A Christmas gift guide you can afford

I can’t believe it is already that time again – time to buy gifts for the holidays! I luckily have already gotten basically all of my/our shopping done this year, but usually I am scrambling till the end. Last year I put together this gift guide for you guys, and honestly all of that is still relevant for this year, too! I’ve seen so many gift guides out there this season, and even if some of the items are in my realm of budget, most of the items are outrageously expensive. We all deserve to be spoiled, but I can’t justify or afford spending $150 on a blanket or a cardigan for all my girlfriends. OBVIOUSLY once we win the lottery this won’t be an issue, but until then, we are on a two teacher budget so here are some nice gifts you can afford this holiday season 🙂

1. Barefoot dreams socks – I was able to find some of these for even less than this link shows, but these are hot sellers this season! They are incredibly soft and cozy, perfect for lounging around the house or sticking into some boots when it’s really cold out! The perfect cozy splurge, because I can’t afford the cardigan that is over $100!

2. Wicks for wags candles – I always personally think candles are a nice gift, because they can actually get pretty expensive and you always want to have several around! My friend Meghan got me one of these and I LOVE it. I love a gift that gives back, and this shop gives at least 10% of the money they make on candles to help animals in need. Read more about their cause here. Plus, it’s a gift from a local vendor and supports a small business!

3. Joanna Gaines Homebody design book or Magnolia Table cookbook, Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings or Hungry for More cookbooks. I have two of these, and would love to have the other two. Wonderful gifts that someone might not want to purchase for themselves.

4. Dior lip glow – I have seen this product raved about for years by different bloggers and finally bit the bullet on one during Black Friday sales to try it out. It is as good as they say it is!!! A great way to treat someone to a pretty and practical gift that they will get use out of! The perfect hint of color and intense moisture.

5. Slippers – I think a nice cozy pair of slippers is a great gift for the holidays. I like these and these!

6. Flannel pj shorts – if you get hot like I do when you sleep, flannel pants can just be too much. But I love Old Navy’s flannel boxer pajama shorts!

7. Books – Educated is the latest book I read and I am just amazed at this incredible story. I read it in two days over the weekend and could not put it down! I am dying to read Girl, Wash Your Face and Where the Crawdads Sing next. For more ideas, here’s a great list to get you thinking if you know someone who loves to read!

8. The Yellow Bird products – I have written about this company before here. All natural, chemical free products that make for wonderful gifts for anyone!

9. The Little Market is always a great place to shop for items that give back – candles, jewelry, home goods, tote bags, you name it! I love these tassel earrings and this dainty tassel necklace. Whitney got us tassel bracelets for being her bridesmaids in April, and I never take mine off! This tiny pearl necklace is also a perfect dainty piece. I also love The Flourish Market for spending money towards a good cause (local in downtown Raleigh if you’re in the area!).

I also think another great gift idea is to give the gift of a subscription box! One month, three, or whatever you can afford – they all offer different options! Some subscriptions I have used or been gifted in the past and have really enjoyed are FabFitFun, Shaker & Spoon, GlobeIn, Cloth & Paper, and Ipsy. There are also subscription boxes for pets, wine lovers, chocolate lovers, all kinds of things!

I can never find a gift that seems right for the men in my life, no matter how many different types of gift guides for men I peruse. So some ideas I actually DO like for men include flannel pajama pants, slippers, a Yeti mug if they drink coffee, a beard hair catcher for easy clean-up if they have facial hair, or a nice flannel shirt or jacket. There are all kinds of gadgets out there for men but I have seen this digital grill thermometer in a few different places, so if you have a guy that loves to fire up the grill, this is probably a great idea!

Hopefully this list at least sparks some interest or gets you thinking about some things you could get for some people you may be having trouble thinking about! Christmas will be here before you know it – I just got up my Christmas decorations over the weekend, so I’m already feeling behind!

Happy shopping!

FriYAY feels!

I’m alive!

What. A. Week. For the first time, I’m actually writing my Friyay post on a Friday, rather than writing it beforehand and setting it up to post on Friday morning. It has just been that kind of week where I haven’t really had a second to sit down and do anything! But I am relaxing with the dogs, our Christmas decorations are finally up, and I’m watching Love Actually while Andrew is at a playoff football game with another coach. 

Did I mention that I am working towards getting my National Board Certification for teaching? I am terrified! But two other teachers at school in my department are going for it too, so we had our first off campus work day this week. We will submit everything in May and then we won’t find out if we got it or not until next DECEMBER OR JANUARY. So nerve-wracking! 

I went to Target today to get a couple of things we needed and some little gifts and stocking stuffer type items, and the traffic everywhere was insane! But Target, of course, has TONS of gift items that will really come in clutch if you need a little something but you just don’t quite know what. I was able to get a couple of gifts for a gift exchange this weekend very easily. 

I am on the hunt for a great artificial tree! I put up all my old decorations from when I was living in an apartment, and my tree looks SO tiny in our new house! I died laughing when I got it up and stood back to look at it. It will have to do for this year, probably…but I’m hoping things will go on sale after Christmas and I can snag a tree for next year. This one is already really affordable compared to all the other ones I’ve looked at, and it looks good to me!

I want to make this Chex Mix Christmas Crack before the holidays – I love a good salty/sweet combo, and this one adds in peppermint!

I got this mascara recently and I LOVE the way it applies and the way it looks. The only downfall is that it doesn’t wash off easily, but if you already use eye makeup remover, that’s no problem. I love it even with its one fault! I got it when Tarte was doing a sale and I’m so glad I did!

Tomorrow, some of my FCCLA club students and their parents are volunteering at Oak City Outreach Center to serve a meal to those in need. I think it will be good for all of us, and hopefully will help them see how important it is to give to others, even if it’s just giving time. Afterwards, Andrew and I are going to his school department’s annual Christmas party. Sunday, everyone is calling for snow, so we will see! You never know in North Carolina. 

Only 18 days left until Christmas! I can’t believe how fast it has crept up AGAIN. Stay tuned for a holiday gift guide like last year’s coming sometime next week! Happy weekend 🙂

Thanksgiving

our first thanksgiving living at the new house!

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I really try to always remind myself that there is much to be thankful for – because we need that mindset every day and not just on holidays – but Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love Christmas, too, but there’s something about just gathering around for some food with the people you love the most that makes me feel happy and comforted.

My whole life, we spent Thanksgivings at my aunt’s house in South Carolina. She has 4 kids, there are 3 kids in our family, and now one of her kids has 2 kids! It’s a huge family affair and used to include our grandparents before they passed, and my aunt Sherilyn always comes, too. I have become really interested in how other families and cultures spend their holidays and time with family in the last few years, and I always ask my students what their plans and traditions are. To me, the loud laughter, chatter, and teasing that is always bouncing around at my aunt’s house makes me feel at home. Even if your family isn’t close or you can’t get home for the holidays, it’s a time to spend with others who welcome you in and claim you as one of their own. I know the holidays can bring sadness and angst for many, so I hope if that is true for you this holiday season, that you are able to find somewhere to spend happy time with others and to take care of yourself in whatever way that may be.

This year, our school football team is in the playoffs! Andrew is the quarterback coach, so as I type this he’s at Thanksgiving Day practice and tomorrow the boys will play the second round of playoffs! So this year we are not going “home,” we are staying home in our new house with the doggies and spending our Thanksgiving meal with two other teacher couples for a teacher Thanksgiving! I am bringing a family recipe macaroni and cheese, these delicious mashed potatoes, and these delectable apple dumplings (I’ve said it before, but you just can’t go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe!). I’m waiting for the laundry to finish so I can wear my favorite leggings and shamelessly enjoy my meal – plus, the best thing about wearing leggings for Thanksgiving is you’re already prepared for the inevitable post-turkey afternoon/evening nap!

It’s always easy to find things to complain about or to get caught up in what’s going wrong in life, but it feels a lot better to celebrate the good. So this year, I’m celebrating a lot of things I’m thankful for:  A family that laughs together, a new family that I’m now part of, a wonderful husband, three sweet doggies that always keep us on our toes, a new cozy home that feels just right, friends who are like family, and starting new traditions as we have our first big holiday together as a married couple!

these 3 turkeys are hoping they’ll get some real turkey today!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to everyone!

FriYAY feels!

source

Happy Friyay! I am super excited for this weekend because Andrew and I are going to Charlotte to visit my sister and go to the Panthers game on Sunday! The tickets were our wedding gift from her and it seemed like so far away then, but here we are and it feels like no time at all has passed!

I got these mules a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop wearing them. They are so great! Comfortable, affordable, and they go well with jeans or dress pants for work! I got the toffee color but also love the taupe.

With the colder weather, my skin has been acting out by becoming dry and having a couple of breakouts. I started researching face cleansing brushes and ended up purchasing this one on amazon – I used it for the first time last night and loved the way my skin felt afterwards. Super clean, smooth, and I love that there are a couple of different brush head options to use! I am really excited to see if it keeps helping my skin’s appearance and texture.

Loving this color for fall nails.

I’ve mentioned her store before, but this top and this top are THE BEST purchases in a while. So good. The roll front top is sold out but I’m linking it in case it comes back, and you can add your email to be notified when it’s back in stock!

This week, I started honestly trying to be more active and more thoughtful in the choices I made for groceries and meals. I pack our lunches and make dinner every night, so this week at the grocery store I got healthy items so we didn’t have any other choice! I am trying to get into the habit of exercising after school and then making a healthy dinner for us with good portion sizes.

I can’t wait to read this book and have heard such good things about it!

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend!

Going easy

Every now and then I get into a weird mood that is hard to get out of until I sit with it for a while. It’s not bad, there’s nothing wrong, I just need to sort out my thoughts and have some time to myself. And I think part of it is not taking enough time for myself, and going and going and going until I finally realize (admit to myself?) all of a sudden that I have taken on too much and I just need a MINUTE. Is anyone else with me?! This is ironically not the first time I’m writing about this. (Here, here, here AND here I also discuss slowing down, saying no, taking care of yourself, giving yourself grace, etc. so CLEARLY I am mastering this topic still struggling with this concept).

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about society, and our constant need for instant gratification and for everything to be picture perfect. Only showing the parts of ourselves that are fun, happy, poised, and put together. I haven’t posted much anywhere lately because I just haven’t really felt like it – I’ve been busy and tired with regular old life. School is great, but always exhausting and comes with several extra commitments. And with moving into the new house, I have put a lot of pressure on myself to “finish” everything and keep everything just so. I had to really convince myself this week that the dishes can sit for a day, the laundry can sit in the dryer for a minute, and the dog hair can accumulate a little bit in the corners — and that the world will keep on spinning. I don’t have to grade that last assignment right this second or reply to xyz email the second I get it. So, the last couple of days, I have just kind of kept to myself and taken things easy.

I teach Early Childhood Education classes – so I don’t teach young children, but I do teach teenagers about young children – and my students keep telling me about the themes they’re seeing in their internships of children giving up quickly when they don’t get the outcome they want the first time around. We went on a site visit as a class where the preschool director told us there’s a big problem with fine motor skills in young children in today’s world, because they grow up using their fingers to tap buttons on a screen and they aren’t getting the practice they need to coordinate their fine motor skills like kids have in the past, due to the easy, don’t-have-to-think-about-it technology we are so attached to. This is worth a whole separate discussion in itself, but the fact that even our CHILDREN are overloaded and overstimulated made me stop today and THINK. Sometimes it is vital for us to slow down, appreciate the little things, and take care of ourselves – and while doing so, we have to embrace the fact that things aren’t perfect, we’re going to have to work hard for things, and we can’t all be 1.6 billion dollar lottery winners (although that would have been prettttty sweet). We set this impossible standard for ourselves sometimes and then compare ourselves to the best of the photo reels we see on social media – and we think we aren’t good enough. But how about just admitting to ourselves that we are all in this together, and that even people who look really put together probably have similar issues and struggles? How about giving ourselves a little bit of grace and letting ourselves take a break every now and then? I think we have to, in order to keep doing all the other things we have to do on a daily basis.

I got to a point where I just had too much going on, so tonight I am doing my nails, having a few snacks on the couch with the doggies, and writing this blog post. Candle burning, tucked in to a cozy blanket, re-watching Gilmore Girls again, and trying to stay away from my phone because sometimes it’s nice to just settle in and hang out. So feel free to use this as a reminder to do the same (or your version of it) so you don’t have to get this slap in the face of “here we go again.” The weekend is nearly upon us 🙂 and it will be okay. The world keeps on turning, and it’s better if we can relax and be okay with ourselves while it does.

FriYAY feels!

one semi-finished corner of the new house!

I wish I could start this post by writing about fall, and how I love fall, and fall fashion, and scarves and booties and thick chunky sweaters, but y’all. It’s still ALMOST NINETY DEGREES here today. So I just really can’t.

But what I DO want to share is this shop from Kendi at Kendi Everyday. I’ve been following her blog forever and I know I already mentioned her new store in another post, but now I have received some items from Everyday & Co and I am LOVINGGGGGG them. Particularly this everyday blouse (which, come on, I knew I would). I have it in ash grey and it is so pretty and flattering. The material is great and it’s long enough to wear with leggings or do a front tuck (I’m a big fan of a front tuck). This super soft crew neck tee is perfect, too. I love that it has longer sleeves for the arms and a high neck. It looks polished but it still a closet staple. I know 100% without a doubt that I will be continuing to come to this site for clothes. She gets me.

This week, I made scallop linguini, spice rubbed parmesan chicken, and spicy garlicky spinach from the new Chrissy Teigen cookbook, and I just want to say YESSS.  If you don’t have her cookbook yet, run to get it. Such delicious looking and sounding dishes, and all seem fairly easy to make! That’s the best part. I don’t have the first Cravings cookbook, but that’s next on my list!

I’ve been back on this train for my everyday makeup and am just loving it still. I am finding it hard in my thirties (because I’m actually IN my thirties now) to find good face makeup that doesn’t get greasy throughout the day or cake up in lines around my nose. This is illuminating and just leaves such a soft finish but a pretty full coverage. And I never feel like I have to reapply during a day of teaching teens – and that is saying something.

This is the best blanket!!! Whitney told me about it, so I went to Amazon to check the literally thousands of amazing reviews. I got it in ivory and it is so. soft. It’s the blanket in the picture at the top of this post! Machine washable, soft on both sides, warm, and looks good in a room. Affordable, too – most throw blankets are way too pricey!

I’m loving this and this for jewelry storage at the new house. Simple, pretty, functional, and doesn’t take up too much space. And I just so happen to have gotten a 20% off coupon for The Container Store from moving!

We have a busy couple of weekends ahead, but all good stuff! I hope everyone enjoys this weekend and maybe soon we will be dipping into fall weather and I can write about booties and scarves and thick chunky sweaters 🙂 Happy Friyay!

Thirty-one

I have been writing birthday posts since I started this blog THREE YEARS AGO (hard to believe!), but this year life was hitting me hard and I am just now getting a chance to sit down and think about this post. I’m writing this in our new living room as I look all around our new home, while a fence is being built for the back yard – and that is such a good feeling! We have a lot to do still, but now is the fun part…decorating and organizing!

So this is how 31 began for me! My birthday was last Tuesday, and we closed on our house on Thursday and spent the weekend moving and unpacking. If this is any indication of the upcoming year, I think it’s going be pretty amazing – but it’s hard to beat the year I got married to the love of my life!

This is my fourth birthday at maxouthappy.com, and it’s always fun to go back and read my previous birthday posts, starting with my 28th birthday. So much has changed since then, but the things that have stayed constant are my family and closest friends, and my values and feelings about life. It’s hard to believe I didn’t even know Andrew then…my life was about to open up right in front of my eyes and I didn’t even see it coming. Becoming a real adult has been a slap in the face at times, and has not been without its struggles, but there is so much happiness and contentment in knowing that I am where I have chosen to be and that I wouldn’t change any of it! (I mean, I would love to win the lottery, but who wouldn’t!)

The goals I have set for myself in this new year of life are about taking care of myself better. I want to stop to relax more often, which I think will be a little easier now that we are settling down and have moved out a little farther. More quiet nights and weekends at home with my husband and our three furry kids sounds good to me 🙂 I also want to commit to cooking more meals at home because I love to cook, it’s relaxing for me, and it also saves money and is healthier than always eating out. I have so many beautiful cookbooks with amazing dishes on the pages, so I want to start trying them all out! If you mess it up, there’s always pizza, right? I also want to follow a strict schedule of exercising at least 3 days a week. Three days is totally doable, and I don’t care what I do as long as I do SOMETHING – walk, yoga, at home HIIT workout or weights, YouTube workouts, whatever! Finally, I want to remember to be thankful and appreciate the moments I am in, and do a better job of that rather than worrying about things that have already come or things that may or may never happen. I do a good job of being thankful, but the other part is hard for me.

Thirty was fabulous – thirty and flirty and thriving – but I think it should always just keep getting better. Bring it on, thirty-one!

Our first home // Inspiration

she’s a beaut!

We close on our new house TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY! Crazy to think that in just the two months since we’ve been married, we have moved in together, put our money together, I’ve changed my name, and we’ve gone through the home buying process to move in to our first house.

I love to decorate and search online for home decor ideas – of course I have several lists of what needs to be done in each room, what items I’d like to buy, or at least the look and feeling I’m going for. The new house has 4 bedrooms, so we have plenty to work with! The downstairs is all completely open concept with a covered back porch and a big back yard for the doggies. We already have a lot of items and furniture, but when you think about filling a house, it helps to take it room by room to try to figure everything out.

The big change will be our living room! Like I said, the downstairs is open concept, so it’s the living room/dining area/kitchen all in one. I love it, but I do want to try to make sure it feels like there are different spaces, which I think we can do. We already have a kitchen table with bench chairs and a rug to go under it to kind of divide the space, so that part is done. But we are purchasing basically a whole new living room, which is SO exciting! The couch and chair that we have now have been handed down and are very old, the dogs have lived on them, several different people and houses have had them, and I’ve had them for about 5 years now! So we are getting a new L-shaped sectional with a chaise lounge (yay!!!), all new coffee tables and end tables, and a TV stand that all match. We also got a recliner that looks really nice and comfy, and a large ivory shag rug to put on the wood floor underneath all of that, so that part can feel like a completed room! I can’t wait to get everything in there and see how it all looks!

I really love a cozy room with everything in its place – I am a little bit of an organization freak so when I think about decorating a room, I am also considering functionality in addition to comfort and visual appeal! I guess I would classify my decor style as industrial farmhouse or modern farmhouse – I love the comfort and softness of the farmhouse style, but I like to bring in a little edge with metal and wood accents for things like side tables, wall decor, lamps, or other accessories.

So without further ado, here are my inspiration ideas for our new home! I also had to google it to make sure it wasn’t “further adieu” rather than “ado,” but it turns out I was right. Feeling pretty good about that.

coffee table/end table set with tv stand, couch, recliner, table lamp, plant, floor lamp, mirror

The coffee table set is currently out of stock but Wayfair offers similar styles underneath it! We got it on super sale. Furniture is expensive! But these pieces are sturdy and will last a long time with any type of decor. The couch has wonderful reviews and was a GREAT price. I did a LOT of research on items and prices and compared before making any decisions, so I hope this couch is all it was cracked up to be! We also got a shag rug from Amazon for the space, and the cream sectioned mirror (or something similar) will go above our fireplace! Love the gold lamps and plant, but haven’t pulled the trigger on those yet.

lamp base + shade, bench with storage, standing mirror, dresser, plant, map

We already have a set of furniture for the bedroom, but if we need an extra dresser, the white one pictured is affordable and looks similar (from IKEA). Our bed is a navy upholstered platform bed like the one pictured, and we already have a floor standing mirror from the wedding that we’ll use! We want a storage bench but I know Home Goods has them all the time so it may be less expensive there.

rose chair, cube storage

I LOVE this rose chair and first saw it when Lauren Bown posted it to her blog. I’ve been obsessed ever since! We have a gift card to World Market from the wedding, so if it’s okay with Andrew I really want to use it for this chair! I can just see a cute little pillow on it with a blanket tossed carelessly meticulously across. I already have a white desk and chair almost exactly like the picture, and we already have the white cube storage, too. And it will be nice to finally have a functional space to have my white filing cabinet so I can do some real adulting 🙂

side tables, bench, lamp, mirror, plant, wall sconce

I LOVE the feeling of all of these items together. The dresser in the picture is VERY expensive, but we will paint a dresser we already have that was my grandmama’s. I think we’ll paint it a similar minty color, which will be much less money with the same vibe! I am loving the round mirror for above the dresser, and the gold accent tables and accessories will be a nice contrast to Andrew’s wooden bed frame we have that his great grandfather built! So our guest room will have items from both sides of our family 🙂 I like this neutral gauzy bedding because it looks clean and cozy. I put a lot of thought into making the guest room somewhere that I would love to stay, with any needs covered. Our family and friends will be staying here – people we love the most – so I want to make sure it is a cozy retreat with storage for all of their things and the comforts of home.

So those are some of my ideas! Obviously it will take time, and that’s   r  e  a  l  l  y   hard for me because I really  just want everything to be done immediately. We have a lot of work to do on the yard, we will have to decorate all of the walls, etc. and then little things need to come into place like the guest bathroom and downstairs bathroom, garage and laundry room and pantry storage…the list goes on! But I cannot wait to be settled into our new home and working on all of these projects!

Our Wedding // Details

I’m writing this post as we wait in our apartment for hurricane Florence to hit NC – super scary! So I’m trying to keep myself busy by reliving our big day!

I tried to be really thoughtful and intentional about all of the little details of our wedding. My jewelry, my something borrowed/blue/old/new, etc., gifts that I gave bridesmaids and other important family members, you name it. I love to give little gifts, and I love meaningful touches, so those were all throughout our wedding day.

My jewelry was an Elisabeth Ashlie crystal bar bracelet and a dainty gold chain necklace with a diamond my mom let me wear – my something old (and also borrowed)! I like simple and classic, so they were perfect. My earrings were the Virginia drop earrings from Anthropologie, and that was special to me because my grandmama’s name was Virginia, and it just felt right! I mentioned a long time ago that my engagement ring was Andrew’s mom’s 30th anniversary gift from his dad, so that was already very meaningful to me. Our bands came from Etsy; mine is thin and dainty and his is wooden, which I thought was so cool! But day to day he usually wears his silicone bands for coaching!

For my something blue, I had a handkerchief from my granddaddy that my mom saved for me with a blue emblem on it, and I also asked Andrew’s mom if I could use one of his dad’s old blue handkerchiefs. I sewed a heart from his old handkerchief into the back of my wedding dress and inside her gift that I’ll describe later, and I sewed a patch on the inside of Andrew’s jacket. For honoring Andrew’s dad, we had a memory table with photos of all the family members that couldn’t be there with us, and we laid a rose on the chair next to Andrew’s mom. We also listed Andrew’s dad as honorary best man on our wedding programs, and Andrew didn’t have an official best man. I know that there is nothing we could do that would come close to him actually being by our sides, but we tried to honor him every chance we could.

My real something borrowed was Whitney’s cathedral length veil – she wore it in her wedding in April! And for something new, I had lots of those things! Probably my shoes 🙂 I got them before I even got my dress because I knew what vibe I was going for! They are from DSW but no longer available. My aunt found a note from my granddaddy before he died and he had set aside a sixpence for all of the girl cousins’ shoes for their wedding day! It is supposed to be good luck. That was so special, and I taped it in my shoe on our wedding day. I also bought a new perfume for our wedding day which everyone suggests so that when you spray it, you’re reminded of that day.

Our flowers were just gorgeous! We used Amy from Knots ‘N Such, and everything turned out so perfect. She decorated our pergola that my dad built us for our ceremony backdrop and all of the colors were amazing together and complimented everything else perfectly. We repurposed my bouquet and the bridesmaid bouquets for the head table, sweetheart table, and our family tables. Otherwise, the tables just had greenery garlands and candles for centerpieces. Simple and pretty!

For signs, we had our talented friend Lisa from Bull City Ink create several for us! She had done the signs for Whitney’s wedding, too, and is so great at what she does. I knew I wanted a big mirror for the seating chart so we could keep using the mirror in our home as a memory and for functional everyday use. One of the teachers in my department at school also does beautiful hand lettering, and she had made us a “happily ever after” sign for our wedding shower at school last semester, so we were able to use that, too! Everything tied in to our accents of gold and wood. We also rented mixed metal votives and wooden and gold candle lanterns from Green House Picker Sisters! For pictures, we rented a LOT of these simple gold frames from IKEA…and now we have plenty to use in our new home! Our guest book was a polaroid station with props, sharpies, and washi tape.

For gifts, I spent a lot of time looking on Etsy! That’s my favorite place to get unique gifts, and I always rely heavily on the reviews of the shop from other customers. I also used my favorite go-to for shopping online, Elisabeth Ashlie.

I got my bridesmaids matching jewelry to wear for the wedding. They each got these bracelets with a clear jewel and these blush stud earrings to match their blush pink dresses. I also have the earrings and love them, so I hoped they would too, and would wear them again! I wear my bracelet that Whitney got me for her wedding every day and I love it. For their gifts, I also included a frame with some favorite pictures of us inside of it, and a mug (also from EA, I can’t help myself), and these really pretty pouches with their names in gold foil. I had already gotten them these robes in champagne and personalized champagne flutes when I asked them to be my bridesmaids back in January! We also all wore the nail color I gave them on our toes – a sparkly gold called “To have and to GOLD.” Andrew got his groomsmen their blush pink ties and these really cool baseball bat mugs with their names engraved on them!

My aunts threw me a beautiful afternoon tea for my bridal luncheon, and that was one of my favorite things from the weekend! And of course Andrew’s mom threw the rehearsal brunch after our morning rehearsal, which was delicious food from Flying Biscuit Cafe in Raleigh and was such a nice event. It was just such a special weekend all around. So for the aunts and for my mom and Andrew’s mom, I got these great candles in different varieties – “aunt,” “mom,” “mother of the groom,” and I also got a “sister in law” one for Andrew’s sister in law! The owner of the shop was so helpful and I ended up going back to that shop to add on orders throughout the process. They had really nice packaging, were high quality, and smelled wonderful!

For the moms and also my step mom, I got these lovely clutches that you can personalize with a photo on the inside of it. I loved that idea and loved that I got to include a picture of Andrew’s dad in his mom’s clutch, too. Look how cute Andrew was as a high school baseball star 🙂 I did the gold color for my mom and Andrew’s mom, and the dark purple for my step mom because I knew her dress was lavender and she loves purple!

For cards, I ordered a bunch of cards from this Etsy shop that said “to my mom, dad, brother, husband, sister,” etc., some with names, and some that just said thank you. I used these for vendors, my bridesmaids, and anyone I wanted to thank on our big day for being there for us along the way. The print was lovely, and the blush pink matched our color scheme! For calligraphy and for wedding invitations/RSVPs, programs, and place cards, we used Tiffany at Raleigh Calligraphy and she was such a dream to work with. She helped design everything and answered my millions of questions. I ended up going back to order matching thank you notes from her!


I love the way everything turned out. Our reception turned out so much prettier than I imagined and I loved all the greenery and simple accents! The Merrimon-Wynne house is already so beautiful that you really don’t need much to decorate it – just a few personal touches to make it feel like your own!

We had a southern comfort menu from Donovan’s Dish with bourbon meatballs, fried green tomatoes, and chicken and waffle skewers during cocktail hour. For diner, it was a summer salad, pimento cheese stuffed chicken breasts, roasted potatoes, the most delicious shrimp and grits, and bundles of asparagus wrapped with prosciutto. Our dessert was cupcakes from the Cupcake Shoppe with a lemon cutting cake on top! 

I still am so excited that my dad built us the pergola and bench that we get to keep at our new home. Like I said in my last post, my mom helped me with all of the planning and was so excited with me as Andrew and I were making decisions on linens, plates and silverware, and everything else. I couldn’t have done it without her! Whitney and some of my girlfriends decorated our car for our sparkler send-off and getaway, and my brother and dad helped pack everything up afterwards and get it back to our apartment for us. We had such a special day surrounded by family, friends, and little touches that made things so special and memorable for us!

A lot of LIFE

it’s fine, i’m fine, everything’s fine

Overwhelmed is a feeling I am starting to expect and identify with. I keep having these moments where I’m like, “I think this is just life now!” We have so much going on, and it seems that things just keep getting added to the pile rather than being taken off, and with the beginning of the school year falling in line with all of this, I am feeling like I need to just take a beat and decompress – but there’s no time! DO YOU FEEL ME?! I recently told a friend that I just feel like there is a lot of LIFE hitting me right now. And some of it is in a very good way – but it is just overwhelming.

We will close on our house (!!!) right after my birthday, so soon that will be “over,” but really it has just begun because that just means all the papers will be signed. I am SO excited to be moving into a HOME with my husband and to be starting our life together in the first space that neither of us has lived in before. But with that excitement also comes a lot of work and expenses. We have been looking at living room furniture, trying to decide on decor, I have only packed TWO boxes so far, and we have to figure out and set up building a fence for the doggies. Adulting just seems like a lot of stuff you don’t really know about but you just try your best and then hopefully the next time you can do better.

Along with getting married, moving in together, getting my name legally changed and all of our money stuff joined together, ordering new cards with my new name on them and changing all my account profiles, buying a house, school starting, and Andrew’s busy coaching schedule, we also found out right as school started that Bruno has diabetes. I know to some people it is no big deal, or “he’s just a dog,” but he is my little buddy that I love more than anything in this world. I was really devastated by the news and I’m still trying to navigate the new routine and need for giving him two shots of insulin a day at the same time for the rest of his life. It has been a huge shift for us that we’re still all getting used to, and I know that there will be other complications later from him having diabetes that we will need to prepare for, like cataract surgery or whatever else may come. He’s only 5 so this was a huge shock, but I know we can’t control these things. He seems to be doing better with his insulin shots, and we’ll go back to the vet Monday for some tests to see if his levels are more stable, unless we can’t make it due to the storm.

the sweetest little derpy corgo

So even on top of everything else, hurricane Florence is heading right for us here in Raleigh. We have tried to prepare the best we can, but all of the gas stations are out of gas and all of the grocery stores are out of water. We have food, flashlights, candles, etc. and we will just fill up all of our containers with water before the storm comes, just in case. Mostly I’m worried that if the power goes out, we won’t be able to keep Bruno’s insulin chilled long enough. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that it isn’t as devastating of a hurricane as what everyone is predicting.

I usually do well with a lot of things on my plate at once, but this is big stuff. I’m trying to be positive and focus on the wonderful things, like the new house, being married, having really sweet students this semester, etc. And we are also lucky that we are currently living in a 2nd floor apartment, so if there is flooding, we should be okay. I know that even with terrible circumstances, there’s always a reason and something good that can hopefully come from the struggle. So I will just keep trucking, keep packing up this apartment box by box, keep focused on the good things that are to come as soon as life settles a bit and we get used to this new normal.

Life doesn’t wait for you to be ready for it, so I’m working on letting go of the things I can’t control and just figuring them out as they come at us. We will get through this stressful season and hopefully settle into a new one that allows for a little more down time. There will always be a next thing, so I need to get ready for all the LIFE that will be coming our way in the future. The best part and the biggest comfort is that we get to do it together!

sending lots of safe wishes and thoughts to those who may be affected by hurricane florence this weekend.