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life lately: summer edition

The blog is back from summer hiatus! Here’s a snapshot of our summer – from NYC to LA to everything in between. ❤

N Y C
[spontaneous meet-up in my favorite city]

[I flew in from phoenix, he flew in from bentonville + after lots of delays and a comedy of errors, we finally found each other at la guardia at 1am]

[found the cutest lunch spot with lobster rolls + aperol spritz]

[the best live DJ ride with robin + DJ john michael
350 rides for me + 400 rides for husband!!]

[mind seriously BLOWN by Dan White, the Magician – highly recommend]

[explored williamsburg: smorgasburg (a foodie’s dream come true), brooklyn brewery + the william vale rooftop]

[sunset sails are my absolutely favorite]

[greenwich village: dinner at palma + snuck in to smalls jazz club]

L A
[labor day weekend]

[soaking up the sun in manhattan beach]

[exploring santa barbara + contemplating how to retire here]

[the national at the greek theatre – 9.2.19]

[room views + hotel pools]

[ended the trip at my favorite places with my favorite people]

E V E R Y T H I N G.  I N.  B E T W E E N. 


[LE event of the SUMMER – Stephen and Jaimie get MARRIED!!!]

[celebrated my favorite guy’s birthday with concert, cake + daquiris]

[celebrated Becky’s 30th on the lake #thirtyAF]

[hosted family + showed them some of our fave spots around town]

[attended my very first national sales meeting with this awesome crew in phoenix]

[dinner + a show with the fam]

[it’s a hard knock life/summer without this squad]

[sunset sails, whether on the hudson river or beaver lake, never disappoint]

Summer was delightful, but now on to my favorite season of all – F A L L !
xo xo


There’s No Place Like Home [5 Memories + Life Lessons in 5 Years]

In May, we celebrated 5 years in our very first home. I’m amazed by how quickly the time has gone and how much we still love it just as much as that first year. If there’s anything that could make me feel like a legit adult, this is it!

In honor of the anniversary, I wanted to capture 5 favorite memories in our home + a few things we’ve learned along the way …

  1. I’ll never forget our very first night in our first home. It genuinely feels just like one of those highlight reels in a move. We bought our favorite wine + beer, ordered pizza and sat cross-legged on the floor giddily talking about the future.

2. I love hosting and entertaining people, and we’ve had a lot of incredible parties at our house (My Golden Birthday, Annual Fall Parties, South by South Mouth NYE bashes, Game of Thrones finale, etc.) It’s really hard to choose just one, but I think our #WarmThisHouse party stands out the most probably because it was the very first. We hosted family + friends, ate macarons + took shots, turned our patio into a cocktail hour, and ended the night with costumes and jumping photoshoots. I love this pin board of our polaroid pics from the night that I keep in our bedroom. It reminds me of the simple things in life.

3. Here’s a life lesson: A house is hard work, but a yard is HARDER work. Boy, have we learned this. I’ll never forget the first summer in our house when I spent hours pulling freaking dandelions from the front yard. Then hours pruning our rose bushes. Then hours at the doctor with my infected hand thanks to the rose bushes. Another lesson – sometimes just spend the money to have someone help you.

4. We’ve made several updates to our home – changing light fixtures, patching holes in the wall thanks to dear ol’ Olli, but none so big as deciding to add on a deck, and husband’s only request: a hammock. It’s been some of the best money spent + best decision ever made.

5. Truly my favorite memory of all though in the 5 years of our home has been enjoying time on our front porch. There’s something so special about that white wrap-around beauty. I feel so much peace on that porch, especially in early morning and early evening. (especially in fall with a blanket, coffee + book!) I’ve planned international trips out there, had countless deep conversations with friends + intimate conversations with God, and most recently enjoyed a nice bottle of rosé to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. A lot of life has happened on this porch.

I’m so thankful to have such an amazing home to share with my family, and just as thankful to have some of our best friends living in our neighborhood. Aren’t neighbor friends so special?

I truly can’t wait to see what the next 5 years brings. ❤
xo xo


Picturebook: Napa + SF

 N A P A 
[play hard]

F R I D A Y 

[arrived at our SUPER ADORABLE boutique hotel, Rancho Caymus Inn
and yes, that is a hummingbird photobombing my picture!]

[no exaggeration, hands down one of the best meals of my life at michelin-star The Charter Oak]

S A T U R D A Y

[bouchon bakery + yountville = adorable pit-stop]

[obviously had to schedule in a stop at the napa sign]

[silver oak 2014 cabernet release day party – so many people, so much rain, so much fun!]

[photoshoot at robert mondavi – and of course, more wine]

[and then somehow we got in CARPOOL KARAOKE! this is the only pic I got (though plenty of ridiculous videos), but it was tricked out with lights, microphones and an iPad to choose a song. why is this not more of a thing?!]

[burger + french dip at Rutherford Grill was exactly what we needed]

[plus a hot tub night, ha!]

S U N D A Y 

[no better way to start Sunday than with a Mumm Napa tour]

[aaand more sparkling wine with our Gott’s, which was DELICIOUS]


[our favorite winery – Bremer! we even signed up for their wine club, and obviously had plenty of fun on our own private tour + tasting]

[well yes, it did rain ALL WEEKEND and we didn’t get to do our hot air balloon ride, but we had some of the most picturesque views and seriously the best 30th birthday celebration!]

S A N   F R A N C I S C O  
[work hard + some play]

[first can we talk about how gorgeous these views were from our hotel?!]


[wonderful dinner with some of my favorite people at Nopa]

[ate some new food + made some new friends at Burma Love]

[couldn’t have ended the week better than with the best team building at Slide Ranch – we worked, we hiked, we ate amazing farm-to-table food and we honored a lost team member. love this work family so much! <3]

xo xo


Picturebook: Girls Weekend in NYC!

F R I D A Y 

[the BEST post-flight stop: jacob’s pickles]

S A T U R D A Y 

[Christmas Market Tour: Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bryant Park, Saks windows, Strand Books, Pete’s Tavern + a ride on the SUBWAY]

[fun night in West Village listening to jazz at the Village Vanguard]

[then stumbled upon this AMAZING french restaurant, Boucherie)
[pictured: french onion soup]

S U N D A Y 

[photoshoot in Brooklyn]

[amazing brunch at Cecconi’s Dumbo]

[mid-afternoon snack, obviously]

[rooftop bar (too cold) then dinner at Eataly pop-up Serra Alpina by Birrera – it was MAGICAL]

[MEAN GIRLS! such a cute, funny show!!]

M O N D A Y 

[woke up at 5:30am to sneak a ride in at PELOTON before our flight – husband even rode the same ride at home and caught me on camera (getting ready for the ride, ha!]

[until next time, new york! I’m sure it won’t be too long …]

xo xo


[post-thanksgiving] weekend getaway

S U N D A Y   E V E N I N G
The wind wails and the fire cackles.
The garland glimmers and the poodle snores.
Thanksgiving is now behind us and the anticipation of Christmas lies ahead.

In the midst of the busy holiday season, husband and I decided to take a respite, just the two of us. We packed the makings for chili and a special Italian red, and brought only our coziest clothes. We vowed to do a phone detox, focusing on the present weekend with the presence of one another. We drove only an hour away, though we might as well have been a million miles away – with stunning lake views, great conversation and the joy of spontaneous, secluded living.

A few things I learned from this little weekend getaway of ours:

– You don’t need to keep your phone next to you at all times.
– You’re not really missing anything on social media.
– Finishing a book in a weekend is one of the best feelings.
– Sometimes all you need is abundant sunshine and the gift of time to reconnect with your significant other.
– Enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee on a patio is one of life’s little luxuries we should all take advantage of more often.
– Don’t lose sight of what’s most important this holiday season.

xo xo


so long, sweet summer.

Oh sweet labor day,
your weekend signals the close of summer and the nudge to pack away the white pants.

But, for many, myself included, you also cue the thrill of something new. The best season of all is peeking around the corner (if we’re lucky). True, I’ve already planned my 3rd Annual Fall Party and I’m currently burning a pumpkin spice candle as I write this, BUT I’m actually trying to hold on to the sunshine just a little bit longer this year.

It’s been an extraordinary summer. Did we go on any huge trips? No. Did we have any life-altering events happen? Not really. But sometimes isn’t that the best summer of all? Little bits of joy coupled together to create a beautiful summer of memories.

S U M M E R   O F   2 0 1 8 
[in photographs]


And yet,
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

xo xo


30 Before 30

As I head into the last year of my 20s, I decided to create a list of things to do before I turn 30 in January. Thanks to literally everyone for helping me come up with this list. I think it’s realistic to accomplish in a year, yet will be challenging. I’ll provide a few updates throughout the year as I check things off. Starting with #1 …

[husband’s 30th]

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. This one stems back to my Arkansas Bucket List from a few years ago, and is one thing I really wanted to do that I never got to check off my list. This is the year!
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer.
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night.
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters.
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo.
    20. Run 30 miles. I’m not a runner. So, no judgment please on “only 30?!”
    21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
    22. Do 5 things that truly scare me.
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to state I’ve never been to.
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby.
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip.
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

xo xo

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Discover NWA: Staycation at 21c + Chihuly

For our 6th anniversary, we decided to do a staycation at 21c. Since we’re going to Italy very soon, we didn’t want to travel far or spend too much. We’ve also talked about staying at 21c since it opened, so we decided to go for it. And I am SO glad we did. It was exactly what we needed for a little one-night getaway. Luckily, we also got invited to the special opening of the new Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges and it was absolutely incredible. (Thank you, Denise!)

[beautiful, super cozy room – and my sweet coworkers surprised us with champagne!]

[a few photos from the night below – though I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out yourself!]


[chihuly in the forest – there was even a wine tent out there!
wonderful night with these fun friends]

[chihuly in the gallery – and husband’s favorite picture of the night]

[late night snack back at our hotel – sweet + spicy fries that are just amaaaazing]

[sunday brunch at the hive – that buttermilk fried chicken was out of this world]

[post-brunch stroll on the trails – a perfect end to a perfect anniversary getaway]

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Discover NWA: Mod, Modern Ozark Dining

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life lately

{rockin’ out to this || blink 182 concert}

{making this || amazing pasta from chrissy teigen’s cookbook}

{obsessing over this || “I’d rather be watching Gilmore Girls” sweatshirt}

{enjoying this || rooftop bars + a week in NYC for work}

{eating this || crawfish on crawfish on crawfish}

{drinking this in || fayetteville foamfest – our favorite event of the year}

{celebrating this || our amazing mothers on mother’s day + every day}

xo xo


happy thoughts

A few simple, happy thoughts for anyone having a tough week
or for anyone who likes happy thoughts.

*It’s 75 degrees in February. Let me repeat, it’s 75 degrees in February. Let porch season begin.

*I spoke to the absolute sweetest old lady on the phone today (who I didn’t know). She started the conversation by telling me her grandmother’s name was Mille and she was the best person she’d ever met. We talked for 20 minutes about names and strong grandmothers and having kids and travel and true love, and it totally made my day. And she ended the conversation by saying it made hers too, because it made her reminisce about her grandmother.

*I’ve seen two amazing, deserving couples get an answered prayer of adoption this week. Their posts warmed my heart and made me praise our truly incredible God.

*This Is Us has been renewed for 2 seasons. Yes, every episode makes me cry, but ultimately this makes me very happy.

*I may be extra busy with work lately, but I still have time to spend with my amazing husband, delicious food to eat and a warm bed to crawl into at night.

*When your mom knows exactly what prayer to send after a rough day –

Feel your panic. Feel your frustration. But keep your eyes and heart open. There’s a part of us, our heart, that knows where we’re going, knows what we need, knows what the next step is. Our heart will lead us on. And God will move us forward.

Oh, and it’s National Margarita Day.
Happy thoughts, indeed.

xo xo


2016: my year in pictures

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-9-57-44-am
screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-9-58-06-amJ A N U A R Y 
bought a new car + celebrated my birthday at downstream casino #BettingOnAMILLEon

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-07-52-am

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-08-30-amF E B R U A R Y
first of (several) work trips to NYC + got pulled on stage during spamalot on our valentine’s day date at the rogers little theatre

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-14-36-amM A R C H
a work conference with some pretty decent views

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13076982_3227904129492_6973742797472645262_nA P R I L
welcomed becky to america with the best party ever + celebrated a beautiful bride at mount magazine

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13166027_10153649304001915_6114007446513469655_n
13220885_3251620762393_7107240867260238179_nM A Y
(best month ever)
bentonville film festival, fayetteville foam fest + 5-year anniversary in St. Lucia

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-26-59-am
screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-27-24-amJ U N E
sister-in-law got married + traipsed around california with these people

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-31-05-amJ U L Y
celebrated husband’s birthday in denver

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-33-28-am
screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-33-41-amA U G U S T 
mother daughter weekend in NYC + too much fun at a wedding #travkeg2k16

14203313_10153922899241915_9128922253108058608_nS E P T E M B E R 
best labor day weekend ever #tracytrap

14900570_10103890278223222_8474944676224192731_nO C T O B E R 
squad goals at a stranger halloween

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-41-18-am
screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-41-41-amN O V E M B E R 
an amazing weekend getaway in missouri + a fun week in LA

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 D E C E M B E R
birthday celebrations with the sistahs + christmas in DC

[a catalog – my year in pictures] 201520142013201220112010


For the love of food

“Food and music have the ability to bring back memories long forgotten.

I’ll take a double order of both.”

-Krayl Funch

 

I love food.

I can never understand people who eat purely for calories/nourishment and not for the pure joy of eating.

Yes, gluttony is a sin, and I’m working on not overeating and eating healthier the majority of the time. But food just makes me so happy, and usually that food is not a salad.

As I was reading Bread & Wine (read my review! then go buy the book!) I started thinking about some of my fondest memories with food. You know, those special memories in special places with that food that makes you drool just thinking about it, or that brings back such a wonderful memory associated with it.

I wanted to share a recent food memory with you, partly so I don’t forget it and partly to get you thinking about your fond food memories. I truly think we’re the most happy when we’re sharing good food and good drink with good people.

P A R I S

On a whim, we decided to spend one of our Parisian nights at the Moulin Rouge. I went as a child and thought it was SO scandalous, but several years later fell in love with the movie of the same name and decided I had to go back as an adult. As a serious trip planner, this was a very spontaneous decision. We literally printed out our tickets in our Paris hotel that day … what?!

I went on Yelp and found the restaurant with the best reviews within walking distance of the venue. When we got out of the cab and walked the block from the Moulin Rouge to the cafe I was starting to doubt my decision. It was literally a hole-in-the-wall cafe that couldn’t have held more than 20 people. We sat cramped next to the window as a brusque waitress took our drink order. “This was the top rated place on Yelp?” Husband asked curiously, as scantily clad women walked the streets steering tourists in to their cabarets.

You guys. I will never forget that place. Not just for the location, but for the best duck I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was so flavorful and cooked perfectly and came with pomme frites, and I was seriously in heaven. It was literally the best thing we ate in Paris, and possibly the entire trip. And I just love that it was on a shady block in Montmartre before going to the Moulin Rouge. (Which by the way, we loved. Where we drank champagne, and got in trouble for taking pictures, and met two sisters from England who couldn’t believe we were taking only 2 weeks for a vacation! Isn’t it funny the things you remember?)

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Other fond food/memories –

Little Debbies will always make me think of my grandfather Pops. Wasabi of my Dad in Florida (when he thought it was guacamole). Pimento cheese + oyster crackers of my grandmother’s house. Poppyseed chicken of my college roommate and best friend. Oysters of Mom and NYC. Jerked Shrimp of Husband and St. Lucia. Powdered coffee of camping in Botswana. Saddlebock Farmhouse of the Summer of 2014. And on, and on, and on.

There are so many other memories I could tell you about that revolved around a great meal and great company. What is your fondest food memory?

Cheers!

xo xo

 


Sunday nights.

As of late, I have been loving Sunday nights.

They’ve been following the same pattern for a few months, and the type A in me loves it.

Sunday nights mean comfort, and warmth, and family, and communication.

I love Fridays and Saturdays and the memories they bring – fun and friends and busy and irregular. But Sunday evenings are something special.

As we prepare for the week ahead, we clean and meal plan and grocery shop. (Not exactly my favorite things.)

But at 5pm, the cork comes out and the music comes on. We put a new record on the player, pour some wine and start cooking dinner together. Husband grilling steaks. Me prepping veggies and salad. Puppy moving from one of us to the other, dying to be in the middle of all the action. We talk about the week behind and the week ahead and the things we’re looking forward to.

After dinner, we catch up on our shared TV shows or watch an 80s movie from our list, then turn in early to read and rest up for the week.

Even as we’ve been traveling a lot lately, we’ve been home by midday Sunday and able to keep our cherished tradition. Or as I’ve been returning from work trips, Husband has meal-prepped ahead of time with wine ready so we can just enjoy each other after time apart.

It’s perfectly boring, perfectly an old married couple evening, and I’m perfectly content with it.

xo xo

 


Aldermans Go Global: St. Lucia

D A Y  1 

IMG_1631
IMG_1627
IMG_1626{The first views of the hotel were amazing – Calabash Cove Resort & Spa. I’ll never forget husband’s face when he stepped out of the car and saw our hotel for the first time.}

IMG_1174{We got to our room just in time to watch the breathtaking sunset}

D A Y  2

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{Of course it rained our entire first full day. Not just rained, down poured, even though it’s the dry season on the island.}

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{We still found ways to pass the time and relax, with good food (prosciutto grilled cheese with mango salsa), good drinks (pina colada) and good books.}

D A Y  3 

IMG_1290{We laid in bed and listened to more rain (ugh!), but then it stopped … and we went on the balcony… and saw this. Oh my gosh I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen two sides of the rainbow and this was more gorgeous than I could have ever imagined.}

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{It still rained off and on all day, but we couldn’t wait any longer for the pool. Note the swim-up pool bar, that we frequented often where they made us fancy drinks ….}

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IMG_1314{Cue fancy drinks – this one was called the Bob Marley and our favorite drink made by Chris aka Mr. Fabulous}

D A Y  4 

IMG_1328{I woke up really early, so walked down to the beach with my book (check out my vacation book reviews here)}

IMG_1338{And then came back to our balcony for breakfast. We loved having breakfast delivered to our balcony every morning. How could you not, with these views?? (and french press coffee and fresh local fruit!)}

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{Another day, another drink, another amazing day in the Caribbean}

IMG_1408{An end to an amazing day}

D A Y  5

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{Our Catamaran for the day, leaving from the beautiful Marigot Bay}

IMG_1434{We met these two ladies from Missouri celebrating their 55th birthdays and decided to boat together}

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IMG_1589{Amazing day on the water traveling from Marigot Bay to the Pitons and snorkeling (for the first time!). It was the highlight of our trip!}

D A Y  6

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{Started the day off with an amazing couples massage in the gazebo – seriously, the best massage I’ve ever had}

IMG_1637
IMG_1634
IMG_1681{Then headed to our private beach for some paddle boarding (didn’t work out so well, ask me about the story) and some two-person kayaking (which was a lot of fun)}

IMG_1668{And back to the pool for our last round of drinks at the swim-up bar}

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{Last night on the island – sipping champagne, watching the sunset and talking about our next trip to St. Lucia – for our 10-year anniversary!}

D A Y  7

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IMG_1710{Before heading to the airport we had just enough time to drink one more Piton beer, walk the grounds again and take a final picture}

We had such an amazing time celebrating our 5-year anniversary in St. Lucia and at Calabash Cove. We would highly recommend this resort to anyone traveling to the island. It was small and quiet, but with everything you could possibly need. We felt like we were the only ones at the resort, with the pool and beach practically to ourselves.

Not to mention the food … wow!! Chef specials every night made it so hard to choose what to eat.  A few of our dishes included: Oven Roasted Whole Duck (the best duck I’ve ever had), Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa, Red Snapper Filet with Chorizo Risotto, Indian Lamb Curry (this was amaaaazing), Jerked Shrimp (that we ate every single night as an appetizer), Banana Flambe, Homemade Pumpkin Pie with Pistachio Ice Cream … the list goes on and on. We were all-inclusive, so every night we shared a different bottle of wine, appetizers, main course and desserts. Needless to say, we gained a few pounds and are now on the post-vacation diet, but it was oh so worth it.

Here’s to our next 5 years together!

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Alderman’s Go Global: London, Paris, Munich


weekend update [golden birthday party prep]

F R I D A Y  N I G H T: 

a satisfied craving [loaded baked potato]

2+ hours of a brilliant, moving film [boyhood]

an evening of pure RELAXATION on the couch with my boys

 

S A T U R D A Y:

[golden birthday party errand #1] cake dreaming + ordering with mom

[golden birthday celebration #1] mexican brunch (complete with sparkling margaritas and hilarious recounts of our separate, but both ridiculous new years eves) + pedicures with my girl S who unfortunately will be out of town for the golden birthday party

starbucks stop with husband for flat white + iced coffee [fuel]

[golden birthday party errand #2] my favorite employer: walmart for glitter, glue, frames + more

[golden birthday party errand #3] guess who for drink pricing (and drinks)

pizza, wine + 30 rock after a full day of errands

 

S U N D A Y:

[recharged] via serving coffee with a smile + worshipping at church

learned the background of piri piri chicken [while eating it] and deciding it’s our new favorite food

[golden birthday party errand #4] home depot for tools + things we know nothing about to mount things we bought at ikea we know nothing about

glitter + gold spray paint + wine bottles + mason jars and 3 pinterest projects later [golden birthday DIY complete]

hours [literal hours] realizing we are not the handy type [with said things from home depot], but figuring it out anyway and being so satisfied with husband’s job well done

breathing a collective sigh of relief that house projects + golden birthday projects are complete for now

sitting on our front porch [in the 60 degree weather! in january!] drinking a beer, watching the sunset + realizing how truly thankful we are for it all

xo xo


Resolutions. [10 days later]

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Turn off the TV by 9pm. Get in bed and read.

Cook more with my husband.

Step away from my phone when around other people.

Blog more. Blog about what matters to me, not for others.

Embrace who I am. Don’t force things I’m not, like spontaneity.

Read the Word of God every day, even just for 5 minutes.

Go outside. Enjoy our backyard. Enjoy our energetic puppy.

Be engaged. In world events, in relationships, in work, in play.

Do small, unexpected things for people I care about.

Make our house a home.

Be more conscious about the food that goes in my body.

Love my body.

Take each day as it comes. Do not worry about tomorrow.

Travel somewhere new. In my hometown, in my state, in my country, in my beautiful God-given world.

B E  H A P P Y.
xo xo


2014: my year in pictures

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 6.18.18 PM{January: celebrating my 25th birthday with dear friends}

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photo 4{February: Trips to Tulsa to see Aziz Ansari + San Francisco for work}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.24 PM{March: an unforgettable weekend getaway in Hot Springs}

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 2.38.36 PM{April: Derby Party at Crystal Bridges}

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 4.46.13 PM{May: bought our first house!!!}

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 6.04.42 PM{June: vacationed in Gulf Shores + celebrated this beautiful couple’s marriage! #aldermansinalabama}

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.14.02 PM{July: took advantage of summer + floated the river}

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 12.14.18 PM{August: celebrated our new house by throwing the best housewarming party ever}

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.33.45 AM{September: ran our first 5k together}

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 4.51.37 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 11.43.29 AM{October: Halloween-ed it up as Lego sailor then Tom Cruise}

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 5.10.58 PM{November: second annual weekend getaway with our community group}

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{December: celebrated birthdays + holidays with my favorite people}

xo xo

[a catalog – my year in pictures] 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010


This is Christmas …

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 3.47.51 PMI shared a few weeks ago about the uniqueness of this Christmas and how challenging it is for me. I’ve been trying so hard to look all around for the love and joy and Christmas in the little things.

I go from feelings of sadness to happiness to contentment to anxiety nearly every day. I’ve been feeling like the month has been leading up to one big day that will surely be full of tears and discomfort. Then I realized Christmas isn’t about a day, it’s about a season, and I’ve had a damn good one thus far. As one of my favorite seasonal movies reminded me this weekend, Love Actually is All Around Us. 

This is Christmas … 

driving around with husband looking at Christmas lights, stopping for 20 minutes at one house enamored with a timed light show

volunteering at sharing + caring, putting together christmas gifts for families in need

spending time over dinner or margaritas with family, new and old

coming home surprised to find the christmas trees up without asking

enjoying a hot cocoa bar, talks about cat books + nerf gun wars at our CG christmas party

snuggled on the couch forcing husband to watch sleepless in seattle, and happy to see him enjoy it

listening to endless amounts of christmas music while cooking dinner

shopping for the perfect gift for my perfect friends and family

caroling on the square with my team from work + crying of laughter at how bad we are

shopping for the basic needs of others (socks, protein) + recognizing how much I have and how grateful I am

watching the first snowfall of the year like a little girl

being humbled by a sermon through the eyes of the wisemen

receiving christmas cards of my beautiful friends and their families from all across the country

xo xo


An Open Letter to my Husband on our 3rd Anniversary

Dear Husband,

I love you. Do you know how much I love you, day in and day out?

On our last anniversary, we spent an evening at dinner discussing what the next year would hold for us. It was such an exciting, joyous thing to dream about the future.

Well, the future came, and it wasn’t quite what we expected, in good ways and in bad. We bought a house. We lost a parent. We got promotions. We dealt with an illness of a close friend.

We couldn’t anticipate what the next year held, but I could anticipate one thing. There’s no one else I would rather go through any of it with than you.

That’s what makes a marriage. Not just enjoying the good times, loving each other and laughing with each other. But holding each other in the hurt and pain. Reassuring each other. Listening to each other. Praying for each other. Not necessarily understanding each other, but being there no matter what.

I watch our wedding video below, for surely the thousandth time, and I can remember our day so well. What I remember most is not how perfect the day was, but how excited I was to bind myself to you for life. To start our life together.

Well, we’re three years in, love, and I think we’re doing just fine.

Always and forever,
M


{the weekend ahead}

Oh the glorious three-day weekends. Memorial Day weekend in particular holds a special place in my heart, since three years ago this weekend I married my high school sweetheart. Last year we celebrated with a weekend getaway to Kansas City; this year we’re celebrating by enjoying a weekend in our new HOME. Even though I am always full of wanderlust and several months ago had grand plans of  going to Washington D.C. for Memorial Day weekend, I’m oh so content just staying home with my love.

My  T O – D O  L I S T for the weekend: 

Set up our ping-pong table for our impending summer tournaments.

Make these drool-inducing Lime-A-Rita Pops.

Hang photos – in our bedroom, entryway, living room, etc.

Finish my latest read, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Familiarize ourselves with the neighborhood on a long walk with pup.

Catch up on Game of Thrones.

Find our mailbox. (Seriously, this is a legitimate task)

Sleep in, X3.

Go on a stock-up trip to Walmart to fill our new refrigerator and pantry.

Take a bath in our oversized tub catching up on my magazines.

Visit one of our favorite breweries for an afternoon of sipping and relaxing.

xo xo


What I’ve Learned From Being a Homeowner in the First 7 Days

It’s an amazing, incredible, tumultuous, life-changing thing.

But let me back up first … we bought our first house!! It’s really amazing how mysteriously and perfectly God works. We had not planned on looking for a house at this time, but due to unforseen circumstances we began the search. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you the house we purchased is the very first house we looked at. Husband and I are opposites in a lot of ways, but we’re also alike in a lot of ways and one of those is our taste in design/decor/clothing, etc.

We had decided on a price range and several neighborhoods to look at, so one day we went driving around simply “window shopping” with mom. We ended up touring one house and loving the style, but it was out of budget and bigger than what we were looking for, so the realtor told us the house next door was just about to go on the market. We went in and it was literally love at first sight. It was the perfect size to grow into (4 bedrooms), a large backyard for our dog, open concept, hardwood floors, wrap-around porch, basically it couldn’t get any better than this.

The same time we were starting the house search, we were also exploring some other career opportunities that would take us out of state. You know those times when God is very clearly closing one door and opening another? This was one of those times. I truly believe the timing was not accidental and God was clearly telling us where he wants us for now. How awesome is it to have a God like that??

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 6.22.56 PM{our perfect home!}

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 6.02.39 PM

{first meal in our new house}

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{sneak peek of what will most definitely be one of our favorite rooms}

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{lounging on the porch watching the sunset}

7 things I’ve learned in my short time of being a new homeowner ….

1. The budget is in full effect. Being a homeowner is anything but cheap.
2. That feeling of coming home, to YOUR home, is indescribable.
3. For the first time in my life, I’m not thinking about spending money on clothes, but on furniture and decor.
4. Buying a home isn’t just about the home, but the surroundings – where’s the closest Walmart, what’s our new go-to fast food place, how long will it take me to get to work, etc.
5. The little things are ridiculously exciting, like having a garage to park in or hanging a photo in the perfect spot.
6. There’s no shame in stealing decorating or organizational ideas from Pinterest.
7. I officially feel like an adult – mortgages, mowing the lawn on saturdays and spending a paycheck on a refrigerator will do that to a person.

xo xo


Thankful.

I’m writing this post mostly for me. In no way am I trying to “humbly brag” about the amazing things in my life that I’m thankful for. Instead, I’m using this as a reminder to myself of how blessed I am even though it is so easy to forget.

Last year around this time I did daily posts about what I was thankful for each day, ranging from good food to clean sheets to “a busy August and a quiet September.” But this year I want to focus one thing I so easily take for granted: my job.

I have been at Walmart for a little over a year now. If you work at Walmart or know people who work at Walmart, one of the most common phrases people say about Walmart is that they get their moneys worth out of their associates, meaning it’s quite often long days, nights and weekends. We work hard for the money.

It’s often hard and stressful and frustrating, but as I’ve been looking back on my last year at Walmart I have been blessed in so many ways by this job. Now, I might have drank the kool-aid here, but bear with me. I’m not saying Walmart is the best company in the world to work for and I’m not saying I’ll work there my entire life, but I believe the experience I’ve gotten from one year of working there is unparalleled.

Let’s recap –

I’ve gotten to meet Drew Barrymore, Trey Songz, Kori Robertson and Steve Harvey. I will be meeting Garth Brooks and Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) next week.

I’ve gotten to see Miguel, Jill Scott and BEYONCE perform at Essence Festival, and Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Hugh Jackman and John Legend perform at Shareholders.

I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Cleveland, Cincinnati, West Palm Beach, Nashville and San Francisco – including spending a day at Facebook Headquarters, which was just as amazing as you’d think it is.

I LAUNCHED WALMART’S INSTAGRAM. I was given the opportunity and the support to develop the strategy and content to launch the hottest social channel for the Fortune 1 company. I will forever be thankful for that opportunity.

I’ve been more challenged than I ever have been and ever thought I would be, whether making presentations to senior executives or managing 21 women on a day to day basis.

But most importantly, I’ve built some incredible relationships. I truly love the people I work with every day, and I strive to make a positive difference in their life. I started a women’s prayer group on our floor that gives me so much hope every time we meet because the ladies are just so inspiring.

I could not be more thankful for where I am in my life right now and the job the Lord blessed me with a year ago. I have no clue what my future holds, but for now, I’m content.

xo xo


My Weekend Was:

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the opposite of last weekend

spending time with friends

a successful October girls happy hour

random, in a great way

finding a new nighttime hangout

celebrating our favorite brewery’s first birthday

touring Texans around Bentonville

eating lots and lots of tacos

beautiful

jumbling towers + blockus + more beer

excitement for a friend and her world tour

doing something for someone simply because it will make their day

relaxing on the couch with my old friends in the O.C.

xo xo


You’ve Got the Love I Need to See Me Through

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Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

Time after time I think “Oh Lord what’s the use?”
Time after time I think it’s just no good
‘Cause sooner or later in life, the things you love you lose
But you got the love I need to see me through

* * *
Happy second anniversary!
I love you, husband. Always & forever. xo

You can see a snapshot of our wedding in my post 5.28.11.