my recent days in (ing).

drinking this tasty concoction: the Arnold Palmer. Ever since Cole posted about it on her blog it's all we have been drinking. Which is saying much considering that I had never heard of one before. Hello new favorite summer drink!
breathing a sigh of relief. I passed my benchmark on Wednesday. This doesn't probably mean much, but I can finally drop the 'pre' from my education title. Love it!
playing Angry Birds of course (free download on Google Chrome) and Clockbusters (thanks for the tip-off, Jessica!).
reading the interesting discussions about blogging/sharing that with real life people over at Danni's blog and smoothie recipes and how good/bad they really are for you over at Celia's blog.
befriending new people through bloglovin. My new discoveries are: desserts for breakfast, always with butter, my pencil box, busy bee lauren, little white whale, atlantic pacific, and vintch.
planning our Paris +London + Brussels stays during our date tomorrow. Figuring out which hostels we are going to stay in and how we are going to get there. 58 days to go! (Lemme just tell you...Rick Steve's guidebooks are becoming our new best friends.)
sending out my parent's 30th wedding anniversary party invites! Will show you the darling invites and the party inspiration board soon (I promise.)

wishing you all a Happy Memorial Day weekend! How will you be spending it?

the first year of marriage... // Claire from a peachtree city life

Today, I am pleased to bring you the second guest post in my series: the first year of marriage. (You guys liking it so far?) Claire from a peachtree city life is the next guest blogger and I am so pleased that she wrote such an amazing post for you to enjoy. She is one of my new friends and I invite you to read her honest post about the worries + joy found in each other during their first year. She actually just celebrated her three year anniversary with her husband, Tony, this past Tuesday (the 24th). Happy Anniversary to Tony + Claire (and a million thanks, Claire!).

May 24th marks my third wedding anniversary with my husband Tony.  It's amazing to write that sentence, considering it feels we've been together for a lifetime, yet the day itself seems much more recent in my mind.  Marriage is a crazy combination of comfort, boundless love, tension, support, hope, and, let's be honest, a little boringness!  When Amanda asked me to write about our first year of marriage, I stupidly thought, oh! that's easy!  I remember it like it was yesterday... we were in love and everything was awesome!  Turns out, it's much more complicated than that.

In the spirit of honesty, I should say that Tony and I "lived in sin" (as we Southerners like to say) for a year before we were technically married.  We got engaged in the last few weeks of college, graduated and quickly got jobs.  We were ready to magically become adults (why the rush?? I ask myself now!).  We decided where we wanted to live and took the plunge to buy a new house.  

So when I think back to our first year of marriage, I am really thinking back to our first year of engagement.  To me, marriage is all about the beauty and chaos of two people merging their lives and their selves together into their own little version of a family.  It's not a paper stamped and filed away (ok, fine, technically it is....).  Regardless, we lived as a married couple that first year.  

You can know a person and you can love a person, but you cannot do that wholly until you share the same roof and the same bed and the same laundry basket.  Our first year, not unlike many other couples, was filled with ups and downs.  We were under added stress in that we had just made the major life change of graduating college and starting careers and buying a new home and planning a wedding - struggling to find our own new identities while discovering and developing our identity as a couple.  We had big dreams and infinite energy - tackling home projects and diving into work.  We were young and naive and each other's best friend.

We were determined to make it on our own, taking only the help that we really needed from our parents (which they gave readily, bless them).  We wanted to be independent.  I wanted a blogger's dream home (typical, right?).  I spent many hours frustrated that our dream life was just taking too long to build - we were starting from scratch.  We didn't have a can opener and we didn't have the money to buy one.  ...Slight exaggeration, but it often felt like our lack of "things" sometimes became insurmountable.

I should note here that Tony and I aren't necessarily the lovey-dovey type.  We share our love through laughter and support but you will rarely catch us smooching in public or waxing poetic about our love for one another.  Not to say I take any issue with those who show their love that way - but this is simply the way we are.  We are the quiet nonchalant type.  So I find myself relating to our first year of marriage in terms of our daily existence together - the struggles, the challenges, our environment - instead of focusing on the love we felt and our intangible "relationship" - and every crazy thing comprising it.  We got along beautifully, only small squabbles interrupting the tranquility of daily life.  I regret that I treated our marriage complacently, not thanking God every day that I had been given such a perfect match in Tony.

I'm reminded of an experience right at the end of our first year of faux marriage that is painful to remember, even now. [Side note - don't you just hate when you say something stupid or react impulsively and later that scene replays itself like a video stuck on rewind in your mind?  Thanks brain, I needed to be reminded of my idiocy!]  

A friend of a friend asked me causally over dinner what the greatest lesson was that I had learned in my first year living with Tony, and I stupidly responded with the crass answer of "We need to make more money" - followed up by a cynical laugh.  Brilliant, Claire.  The questioner laughed politely and turned away.  I burned with the shame of my answer, and I am often reminded of that  moment, wishing endlessly that I could rewind and re-answer that question more truly, more thoughtfully, more honestly.  

I was so focused on material worries and how we weren't "getting it right" that I was overlooking what was most important - each other.  We weren't exerting the effort we should have been on building the foundation of our marriage, taking for granted that we loved each other.  There was no question in my mind whatsoever that Tony and I were meant to be.  Our love was solid.  Our love was expected, a constant - I was unable then to see it as something to be nurtured and cherished.  

I will say that our early misdirection has impacted the way we are as a couple four years later.  If you've read my blog you are undoubtedly sick of hearing about this - but our recent focus as a couple has been to live more simply and focus on the important things in life - love, family, friendship, happiness, laughter - not on money or things.  The lessons I learned in that first year have indelibly changed the way we live.  We don't take our relationship for granted.  Tony is my rock, as cheesy as that sounds.  When nothing else seems to be going right, I know he is there for me and is inextricably wound up in my future.  I want it no other way.  


day two of summer vacation.

Starting off my summer vacation with:

these blackberry-lime muffins. They are all kinds of good.
laundry hanging on our makeshift clothesline (a.k.a a yellow rope tied to our posts). Still gets the job done.
curled hair. Celebrating the end of the school year tonight with Chad's family.
one summer class. Never fear though, it's online so I get to finally save on gas money!
a graduation party for my cousin's husband tomorrow who graduated from seminary.
a whole afternoon being outside (playing Angry Birds on my computer). Love the feeling of the warm sun on my pale legs and arms.

I ask you--Is there any better smell in the spring than that of lilacs? There is a big bush right behind our house's privacy fence that is just starting to flower and it is di-vine coming out on the patio and write a blog post while sniffing the lilac-filled air.


year one.

 Trying to gather all my thoughts on marriage into one blog post is proving to be rather difficult. I simply can't believe that Chad and I were married one year ago on the 15th. I sometimes have to stop what I'm doing and marvel to myself--How did God know he was my match? How did He know I needed to have this man be mine for my whole life?


When we were first married, admittedly, I got very nervous about marriage and being so independent with him. The only other examples I had of married life were my parents, in-laws, grandparents---people who had been married for 29+ years (some even more than sixty!). These wives were remarkable in my eyes. They had all the kinks smoothed out: they knew which day was 'laundry day', how to tell if a roast is done or not (heck, they know how to make a roast), how to sew a button onto a blouse, how to work with yeast; how to make sure their husbands go out the door with full bellies and happy hearts. To me, these were all things that so-called married people do. Yeah, I thought that married life was a little intimidating. 

It took my several crying meltdowns in the first few months (one complete with wailing on the couch saying to Chad "I just can't do it all!"--pathetic I know) to realize that learning how to be a wife takes time. It didn't come naturally right away for these women. I don't see how the Proverbs 31 wife would have made coverings for her bed and linen garments straight outta the gate. 

I had my own task at hand: How to be Married. What worked for the moms and grandmas in their marriages just wasn't going to work for us (right away at least). We had to find our groove, settle into our marriage and use the guidance of our parents and God's Word to set us on our path. We have had to create our marriage so that we are both happy. 

It's true that no one gives you a handbook entitled  "How to Be a Wife". I just had to figure it all out on my own. The biggest blessing I have is that Chad is my husband. He is the one who is level-headed, patient, full of compassion and love for me and our marriage. Without him, I would be one miserable half of a whole. We pray every night that our life together is (and will continue to be) full of blessings. 

And, I am happy to report that after one year of being married I know that we do laundry whenever we have time & the basket is full, I have successfully roasted a chicken, sewing a button is not difficult, we have not bought sandwich bread for the last six months (thanks to Summer!) and my husband goes to work with a smile on his face because he kisses me right before he's out the door. 


I thought it would be interesting to get insight into other bloggers' first years of marriage so I've rounded some up and will be sharing their experiences once a week on my blog. Check back tomorrow for the first post in my guest series: The First Year of Marriage...


one through twelve.

Ga! What was Blogger's issue? I know this affected almost all of my blogger friends, so you guys know what a hassle it is when Blogger isn't cooperating. Hopefully you are not too upset that I am posting this from Thursday, but I just can't recover it from wherever Blogger dropped it. I do know that from now on, I'll be saving every single draft before, during and after I start writing in order to avoid this feeling of complete paranoia. Happy reading! :) 

01. Enjoying my springtime rag wreath and my kitten by the door...
02. Banana bread with greek yogurt. It's awesomely moist.
03. The Voice. (Do you watch?)
04. After seeing these spring dresses I decided I need more navy, moss, coral, and cream in my closet.
05. Saying goodbye to my preschoolers on Monday.
06.My own version of this messy bun at a going-away party on Tuesday.
07. This picture of peonies at the market that Jordan took are delicious. Makes me want to go to Paris sooner than 71 more days.
08.Sleeping with the window in our bedroom cracked open the last couple nights. It makes both of us sleep so much better.
09. Picking out new sunglasses with Chad (our yearly tradition).
10. Nightly devotions with Chad are my new favorite.
11. Trying out new fonts for special party invites...they are my new weakness. I've downloaded probably a dozen this week.
12.Shopping for summer duds. New blue polka dotted wedges, anyone?

P.S. I used this tutorial that Jessica posted to make my rag wreath.

Link up your own 12 on the 12th at Miranda's blog.


for the moms.

I'm not part of the mom's club yet. I don't take my kids to school, read them stories, answer all their questions, teach them about Jesus, and love them to bits, so I get to enjoy this mother's day as a kid. And reflect on why moms are so worthy of having a day devoted to them.

I do have some pretty great examples of moms in my life: grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, sister, mother-in-law, and my own mother. I have seen all these women raise their children and as I get older and closer to becoming a mother myself, I am in so much awe of them. For instance, it's one thing growing up with an older sister and play with her, cook with her, teach Sunday School with her and watch her love for children. But watching my own sister become a mother to two children and watch her love for UJ and Zara beam out of her is something truly perfect. It's watching that bond between her and her children that makes my heart happy.

The same goes for my own mother. Our relationship now is more than curfews, chores, and watching TV together--it's deeper. As a daughter, I am able to appreciate her as a person and as a friend. Yes, I still do call her about why my bread doesn't look right and what cocoa powder is, but I am starting to talk to her more about things I talk about with my other girlfriends--relationships, marriage, religion, the future.

So happy mother's day, mom. my mom + my friend.


today i will...

dream of the next time avocados are on sale so that I can make avocado on toast.
eat ginger steak salad leftovers for lunch.
try to stop looking at pictures from the royal wedding. My favorites have to be this one and this one.
begin the countdown to the end of school.
email Meghan, no. 19--the winner of my participation prize for the curd survey.
finish reading Ree + Marlboro Man's love story. and then go home and kiss Chad.
go on the back of Chad's motorcycle.
listen to Simon & Garfunkel.
do my not-so-interesting homework.
open the porch door and let the breeze in.

The avocado toast is super simple: toast with 1/2 avocado mashed, drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, and s + p.


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