Friday, May 30, 2014

My *2014* Summer Reading List

One of my summer goals is to read - for fun!  I used to be a reader, not as intensely as my sister or my sister in law, but I enjoyed good books and made time for them in my life. Even in law school when I literally read all day long, I would find simple fun novels and read a chapter or two before bed. I found I slept better with stories in my head, not case law! Sadly, once life gets busy, reading is the first thing I let go.  When I was working so much this winter, I would come home, watch one episode of TV then drift off to sleep!  Additionally, marriage has limited my reading because I spend a lot of my "down time" with D, watching TV, catching up, taking an evening walk. Seriously, I have probably read only 5 books total since we got married! But, life and marriage has slowed down and I am excited to dive back into reading...which is perfect because for some reason, summertime signals reading to me. Maybe it's based on school traditions of assigned reading or the fact that lots of travel occurs during the summertime which lends plenty of time for reading. Perhaps its the fact the sticky thick summer heat makes other activities seem too demanding so the solution is escaping with a book in an air conditioned living room!

Reading for leisure really is the ULTIMATE pastime for so many reasons - challenging, enjoyable, an escape!  Not only is a good book enjoyable, it's practical -- It can be carried around and enjoyed on a part bench, the metro, lunch break or curled up in bed.  Allowing someone else's words to create ideas and paint images in your own mind is challenging and educational, causing you to think of new people, places, circumstances and viewpoints! Finally, when your own life is tough and you need encouragement or escape, reading someone else's words can provide the comfort and rest that you need.

I am excited about my reading goals for Summer 2014: I imagine beach bags full of new chick lit to devour by the pool and the scent of chlorine and sunscreen pouring out of the books when I pick them back up at home. I envision thumbing through pages of an exciting read while sipping coffee or a cocktail on the front porch (FYI, I don't have a porch or patio, just patio envy, so Saturday morning porch reading isn't likely going to happen....). I picture lying on a quilt in a grassy park with D studying for his next licensing exam and me curled up beside him, nose in a book, learning about a new topic or experiencing some character's life. I anticipate curling up in bed with a good book, on top of the sheets, on a sticky July night in our tiny 650 square foot apartment with fans blasting and the sound of hot summer rain outside.

Truthfully, I know my summer reading fantasies are a bit dramatic, but I truly am thrilled to take time to enjoy some good books over the next few months!

Here's my Summer Reading List--- in categories for YOUR  my convenience and enjoyment (What can I say? this girl loves a good list!) I wanted to cover a range of topics (political, religious, nonfiction, decorating, novels!) Also, the list was supposed to be 15 books, but honestly, I couldn't pick which one to eliminate, so 16 it is! I'd love to get through all 16, but I am realistic. You never know what curve balls life will throw you, so my realistic goal is 10 books - and I am almost finished with my first (Divergent)

Christian Encouragement

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

* I read Ann Voskamp's blog sometimes and she is such a talented writer -- using words 
to encourage and uplift and point others to Christ. So, I know I will LOVE her book!

Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

*This book is about learning to deal with emotions, so its particularly applicable
 to ladies (D is probably glad I am reading this book, ha!) It has been 
quite popular and it's already downloaded on the
 family kindle account, so it should be an encouraging read.

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller

*I started this book a few years ago, but life got busy and I never finished it.  
I enjoyed what I read, so I am taking a second crack at it!


The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

* A Travel Memoir about Paris AND Food? Um, yes please!


11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative by Paul Kengor

*For those that know me outside of blog land, does this actually surprise you?


Divergent by Veronica Roth

*Yes, I know, I am way late to the band wagon! I am 
already halfway through and I love it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

*Tween Fiction -- Who cares? It got RAVE reviews! And maybe 
I can finish it in time to still see the movie in theaters!

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

*I needed to include a little Mississippi Writing on my list.  Natchez is D's 
hometown and local writer Iles is very entertaining, so I look 
forward to jumping into this southern novel.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

*Raise your hand if you grew up on Gilmore Girls or love Parenthood! 
Me Me Me! Well, Lauren Graham is apparently more than
 an actress. She is also an aspiring author!

The Right Thing by Amy Conner

*This is a coming of age story set in Jackson, MS. Guess what? I came of age
 in Jackson that guarantees I will love this book, right?

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 

* This book got great reviews....and it was already on the family kindle account, so
 it seemed like a no brainier to add this to my list!

Non Fiction

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

*This was on the bestseller list for MONTHS....non fiction isn't always 
entertaining, but everyone loves it, and it was free to me on the family kindle account!)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

*I love THE MINDY PROJECT on Fox, so I look forward to 
Mindy Kaling's clever humor on paper!

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

*What a motivational young lady - child activist, shot by the Taliban! 


Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

*A compilation of stories on food, family and community (I support all three!) 
Plus each chapter has a recipe attached.  The blog world has gone crazy 
over this book, so I can't wait to dive in (next week on my vaca!)

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

*This is another book that the world wide web has given a lot of 
attention -- tips from a popular design blogger about decorating in a 
messy, not so perfect world!  We both work, live in 650 square feet and don't have a 
ton of money so I want our house to be beautiful but homey and still look 
stylish despite imperfections! It's a book full of bright colorful pictures so I 
ordered a hard copy (as opposed to Kindle) and am eager for it to arrive from Amazon!

If I have time....  
(which let's be honest....16 is pushing it, so it's doubtful that I get to 
these books before Fall 2014, but even so, I am listing 
the "runners up" for my 2014 reading list!)

Allegiant and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (might as well finish the series! 
My friend said that once I read one, I will want to read them all...
I am halfway through Divergent and I agree! Plus both are 
already downloaded on the Kindle account!)

I Thought it Was Just Me by C. Brene Brown

Sarah's Key by Kristin Scott Thomas (Everyone seems to love this 
book and I already have a copy due to the shared kindle account)

Eight Twenty Eight by Larissa and Ian Murphy (Eight Twenty Eight 
is about this sweet married couple and it would be on my summer reading 
list except it is not being released until Labor 
Day Weekend.  That's OK, I will just read it this fall!)

The Paris Wife  by Paula McLain (Also a popular book I have yet to 
read which is already on the Kindle)

Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjiian (also already 
on the Kindle, thanks family!)

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (I love Tim Keller and 
this is one of his recent books which I have yet to read-- and 
guess what? It's on the Kindle!)

So - there you have it: my summer reading list....a mix of fiction, nonfiction, educational and just plain fun.  What about y'all? What books are on your summer reading list? (Seriously, I would love suggestions for the future!)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

9 Reasons You Should Have Single Friends

This weekend, D and I enjoyed a much needed weekend  getaway with some of our amazing friends. We enjoyed sunny beach days, cocktails, a shrimp boil and lots of laughs and catching up. On this beach trip, D and I were the "token married couple" as we have been many times in the past year.  And, although we would always love to meet a few more married couples, having so many great single friends is a blast!

I must admit, I am naturally drawn to hanging out with singles because I only recently got married, so I still relate to the good and bad aspects of singleness. I also remember what it felt like when some married folks didn't want to hang out with single folks anymore (and how much I adored my married friends who maintained solid friendships with me), so I think that makes me extra cautious about entering into that "marrieds only" group. But, in general, I think many married folks drift away from single friendships - either by choice or circumstance or convenience - and honestly, those folks are missing out because singles make GREAT friends.

9 Reasons you should have single pals

(1) Singles are more flexible with their free time.  First off, notice that I didn't claim that singles were less busy, just a bit more flexible.  As a single person, I was busier than I am as a married woman, BUT now I have to account for two people's schedules, so I'm less flexible.  As a single, I was able to invite friends over for wine or meet up for last minute dinner plans of grab a bottle of wine and take it to a married friend's house to drink and talk while the kids slept. I didn't always have time, but when I did have time, I was usually up for anything. Single friends are a great blessing because if you need to change the date of dinner plans due to your husband's work dinner or switch your plans from girls night out to girls night in due to sick kids or have a last minute free evening, single friends are typically flexible and accommodating.

(2) Singles are service oriented. Now that I am married, the first person I go to with a problem is my husband. I am glad to have that built in support system. As a single, I also had a support system - a community of (mostly single) Christian women (and men). These folks served as my local family and were willing to care for, serve and encourage me in numerous ways.  We didn't have our own spouses and kids to invest in yet, so we spent our time serving and loving each other.  Single friends will drop what they are doing to help you move, bring you a meal if you are sick, go out to celebrate your promotion or new job, take you  to the hospital, be your shoulder to cry on after a break up, etc.  Singles also use their extra time to volunteer or become involved in ministries.  They throw baby showers and wedding showers and bring you gifts and food when you give birth or have surgery. Today's singles get a lot of accusations about selfishness and an unwillingness to grow up and honestly, I think its an unfair and untrue attack. Most singles I know invest in their community and their friends' lives in amazing ways.  When used wisely, singleness lends a lot of time towards service and concern for others.

(3) Singles represent an important part of the Body of Christ.  I think one of the biggest reasons to get to know singles in your community is because singles are a part of Christian community.  It is important to know people with a different background, race, gender and yes, even marital status! Not only are we called to love all types of believers, diversity is beneficial because singles add different perspectives (see 4)

(4) Singles bring a different perspective and wisdom on many issues.  On a lot of topics- work, faith, decorating, exercise, politics - singles don't differ that much from their married counterparts.  But, when it comes to specific challenges, singles have a lot of wisdom to add. Christian singles have a lot to add on faith during times of waiting, making friends and building community during adulthood, living with disappointments, finding ways to plug into the church, etc. Find yourself facing a big move and terrified of making new friends? Ask a single friend for tips. Waiting on a pregnancy and needing someone to talk to and pray for you? Single gals can relate to the ups and downs of waiting and will actively listen and pray for you!

(5) I'm about to ruffle some feathers, but quite frankly, singles are more fun and social.  I was more fun as a single and luckily I still have a lot of young single friends to keep me fun and social.  When I want social interaction, I can spend time with friends or time with my husband (or both) -- having this option is quite a blessing, but it is easy to just rely on your spouse for your social interaction and not plan nights out with each other or others! Singles don't have the built in marital buddy, so they are always being social and planning outings, parties, trips. Married folks plan fun events too, but they don't do it as often as single folks do. That's why its great to have single friends who are always suggesting new exciting things to do!

(6) Single friends are still the same cool people they are always were. Singles have not changed at all since you got married. Marital status doesn't change the type of people they are! If you are recently married and never see your single friends anymore, shame on you. Seriously, these are still the fun people you once hung out with on a weekly they are cool folks! You may not see them as often, but keep on hanging out with such cool folks!

(7) Due to singleness, you can now have friendships with members of the opposite gender with no pressure!  Don't misread this, you do not need to have one on one intimate relationships with someone of the opposite sex when one party is married. However, one of my favorite things about my friends in DC is that I met most of them after I got married. So, when D and I hang out with a good male friend, it is a cross gender friendship free from worry or analysis. I'm not flirting with him, hoping for more, trying to catch his attention.  I am not worrying if our friendship has other men thinking I am not available. I am not having to try to read his signals and let him down easily if I am not interested. We are just friends and I am free to tease, converse with, pester him about who he is dating with no worries! D feels the same way about several of our gal pals.

(8) Single friends provide you with an opportunity to minister.  It's easy to just invite married couples over for dinner or cookouts or game nights. It's the right ratio of men to women. It ensures that both spouses have someone to talk to and it's fun to relate to someone else in the same stage of life. But, as I have already stated, Singles are a lot of fun and have a different perspective to offer. Friendship with single adults also gives you the chance to minister to them.  You can ensure he or she doesn't sit alone at church, you can include a single at holidays when he or she might not have plans, you can introduce a single friend to another single person you know, you can just kindly listen to your single friend's stresses, you can send a single guy home with leftovers or be the man that fixes a single lady's flat tire, etc.  There are ways that most of us are served and serve through marriage and by befriending singles, you have the opportunity to be an avenue of service in a single person's life!

(9) Singles are loyal friends.  I had the best friends in my 20s. We invested in each other's lives- for the good and bad moments. We celebrated and cried and worried and laughed together.  We essentially formed a little family and I would have done anything for them. I feel fiercely loyal towards D and our new little family, but before I had him, I invested most of my loyalty and devotion to my friends.

I benefit from (and hopefully benefit) my single friends. Honestly, I didn't set out to find single friends as opposed to married friends, but I didn't limit myself  to only looking for other couples to hang out with. I kept my pre-marriage pals (both married and single) and am making new friends here in DC. However, most of our friends are single (DC is a mecca for young single 20/30/40 somethings so this is not surprising) and looking back, making and maintaining single friendships has hugely benefited us.

So, there you have it -- 9 great reasons to make and maintain friendships with single men and women!

Friday, May 23, 2014

So Close

Linking up with "Five Minute Friday" today for Lisa Jo's writing prompt:  "close"

If you want to join in on the fun, spend 5 (ish) minutes and just write what your thoughts are on the prompt - not worrying if it is appropriate or perfect or "sounds nice"

My thoughts on "close".....

So Close

Sometimes I feel like different stages of my life could be summed up with this word: CLOSE  as in close, almost, just about, not quite, etc.  Being "close to" some goal or desire is almost harder than being so far away  -- because you feel the rush of anticipation, the belief that if you push a little further and harder then you will soon make it, hopeful that indeed, your prayers and wishes and desires will soon be met -- all to end in disappointment, another "almost, but not quite"  I am truly happier to receive a "no" than "just wait" from the Lord (or from others).  Even if an answer is not what I want, at least it's a definite answer, clear and concise, that I can hear and accept and deal with long before I throw my heart and soul in hoping and believing. (and I know I am not alone in this preference towards black and white answers)

Having a "close but not quite" experience makes one feel could I have thought this would work out? how was I silly enough to really believe  ________ (that he was the one, that I might be pregnant finally, that this job would be pan out, that our house would sell, that the cancer was gone for good, that this person had changed, etc, etc) These "close but not quite" moments are exhausting and deflating, causing us to want to guard our hearts and never hope for the best again.

So living a life full of "close but not quite" moments can be disappointing- and challenging- and just plain hard, but I truly believe that this is where God does His best work -- in our circumstances and in us. It's easy to trust Him with positive answers and it's difficult to trust Him with disappointing answers, but it is the most difficult to hold on when the path is unclear and hope is dashed in the last minute! It's hard to dust yourself off and keep going when you just lost the answer that seemed within your reach. But that is where our hearts learn to trust the most by resting in uncertainty and by making our hope in the Lord our anchor. It is in these "close" moments where we learn to trust God not only in rough circumstances, but when the answers seem to be snatched away from us.

So, for those of you struggling with a recent "close but not quite" today- a false positive on a pregnancy test, a breakup with someone who you thought to be the one, a job lead that didn't pan out last minute, know my heart mourns with you. Those are tough moments and all I can encourage you to do is take a short time to mourn and pray...a month off from dating, a couple days off from job searching, etc and then dust yourself off, try to keep your heart soft and hopeful and cautiously move forward in faith.  It may seem like dashed hopes to you, but to the Lord, it may be an important step forward.

Stay close to the One who holds your hand through those "close but not quite" moments. Trust in the One who can make those close moments a reality. Anchor your hope in  the One who remains steady when circumstances do not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What I am Reading Wednesday: Midweek Encouragement

I have nothing that fabulous to say today except that I have read some really amazing words by others in the past few weeks and I want to share them with you.  I hope you are encouraged as I was!

(1) I certainly needed encouragement this week in knowing that the Lord is working all things to my good.  If you need the reminder, read Piper's wise words.

"God’s staggering pledge of Romans 8:28 is that “all things” — not just the good, but even and especially the bad — work for your good. Life’s worst pains are for your eternal joy.

All things is a massive phrase. It’s universal, all-inclusive, with no exceptions."

(2) Feeling like your 20s (or your 30s or 40s) aren't what you expected? This might encourage you.  Some of my 20s were amazing, but some parts just plain sucked. I'm guessing almost everyone can relate to this article on at least a tiny level.

(3) I love love love this couple....her love for him and their trust in the Lord are truly humbling.  I adore my husband and if asked, I would tell you that I love him very well on most days....but the truth is, I have barely scratched the surface of how it means to love him so sacrificially. Likewise, even with my greatest efforts to trust that the Lord is good even when life is tough, I have never trusted the Lord as faithfully and patiently as these two have.  Watch this video and then take the time to Google all past articles on this sweet faithful couple. 

(4)  Do you ever think God's sovereignty is scary? Sure, it's comforting that God's in control during bad times, but it’s also overwhelming that He is control of bad times. It's hard for me to look at the sick and hurting and not fear God sometimes, so this article really captured what a lot of people feel.  We must remember He is sovereign and good.

(5) Singleness or Motherhood-- which one is more sanctifying? The author uses sacrifice as one of the main measurements of sanctification. Speaking personally (and I am not a mother), I am more intensely sacrificial as a married person -- IE, when it comes to Dave, I obviously now love more sacrificially than ever before (but not nearly enough, as I noted above). However, as a single, I was more broadly sacrificial. I gave more freely of my time, resources and concern to ministry, friends, family, roommates, etc.  It's one of the things I am striving to still do as a married woman, although I see my areas of failure. I can't add to the motherhood debate, although I have no doubt moms sacrifice daily in ways I have not yet experienced. But, what I do like about this article is that the author doesn't take the side that one group is more likely to be sanctified and mature in their faith, but that every stage can be used to sanctify us.  As a former single, I know that singles get accused of selfish pursuits and immaturity a lot, which stings and causes you to think you are spiritually stunted simply because of your marital status. I know so many men and women who were faithfully serving others and striving to grow, even without a spouse or family.  It is encouraging to hear the author say that singleness can be sanctifying just like marriage and children can sanctify! Let us all continue to pray that God sanctifies us in our circumstances. I actually want to discuss this more but it’s probably a whole different blog post!

(6) Need a little hope today?  Which also reminds me of the previous article about making this a year we hope. I am trying to make this a year for HOPE.

(7) This is a great article for those waiting for light in the darkness.

(8) One thing marriage is teaching me is to apologize quickly and often and not waste time being angry! This is a great article about apologies.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Our Wedding, Part 1: Our Non-Traditional Really Early First Look (aka, the pre-wedding day photo shoot)

So, I am finally, finally, FINALLY writing a few posts about our wedding. I didn't mean to take this long but I waited until we got our professional pictures back and then life got busy with a new city, new friends, work, exploring...and you know, marriage. But, I have a one year rule on "wedding bliss" (you read that correctly, wedding bliss, not wedded bliss) Ask my friends and family, and they will tell you that I have always said that I want to be the type of person who takes her wedding  facebook profile pic down after a year, etc and moves on with life. Of course there will be posts and pictures from our wedding on anniversaries, etc, but not all the time, because so much else is going on! Anyways, I had better go ahead and finally post our wedding blog posts before I hit the approaching 1 year mark!

Our Super Early "First Look"

In most ways, Dave and I are quite traditional, so naturally, our conservative tendencies flowed over into the wedding...classical and religious ceremonial music only, traditional Presbyterian vows, father walked me down the aisle, large reception, etc, etc. But, surprisingly, there were several areas of wedding planning where we were quite progressive -- a friday night wedding, fun modern touches throughout the reception (that I will discuss soon, but don't want to give away just yet), gorgeous colorful letterpress invitations and programs, and perhaps the most progressive thing we did was take wedding pictures together---in full wedding attire -- a month before the wedding.

Yes, you read that right. We saw each other, in all our wedding "glory", weeks before the actual event.  Due to time constraints, convenience or nerves, many brides and grooms see each other a few hours before the wedding. The couples have a "first look" prior to the ceremony and go ahead and take most of their pictures before the wedding which makes everything go much more smoothly and quickly after the ceremony. But, we took it a step further.  I was having bridal portriats taken outside and  I asked the photographer if Dave could come along too.  Our wedding venue was an old restored warehouse in downtown Jackson, and I knew that we wouldn't get many outdoor pictures together on the day of the wedding. Our photographer loved the idea of a joint bridal portriat/pre-wedding picture session.

Some of the reasons I did a pre-wedding shoot:
  1. It took the pressure off having a "special reaction" from Dave. Although I have no doubt that Dave was excited to marry me, I knew that he was not the type to have an emotional teary moment as I walked down the aisle and he saw me for the first time n front of hundreds of people -- and I certainly wasn't going to try and manipulate that reaction from him. There was no big emotional moment at our pre-wedding shoot and some emotion the day of our wedding during our "first look". However, had we waited to see eachother for the first time as I walked down the aisle, I would have been *HOPING* for a big reaction and dissapointed (because poor boy just looked nervous)
  2. I wanted some outdoor pictures which differed from my warehouse venue. I loved our venue, but I wanted a few pictures near something green! So if you are having an outdoor reception, but want some downtown pics or vice versa, I suggest you do a pre-wedding shoot to get both backgrounds!
  3. This gave me more relaxed pics. Some of my favorite pictures are from the pre-wedding shoot because we were relaxed, not rushed and we didn't have other people (wedding party, family) waiting for us.
  4. I got more pictures to choose from. This gave us two shots at taking lovely pics. If one of us looked funny or red faced during one shoot, it would be okay because we had pictures from two different times.
  5. I was able to see what needed to change. I got to see these prints before our wedding, so I knew that I needed to hold my arms differently and Dave needed to smile more-- and I also could tell he needed to relax which is why a couple pre-wedding beers helped him out :)
  6. I got to spend most of my wedding day with Dave.  We still had a "first look" that day, but it was early on- and there was less pressure, so I was able to joke around, cuddle, pray with and enjoy being with my soon to be hubby almost ALL day on the day we got married. There was no waiting until 7 pm to see him. In fact, I saw him that morning (pre make up and dress and bridal luncheon) so I feel like we shared the nerves and excitement all day long.
  7. We had more time to celebrate. Having done nearly all my pictures either one month  before or hours before our wedding, we went straight from "I do" to celebrating, mingling and dancing. After all, I planned this party and so many people I knew and loved were there to celebrate with me so I wanted to be with them, not taking an hour's worth of pictures after we said our vows.

I am certainly not advocating that a pre-wedding shoot is the right way to do wedding pictures or the best way, but it was best for us. It took a lot of pressure off us and we got some beautiful shots. I'd encourage other brides and grooms to at least consider a pre-wedding photo's a bit less traditional, but I think it has a lot of benefits. My photographer was great- super supportive of the idea and actually admitted she wished more brides and grooms wanted to do a pre-wedding shoot. Think about it, the only person MORE stressed  than the BRIDE about a short time window for pictures is the PHOTOGRAPHER.

Although I won't go so far to say it's preferable to do a pre-wedding shoot, I will boldly say I think it is best to have a "first look" and take your pictures pre-ceremony. It relaxes you, give you calm non-rushed pictures, gives you a few private moments alone (probably your only private moments together all day), is considerate of your guests who will be waiting for you to take pictures and arrive at your ceremony and it will allow you to spend more time dancing, eating, drinking and having fun instead of rushing to take pictures.

Concerns about "the walk": I think some people shy away from taking pictures before the ceremony (either earlier on the wedding day or in a pre-wedding shoot) because they are afraid that walking down the aisle will lose its "speical-ness"  because you have already seen your groom. This isn't true. Walking down the aisle is emotional and nerve wrecking and sacred, no matter when your pictures are taken.  I did a wedding day "first look" (in our case, a second look) where I shared those private moments with Dave.  We were able to say many "I love you's" and pray together and rejoice in the fact that we were getting married in a few short hours. THEN, we got a second special moment as I walked down the aisle, tearing up and quietly thanking God for his provision, stopping to hug my mom, having my dad place my hand in Dave's hand, seeing Dave's nervousness and seeing him finally relax when I caught his eye during the sermon and smiled. Those moments are powerful, no matter if the groom has seen the bride's attire or if they have already kissed that day because those are the moments where you vow forever in front of friends and family and let God join you together for all your earthly days. 

Don't do a "pre-wedding shoot" if
  • it will upset you not to have a lot of emotion at the shoot! I will willingly admit that our "pre-wedding" photo shoot lacked any big emotions or moments (from Dave and even from me) - although Dave saw me in my dress for the first time and we were taking wedding photos, etc. The reason why is that wasn't our wedding day. Although there was some excitement that this meant our marriage was getting closer, we were just two people in love, dressed in fancy clothes, taking pictures. The shoot made for good pictures, but not "special moments" However, having those pictures already taken enabled us to have a sweet sweet wedding day with a lot less stress, a lot more fun, and plenty of precious moments! If you want or need every moment of the wedding process to be emotional (for you and maybe even your groom), then the "pre-wedding" shoot will dissapoint you. It's practical and helpful and enhances your wedding day, but it doesn't lead to tears or great joy or whisphered "I love you's"
  • you are super traditional and will be upset by breaking traditions. I think pre-wedding shoots have a lot of benefits, but if your dream is to not be seen in your dress until your wedding day and you think anything different than the norm will upset you, then do what's best for you!

***Pictures by Christina at Christina Foto

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9th: Five on Friday!

Joining in again this week for FIVE ON FRIDAY. You should join in on the fun too!!

Baby Boys and Preppy themes!
Last Sunday, we celebrated My friend's sweet baby boy who is arriving in June. He is a June baby and his mamma loves the beach, preppy clothes and all things summer so we decided on a nautical themed baby shower: AHOY ITS A BOY!!!
The party had red white and blue, nautical touches, declicious brunch food and a mimosa bar.
It was fun to celebrate this precious boy and shower him with lots of good gifts. A couple of us southern gals made sure he received some smocked clothes so he will look proper for special occasions.  Living in DC is no excuse for poor baby fashion :)

This was my first week not working at night, and y'all, it was glorious.  I went to Happy Hour. I cooked shrimp, tacos (Cinco de Mayo), chicken, etc. I was able to research and apply for open jobs. I curled up on the couch next to my adorable hubby for TV and time together. We went to the gym and started our plan to get back in shape (which, for the record, we started back in January, but after a good month of workouts, our healthy living plan kind of came to a hault because I was gone most nights)
With no more work (and springtime), I have a renewed sense of love for the city I live in. I want to drink coffee or cocktails on restaurant patios and watch other Washingtonians walk past. I want saturday bike rides by monuments and still have a sense of awe when I walk into the capitol. I want girls brunches, after work happy hours, date nights to local joints, sundays spent exploring museums and walks through DC's neighborhoods and markets. (I know I have discussed this before, sorry, but spring makes me love DC life even more!)
We also want to explore Virginia (and Maryland)  One of the great things about DC is that the metro area includes a couple states as well!!! There are so many great suburbs with restaurants, sights and weekend festivals. Tonight, we plan on making our first trip to the Mosaic District in Vienna for dinner and walking around. It's a little shopping center with restaurants and outdoor seating and friday night outdoor movies (which it's supposed to shower tonight so we will likely skip the outdoor movie)
THE OTHER WOMAN -- go see it. I thought it was quite cute.  A few friends and I saw it last Friday. True, its just a chick flick, not an instant classic or an award winning film, but fun to see for a girls night.
Basic plotline: This scumbag of a guy is having multiple affairs, but the women he is dating do not know he is married, and abviously, his wife doesn't know either.  The wife and two of the women find out and become friends, mourn the situation and plot to ruin his life.
Why I like it (besides the fact that its funny): The women hated the man, not the other women.  So many times, the wife or girlfriend hates the other woman, but doesn't hate the man who cheated. I am not giving a pass to women who sleep with other people's husbands, but I do think that the person who is most wrong in that situation is the husband who cheats. He made the vow, he broke it. He should get a fair share of the anger and hurt.  This movie, in its own humorous way, made the point that the man was wrong too.
(PS, I know women cheat too, but this example is just about husbands because the movie was about husbands)
Last night, we cooked a delicious shrimp recipe.  Healthy, easy and delicious -- the perfect trifecta for a meal!
We don't cook shrimp often because up north, shrimp costs a lot, 15-20 dollars a pound. But, this is probably one of my favorite meals I have made recently, so when shrimp is a decent price OR I'm willing to splurge, I will definitely make this again!
You can get the recipe HERE.
***Skinny Girl Sparklers***
I love skinny girl margaritas. The company also makes skinny girl sangria, skinny girl wine, skinny girl cosmos, etc.
.....and now there are skinny girl sparklers (fruity bubbly water) I only discovered the drinks this week, but I have splurged 3 times to buy myself one at CVS in the morning. This habbit has to stop, but for an occasional summer drink, its delicious and refreshing!

Next time you have a pool day or want to read on your porch, grab one!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sunday Morning Mimosa Bar

This weekend, we celebrated my sweet friend and her precious baby boy (arriving in June!)  As everyone knows, I love a good party.....and especially, I love a party celebrating a sweet baby!!
The shower had a nautical theme: "Ahoy Its a Boy!" with beautiful preppy summery decorations, lots of red, blue and white and gorgeous flowers.  We served brunch food and I was assigned Mimosas for the cocktail of choice!
I decided why just do mimosas when I could set up an entire Mimosa bar?!?! (My friend, Avery, used to always make Mimosa bars at our Jackson parties and I thought it was so festive!)  So I set up a lovely bar for guests to make their own Mimosas. It's a fun drink station to have a party and it is not much work...exactly what I love, LOTS OF IMPACT, LITTLE WORK :)

 Set out glasses and possibly arrange on a cute tray!

Pick 3 different types of fruit juises for the guests to choose from. I picked classic OJ, grapefruit juice and strawberry orange banana. Pour the juices into pitchers.
Set out a couple **SPARKLY** options for mixers.  Buy a few bottles of a sparkly wine or champagne and some type of bubbly water or soda for the non drinkers or mommies to be! (I chose ginger ale.)

Finally, serve 2-3 fruit garnishes. I think berries or cut up citrus fruit is probably the best. I served blueberries, strawberries and orange slices.

See? So simple, but it makes a simple cocktail feel like an event.  I may have to try this at more parties! (Excuse the photos still showing a kitchen in progress and a charging phone! I took these pics pre party while we were still cooking and setting up! The party was too fun to remember to take pictures later!)