Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weekending x2: Inauguration, Women's March, Hidden Figures

Linking up with Biana for a double round of Weekending -- this past weekend and the one before.

** Before this post begins, I just want to say that at this time, I am going to try to keep current events and politics off of this blog as much as I can. Just because I'm not writing about what's going on doesn't mean that I don't our current situation seriously.  I don't even recognize our country right now, but I want to keep up with writing this blog. I want something to remain the same. **

This weekend was very uneventful.  On Thursday night, I saw Hidden Figures downtown with a coworker and our former coworker. It was a great movie!  Since I grew up in Ohio, the land of Neil Armstrong and John Glenn (my senator for the first 14 years of my life!), I fancy myself a bit of a Space Race geek, so I love any and all movies/shows/books that teach more something new.  This movie covered a totally new topic to me; the stories of female black mathematicians, known as "computers," who made it possible for our astronauts to go into space! It was touching, inspiring, infuriating (civil rights, both racial and sexist) and funny.  I definitely recommend it.

I worked from home on Friday and then stayed in that night.  Bill went to our friend's house but I was just too tired from a brutal work week.  I took a bubble bath and watched old episodes of Scandal.

On Saturday, we mostly laid around watching tv, but we were a little productive.  I finally unpacked all my books and set up my bookshelf.  In my ever-constant quest for minimalism, I went through my books and came up with about another 30-40 books to donate.  In the past couple of years, I've donated nearly 1,000 books.  It's hard to believe, but it's true! I used to have books in every corner of my small apartment, filling several bookshelves and stacked up in corners.  Now I'm down to just 3 shelves, holding only my favorites and some new ones that I haven't read yet.  I took some time to figure out my JLW schedule for the rest of the year.  The JLW year ends in May and I have a lot of requirements to meet before then.

On Sunday, I forced myself to wake up early to go to "Soul Vibe Yoga Flow" at my yoga studio.  I did not want to get out of bed, but I'm glad I did because it kicked my ass! It's been awhile since I worked out, so I'm guessing that's why it hit me so hard, but boy, did it ever.  Lots of vinyasas and quick sun salutations.  When class was over, my arms felt like jelly and I felt very adrenaline-y.  I ran into an acquaintance who is engaged so we chatted weddings for awhile, then I grabbed Starbucks and drove home. It's so nice to have a car! Once I got back, I was still feeling a rush of adrenaline, so decided to hit the gym to work out my legs.  I only did 20 minutes on the elliptical, but soon my legs felt as worked-out as my arms!  I made myself a purple kale salad for lunch. We spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing until I took a 2-hour nap around 3:30.  My healthy day ended when Bill saw a commercial fir $8 large pizzas at Papa John's.

Last weekend was a very different sort of weekend in DC.  My office was closed Thursday and Friday because of the Inauguration and Bill's was closed on Friday, so we were both home.  He had the day off, but I had to work.  Both days, I was feeling pretty gross with a head cold.  I decided to watch the Inauguration, even though I was not excited about it, mostly because I wanted to see President Obama for the last time.  I did get a kick out of seeing former presidents and Hillary, though my heart broke when I first saw her. I liked how so many people on both sides of the aisle stopped to shake hands with and say hello to former Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole. The Capitol Building is only about 3 blocks away from us, but even though it was so close, we couldn't hear anything from our balcony.  After it was over, the Obamas got in their helicopter that was waiting outside of the Capitol and I realized that we would be able to see them when they took off!! Bill and I ran out to the balcony and waited for them.  We looked across the street and realized that a lot of other people had the same idea!  Everyone was standing outside with their phones.  Eventually, we saw the helicopter zoom up and away -- what a cool moment!  The rest of the day was much more depressing as the reality of our new president sunk in.  I turned on the Inaugural balls coverage for about two seconds -- Bill couldn't even watch -- he said he didn't want to remember those moments.  I saw the first dance and it was ... awkward. We spent most of the day talking about what this new administration meant and about our fears for the future.  I was pretty nervous for the Inauguration, as I was afraid something bad would happen. I was right, but thankfully the violence was confined to one area of the city -- anarchists took over K St, busting out windows, destroying public property and burning cars. It made me sick and scared.

The next day, we woke up early with the intention to head to the Women's March, but I woke up feeling like absolute crap. My ears felt like they were going to explode! The rally for the march started at 10:30 and the march was to start at 1:00. At 12:00 I decided that I couldn't take it anymore! It was only 3 blocks away and I had to go.  We got ready and walked over the rally point, but we couldn't get anywhere near!  There were people as far as the eyes could see, from all areas of the country, holding so many creative and moving signs and chants. We saw people of all ages, sexes and races.  I have never taken part in any sort of political protest before, certainly not protesting my own government, but I couldn't stand by.  My ears felt worse the longer we were outside, so we were only there for around an hour, but it was really inspiring and for a little bit, I felt proud to be American again.  One of my favorite parts of the day was looking at Instagram and seeing friends' (and strangers') photos from marches all across the country.

The next day, I was still sick and basically slept the entire day. I started a new book, which I have since finished -- Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.  Review likely to come soon.  Not sure how much book reviews I'll be doing.

Let me know.  Do you like book reviews?  Why or why not?  How were your weekends?  Did you participate in the Women's March?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Intentional: My 2017 New Year's Resolutions

Each year, Kyle and I write up our resolutions on NYE, make a copy of them, and then burn them in the fire. This year Bill joined us and this year, we took it very seriously.  We worked on them for about an hour. We broke away from the party and worked on our lists in my parents' bedroom, away from the noise.  After we were done, we shared them with each other and then we headed down to the fire.  I don't know how or when this tradition started, but I love it.  Bill's traditions were short and sweet (get up earlier, work out, eat healthier and be more social) and then he left, but Kyle and I took awhile to read ours to each other. We listened and shared input and helped to build up each other's resolutions.  2017 feels like a year to make real changes.  Kyle and I both feel more adult this year than we ever have before and so it seemed wise to take real stock of our current situation and assess what we need to change.

My overarching word for the year is intentional. I've noticed that this is a lot of other bloggers' words too. Must be the year for it!

I broke my resolutions up into categories, so that is how I'll list them here. I must admit that I'm a little nervous to put these out into the world for anyone to read, as some of them are a little personal, but I'm going to do it because I think that sharing them will help me to remain accountable.

Social life

Make more friends, but not just any friends. I want to make friends who are inspiring, kind, allow me to feel free and to be my best self, friends who build each other up, friends who do big things, and friends that are also married or in serious relationships.  I also want to take advantage of living in DC. There are a lot of cool things that happen here and sometimes I let opportunities go to waste simply because I'm feeling lazy.

Relationships and Family

In general: Have more meaningful conversations with others, Find, reach out to, and connect with people who inspire me

Bill: Make time to connect with and "date" Bill. Work on compromising when we disagree. Stop being such a bitch when I'm in a bad mood.  I take it out on him, which isn't fair and it's something I really need to work on. 

Family: Keep in touch with my family more.  Visit Cleveland more often. Call Nanny (my grandma) once a week. Have serious discussions about growing our family and if we choose to do it now, get serious about it

Pet: Give Pumpkin more attention - brush him more often, set aside time to play with him, clean his litter box daily, etc.
Don't be frivolous, but don't be stingy - be intentional about my spending.  Just because I want a latte on a whim doesn't mean that I should go out and buy one, but if I really, really want one or if I'm super tired, it's ok to buy one!
Goal: Pay off all credit card debt.  Full disclosure, it's around $6500 and my goal is to pay this off as aggresively as possibly.  First quarter of the year.
Save as much as I can
Only eat lunch out one day per week
This is a new one that wasn't on my original resolution list, but we are going to try to buy a house this year. I want to take this process very slowly and learn as much about it as we can before we do anything.  Any advice is welcome!
Diet and Exercise: Get on a healthy diet and get in shape. We likely will be trying to have a baby this year and I want my body to be in optimal condition both for myself and so that the baby will be in the healthiest environment possible. Exercise daily or a minimum of 3-5x/week. Take my vitamins daily.  Get more into yoga. Eat a plant-free diet more often than I eat meat. Truly think of my body as a temple.

Mind:  Do things that inspire me and make me feel good. Get organized and stay that way Allow myself to fully embrace my "hippy" tendencies (really get into yoga and meditation, use chemical-free products, eat organic when I can and should, learn about the moon, crystals, and sage). Relax - take time for me, but don't overdue it. Take advantage of the time I have. Take a solo trip if the timing is right. Learn to be happy with what I have by either fixing what I'm unsettled with or accepting fully and letting go of what I don't have. Become more politically active. Now, my #1 resolution for the year is to get up early and ON TIME.
This is the only resolution that I'm going to keep off of the blog, for work reasons, but if you're interested, reach out to me and I'll fill you in!
Get on a good skincare regime and improve my skin. Actually style my hair and do makeup daily and try to get good at makeup. If I get to a point where I can afford them, get hair extensions. Finally try colored contacts.
Specific tangible goals that either came out of my resolutions or are in categories of their own:

  1. Wake up early daily
  2. Pay off credit cards by April 30
  3. Pass the bar exam 
  4. Read at least 25 books
  5. Lose 10 lbs
  6. Take my sister to Harry Potter World to celebrate her college graduation (a year later!)
  7. Blog at least 3x/week
That's it!  It looks like a lot, but I think it's doable.  I certainly hope that at the end of the year, I'll be able to look back on this and feel that I stick with many of these resolutions.

my resolutions in the fire!

Kyle sticking his resolutions in the fire with the poker stick

My turn!
So glad we were able to celebrate the New Year together

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016, Final Post


What.  A.  Month.

It started out with a bang! We headed up to NYC for my coworker Alexa's wedding.  It was a stunning wedding. She looked beautiful, the flowers were out-of-this-world and it was just all very fancy! Our boss was there as well and it was great to hang out with her on a different level.  We stayed with Bill's brother and his partner.  The day after the wedding, we got an early lunch at Totto Ramen (delicious, btw) and then walked the High Line.  Neither Bill nor I had done that before, so it was a neat experience. Afterwards, we shopped at Chelsea Market.  We packed up and headed to our bus only to find out that I had the time wrong and it wasn't leaving for 2 more hours so we met back up with the Mikes for pizza.

Then, 3 days later, Trump was elected.  I don't want to get too into politics on this blog and I am nervous to so outwardly display my viewpoints, but this is something that I cannot stay silent on. The day started out so promisingly.  Bill and I voted together in the morning, our first time ever voting together, let alone as husband and wife!  Then that night, we were in utter shock and disbelief.  We were truly blindsided.  I guess it's a result of living in the bubble of DC, but I'm not kidding when I saw we were 100% gobsmacked. I woke up that morning so excited that Hillary was going to be the president.  I know she had it in the bag.  I thought there was no question. My friends were nervous and I told them not to worry, that there was no way she could lose.  I have never been so wrong.  This isn't the first time that my candidate has lost the election, but it's the first time I have felt like this.  I stayed up most of the  night watching the results. I remember going into the living room around 10pm to tell Bill that I knew in my heart that she was going to lose.  For the first time that night, I felt fear and doom. I dozed off around 2 and woke up to learn that she had just conceded. I woke up the next morning with a sick feeling in my stomach that didn't go away for days.  The city was solemn. So many people on the metro looked the way I felt.  How we could elect someone like him is just beyond me.  I am saddened by our country and for our country, as well as the world.  It's definitely a new era we are in now.  I cried in my office as I watched Hillary's concession speech.  It took me a long time to return to feeling normal.  I have a new perspective now.  I know that our country was built on principles so that something like this can't break us.  I also know that he lost the popular vote.  The people who spoke out in the days after the election restored my faith in humanity, people like Senator Cory Booker, celebrities like Connie Britton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, my little sister who has made me so proud during this election cycle, friends and acquaintances on Facebook and in personal conversations.  I know that we will come out of this on the other side and that we will be stronger than ever.  We just have to take action and fight for what we believe.  I haven't figured out what this means for me yet, but I will.

The election dampened the rest of the month for us, but we still had fun!

We moved on Veteran's Day to our new apartment.  It was initially very exciting but we quickly noticed a bad odor.  We are still working on coming up with a solution.

Hannah & I went to the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.  It was ok, but not nearly as good as in 2012.  It was way more of them just half-heartedly dancing around on the floor than actual gymnastics.

Hannah & I went to Oyster Riot for the 4th year and I ate more oysters than ever!! One of my coworkers and her friends were there as well as BJ, so we all hung out in one big group.  We were all low-key from the election and I couldn't drink much because I had to head to the airport at 5am!

I flew to Columbus the next day for a weekend shopping trip with my mom, her sisters, my sister and girl cousins.  It was a whirlwind of a trip but I had a blast, especially with my sister and mom.  Kyle joined us in the evening on Sunday and it's always great to have him around.

The month ended with our very first Thanksgiving as a married couple! I prepared the whole meal and I must say, it was a success! I think I'll detail everything in a later post, but I made turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, crescent rolls, green bean casserole and candied carrots.  It was just the 2 of us. We ate on our new kitchen table and put the bittersweet my dad mailed me in the center.  It was low-key, private, and perfect.

I went Black Friday shopping the next day at Pentagon City and got an awesome fur coat.  The next day, we went to Leesburg Outlets with Johnny and found even better deals!


Finally, we made it to the last month of a long year!

I turned 31 on the 3rd.  A few days earlier, I noticed that Kip Moore was playing a concert on the 2nd in Silver Spring.  I mentioned it to Bill and he bought us tickets for my birthday!  It was an awesome show. He played all of my favorite songs and there was great energy.  Afterwards, Bill took me to Dave & Buster's for the first time.  Our dinner was terrible, but that's to be expected, I gather.  We went to buy our cards to play games and I looked to my left and who was standing there but Kip Moore himself!! I nudged Bill and couldn't believe my eyes.  Then he came over right next to me to buy his card and I couldn't help myself - I told him that I was trying to be cool, but just had to tell him how amazing his show was.  He immediately hugged me, said thank you and then introduced himself to us.  We left him after that and we crossed paths a few times during the night, but I didn't bug him anymore.  I was acting low key but on the inside, I was freaking out! WHAT A COOL WAY TO START MY 31ST YEAR, I MUST SAY!!!  When I got home, I got another great surprise, an Edible Arrangement and balloons from Amy! 

The next day was my actual birthday and I forced my friends to go to the pop-up Christmas bar, Miracle on 7th Street.  We waited about 2 hours to get in, but it was well worth the wait! There were 3 separate bars, decorated to the nines with Christmas regalia! The drinks were interesting and delicious - I tried a hot chocolate one, a pine drink and one called "Gretchen, Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen." The next day, I got another surprise in the mail -- a new coat from my Mom!

That Monday, I had to travel to Columbia, SC for work.  I traveled with a colleague and we had a great time! We stayed at a cool inn and got 3 delicious Southern meals.

Back in DC, Bill and I met up with one of my former teachers from high school.  He now works for the Vatican embassy, which is awesome.  We had a great time catching up! I hope to meet up with him more regularly.  We also went to dinner with one of my old bosses from the dog daycare who recently moved back to town. 

We went to 2 Christmas parties, one at our friend Dalton's and one at BJ's, aka our old house. We had a great time at both, but it was so weird to be back in our old house! There was a brief moment where I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and missed it, but I got over it.

Right before the end of the year, Bill bought a new car for us!  He got a silver Subaru Forrester and I absolutely love it.  He originally wanted to get a pickup truck, so I was pleasantly surprised with his choice.  It has a lot of cool bells and whistles including a moon roof, backup camera, and heated seats. 

We decided to do Christmas separately with our own families this year.  Bill left early and I was in DC for a few days without him.  I used the time to finish our wedding thank-yous and Christmas cards.  It took hours upon hours over several days, but I finally finished them and it felt so freeing to finally get them out in the mail.

I headed home to Ohio a couple of days before Christmas. Dad picked me up from the airport and then took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday!  We had a great time.  He gave me a huge bag of presents and we played some Keno and ate at Rooster's.

While home, I worked a few days, helped take care of my brother who is recovering from ACL surgery, wrapped gifts and helped mom make some snacks for Christmas Eve.  On Friday, we had Christmas at Nanny's house.  I think that she liked all of my gifts! I got to see baby Zaiden.

On Christmas Eve, we had our traditional snack party and read the Polar Express as always.  I wrapped gifts until 3AM and then I literally could not fall asleep.  I laid in bed the entire night until I watched the sun come up.  The upshot of this is that I finally finished Nashville.  What a great show that is! I'm not sure how I feel about the current season, though...

Christmas Day was great.  Everyone loved my presents, and I loved mine! My top from each person were: from Mom, a tie between my Fitbit and mermaid blanket (that she knitted!), from Dad, a cool picture of my great-grandma and chocolate caramels, from Abbie, a cool Starbucks mug, and from Davey, a lap-counter for swimming.  My top gifts given, in my opinion, were: Mom, a coach purse, Dad, a silver flask with a golfer on it from 1983, Abbie, A Women's Place is in the House & Senate sweatshirt and Davey, an authentic Hawaiian shirt that Tom Selleck wore in Magnum, PI.  Bill and I also gave everyone pictures from the wedding and a really cool photobook to our parents.

I ventured out to the Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale and got 5 candles. Grocery shopped with mom.

On Friday, I met Amy for lunch at Fusian in Dayton!  It was SO tasty.  We went to Starbucks after and exchanged gifts.  We always get each other the perfect gifts! Bill arrived that night and it was so good to see him again after so long!!

Family friends arrived on NYE and we played games and had tasty snacks. Kyle came as well, as usual. We wrote up our resolutions and this time, Bill joined!  We burnt them in the fireplace as per tradition.  We spent a lot of time working on them this year, which I will tell you about soon!  The bad part of NYE is that I got a horrible migraine halfway through.  I spent most of the time laying in my parent's bed miserable, but it was great to be surrounded by friends and family.

Well, there you have it!  Our year in a (really large) nutshell.  2016 was certainly one for the record books and I'm looking forward to see what 2017 will bring us.

Note: the below collage contains a few more pics from the rest of the year that I found and wanted to include.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016, Part III


Well September was, for the vast majority, amazing!  This was our wedding month!! One of my goals for the first quarter of the year is to do an in-depth series detailing everything about our wedding so I won't write too much about it right now. It was so amazing to have all of our family and friends come together to celebrate our union.  Our ceremony went so well, the dress my mom made was perfect, our bridesmaids and groomsmen were amazing, our minister was amazing, everyone who all gave speeches were amazing and the weather was absolutely perfect. The venue was beautiful, the flowers were perfect, my bouquet was beyond stunning, Bill looked so classy, the DJ was on point, the food was delicious, and so on and so forth.  The one thing that didn't go well, which I haven't mentioned on any blog yet, was that Bill's mom got life-threateningly sick the day before the wedding, so she wasn't able to attend the wedding.  It put a real damper on the day. It didn't take away all of our joy, as it was the best day of our lives, but we were very worried about her and her presence was greatly missed.  That all being said, other than that major issue, the day was perfect in every way.

The day after the wedding, we headed to Hawaii for our honeymoon!  We were worried about Bill's mom, but she would never have forgiven herself if we delayed our trip on her account.  We had an incredible 8.5 days on the islands of Kauai and Maui.  More on this to come in my honeymoon recap posts!

After the trip, we got to meet up with my family for lunch in Dayton for a few hours before catching our flight back to DC. 

Slowly, life returned to normal.  We returned to work to boatloads of emails and work that had piled up, but we felt that newlywed glow! People kept asking me it felt different to be married and I thought it did instantly! I really didn't know what to do with myself without wedding planning and to be honest, I felt a bit depressed that everything we/I had worked so hard on for so many months was just over. I still feel this way sometimes.

The only other thing that I remember happening in September was volunteering at the National Book Festival for JLW.


Oh, October.  This was a month that was pretty darn good.

I started the month with my last Honor Flight trip of the year and it was a pretty great one. After the trip, I went for drinks with my friend Shawna who also volunteers.

One of the best moment of the year was seeing Adele in concert.  I had wanted to go so bad ever since the tickets went on sale and sold out instantly. The tickets on StubHub were just so expensive, even for the 400-level seats. It was killing me to not go, but I couldn't decide if I should spend that kind of money.  Eventually I decided that I would just go outside of the Verizon Center early on the day of the concert to see what I could find and I got an amazing seat for yes, a lot of money, but for less than what I had seen online. The show was life-changingly amazing.  She sounded exactly like she does on the radio, if not better.  As Tara said, it was seriously like a spiritual experience.  She was so funny and down-to-earth.  She talked a lot between each song. Normally this tends to annoy me, but with her, it was as if I was having a conversation with an old friend.  Her voice is so powerfully amazing. I wish I could have seen every one of her concerts. I'll stop going on and on about this because I will never adequately display how great she is.

Bill and I went on a "ghost tour" of Old Town, Alexandria with JLW.  It was actually pretty cheesy, but it was still fun. We learned more about local legends than ghosts, but it was fun.  Our tour leader was a man in traditional colonial garb who led us around the town while holding a lantern to light the way.

The next day, I returned to Old Town for OysterFest at Hank's with my friend Stephanie. I always enjoy that event because it's all-you-can-eat and drink but it's also very low key. I took the metro to get there and rode the trolley in, which was fun!

I saw Cinderella at the Kennedy Center with BJ.

We ended the month in San Diego for my now sister-in-law's wedding!   I intended to do a full post on this, but I'm not sure that will ever happen so I'm going to give a short recap here.  We flew in and checked into the nastiest hotel of our life.  The next day, we checked out and moved to an absolutely amazing hotel downtown.  San Diego is seriously beautiful!  I had no idea.  I had to work most of the first day so I toiled away at Starbucks.  That night we went to a traditional Hawaiian meal at Dom's family's house where we met all of his great family members who welcomed us so warmly. The next day was the wedding!  Sharon & Dom got married on a Hornblower yacht at sunset.  We all gathered at the dock and then were led onto the boat and given champagne.  Sharon was glowing, the ceremony was beautiful and emotional, the dinner was delicious (seriously, best steak I've ever had at a wedding and the cheese plate was to-die-for), and then Bill & I danced the night away on the outside dance floor. One of the best parts was that Bill's mom was finally recovered enough so she was able to come!! She and Bill finally danced their mother-son dance and there was not a dry eye in the house. We went to a hotel bar and then to a BBQ joint after the wedding.  The next day, we hung out with Bill's parents, went shopping and then to lunch. I squeezed in some time at the pool as the sun went down and then we went to dinner with the extended family at a yummy seafood place where I got a giant bucket of crab legs and lobster. On our last day in town, we woke up early to swim at Coronado in our wet suits that my brother got us as a wedding present.  It was freezing so that was a short-lived adventure. I got back, got ready and headed up to Temecula to meet one of my best friends, Angie!! She lives in LA so we met halfway at the wineries there.  We tried 3 different ones - Wilson Creek, where we had almond champagne, Old Europe and then the cutest one, Briar Rose. It felt like we were in a fairy tale!  It was so wonderful to get one-on-one time with her and really catch up.  The day ended too soon, though.  We grabbed In-n-Out, which was decidedly not as good as I remember and then I drove back to San Diego, took a shower, and we all headed to the airport!

Back in DC, we spent the rest of the month apartment hunting.  We saw about a 10 different apartments and finally settled on one!

Pausing here because I have a lot to say about the last 2 months of the year.  Catch up on the end of the year tomorrow!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016, Part II


May was a pretty busy month!  I started out the month by flying to Ohio for my sister's college graduation.  It was so fun to see her walk across that stage and I was so proud of her!  This was a big year for her - she graduated, got a job, got her license, bought a car and moved to her very first apartment! While home, we did a bit more mushroom hunting, but the season was just too late.  We also celebrated Mother's Day.  I left the day before my Mom's birthday so I made sure to celebrate that with her as well.

My friend Onyi from London came to town for a week and we spent the time catching up, shopping and grabbing brunch and coffee. 

Later that month, I headed to Miami for Amy's sister Sara's bachelorette party.  I had never been there before and we had a great time.  We stayed in a sweet suite (see what I did there?), had tasty drinks on the beach in the clearest, bluest water I've ever seen, had 2 delicious fancy dinners, and partied at LIV.  We also were able to celebrate Amy's 30th birthday with the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever had in my life.


In June, Bill started a new job!  This was quite the year for us in terms of careers.  His old job threw him a goodbye party early in the month.

I went to a pop-up crab shack with our roommate BJ. I video-chatted with my dad when he opened his birthday gift from us, a carve-your-own pipe kit from Man Crates.  I had brunch with friends. I tried Soul Cycle for the first time (spoiler alert: I hated it and felt like I was incinerating and dying).

June was clouded for me with the terrorist attack at the nightclub in Orlando. I am still so sad over this.  It could have been any club, anywhere. That club was a solace for so many. I remember when my best friend was coming out -- the local gay nightclub was the one place he felt safe.  That feeling has been forever shattered for so many and it's so sickening to me that things like this can happen in this day and age.  

The month ended on a good note, however. We drove to Columbus near the end of the month for Sara's wedding!  It was held at a beautiful golf club and we had a great time.  She looked so beautiful and grown up! The next day, we drove up to Cleveland for my first bridal shower! My aunt threw me such a perfect day. I will write a full recap of this at some point. My sister turned 24 the day after our shower! We all went to a Cleveland-area chocolate shop to get her fave ice cream.


This was another mixed month of highs and lows.

We started a Whole30 for wedding prep.  It was . . . challenging. It ended up only being a Whole17 but I would try again. 

The month started by Bill & I taking a trip to his brother's house in Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore. We had fun exploring the town and lounging on the beach.  I took a day trip to NYC to celebrate m friend Tara's birthday. Later that night, Bill & I went to a sushi dinner, watched fireworks from the restaurant and then walked the boardwalk.

Probably the best moment of July was another bridal shower! My sister (maid-of-honor), man-of-honor and mom threw me a 4th of July themed shower in my hometown!  The decoration and food was awesome and it was so fun to see all my extended local family and friends.

I don't want to harp on the sad events that occurred around the country and world, but this was one of those months where the hits just kept on coming.  A terrorist horrifically ran down and killed 84 people in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations.  Countless black men were gunned down by police officers and subsequent riots occurred where police officers were killed. The violence in our society just sickens me and it was heavy on my mind this month.

One of the bright moments in July (and my life, tbh) was watching Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination for the presidency.  Full disclosure, she wasn't my original candidate of choice, but the moment that she walked out on that stage in her white pantsuit, tears started streaming down my face. I'll never forget sitting in our downstairs living room late that night watching the convention with Bill and BJ, our then-roommate. The feeling I felt to see a woman walk out on that stage was indescribable.  Until her nomination became a reality, I never realized that in the depths of my heart, I didn't think I would ever get to see a woman on that stage.  Amy texted me that day with a post she saw online that said something like "You see that outside? That's not rain -- it's glass."  I truly thought that she had shattered the glass ceiling and that night, I got on board.  It was time for a woman to lead our nation.

Our joy was short-lived, however.  A few days after that, we drove to Pennsylvania to bury my grandpa's ashes and the whole experience was just sad.  On the drive home, we were dealt another blow.  We got the news that Bill's grandpa had passed away after a battle with brain bleeding as a result of a fall.


August began with an unexpected trip to Indiana to bury Bill's grandpa.  In short, it was awful.  Though he had been sick, it was unexpected because the only reason he had been sick was because of his fall.  We drove there and back with Bill's brother, 10 hours each way. It was very hard to be back at the farm without his bubbly personality cracking jokes.  It was awful to see his grandma all alone for the first time in 40+ years.  I know that his dogs were looking for him, wondering when he was coming home.  It was the first big loss on Bill's mom's side and the first family member that Bill lost.  The viewing was long and we had to greet everyone who came - he was a very popular man in his town, known for his tractors, humor, teaching and general kind spirit. Of course, it was nice to see the family, but not for the reasons that we were there.

The month got mostly better from there.  We watched the US kill it at the Olympics.  I live-streamed gymnastics on the whole ride home from Indiana.  Gymnastics is my jam and this year was incredible.

My local and semi-local bridesmaids through me a bachelorette party at the end of the month! More on this later, but it was a fun night on my old boss's rooftop party area and then out dancing.  Tara came in for the trip, so we also hung out with the gang.  It was so nice to have her in town. I never wanted a bachelorette party, as they are just not my scene, but it turned out pretty well!

The month ended with an absolute hair disaster. I picked a pretty brown balayage color which was darker than my hair at the time.  I went to a new place with great reviews for being one of the "best colorists" in town and somehow I came out with completely blonde hair that only seemed to get lighter the next day.  I returned for a "fix" a couple of days later which ended with me in tears.  This was just a week before my wedding!  I posted online for help and my friend Karlee gave me a recommendation for her stylist out in Old Town.  She was blessedly able to fix it and it looked like what I originally wanted.  I know it's just hair, but it was for my wedding and it was very stressful.  I am forever grateful for Nina at Bazzak!

On a very hot day, the junkyard came to pick up my car.  I sold it to them for a whopping $150!  It was the best offer I got.  Most places wanted me to pay them to come get it!  That car served me well.  I bought it from my Great Aunt Jeannie in 2011 and it got me through law school and then some. 

I headed home for "my" version of a bachelorette a week before the wedding.  I wanted a day with my dad to do whatever we wanted and then a day with my mom.  My dad and I went to lunch at Rooster's and played some Keno and then we shopped at some antique stores.  My mom and I went to the fabric store to take care of some final dress-related items, went to lunch and then shopped downtown at some local stores.  It was a perfect weekend!!

Whew, that was a long summer.  Up next, fall.

2016, a review, Part I

Well, 2016 was a year, that's for sure!  It was bad for the majority of the world and there were definitely lows for us as well, but there were also the highest of highs.  2016 was the year that we became husband & wife. It was the year I spent countless hours designing a wedding dress with my mom.  It was the year of so many wonderful memories made with friends and family.  I will always look back on 2016 as one of the best for us.

After drafting up this annual review, I realized it was very long, so decided to break it up into a series of 4 posts. There was a lot that I never wrote anywhere before and I wanted to be sure that I captured all of the main events, so it got longer than I initially expected. A vast majority of 2016 was consumed with wedding-related activities so there will be a lot of that in these posts.


January started in Ohio, fresh on the heels of Bill surprising me on my parent's porch on New Year's Eve with an engagement ring! More on the proposal(s) later! We celebrated New Year's Day with my family and mom's friends.  We ate sauerkraut for luck, went bowling and then to dinner at Wings n Rings. Mom, Abbie, Michelle, Shelby and Amy went to try on bridesmaids dresses and even one wedding dress in Dayton! Bill & I moved fast on the wedding, as we knew we wanted it to happen by the end of the year.  We selected a date, our venue, caterer and photographer and bought some of the initial fabric for my dress. We slaved over our guest list and asked our bridesmaids and groomsmen to stand with us in September.

Bill turned 33! We celebrated by getting dinner and drinks with Johnny at El Centro.

A new coworker started at work this month.  I found out that she was also getting married in the fall so we instantly became friends.  Little did I know she would later become my work bestie and eventual office-mate!

I started a new role at work. It was a pretty overwhelming for the first few months, as I took on entirely new responsibilities. At the end of the month, I headed back to Ohio for a week-long work training. During that time, I tagged my Man of Honor, Kyle, along to meet with our wedding photographer in Dayton and then we went out for dinner and drinks.  I grabbed dinner with Amy and we exchanged late Christmas gifts! I headed back to my parent's house at the end of the week where I worked with Mom on the wedding dress and took my little brother to our initial meeting with the caterer. I reunited with a childhood friend who is now an amazing baker for a cake tasting. I met with 2 florists. At the end of the trip, Mom and I went to the one and only Bridal Expo I attended. It was actually really fun.


We started out the month by going to a Muse concert.  At the time, I only knew a few of the songs, but Bill is a huge fan. It was a really fantastic show.

I took a bus up and back to NYC in the same day to buy the lace for my dress.  It was such a cool experience

We watched my college team make it to the tournament.

I went to a painting and wine party for a coworker's birthday.

Bill and I went shopping one day at the mall and I skated at the little ice rink behind the mall.  It had been years since the last time I skated.  It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but I had a blast.

We celebrated Valentine's Day by going to brunch at Slash Run and getting a heart-shaped pizza for dinner. 

Junior League started to ramp up around this time, as I had a lot of year-end commitments to fulfill as a new member. Lots of volunteering, lots of meetings.  This pretty much continued on like this until the end of May.


In March, I traveled to Ohio to surprise my grandma at her 80th birthday party! She was so happy to see me and I am so glad that I made the trip.  Bill wasn't able to join, but he was there in spirit!

I also did a lot more Junior League (JLW) volunteering including a cool event in Arlington.  I served as a room monitor for the NoVa Teen Book Festival.  I got to hear a lot of YA authors speak about their craft and answers questions from the kids.  It was one of the highlights of the JLW year for me.

Bill and I went to our first baby shower together for our friends Hannah & Olivier.  It was the first time I had been to a shower for both the mom & dad and I really enjoyed it!  We had good drinks, saw old friends and showered their baby with presents! We bought them a little lamb that plays music for the crib.

I also took a short foray back into dog-sitting for a cute little pug.  I had a good experience and sat for this dog once more, but ultimately decided to stop sitting again after I had a bad meeting with a potential dog-sitting client.  The dog turned out to be vicious towards me and it just didn't work out.  Since then, I haven't tried to sit again. 

The election really ramped up this month and it was exciting (and terrifying) to see the results roll in.


This was one of the worst months of the year, even though it also included lots of fun. 

The first day of April started out with my first Honor Flight of the year! It was a cold but great day and I met some great Americans.

We took our engagement pictures!

Kyle came to visit but one day into his trip, we got the word that my grandpa on my mom's side had been killed in a car accident.  It was a really hard time.  We went to Pennsylvania for the funeral and the days and weeks that followed were just a fog of grief and confusion.

It wasn't all bad after that, though! When Kyle was in town, we were able to celebrate his 30th birthday at La Boum.  My bestie and Matron of Honor, Amy & her husband (and college friend!) Neil came to visit. We went to lunch, dinner and out for drinks at the W.  That same week, I went to a panel at the Smithsonian with the cast of Scandal.

We went to brunch with "the gang," my group of friends from law school.  We went mushroom hunting (more on this later, I'm sure, but it's a family tradition to look for morels in the spring) and babysat for an old friend.

Well, that's it for the first quarter of the year!  Tomorrow we'll see what summer brought us!

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