Wedding update // #planninonmcclannon

photo by j parker photography

There is so much going on and so much to keep up with when you are planning a wedding on top of regular life. I totally see why people hire people to do this for them! I love planning and putting things together, but these are big decisions, and  with a full-time job, new classes to teach, a part-time job, and other major life events happening along the way, July is coming faster than I thought! I thought I’d give a little update on where we are for anyone who is interested!

Things we have done:  We have booked the venue, photographer, florist, caterer, DJ, and I have a makeup artist and hair artist for all the girls! We have our Save the Date and invitation suite templates, so the next big thing is getting the Save the Dates out! We have also booked our honeymoon flights and resort and I CANNOT wait to spend a week in the sun with Andrew. Neither of us has ever been to an all-inclusive resort, and we have never been away together, not even for a weekend! So it’s going to be so exciting to relax and have no responsibilities together. It will be weird without the doggies, but I know we’ll have such a great trip.

Things we need to do:  The next BIG thing on our list is to choose our rentals for catering and decor. We have to choose our table linens, dinnerware, glassware, flatware, all the wares. I have an appointment with the Greenhouse Picker Sisters to look at rental items for decor and furniture in March and I can’t wait to see what they have! If you’ve never checked them out on Instagram, they make beautiful weddings come to life! This week I have been working on blocking off hotel rooms for our guests, and when you’ve never done that before it feels like a lot of pressure to make the right choices.

Soon it will be showers and parties and a bachelorette weekend! But that’s the fun stuff that I don’t have to make decisions about, and I can just spend time with the people I love! Speaking of showers, last Saturday was Whitney’s bridal shower and her mom and our friend Kelly and I were planning for months! It turned out so beautiful and I hope she loved it!!!

I know that all the planning will come together and I can’t wait to see our vision come to life on our big day, but most importantly, I can’t wait to marry my best friend and start our lives together! It will be here in just about five months and I’m counting down the days!

Lemon. Butter. Cake.

Guys, I realize that just a few posts ago I was writing about shredding for the wedding, and I promise I still am – but you gotta live a little bit, am I right?! Andrew and I recently watched the Super Bowl at a friend’s house, and I brought this cake for dessert. It. Is. Perfection.

It was light, fluffy, lemony, and dangerous. I used this recipe and was so glad it wasn’t completely from scratch because I love to bake but I also love to save time, measuring, and cleanup. PLUS I got to use my brand new KitchenAid mixer!

what a beauty!

My future mother-in-law got this for me this Christmas and I was so excited! I have wanted a KitchenAid mixer for so many years and just have never splurged on one for myself. It was always one of those things I figured I’d get when I got married, but I was so surprised and so happy when I opened this up! Such a great gift! When the new year started I was really focused on my resolutions and being healthy and going to the gym, plus a new semester started and life got really slammed, so when the Super Bowl came around, I was really glad to have a reason to bake something.

So back to the recipe! I literally followed the Crazy for Crust recipe exactly – the only thing I left out was the butter extract, because I couldn’t find any at the store, and certainly not because I wouldn’t have added it.

I mean, it’s called a butter cake. How could it be bad?

The ingredients were simple and the instructions were really easy to follow. My tips:  Make sure you grease your pan really well – I thought I did, but one small chunk came off the top of the cake when I dumped it upside down. Secondly, make sure to pour your cake in really evenly, because my cake was slightly lopsided when I got it on the cake stand (but it still tasted delicious!). Also, I used tooth picks to stab my cake for the sauce and everything still turned out amazing. I didn’t buy skewers because I thought we had some at home – luckily we did at least have tooth picks! The sauce floated on top of the cake for a while but eventually it all soaked in. Finally, I would suggest dusting with powdered sugar just before serving because overnight it all soaked in, and it makes such a pretty finishing touch!

i had to try it to make sure it wasn’t poisonous!

I know I’ll be using my KitchenAid mixer a ton in the upcoming months. A lot of my favorite people were born in March, and Andrew’s birthday is in April, so I’ll be trying to find more delectable recipes to whip up in-between my workouts and meal prep!

Cloth & Paper

This post brings me such joy. For Christmas this year, my friend Kelly got me the most divine gift – the gift of high-end paper products! She knows me so, so well.

Cloth & Paper is, you guessed it, a paper company, but they also sell beautiful agendas, inserts/dividers, and high quality pens/pencils. They have a monthly subscription box, which is what Kelly got me for Christmas. They have a pen lovers box and a stationery lovers box. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?! Well, don’t worry, because you can also choose BOTH. My first box couldn’t be more delightful. It did come with one pen, which I am using on repeat and keeping away from my high school students because it’s so good that it can’t go missing. It’s the kind of stuff that I’m afraid to use because I don’t want to waste it and I want it to be just the right reason…I know I’m lame, but I also KNOW that there are other people out there like me. WHO IS WITH ME?! Don’t leave me hanging!

I loved the to-do note stacks and the plain gold-lined cards. All of the paper on the pads is thick and sturdy, and the sticker packet is so cute! Of course the packaging was also perfection. Sleek + chic, what more could a gal want?

I can’t wait to see what is in my next box! If you need a great gift idea for someone who loves paper, or just a gift for yourself because WHY THE HECK NOT, this is a great way to spread the stationery love around. Thank you Kelly!

Valentine’s Day

our amazing engagement pictures by j parker photography

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know this is a late-in-the-day post, but it’s still February 14th, so it counts. I had a meeting off campus today so I’m just popping in here between that and my shift at the pub tonight to write a quick little love note.

Whitney delivered our engagement photo gallery yesterday morning, just in time for me to obsess over our pictures and pick my favorites for a Valentine’s Day post!

I love love love these photos for so many reasons. First of all, because all three of the doggies are in them! Secondly, Andrew and I have had zero professional photos before and these are such BEAUTIFUL photos of us. Third, I love to have so many pictures of us laughing together, because that’s our favorite thing to do. Finally, these are so special because my best friend in the entire world took them for us and I couldn’t be more thankful for such a wonderful and beautiful gift.

Tonight, Andrew and I are apart because I’m at the pub and he’s got baseball tryouts after school. If I get off work early we may get to see each other, but we are going to celebrate tomorrow night. Our tradition is just to stay in with the doggies, order take out, and spend time together – that’s what it’s all about! I hope everyone enjoys some time this week with people they love.

So here’s to the man that I love, my best friend and partner in crime, the person that keeps me laughing and balanced and happy. I cannot wait to marry this man.

Here are a few several favorites from our engagement session!


 

Believe in happy



Is it just me, or are the weeks feeling super long and unimaginable?! I am so ready for spring, and the weather here lately has been gray, dreary, and blah. I feel like I have just been going through the motions and not stopping to smell the roses – mostly because I haven’t had the time to! Forget about writing blog posts; I can barely stay a day ahead of my new classes this semester!

I met up with a dear friend recently who has been a mentor to me in so many ways. A strong woman who is full of optimism, advice, and love. She got me a “just because” gift and it made my day. It is the cutest mug and has such a perfect message that feels like just what I need in life right now!

It really is the little things that can make you stop and look at the world a little differently. We spend our lives constantly working for the next thing, pushing ahead, and I am someone in particular who has a hard time stopping to relax because I’ll feel better if I can juuuust get the next thing crossed off my list (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again). But the truth is, life is fast and short and if we don’t make ourselves slow down and take a minute for just nothing, we might miss all of the little somethings that make life so wonderful.

Thank you Irma for reminding me that there are so many reasons to believe in happy.

Shredding for the wedding // Meal Prep

post about my shoes, favorite leggings of all time

I recently did a poll on Instagram to see if there would be any interest in these posts, and the results were overwhelmingly a yes! I’ve mentioned before that originally when I decided to start this blog wayyyy back, it was going to be a mostly fitness-related blog. That quickly changed, but as I’m getting back into my fitness for 2018 and to walk down the aisle in July, I thought it would keep me accountable if I shared my progress out loud to the entire internet. And hopefully it will help someone else who’s looking for motivation, workouts, tips, or just wants to follow along!

Our wedding is July 22, so I have 6 months (AHHH!) until our big day. I know that it will be here before I know it. People have lots of opinions about this kind of stuff, but my number one priority is my health and the way I feel about myself. A million people can tell you that you look fine the way you are, but you have to feel it yourself or it won’t matter. I don’t think that someone should lose weight just to get married, but this is a great source of motivation for me personally because I want to feel and look my best on the most important day of my life. My weight has gone up and down my whole adult life, and right now it is up! I need to find a balance between the extremes. I have high blood pressure and need to lose weight just in general for my health, so this is not a crash diet or an unhealthy approach. Secondly, Andrew loves me exactly the way I am and my weight goals are not fueled by him in the slightest, other than having his support for whatever I want to do. This is not about him, this is about me. Thirdly, I 100% believe that whoever you are, wherever you are in your health, it is 100% between you and yourself, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. So you do you.

So let’s get started! I’ve been going to  the gym with my sister, doing workouts at my apartment gym, and I want to add yoga back in to my weekly routine as well (I’ve let it get away from me). I’m following my Weight Watchers plan and tracking my meals, but I’m also planning out my meals every week and prepping food with my sister to keep us both on track (I’ve mentioned about her fitness competitions here).   It has made my weeks so much easier. I know that diet is the huge majority of changing your body. I also know that if my food is already paid for and prepared, it’s harder to justify going out to eat or stopping for something at the drive-through. Meal prepping also makes it easy for me to just grab a lunch for the work day and not worry about what I’m going to eat. My sister and I have a membership to Costco, so we bought a lot of things in bulk and were able to freeze some for the next week.

We just make our plan and decide what needs to be cooked first and how we can start putting together some meals! We use a food scale to weigh things out, as well as a rice cooker to make our rice/quinoa much more quickly and easily! It takes about 3 hours from start to finish, but then you don’t have to cook again the entire week. Kind of nice and makes it easier during a busy week!

allllll the tupperware containers

weighing it out

our batches of broccoli and brussel sprouts for the week

Here are my meals:

Coffee:  I saw a meme this week that said something like “I love myself so I use cream in my coffee.” For a long time, I tried drinking mine black to save calories and fat or to drink it with almond milk, which just does not cut it for me. I have to start my day out with coffee and creamer. Just have to. So that’s my daily treat. I like french vanilla creamer, and I do buy sugar free – 1 point on Weight Watchers every morning. I use Truvia or a sugar-free, calorie-free caramel syrup to sweeten it a little.

Breakfast:  Either a protein shake or overnight oats. I LOVE overnight oats. So easy and so delicious! I make mine with 1/2 cup oats, a sliced banana, JIF powdered peanut butter (so much better for you), 1 scoop of protein powder, and cover it with cashew milk overnight. This is 7 points on Weight Watchers and fills me up totally until lunch. I wake up at 5 and don’t eat lunch at school until 12, so that’s saying something! If I do a protein shake, I make it in the morning and use it when I know I’ll be going out to eat for dinner or may eat more food that day for whatever reason. It’s only 3 points with 1 scoop of protein, 1 scoop of the same peanut butter powder, and cashew milk. I sometimes add frozen blueberries and cinnamon to the mix!

Lunch:  Baked flounder and tri-color quinoa with a tomato/spinach blend on top. This was kind of bland at first, so I started putting a little bit of hot sauce on top with garlic, and even a little parmesan cheese. So good after fixing up the flavor! The second week we prepped (this week), we are doing the same type of quinoa but as a cold Mediterranean side with turkey loin or tuna salad and asparagus (canned asparagus; WAY cheaper and already pre-cut).  These meals range from 5-8 Weight Watchers points.

Dinner:  Week 1 was either crock pot buffalo chicken tenders or turkey loin cooked in taco sauce and seasonings, jasmine rice, and either broccoli or brussel sprouts. This week we are doing Asian flavored beef bowls with broccoli or brussel sprouts and rice. So good. These meals range from 5-10 points on Weight Watchers.

Snacks: I love cheese, so I usually do a string cheese or a little snack pack cheese square. I like the Cabot Lite 50 calorie cheese snacks (2 points on Weight Watchers). Fruit/veggies are also great for snacks because on Weight Watchers they’re free points. Pickles, an apple, banana, grapes, etc. I also usually do a protein shake after a heavy workout. My sister and I love this kind in cake batter (and we have tried our share of protein powders!). Expensive, but not when you break it down and see how many servings you get – or if you compare the cost to all of the coffees or french fries you might be stopping for here and there! I also like to do 2 boiled eggs for a snack since they’re free now on Weight Watchers, too!

Honestly, I don’t usually get hungry between meals because I am eating a lot of food! It’s just good-for-me food vs. junk. I definitely believe in moderation, and one of my favorite things about Weight Watchers is that it accounts for that. You get a bank of extra points for the week that you can blow on whatever you want, because life happens. You can roll over 4 points a day to save up towards your cheat points, and fitness points get tracked by my Fitbit so I can add those in if I want, too! I plan for one big cheat meal a week and when events come up, like our wedding catering tasting last night, I try to be even smarter throughout the day and make sure I get in a workout that day. It’s not going to be perfect, but the point is that you don’t stop trying!

FriYAY feels!

view from my window

We are still covered up in snow in the Raleigh area – no school for 3 days! And it’s supposed to be 50 degrees today. That’s NC weather for you. School is open today for teachers, so at least I can get some much needed work hours in!

I meant to do a FriYAY feels last week and it just totally got away from me (in addition to any other posts)! There are so many things going on – Whitney is getting married in April, our best friend Kelly is having a baby in May, and our other friend Jordan is getting married in June. Then Andrew and I are getting married in July! My sister is graduating from grad school in between all that, and there are showers and bachelorette parties and luncheons galore. There are about to be a lot of events in my life in the upcoming months. So exciting, but definitely something that takes up blogging time and brain space!

Speaking of weddings, I went to a bridal showcase at our venue two weekends ago and it was the first time where I really felt like, okay, this is happening. We are really getting married this summer!!! It is going to be here so fast. My mom, my future mother-in-law, and some of my bridesmaids went with me and we had a crew! It was overwhelming but really lovely, and it was so fun to look at everything and feel like a bride! We have three tastings with three different caterers in the next two weeks, so we will have that booked soon. We have a florist, photographer, and a few other big items booked, but we still have so much to do. Our photographer Erica shot one of my best friend Kelly’s weddings a few years ago that I was in, and Whitney has done a couple of shoots for her family, so it’s really a great full-circle kind of feeling and I am so excited to have beautiful pictures of our big day! Whitney will do our engagement and my bridal session. And Andrew has been so good! Helpful and patient – and reminds me when I need to just give it a rest and come back to it later, which is not easy for me.

I have also been sticking with my new year resolutions! I have been hitting my 4 workouts a week by going to the gym with my sister, which has been tough! I’m sticking to my eating goals, too, and I’ve been doing my nightly skin routine. I bought some new skin products, but I’m waiting to see how I like them before I post anything about them. I also went lighter with my hair last weekend and started using TIGI’s dumb blonde shampoo + conditioner; I hope it will keep my hair healthy! It smells so good and makes my hair look so soft. I got mine at Marshall’s for a little less!

I had mentioned my hunt for a nice puffy coat now that it is getting really cold in Raleigh. I ordered this one on Amazon in the merlot color and I am absolutely loving it. It is so warm and I feel like it looks nice even though it’s puffy! Definitely a keeper and has been so helpful these last few days in the snow.

I really want to get back into my yoga practice, especially with so much going on in my life. I need it to stay sane! And with all the work I’m doing with my sister in the gym, I’m staying sore and need some stretching and relaxation. I plan on checking out this studio sometime soon and supporting my friend Josephine who started her own studio!!! I have been meaning to go and it keeps getting away from me.

That’s all I got! I’ll be starting up a shredding for the wedding series, hopefully next week! And you can follow along with my fitness goals there…it’s a great way to keep me accountable if I know I’m sharing it with everyone! Enjoy the weekend; I’m going with Whitney to try on her wedding dress for the first time since it came in and I CANNOT WAIT to see her in it and cry my eyes out.

Daily face

I get a lot of compliments on my makeup (granted, it’s mostly from my 15-year-old students). I’m always a little bit surprised when I get compliments because I literally do the same makeup routine every single day. I am a creature of habit. I love makeup and beauty products, but once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. I’m loyal; what can I say?! I did recently start using the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, which I mentioned in this post. Now it’s in my daily face rotation!

My friend Abbie asked for the post on the Complexion Rescue, but she also said she needed a whole new makeup routine, so I thought I’d write this post to highlight the products that I wear every single day.

the entire daily face, makeup-stained and all

First, I moisturize and prime my face. I’ve used this moisturizer since high school, and I love this green NYX primer to cancel out redness and set me up for a smooth finish.

Lately, I’ve been using a combination of Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer + my all-time favorite powder, the Lorac POREfection baked perfecting powder. For the tinted moisturizer, I dab it with a damp beauty blender or just use my fingers and rub it in like a moisturizer. After the complexion rescue comes the underage concealer triangle phenomenon.

A NOTE ABOUT CONCEALER:  You want to conceal after you put on your foundation or tinted moisturizer base so that you can set it with powder afterward, and because you are basically wasting your time if you go rubbing something on top of all the concealer you just carefully placed! I use this NYX concealer because it was listed somewhere a long time ago with great reviews. I’m still on the hunt for a great concealer, but this isn’t bad. I use my ring finger to dot in on and around whatever I need to hide. I don’t always do under eye concealer, but if I really want to brighten things up, I’ll use the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye and spread in a triangle under my eyes. I blend that concealer in with a tiny damp beauty blender.

this is what you should look like after the under-eye concealer…scary.

Then use a brush to blend powder in all over your face, dabbing on top of the concealer rather than brushing back and forth. I use this bronzer in the hollows of my cheeks, temples, and along my jaw line (think of a 3 shape). I use this blush in “achiote”on the apples of my cheeks, and this highlighter in “sin” on my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. Those three are all pretty pricey, but they last FOREVER. They are all really pigmented, so a little goes a long way.

For eyes, I typically go for a delicate cat eye with my Stila stay all day waterproof eyeliner. Nothing too crazy for a daily look, but I like to have a little tail from the corner of my lids, and I find that I can be messier with my mascara because the eyeliner covers it up (can I get an amen?!). A basic tutorial and step-by-step for how I do my eyeliner is in this post.

After eyeliner, I apply my eyebrow pencil in shade 2 – you literally can’t mess it up and it’s so perfect. Then on to mascara. I have mentioned before that I have naturally long lashes, but they are also naturally blonde, so when I don’t wear mascara I have such a baby face and you can’t see my eyelashes at all. I love to splurge on fancy mascaras like Tarte lash paint or Urban Decay’s perversion, but you can typically just find me sporting my long-time favorite CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom mascara (in the hot pink tube!). I honestly don’t notice much of a difference when using the higher end mascaras. I think it just makes me feel fancier to have the nicer ones!

bronzer, blush, highlighter, and eyes

And that’s it! I always finish with my lipstick, and I like to change that up every day – usually a bright pink, dark red, or plum color for this time of year (I recently purchased this in “baci” and have added it in the mix! Pictured in these photos). If I was going out for an event or something where I was planning on photographs, I’d do a more finished and full face by adding a golden smokey eye, more dramatic mascara and eyeliner, and I would use foundation instead of the tinted moisturizer (still my current favorite).

What are your can’t-live-withouts for makeup? I’ll cry the day they discontinue my favorite Lorac powder, but hopefully it’s good enough to stick around!

Four Things Tote

I. Love. This. Bag. My friend Meghan posted on Instagram about the ‘4 THINGS’ Personalized Tote Bag and mentioned to me that I might like one for myself, and when I learned more about it, I hopped right online and ordered my own! I loved that the shop it came from donates to charities with great causes (you can read more about The Shop Forward here). To me, spending a few extra dollars towards something I believe in is totally worth it, and this bag is great quality.

I had a little bit of a hard time picking my four things, because so many things are important to me! But I settled on these four, and staggered them so it would read shortest to longest (and also, because dogs). I think I’ve been pretty straightforward about my love for dogs, coffee, and school supplies, and I think the world needs a lot more kindness and grace for others.

Bruno loves the tote, too!

I love any company that has a good cause, and I’ll be sporting this baby around town whenever I need to carry extra stuff!

What would your four things be?!

2018 // Happy New Year!

photo by my talented bff j parker photography

Happy New Year! I cannot believe we are in 2018. I feel old! I remember the year 2000 when the world was anxious about Y2K; I was only 12 years old and just didn’t get it. Here we are almost 20 years later, and I’m ringing in the new year with two of my favorite people, my sister and Andrew (+ all the dogs, of course!). This year, we decided to keep it really low-key and celebrate with Mexican food and soft clothes. We watched an old childhood movie (Camp Nowhere), and we have the ABC Rockin’ New Year’s Eve playing in the background in another room for check-ins and for when it gets close to midnight. I’m thinking of what a great year 2017 was – and how great I hope 2018 will be!

In 2017, I finished my eBook with my buddy Tony and we got it up for purchase on Amazon! That was a HUGE life goal of mine. I got to start wedding plans and help find a wedding dress for my best friend Whitney, I finished and got to start out two fantastic school years, got to see Andrew every day at work, and got to teach so many amazing teenagers. Almost all of my best friends turned 30 years old, I turned 30, and some of my favorite people got engaged, got married, got pregnant, or had babies! Andrew and I moved into the same apartment complex, did a lot of grilling by the pool, went to prom together (so nerdy), I got to watch him coach his first season of baseball at the high school, we celebrated 2 years together, and most importantly, we got engaged!!! I got to be roommates with my sister, cheer her on through her first fitness competitions, had a lot of good eats, and an amazing trip to Arizona with my mom. I spent so much special time with friends and family, and the list could go on and on.

In 2018, Andrew and I will be getting married! I can’t believe it. Whitney will get married, another best friend Kelly will have her baby, and Andrew and I will go on our honeymoon and hopefully buy our first home together! Big job and life things are happening for a lot of people I love. Maybe it’s just that time of life for me, but I’m so excited to experience my own and share in joy with others!

I love setting goals and making plans, so a new year is just a naturally great time to do just that, and to look ahead at your big overarching goals for the upcoming 12 months. I have a few resolutions for 2018 and I’m sharing them here so I can speak them into existence and hold myself accountable!

1. I mentioned the Year of Cozy book in a previous post, and I got it for Christmas! I plan to make my way through it, month by month. I am not going to tell myself I’ll do everything in it, but I do want to follow along and pick some crafts, recipes, and ‘do’ items from the book! I’m really excited to work through it!

2. I plan to kick my rear into gear (#shreddingforthewedding), and work out at least 4 times a week. That is doable, and I know once I really commit and get back in the swing of it, my body will remember how much it loves to exercise and I’ll start seeing some progress! Walking, get back into my yoga, lift weights, whatever I feel like that keeps me active.

3. Get back to – and stick with – my Weight Watchers plan so I can feel better, look better, and confidently walk down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams!

4. Skincare, hair care, self care. I want to be consistent in my morning, night, and weekly routines to get in some ‘me time,’ and really take care of myself and my skin. I ain’t no spring chicken!

5. I wrote an entire blog post about my Passion Planner  a couple of years ago, and I have mentioned my shameful obsession/addiction love for planners in general and Type A personality several times on the blog. I don’t need any judgment, but I bought a new 2018 Passion Planner for all my exciting 2018 plans! I want to stick to the goals and to-dos I put in there, and create weekly grocery lists, workout plans, and whatever else I need to keep myself on track.

the year of cozy & my 2018 passion planner

I tried to keep my goals simple and realistic. I think looking ahead and mapping things out is a great way to reach important goals, but you also have to keep it within reasonable limits and make goals that you know you can achieve. I think 2018 is going to be a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to celebrate so many important milestones in my own life and huge life events for my best friends and family! 🙂

What are everyone else’s goals this year? I hope everyone had a safe and happy NYE, and cheers to 2018!