Wedding Wednesday: Mojito’s and Merriment Shower

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My mom has been blessed with a very special group of ladies as friends who are like second moms to me. This group of ladies have been throwing wedding showers for all of the daughters in this group for a few years now, and are now professionals. I was so excited when I got the invite to their “Mojito’s and Merriment” bridal shower in my honor.

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These ladies did not miss one detail. They truly went out of their way to incorporate our wedding colors and style into all of their decor. The flowers truly looked like they were done by a professional florist and the food was so amazing that I went back for thirds (#weddingdiet). They planned fun games that all of the guests participated in (with prizes for the winner) and the cutest parting gifts that included Ande’s Mints, my absolute favorite!

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photo 4What was really special was that my grandmother was able to make the trip down from Virginia to attend the shower. You can see where me and my mom get our shorty problems from. Also, my sister made the trip from Chicago and Matt’s mom and sister came up from Florida, which made the weekend that much better!

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photo 2A wedding tradition is that you keep all the bows from your showers and that acts as your “bouquet” during the wedding rehearsal. My talented friend Kathleen can seriously do it ALL. Look at what a great job she did with my bouquet…that later turned into a head piece.

photo 5I am so thankful for these beautiful women and their big hearts. You know the feeling when “thank you” doesn’t feel like enough? That is exactly how I feel about this shower. They put so much time and work into showering me and Matt, and we both feel so humbled by their, and everyone who attended, generosity. It was a great way to kick off the final countdown to #HappilyEverHelgeson!!!

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Windy City | Wisconsin | Whistling Straights | Whirlwind Weekend

Friday afternoon I hopped on a plane to Chicago, jumped on the Blue Line train, and met my dad, sister, and brother-in-law for a quick 36 hour getaway in the Windy City. My sister and I purchased tickets to the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights as a Fathers Day gift, which was this past weekend. Who knew Wisconsin is only 2 hours from Chicago??

On Friday night, we went and checked out my sister and brother-in-laws new condo they are moving into in a few weeks. It has awesome views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. I can’t wait to go back once they are all moved in. We had dinner at the rooftop restaurant in their new building and then ended the night with Whole Foods gelato and some Fireball and Pitbull.

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5:30am came very early Saturday morning, but I think we were all too excited to let it bother us. We drove the 2ish hours to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, passing through Milwaukee and some cornfields. I was very surprised to find that Wisconsin is actually really pretty.

We arrived at the tournament around 8:30am and my brother-in-law insisted I take a picture with my sisters golf clubs that happened to be in the trunk of the car. I think I’d be a perfect caddy if anyone’s looking (Heyyyy Rory).

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Whistling Straights is unlike any golf course I’ve ever been to, or seen on TV. My pictures, nor the TV broadcast, do the course justice. It is absolutely beautiful. The course is very hilly, and has Lake Michigan as the backdrop. Lake Michigan is so huge it looks almost like the ocean.

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We spent the first half of the morning walking the front nine, eating hot dogs, and getting our bearings. We found a nice seat in the grandstands on the 11th hole where we spent the majority of the afternoon watching the groups roll in. It is so fun to be able to see the players up close. You see them on TV so often that seeing them in “real life” is pretty interesting. I might have gotten a wink from Jason Day, just saying….

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And of course, no trip to Wisconsin would be complete without an order of Cheese Curds…

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We left the course around 6:00 that evening, feeling very grateful for the fun afternoon we had. We love you Dad, thank you for being such an amazing Father to us both!

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Q2 Goals: Revisited

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  • Book wedding photographer  So excited that the talented Angela Garbot is coming from the Windy City to be our wedding photographer!
  • Take engagement pictures – Because Angie lives in Chicago it was tough to schedule our engagement session, but happy to report those will be taken next weekend
  • Book honeymoon – Blah! Still no progress on this…
  • Order wedding invitations  Check!
  • Finish wedding website  Check! Just waiting on our engagement pictures before publishing it
  • Find a place for us to live This consumed most of the quarter, but we found an awesome place to live…more to come on that!
  • Read “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill – haven’t had much leisure time for reading, but this is still on the list of things to do…and trust me, we’re going to need all of the riches we can get once this wedding is over.
  • Clean out my closets Check! Moving will force you to do this (and will also make you want to sell everything you own!)
  • Plant herb garden – Didnt get around to this one, but now that we have a great porch, maybe this will happen
  • Sand and Repaint Kitchen Table Check! Blog post coming soon!
  • Go to a Hilliard class 4x a week Check! I have a love/hate relationship with that place, but I can definitely tell my hard work is paying off. In June I participated in their “Summer Sizzle” contest and went 5x a week.
  • Hike Crowder’s Mountain – After reading about the lady who fell off of Crowders Mountain and died, this goal was pushed to the bottom of the list.

Q1 Goals: Revisited

It’s crazy to thing 3 months have already come and gone! While I accomplished most things on my list, I did leave a few things outstanding that I will roll over to next quarter. Thanks for keeping me honest and accountable!

  •  Put $1,000 into savings each month Thankfully my annual bonus was pretty good this year and I was able to put all of that into savings along with my $1k a month too CHA-CHING!
  • Pay off remaining credit card balance (~$600)  I will never use a credit card again, I will never use a credit card again!!
  • Save an additional $360/month to pay off student loan early I should have used my bonus check for this, but….nahhh
  • Complete one month of Whole30; lose 5 pounds I would say I completed 60% of this goal. I was a a bit over halfway though the month when the engagement happened to W30 came to a screeching halt with all of the celebrations
  • Read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill – didn’t get a chance to read this
  • Volunteer 1x per month

January: My dad and I took my parents dog, Ellie, to visit a nursing home one Saturday morning. It is amazing the amount of joy one little fluff ball can bring into someones life. She is always on her best behavior and the perfect size to hop into someones lap. There is something about a dog that is so therapeutic. I also cherish the time that I get to serve with my dad. I am thankful for his kind heart and that he passed down the importance of giving back

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February: The Junior League of Charlotte has ‘adopted’ Reid Park Academy as our Cornerstone Project. Reid Park is a Pre-K-8, Title One, Community School in West Charlotte. There are eight neighborhoods that feed into Reid Park Academy where the median household incomes range from $7,460-$29,341. The Junior League has committed to a $1 million investment in Reid Park through 2016; $500,000 in funds and $500,000 of volunteer time.

I am an advisor to a group of amazing women who are in their first year in the League. Part of their new-member responsibilities included planning an event at Reid Park. My group did a fantastic job planning a day full of learning and fun surrounding black history month. The students learned about Phillip Emeagwali; an engineer, mathematician, computer scientist, and geologist. After the teaching, the students split into groups and were instructed to make the tallest structure they could using spaghetti noodles, tape, string, and a marshmallow. I was amazed out how ingenious the structures were. Kids have a great way of jumping in without over analyzing every detail. I loved my day at Reid Park Academy and think I might have had more fun than the kids did 😉

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March:  A few people from my company  volunteered at Urban Ministries. We met early and prepared lunch and then served it. Urban Ministries serves meals 7 days a week, and has two hot meals on Tuesdays and Fridays. They also have showers, telephones, mailboxes and provide rides to interviews, etc. They also provide drug and alcohol abuse counseling, job counseling, and have an art room where the ‘neighbors’ can be creative. The art is then sold and the neighbor keeps half, and the other half goes back into the program. The volunteer coordinator expressed to us that many of the neighbors who cycle through were simply dealt a bad hand, or an unexpected illness came through and wiped out all that they have. It really put into perspective how easy it is to lose everything. I did not know this organization existed but am so glad for all they are doing for the homeless population in Charlotte.

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  • Be more spiritual – 10 minutes of quiet time/devotion/meditation daily I have been forcing myself to get up 10 minutes earlier each day so I can focus and set the intention for the day. Waking up at the last minute and rushing to get out the door started the day with a frazzled feel. I love my quiet time in the morning before I go out in the world. I either read a devotion from “Jesus Calling”, or visit the app/website “She Reads Truth”. I’ve also downloaded a few free meditation Podcasts which I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would.
  • Find a church home and attend regularly After a lot of searching, Matt and I finally feel like we’ve found a church home. We attended a very large church here in Charlotte, but never felt truly connected. After attending Watershed on a whim (we received a postcard in the mail!) we were hooked. After only attending twice we had already jumped right in and have joined a small group/Bible study. There is something about Watershed that is so authentic and pure. It is a lot smaller than what we were used to so there is truly a community feel. You can tell that you are not just a number and that everyone there is valued.
  • Explore MBA programs and/or SPHR certification I attended an info session for the University of South Carolina MBA program. The program sounds great, but with all that is involved with planning a wedding, this will unfortunately have to be put on the back burner.
  • Send 3 random notes/call friends or family I’ve lost touch with The engagement was my big news of the quarter {year} so that gave me a good reason to call or get in touch with family & friends I don’t always keep up with.
  • Complete a social media detox for 7 days I actually did this twice since I enjoyed the first round so much. In order to completely detox, I had to actually delete the apps off of my phone and iPad. I know this is sad, but the habit of rolling over first thing in the morning and checking Instagram was too tempting. The apps have all  been re-downloaded, but it was certainly nice to take a break from the constant checking and refreshing.

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This time last week I was laying on the beach drinking as many cocktails as the all-inclusive resort would allow. Me, my mom and sister did the 52 week money challenge in 2014 with the end goal of using the almost $1,400 to go on a girls trip. We decided Mexico in late January would help our seasonal affective disorder blues so we booked a trip for a long weekend. With the engagement frenzy, blizzards and an upcoming birthday, this trip was just what the doctor ordered!

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We left early Thursday morning and flew direct from Charlotte into Cancun. The flight was less than 2 hours and easy breezy. A quick twenty-minute cab ride from the airport and we were at our resort for the week, The Grand Park Royal.

We got up early every morning and indulged in a hearty breakfast and then spent the remainder of the days laying by either the pool or the beach. Feeling the sunshine and seeing the most magnificent turquoise water was good for the soul. Each night we got dressed up and had dinner at one of the resorts three restaurants.

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Singing karaoke has been on my mothers bucket list, so we figured what better place to cross that off the list than in Mexico where we would never have to see anyone ever again. All day long we had talked up our performance to all of the “friends” we had met at the resort. We wanted to ensure that we would have fans present. Because of the rain the karaoke was moved from a rooftop bar to a dark basement conference room, u-shaped table and projection screen and all; clearly not the optimum environment for stars like ourselves. The first song that was sang was Evanescene followed by slow song after boring song after momentum killer. We knew we needed to sing a crowd favorite that would get people out of their seats, so we decided on “Shout”. There were only two microphones so Whitney and I were on lead vocals, while mom took the role of “hype man”.

To say we bombed would be an extreme understatement. At one point I saw a man put his head in his hands and shake it in disgust. I couldn’t even look into the crowd because of all the terrified faces I saw. It was like performing in front of a group of blind and deaf geriatric patients. There was no interaction and there weren’t people dancing in the aisles as I had imagined it would go down in my head. Apparently these people had never been to a wedding before…Whitney and I even went as far as to get on the ground during “a little bit softer now” and that didn’t even win the crowd over (and I imagine that’s not an easy task with a broken foot and large boot). Special shout-out to the two men who at least clapped along and humored us.  I’ll save you the horror of the entire 5 minute video, but here is a small snip-it.

 

We felt terrible that Sandy’s karaoke debut went down in flames, but there’s always next time girl!! We had a few more drinks and then decided the best pick-me-up was to go back to the room where we proceeded to indulge in room service, including an entire chocolate cake. Isn’t the point of an all-inclusive to be as gluttonous as possible?

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 We licked our wounds and got up the next morning ready for another fun day (we may have all worn hats and glasses as disguises) but there was no reason for us to feel down. In our minds, the performance was amazing and that’s all that matters. We ended the trip with a private yoga session and massage on the beach. What an incredibly relaxing and centering hour.

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Coming back to reality (and 30 degree temps) was not ideal, but we all felt so refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again. I am so thankful for the four days in paradise with “Hewitt Amigas” and feel certain this will now become a yearly tradition!

27 Lessons on Turning 27

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Today I turn 27. Wow, TWENTY. SEVEN.  There’s no way that I’ve been on this Earth that long, is there? Most days I still feel like I’m 15 and wonder who trusted to me to live on my own and keep myself alive.  Two years ago I sat down and came up with 25 lessons I had learned over the past 25 years of life, and then added a 26th last year. Each year I go back and read them and they are all still so true. I decided that each year I would add another lesson that I had learned throughout the prior year.  Over my 27 years of life, I have learned a lot of lessons;  some of which came fairly easy, and some were learned in excruciating painful, long and difficult ways.  All in all, I am thankful for everything I have been through and  for everyone  (good and bad) who has taught me life lessons along the way!

1. Family Matters Most: This is first for a reason. At the end of the day, your family is all that matters. I have been blessed with the most amazing parents (who have taught me 25 million good lessons) and a wonderful sister that I often take for granted. It seems we often take  our anger and frustration out on those who love us the most, and I am guilty of this a lot. My family has taught me that friends will come and go, but you can always rely on family to be there for you.

2. If you don’t know something, ask!: I used to be really shy and awkward when it came to asking questions. But I quickly learned this lesson at the Harris Teeter when I had to start shopping for myself.  Mom is not always near her phone when you’re scouring the aisles for fig or cumin. Sometimes you have to just ask. This is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned. There’s A LOT I don’t know, and there’s a large chance someone else was wondering the same thing. I’ve never been embarrassed once finding out the answer.

3. Always include the date: My Grandmother always included the date on everything. And my Dad also passed this lesson down to me. You’ll be glad you did when you want to look back on that diary entry about your middle school crush, or NSYNC concert from 1998. Sadly, our memories will eventually fail us.

4. Handwritten notes go a long way: I once had a lady who I interviewed with tell me that I was the only person who wrote her a handwritten thank-you note after the interview, and that gave me a competitive edge of everyone else. Handwritten letters are a dying breed, and mean a lot more than an email.

5. AAA cuts you off after 9 calls a year: My sister and I learned this lesson the hard way. Don’t lock your keys in the car 3 times in one day if you expect your membership to last an entire year.

6. Don’t fight fire with fire: I can’t say that I’ve totally conquered this, but am working hard on it. It’s amazing how much a fight can escalate when you respond with yelling anger. I’ve noticed that if you sit in silence during an argument, the other person has no other choice but to calm down. Man, I wish I had learned this a long time ago!

6.  Positive thinking really does work: I read the book “The Secret” a few years ago, and think it’s one of the greatest philosophies I’ve heard of. The Secret teaches that every thought we have can actually will something into fruition. Good and bad, I’ve seen this work in real life. Ask for what you want and then believe you will get it.

8. Heartbreak sucks: Whether you’re 15 or 22, heartbreak sucks. I have had a broken heart that lasted a few weeks, and one that lasted a few years. But the good news is that it does eventually heal. There were times when I thought I would never get over it, but I now look back and laugh. Wounds eventually heal, and you come to find that you’re stronger and better because of it.

9. Always floss: There was a picture in my dentist’s office that said “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”, and I guess that’s accurate. My mom has been relentlessly telling me this for as long as I can remember. I wish I was better at it, and am trying to keep up with it. It’s always embarrassing getting called out at the dentist for not doing it.

10. Like a variety of music: I pride myself on my diverse iTunes selection. From The Allman Brothers to Lil Wayne, Trisha Yearwood to Foo Fighters, there is something on there for everyone. Liking many genres of music makes you more culturally diverse, plus you have an appropriate playlist for any occasion.

11. Bangs are the devil: I have made a strict covenant with myself that my daughters will never have bangs. Never. I look back on baby pictures and wonder what in the world Sandy was thinking. The worst part is that the bangs haunted me into Elementary School. Not only do the look horrible, but they are a bear to grow out.

12. Create a budget and stick to it: I am so grateful that I learned this lesson early on. There are so many people who are in debt because of bad financial decisions they  made when they were my age. I am glad I took the time to educate myself on savings, retirements and investing. I know one day I’ll look back and thank myself for being so diligent.

13. Trust in God: Along with family, God is the only person who will love me despite bad choice, bad bangs, and a multitude of other shortcomings. As hard as it is to remember and follow, the ultimate plan is up to Him. He has this whole life thing taken care of, I just have to trust that he is in charge. He knows what he’s doing, and he has my best interest at heart.

14. There, Their, They’re: I can thank my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Keziah, for this invaluable life lesson. There is nothing worse than poor grammar. I am so glad I learned this lesson early on!

15. Get to the ocean at least once a year: Growing up we would spend a mandatory week at the beach each summer. Although it’s tough to take a full week off, and to schedule a week that’s good for everyone, I still try to get there. I used to have the flexibility to get there more often, but am thankful for when I do get there now. Living three hours from the coast and having gracious friends who are willing to share their beach houses with you is very lucky situation to be in. There is something so peaceful and serene about the beach that recharges your soul.

16. Wear Perfume: I used to be the person who would buy nice perfume, but never wear it. Or buy a great candle, but never burn it.  What was I saving it for? Wear your nice jewelry and underwear, sleep on the good sheets, use the good china. Enjoy it every day, don’t wait for special occasions.

17.  70 °F is warm enough to wear shorts: Apparently growing up, my sister and I wanted to wear shorts to school every day (not really sure why?). So my parents implemented a clever rule. If it was 70 degrees or warmer, we could wear shorts. Oddly enough, I  still use this rule today as a standard of what the temperature is. If its below 70, it must be cold out, and if it’s over 70, it’s going to be a nice day.

18.  Life is not a reality show: But I sometimes secretly wish it was… Drama and theatrics are for high school and Bravo. No, camera crews are not following you, and no, you don’t have a hair and makeup team. As I grow older, I’ve realized that petty drama is not entertaining, and adds nothing positive to friendships. I’d prefer to have a few close friends in my circle, then a lot of people I don’t trust.

19. Never mess with a swan or her baby: In High School I took a jog around the pond in my parents neighborhood. A quick jog that ended in bloodshed. Come to find, mother swans are extremely protective and won’t tolerate anyone near their babies.  Lesson learned. I’ll never forget how large the circumference of that swans neck was, or the Homeowners Association telling my father that it was a federal offense to shoot a swan after he threatened.

20. Hot dogs and salami cause cancer: Two of my favorite foods, of course. My Mother is the healthiest eater I know, and as a breast cancer survivor, she is very particular about the foods she eats. She has drilled it into our minds that processed foods are toxic. It’s taken a while to finally accept this, but the woman has a good point. There can’t be anything redeeming about ingesting chemicals.

21.  Google can answer anything: There has never been any question that I’ve had that Google hasn’t been able to answer. I’d love to know the average times I visit the site per day. My guess would be around 100.  It’s the quickest and most direct way to find any tidbit of knowledge you’d ever want to know. I praise the mastermind who was behind this ingenious idea.

22. The first pancake always turns out bad: Just accept it, make another, and move on.

23.  Know a few fun facts & keep up with current events: Read or watch the news daily. It gives you a leg up if you actually know what’s going on in the world. People who are informed and have an opinion are extremely interesting. You never know where a good conversation will lead you. Dinner and business meetings with strangers are awkward. Have a few fun facts up your sleeve for these events.

24.  Fall in love and dance: Falling in love with someone is the greatest joy a human can experience. I am so thankful that I have been able to experience this already at such a young age.  It is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that you’re loved by someone else. Dance. Dance a lot. Even it’s just a slow dance in the kitchen after dinner.

25.  Some good comes from all bad: In 5th grade I was assigned a project to interview my grandparents. At the time, it didn’t mean anything. Now that my grandparents are deceased, it means everything.  I vividly remember asking my Grandfather what quote would sum up his life, and he said, “some good comes from all bad“. Ain’t that the truth! I fully believe that every life event is a either a blessing or a lesson!

26.  The power of positive thinking: I have always been a psychology nerd and truly believe “what you think about, you bring about”. But this year more than ever I have seen first hand how showing gratitude for the things you enjoy in your life brings about more of those opportunities. When I look around most of the things I have now were once among the things I had only hoped for. Happy people are fun to be around and I am making a concerted effort to be joyful, energetic and fulfilled.

27.  You can teach an old dog new tricks: There was a point in time where I thought I knew everything (sorry mom and dad!). It’s ironic that as I get older I realize I know less and less than I thought I did. This realization compounded by the fact that I’m not getting any younger, gave me a swift kick in the pants to get out there and learn new things! I learned how to sew, shoot skeet, write in calligraphy, shag dance and how to play tennis. You never know when your health will start to decline, so make today the day you get out there and try something new!

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The GREATEST day ever!

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 was the GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE! Matt asked me to be his WIFE!!!!

It all started around 9:00am that morning…I had planned to go to my tennis lesson at noon that day. Matt asked me if I wanted to come work out at the gym in his apartment building before my lesson. A few of these things sounded odd to me…1) why would I want to work out…especially on the weekend? 2) Why was Matt awake so early on Saturday?  I didn’t put too much thought behind it and begrudgingly said “yes” since I knew I would soon have to be in a bathing suit for our upcoming Mexico trip.

When I arrived at Matt’s building, he told me to come up to his apartment. He still needed to get changed for the gym. While he was doing that, I was going on and on about shoe polish of all things! In typical Matt fashion, he was taking his sweet time getting out the door. I finally asked “are you ready??” because time was ticking and we weren’t going to have much time to work out if I still planned to get to tennis. Looking back on it now, my question of “are you ready” was very symbolic. Matt said that when I asked him that, he was thinking in his head. “oh, you have no idea!”. We left Matt’s apartment to walk down to the gym and were down the hallway when he realized he forgot to grab a water bottle. He ran back inside to get it. Next thing I knew, he was calling my name from inside the apartment. I thought to myself “what in the world does he need my help for?”.  I opened the door and when I did, I saw him down on one knee with an open ring box. I instantly started crying and so did he. He could barely get his words out and I was already sobbing. I ran over to him and hugged him for at least two straight minutes. After telling me some of the sweetest things I’d ever heard, he asked me if I would marry him and I proclaimed YES! He finally said, “WELL! Do you want to see the ring??”.  I was so caught up in moment I didn’t even remember the ring I had been so concerned about. We were both shaking so bad that getting the ring on my finger took some work.

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The ring is the most perfect thing I have ever seen. The most special part about it is that Matt designed it himself. What started as a sketch on a scrap piece of paper turned into the most elegant, classy, and “perfectly me” ring. Just knowing that he put so much love, research and effort to make it perfect for me makes it my most prized possession.

We were still in shock, but couldn’t contain our happiness. We immediately called and FaceTime’d all of our family members and our grandparents. We were both in tears and could not stop shaking with excitement.  Matt then told me that his parents were on their way to Charlotte from Florida and that my parents would be coming over later as well.  He had planned a fun afternoon for just the two of us to enjoy before everything got crazy. We first went to Common Market to get some champagne. This was our first date spot. Next we went to Blackfinn, where we met. We sat in the exact same seats and ordered the same drinks we had almost three years ago. We told pretty much everyone who would listen that we just got engaged. We were so happy it was hard to contain it.

After our afternoon together, we went back to Matt’s apartment where is mom and dad were preparing a feast. His mom had made all of his favorite foods, brought roses and put pictures of us up around the apartment. My parents got there around 5pm and we were all enjoying the celebration. At one point, my dad said, “I wish Whitney and Bob could have been here”, and POOF! Out they came from Matt’s bedroom. It was the second most shocking moment of the day! Matt had called my parents and sister the day before to ask their permission. As soon as my sister found out, she booked flights from Chicago for her and Bob. No one knew they were coming, not even my parents. When I had Facetime’d them earlier in the morning, they said they were at “brunch”. But they were really at a restaurant in the Charlotte airport! We ended up staying at Matt’s house until almost midnight playing games and celebrating the big news.

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I must have woken up at least ten times throughout the night to check my nightstand to make sure my ring was still there and that it wasn’t all a dream.

The next day was Matt’s moms birthday. Bless her for sharing her day with us! We all met up at Vivace for brunch and mimosas. Coincidentally, Vivace was where our second date (or first if you ask Matt) took place. It was a great celebration and there were many tears when we said our goodbyes to them. Words cannot describe how much it meant to me that they made the trip to NC to share in this special time with us.

To say we are on Cloud 9 would be an understatement. A week and a half later I still feel like I am beaming. I never knew a happiness like that existed. Of course I knew I always wanted to spend the rest of my life with MRH; but something about it feels so different now that I know I will be. Knowing that when we’re 85 and old, he will still be by my side makes me the happiest girl in the world. Our family and friends have made this special time in our lives unforgettable. I can’t count the amount of times we’ve both said how lucky we are. It’s so amazing the support and love that we feel.

When I was 11 years old I attended a Christian summer camp called Doe River Gorge. It was there that the idea of “praying for your future husband” was introduced. I had never thought about that concept before. But over the last 16 years I would get giddy thinking about it. I remember lying in bed at night as a middle-schooler wondering who he was, or where he was, or what he was doing. I always trusted that God was working behind the scenes to make my perfect match and that he would bring him into my life at the exact right moment. All of my dreams and all of my prayers became a reality on January 17th when Matt asked me to be his forever. The love we share is effortless and I’m so thankful God’s plan was immeasurably more than I could have ever dreamed. Without a doubt, I am the luckiest!

And in case you’re wondering how I felt when I woke up the next morning…

Blue & White Thanksgiving Tablescape

My grandmother passed away when I was in the 8th grade, but I have vivid memories of having Sunday dinner at her house in Virginia. We would all sit in the exact same seats and have the same meal, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was the sweetest and I wish I would have had more time with her as an adult because I know there was a lot more to her than I ever got to know. Besides the exquisite butter beans and mashed potatoes, I remember her blue and white china that we would eat off of. When my grandfather eventually passed, my dad and his brothers divided up their belonging and then sold what they didn’t want to keep. Unfortunately, as an 18 year old, I never thought to ask my dad to keep her plates for me. Fast-forward to two years ago when I decided I had to have that china. There was a small chance that one of my uncles kept it which is when the investigation started. There were emails, texts and phone calls and then eventually tracking down an ex-wife, but unfortunately the search came up empty. Although I didn’t have my grandmothers personal china, I knew I could honor her memory (and mine) by finding something similar.

If you’ve ever searched for blue and white china, you’ll find there are many different brands and patterns out there. Most have an Asian motif, but I specifically remember my grandmothers having historical scenes on them.

After scouring antique shops, estate sales and yard sales, I finally found the version she had; Shaffordshire Liberty Blue china. It turns out, my grandmother purchased the china using S&H green stamps; which was a program popular from the 1930s to the 1980s that allowed consumers to collect stamps from the grocery store, gas station, dry cleaners, etc. and then redeem them for items. Just knowing that my grandmother tirelessly saved for her set makes me love them even more.

This past year I completed my set of 12 dinner plates. I still have a few more salad plates to go, but I’m almost there. I’ve been to antique stores from Concord, NC to Alabama and it has been such a fun adventure for my mom and me to collect. Since my set was recently completed, I knew I wanted to use them for my Thanksgiving Tablescape this year. Typically, I’m in charge of the deviled eggs…and that’s about it. So, my mom was pleasantly surprised when I asked to take over the décor for the event.

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The blue and white plates served as a great neutral for the palate I was going with, but wanted to add some pops of color as well. I used gold and magenta for accent colors and to create a modern look to balance out the “traditionalness” of the the plates. The magenta napkins were $7 for 14 napkins, so I knew at such a steal I could throw them away after the dinner and be fine with it. To personalize the napkins, I ordered heat transfer “H’s” and “S’s” from Surcee Monogram Shop and ironing them on was a breeze (AND they stayed on after the napkins were washed).

I also asked my family to take a silhouette picture of themselves and then turned them into these personalized place settings using some cheap wooden frames from Michael’s and gold spray paint. {silhouette tutorial here}

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For the centerpiece I bought two fake pumpkins from Michael’s, spray painted one a glossy blue and left the other orange. For the blue pumpkin, I added a large “H” vinyl decal and an assortment of navy polka dots to the orange pumpkin, again from Surcee. I cut a hole in both pumpkins and stuffed with some fall colored flowers.

I added some other small pumpkins, fall foliage from the yard, and lots of tea lights and candles to add to the ambiance. Overall, I am very happy with how my tablescape came together. It was such a fun project to work on and I love that in incorporated old and new, modern and traditional!

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Q1 2015 Goals

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At the beginning of each year I like to make a list of all of things that I would like to change or achieve in that year. Truth be told, by March or April, my goals have fallen by the wayside and I’m back to my Chick-fil-a breakfasts and obnoxious Target spending habit. I recently read this article that said making 90 day goals  can help you to be more successful in keeping your resolutions. The reason? Most people tend to slack off when they think they have an entire year to accomplish something. If you set goals in smaller increments it helps you to laser-focus on what you want and then you can do quarterly progress evaluations and reset when necessary. I hope that by publishing my list publically it will help me stay accountable. So, without further ado, here is my Q1 2015 list of goals:

  •  Put $1,000 into savings each month
  • Pay off remaining credit card balance (~$600)
  • Save an additional $360/month to pay off student loan early
  • Complete one month of Whole30; lose 5 pounds
  • Read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
  • Volunteer 1x per month
  • Be more spiritual – 10 minutes of quiet time/devotion/meditation daily
  • Find a church home and attend regularly
  • Explore MBA programs and/or SPHR certification
  • Send 3 random notes/call friends or family I’ve lost touch with
  • Complete a social media detox for 7 days

I’m Baaaack!

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Wow – how has it been SEVEN MONTHS since I last posted? Time has a funny way of getting away from you. Things at work really started to pick up towards the beginning of summer and I was traveling almost every other week. When I was in town, I was trying to catch up on everything I had neglected, and sadly the ol blog did not make the list of top priorities. Between Matt and I, we had 15 weddings to attend last year as well. Most weekends were spent traveling throughout the southeast to parties, showers, or weddings, and then spending Sunday’s recovering and being bummed the hamster wheel of life started again the next day. The reason I started my blog was so that I would have a place to record what was happening in my life (and because my parents and grandmother are avid readers). I know one day when I’m old and gray and in the nursing home, I’ll be glad I can look back and remember how awesome life was. I resolve to be better about keeping up with it in 2015!

Oh what a year 2014 was! We kicked off the year by spending my 26th birthday in a castle in Slovenia and skiing the Alps in Switzerland (not sure how Matt plans to top that this year…).

I knew I wanted to use the year to soak up and learn the most I could. My motto was to be the best version of myself that I could be. I learned how to sew and shoot skeet. I took calligraphy lessons and somehow roped Matt into taking an 8-week shag dancing course, which was more fun than I can even describe. We were the youngest by at least thirty years. The dance hall was straight out of 1970’s Myrtle Beach. After class, the “club” opens it’s doors to it’s “members” for Open Dance Night, and most Thursday’s we found ourselves stumbling out of there at closing time after a few too many vodka soda’s.

I also started taking tennis lessons, which is by far is the best part of every week. I’m no Sharapova, but there is something about it that is addicting and I hope I continue to get better. I also started seeing a personal trainer three mornings a week. I’m not sure what’s worse…the 5:30am wake-up call, or the burpees. He pushes me to my limit and has taught me I’m much stronger than I give myself credit for.

Along with the 15 weddings, I was able to see my college best friends for two Delta reunions, went to USC, Panther and Virginia Tech football games, tried a new winery and a hipster bike riding club. We took our annual 4th of July trip to Chicago and the Hewitt’s and Stanton’s traveled to Jacksonville for the first annual “July Jacksonville Jubilee” at the Helgeson’s.  To top it all off, a selfie with Al Roker.

2014 was, with ease, the best year of my life. I am well aware I am blessed beyond measure and am looking forward to the opportunities that 2015 brings!

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