paper, so we’ll consider those airline tickets our gifts to each other. We’re much more into experiencing things together rather than purchasing physical items.

Baby Shower (7/13)
Baby Shower (7/13)

And before we head off to this spectacular Dutch/French island, we’ll be meeting our new neice, Andi, who is due to arrive on August 10th! Follow along on Instagram with hashtag #comeonAndi!

If you have suggestions of things to do/see or places to eat in St. Martin/Maarten, let me know! I always appreciate recommendations!

4 months into Forever!

Today makes 4 months since we said “I do” and walked down the aisle into our happily ever after. It’s been a busy 4 months and we’re so grateful for things to slow down a bit over the holidays and soak up some time with each other and our families. We recently got our wedding video from ShutterHutch and have so enjoyed looking back on our special day.

CharlotteWeddingFilm Ashleigh+Landon from Shutter Hutch on Vimeo.

We are so thankful to have this keepsake in our hands and although I’m sure we won’t watch it on a weekly basis, we will certainly hold tight to it and who knows, watch it on our anniversaries? Share it with our kids one day? Re-live that special day whenever we want.

I’m so glad that we decided to have videographers at our wedding. And I’m glad that we chose Jaime and Chad with ShutterHutch.

I’m looking forward to many more months and years of marital bliss with this guy. Even on our busy days, I’m reminded of how lucky I am and how loved. I’m so thankful for each sweet memory that we have made together – and excited for all the ones to come. {Love you, LMW, to the moon and back.}
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Happy Anniversary!

Today marks one month of being married. We’ve each been asked a dozen times if it feels different- it doesn’t. But it’s still amazing. In honor of our first milestone, I’m re-capping our wedding and sharing some of our wedding photos (the ones that our photog is not submitting to magazines).

Pixel Photography
Pixel Photography

The rain started bright and early and caused me to move my wedding day run indoors. No problem, I knocked out a hotel-gym workout before my bridal brunch. My mom hosted the brunch for all the lovely ladies on both sides of our families.

After the brunch, mom and I headed off for hair at Modern Salon in Philips Place. I had done a trial back in March, so it was a pretty quick effort when I got there – just lots of extra hair spray to defend against the rain.
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Then I had to rush back to the hotel for my make-up to be done and to get ready with the gals. At 2:45 we headed off to the Dairy Barn for pre-wedding photos. From here… I feel like the day flew by. We were inside and out taking photos, then the guys arrived and we were hanging out in separate areas. My groom later informed me he got to speak to guests as they arrived and enjoyed seeing everyone.  Although it rained, we didn’t skip a beat. My mom (love her!) rushed out to buy green and navy umbrellas to match our color scheme so that our wedding party could stay dry and I could still get at least a few outdoor photos.

Pixel Photography
Pixel Photography

I’m thankful everyone was a good sport when it came to the weather. I had my bridesmaids walking up hills, through grass and gravel, to get some of the shots I had planned pre-rain. We all pretty much had to re-do our hair before the ceremony but to me, it was worth it.

Pixel Photography
Pixel Photography

My sweet brother walked me down the aisle to “What a Wonderful World” played by my husband’s aunt and uncle on a banjo. Our mother’s came down to “You are my sunshine.” We chose to go with part traditional vows and part of our own. And just like that we were kissing and walking back down the aisle to “How Sweet it is” as husband and wife.

photo-8We had a photo booth which our guests thoroughly enjoyed – as did we. After immediate post-ceremony pictures, we scooped up plates of southern goodness and tried to eat as quickly as possible. While the real food was incredible, I cannot stop thinking about our cake. It was vanilla coconut with pineapple filling and coconut buttercream icing. Yeah – YUM.
DSC_6912bwOur first dance was to “You & Me” by Dave Matthews Band and we cut our cake to “Oh” by Dave Matthews. We’re big DMB fans, if you can’t tell. Our last dance of the evening was to Ryan Adams “I love you and I don’t know what to say.”

Pixel Photography
Pixel Photography

We haven’t stopped talking about how perfect our day was and how wonderful it was to be surrounded with everyone that we love so much. I’m glad three of my sweet friends are planning 2014 weddings so I can help with wedding related tasks and get my fix now that my own planning is over. At times it seemed like the big day would never arrive, and now it seems like it flew by and a whole month has somehow come and gone. We are enjoying every moment of our happily ever after!

The last 60 days!

Monday marked 60 days until our wedding. We could technically get our marriage license at anytime now… but we’ll hold off for a little longer. Yesterday was our 4 year anniversary – our last June 20th anniversary, as next year, we’ll be celebrating August 17th! I still remember being so nervous before our first date (and so nervous at work that I went out of my way to avoid talking to LW face-to-face). I was so giddy afterwards and so sure that I wanted to be with him – lucky me, he wanted the same thing!
anniversaryAnd here we are, 4 years later, wedding planning our little hearts out and working relentlessly on the next big steps of our lives together (more details coming soon!). I love that I have a running & hiking partner, a concert/theatre/comedy show buddy, a travel partner and someone who is always up for a quick road trip – especially to a beachy location, my own handyman, grill master, and a best friend. We have so much fun together and really complement each other with our personalities and special OCD issues. I also love that I got a 2nd dog out of this deal, because those boys, they complete us! bowtiesReady for the weekend and another shower thrown by Aunt Jill (LW’s favorite banana pudding maker!). We are excited to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy SUMMER!

Happy Weekend!