Weekend Wrap Up [Andi’s Dedication]

This past week was a doozy! I accepted an assignment to review 7 live music venues in 7 nights, which meant after working all day, working out and making a quick dinner, I had to get ready and go back out in the cold to all of these venues and listen to music that I wasn’t super pumped about. That being said, I actually enjoyed MOST of the venues and artists. My favorites were definitely open mic night at The Evening Muse and Visulite Theatre. I also enjoyed all the extra time with my husband and am super grateful that he was willing to tag along with me to all of these shows.

IMG_7182This was our millionth try for a picture and my husband was hating the flash. Fun fact: only one of us loves having our picture taken! On Saturday, I had to do my long training run, which wasn’t actually  all that long this week. I did 6.08 miles  and felt pretty good while doing it. Didn’t hurt that the weather was INCREDIBLE on Saturday.

IMG_7377After the run, we went to a local bar to watch the Hokies (I’m embarrassed to say that) and the Harvard/Yale game (Hooray, Harvard!). Saturday ended with our 6th show of the week and my mom was in town so she got to go with us. Mom came in to celebrate my niece’s baptism on Sunday. So glad we were able to be part of such a special day in Andi’s life and loved spending time with the family.

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I made some whoopie pies for dessert after the dedication. My sister-in-law served us a delicious lunch and we all got to watch my nephew Damon show off for his whole big family. Now, back to those whoopie pies. 5 ingredients and absolutely delicious!

IMG_7203Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’ve been baking a ton and trying out lots of Pinterest recipes. Today, I made three kinds of sweet potato pies. I love the bite-size pies because you can try all three kinds and still have less calories than you would with a normal slice of pie! I also made chocolate chip Nutella cookies and apple butter cookies with my Paw Paw’s apple butter. Excited to spend this week with both of our families and of course, our sweet pups!

IMG_7353Happy almost Thanksgiving! Hope you are enjoying taste-testing all of your creations – or at least getting ready to share in some special time with family and a big meal, too!

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?

 

Full to the brim!

This year, we hosted our very first Thanksgiving at our home as a married couple. We celebrated the day with my grandparents, mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew (and two scavenger dogs).

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Our menu consisted of:

  • Fried Turkey
  • Ham
  • Salad with honey goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Green bean casserole
  • Mac N’ Cheese
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Deviled eggs
  • Gravy
  • Brownies
  • Pumpkin Pie squares
  • Chocolate Chess Pie

Is your mouth watering? Wait until you see the pictures!

My husband fried the turkey. It was not only his first turkey cooking adventure, but first time frying. We started with the marinade the night before all of which he mixed up. On Thursday, he put together the rub and covered the turkey with it and let it set for a few more hours before entering the fryer. At first he thought he had burnt the turkey when it came out but we quickly found out that it was DELICIOUS – and the marinade made it super juicy. Everyone devoured the turkey (almost wish we had bought a little bigger one!).

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My Maw Maw brought the ham (and brownies), which she had put a glaze on and of course this country mouse loved the ham. Who doesn’t love ham? I know Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but I was thankful for ham.

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My sister-in-law (above) brought the Mac N’ Cheese and cornbread stuffing. Both were delicious and were much needed starches to the semi-healthy sides I tried to make.

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I had apple cider warming when everyone arrived. A simple recipe but was delicious and kept us warm on such a chilly day! Just add cider from a jug in the crockpot, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of rum, 5 cinnamon sticks, 18 whole cloves, zest of an orange and a lemon and cut up an apple in chunks. Bring to a boil and then keep warm while serving. All of our guests (even Maw Maw) enjoyed this warm drink!

My sweet potato casserole was a favorite of everyone. It’s such an easy recipe and is semi-healthy. It calls for 5 medium sweet potatoes (chopped and boiled to soften), mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, sweet potatoes, 3 tbs orange juice, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup low fat margarine together and layer in baking dish. Use marshmallows or pecans to top. Put in oven on 350 for 10-15 minutes or until top is browned.

unnamed-9While the main dishes were amazing, dessert was still (and always is) my favorite part. My husband made Chocolate Chess Pie at 8 A.M. to accompany my pumpkin pie bars (literally pumpkin pie cut into squares) and my grandma’s brownies.

unnamed-10I could not be more thankful for the family that we were surrounded with and the opportunity to spend that time with them. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for each and every one of them – including my husband. Not only did he cook, but he did most of the cleaning up post-apocalypse, I mean, post-Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling lucky & thankful to have him by my side, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

unnamed-11Happy December!

Sunday Funday Bridal Showcase!

On Sunday, I road-tripped it to Chapel Hill to hang out with the best MOH a girl could ask for – and to attend the Carolina Inn’s 18th Annual Bridal Showcase! A special “Thank You” to Jenna at Southern Bride & Groom magazine for the tickets to the show. To say we were underprepared for what awaited us, would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out how many calories I took in at all of those cake tasting booths! IMG_3956We had a day full of paper products, flowers, cake and petit fours … and champagne. How can I forget the never-ending flow of champagne? Sarah was giddy over the supply of macaroons that were on-hand – and as a bride who is loving the idea of “mini-desserts”, I loved seeing all the options available. What talented caterers the triangle area has!
bs1One of my FAVORITE cakes was from husband and wife duo Ashley & Co in Raleigh. This burlap delight made my heart skip a beat. And since I met my beau at work and we still work together, I love that they do too!

Ashley & Co burlap beauty!
Ashley & Co burlap beauty!

We hit up the hors d’ouevres pretty early on since neither of us had eaten lunch. Lots of deliciousness going on in that tent – and of course, we were smitten with the Carolina Inn ice sculpture!
IMG_3922Since my wedding is being held in South Carolina, I really just used this event to gain some ideas and not so much vendors. We did meet LOTS of vendors – and we adored the goodies that they were giving away. Check out this ADORABLE cooler bag from Erin McLean Events! I have been back and forth on whether or not to hire a planner/coordinator to make sure things go off without a hitch – and I loved the idea of just a “day-of” coordinator. Plus, I’ve only heard good things about Erin. And Martha Manning took the cake with her giveaway… Krispy Kreme? Who can say no to Krispy Kreme doughnuts? While I’ve already chosen my photographer, Martha was able to give some recommendations on videographers which was much appreciated. IMG_3952Next on my “to-do” list is to secure a florist for our big day. I want simple flowers (I really want the hydrangeas from my late-grandmother’s bush back home in VA, but that’s a little far-fetched). And since green is our accent color, I was hoping for green flowers – but the fiance insists on them being naturally green and not dyed. So, we checked out some booths at the event and got to actually hold some bouquets (it’s AMAZING how big some of them are!). I like the idea of adding something fragrant to the bouqet – like freesia or mint! IMG_3953We got to see a fashion show while we were there – and I immediately recognized the Southern style of Lula Kate in this dress – and also saw Christy, the owner of Bella Bridesmaid in Raleigh. She sold us our stylish dresses for my friend’s wedding this past August. We somehow missed the bridal part of the runway show, but we did catch the grooms and groomsmen and they sure did look dapper!
IMG_3935I had several totebags full of information and goodies as I left, including wedding magazines and honeymoon magazines. We definitely have some reading to do (and decision making on the honeymoon front!)! IMG_3954I LOVED the experience of the bridal show, especially sharing the fun with Sarah. I have to point out one vendor that I was head-over-heels for before we went to the show and I’m so glad I got to see their stuff in real life. I am even more in love now… if that’s possible. Pressed Cotton has some of the CUTEST things I’ve ever seen – and not just for gatherings but for your household. If anyone is interested in a special offer on their items, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to share the deal!

I want to say thank you to all of my readers! Almost to 1500 views (in less than 3 months!). Stay tuned for a very exciting announcement that has to do with ME, this blog, and you reading it!

Bragging Bride

Y’all, I just have to brag on my sweet groom for a minute. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we overlook some of the qualities that made us fall in love in the first place. I was reminded this week, that one of my husband-to-be’s greatest qualities is his generosity. Throughout the year we volunteer with different groups, make conscious decisions to run races that support causes close to our heart (Get Your Rear in Gear!) and make donations as well. But for the past two years, he has chosen to sponsor a teenager from a home for special needs children and to buy them exactly what they want for Christmas. It’s that exactness that makes my heart swell with love for him.

Last year, the teenager wanted new jeans and an NFL jersey. The catch: he needed a size 52 in the jeans and an XXXX-L jersey to match. Well, my beau didn’t just go pick out any ol’ jeans for this kid. He searched high and low until he found stylish size 52 jeans and found the perfect jersey for him as well. It just really made my heart smile that he would do that for a complete stranger and put so much effort into making sure it was exactly what he wanted.

This year, the kid wanted a sweat suit and Timberland boots. He bought him a nice Nike sweat suit (totally in right now for teens!). After we looked for the boots, we started thinking that they might have put down the wrong size for the kid (size 3 for a teenager???). So, the bf had a dilemma. On Wednesday, he asked me to take the present to work for him and there was only one box. I asked what he decided to do about the boots and he told me he got the kid a gift card. For $100 so he could make sure he got the boots he wanted.  Heart. Smile.

I just love him. He is such a caring, generous, sweet man and I am so lucky that I am going to get to spend the rest of my life with him.

This post got me thinking of simple acts of kindness I can do over the holiday season… how do you make the holidays bright for others?

She said YES!

Yesterday, my groom (along with looking at suits!) asked his best man to be a part of our big day. Now… this isn’t just any ol’ friend he’s had in life, someone he went to high school or college with… it’s his little sister, Logan. (I say little but she’s older than me). We both wanted her on OUR sides for the wedding, but I couldn’t think of a better (or cuter) way to incorporate her into our wedding.

I love that they are so close and have such a strong relationship. Family is really important to both of us – and we both have large families, and are very close with them. I can’t tell you how happy I am that she’s going to be his right hand (wo)man … but also a very important part of our day and and of course, our lives. I’m just hoping I can steal her away for a few major events like Bachelorette Bash 2013, cake tasting and some DIY crafting time.

Yay, Logan! I’m so happy YOU said YES.