Hitched!

erica akroyd photography

It’s official! I am a married lady now! The wedding day and even the entire weekend went by in such a blur, and I tried to really be in the moment like so many people have advised – but it still goes by quickly and you feel like you got bits and pieces of a lot of things, but it’s hard to put everything together as a whole, if that makes sense. Our wedding day was sooo wonderful, minus my hair stylist not showing up – but we got that fixed pretty quickly and the rest of the day was smooth sailing! There’s always got to be a story, right?! And our honeymoon in Jamaica was amazing!!! Just what we needed. A week with my husband (!!!), relaxing in the clear water and white sand, getting some sun and rest, with no responsibilities and no commitments.

What a WHIRLWIND this summer has been. I thought this would be a summer where I could relax, work on the blog, lay out by the pool, run errands for the wedding…I barely had time for any of that! What it really ended up being was hours of final details, emails, and meetings for the wedding, trying to work out and meal prep so I was feeling my best, my sister was studying for her board exam to become a Nurse Practitioner (she passed and starts her new job in Charlotte TODAY!), Andrew was working on summer school and summer baseball and football coaching…the list goes on! All of that mixed up with other weddings and showers, my bachelorette weekend, and trying to pack up my sister’s things, move Andrew out of his apartment and into mine, unpack all of our wedding gifts and donate tons and tons of clothes and household items, and try to pack for the wedding and honeymoon! There was stuff EVERYWHERE for weeks and weeks and for someone like me, that’s a nightmare. So now that we are home from our honeymoon and I’ve been able to unpack every last box and make a few decor swaps, it’s starting to   f  i  n  a  l  l  y   feel like a home – our very first home together!

It has been raining since we got home from Jamaica, so that’s no fun – but other than that, I’m so happy to be back to real life, to finally have all three dogs back together with us again, and to be able to catch up with people after the hectic last few months!

So now there are about 2 weeks left until school starts up again and I am trying to just really enjoy every moment of them. I need to get my name changed, so I’m working on getting that done ASAP, and other than that, it’s mostly just settling in to our new home and finding our new routines until school begins and our routines change completely again! Haha! I’m planning on some blog posts about wedding details, the honeymoon, and maybe our apartment, as well as regular non-wedding related posts in the next little while, so stay tuned – don’t give up on me!

Wedding update // 39 days to go!

I can’t believe that in a little over a month, we will be walking down the aisle and saying, “I do!” Such a crazy and surreal feeling. All of our big things have been taken care of, and here’s an update on the few things we have left:

My dress is currently being altered, and I can’t wait for that to be finished so I can have my hair and makeup trial and bridal portraits done by Whitney! Once it is done, I’ll invite my mom and future mother-in-law for the big reveal at the bridal salon. So exciting! I have a perfume for the day of, all of my jewelry, shoes, and I’m excited to finalize a hair style soon. I’m borrowing Whitney’s veil from her wedding in April, I have something blue from my granddaddy and Andrew’s dad, and I have lots of old and new!

All that’s left now is finalizing small details and conducting final meetings with vendors. We will meet with our DJ soon, and we have our meeting with the venue planner tomorrow! We will finalize menus, head counts, the day of timeline, our ceremony, etc. We need to have some signs made and get programs printed once we have everything set in stone…and that’s about it! The rehearsal and meal are planned, and I’m so excited for the day before the wedding to see family and friends, get nails done with the girls, and have my last day as a “single” gal! I’m planning on having a little slumber party with my bridesmaids in the hotel suite the night before the wedding.

We have had four – FOUR – showers thrown by the most kind people who have made us feel so loved. We have one shower left and it will be an around-the-clock themed shower thrown and hosted by my sister and best friends. I can’t wait! Then, a bachelorette weekend with my bridesmaids and favorite ladies at the beginning of July, and after that, it’s just a final countdown until the wedding weekend! I’m trying to stick to a fitness routine and skin care routine, and just make sure I’m taking time to relax so I don’t get stressed out or overwhelmed! I am mostly just thrilled to be marrying Andrew and starting our new life together (with the three doggies, of course).

I may check in once more before the big day, but I definitely plan to share more details afterwards, like pictures and details from the day itself, the gifts I selected for the people I love, how I handled the planning process, etc.! I have enjoyed planning our wedding for the most part, and we’ve done it in about 6 months! I know the day will be a blur, and I know everything will NOT go according to plan. So I just plan to soak up and enjoy all of it, and forget about minor issues. At the end of the day, we’ll be married – and that’s the whole point!

FriYAY feels!

at the rally for teachers and students in downtown raleigh this week! #redfored

Friyay! This week, I joined 20,000+ teachers, parents, students, and supporters in the march downtown to demand more funding for students and classrooms, more resources for mental health, class size changes, and better working conditions. It was cool to be part of something bigger than me, and to come together with thousands towards one common goal.

This weekend, my sister is having a graduation party and I can’t wait! I’m so proud of her for busting her butt the last 3 years to become a Nurse Practitioner. She’s going to be amazing! Andrew and I also have an end of the year party at one of our friend’s houses from school, so it will be really fun to kick back and celebrate!

I said I would report back on my Tula skincare purchase. I ordered the discovery kit to see what I thought – and once it was empty, I re-ordered the full size face wash, this exfoliating mask to try, and the pro-glycolic resurfacing gel toner. In hindsight, I would swap out the face mask for the probiotic day &  night cream next time – the moisturizer is amazing, but I didn’t order it because I still have my Murad moisturizer from my Spring FabFitFun box that I love! The face wash goes a long way and it cleans my makeup off really well without a lot of scrubbing or effort on my part. I can’t say that my breakouts have cleared up 100% because that’s just my luck in life, but I do love the way it makes my skin look and feel. We’ll see how it continues to go!

Still loving these slides and wearing them at least twice a week. SO comfortable.

This week I got to the gym as many times as I said I would! Huge feat for me. I feel great, sore, and ready to keep this up! My wedding dress should be here soon, so I want to feel my best when I get it on!

New favorite affordable mascara (still holding onto this one as my other all time favorite) and the lip I’ve been rocking constantly (in the color Baci). I’ve loved the Stila stay all day liquid lipsticks since my college years, but this color is so good.

I’ve been stacking this necklace stamped with our wedding date lately, with this “A” necklace that I always wear (Andrew got me the “J” necklace for Christmas last year, and it broke one morning at school. I ordered the A thinking I could slide on the J charm with it, and I couldn’t get the J back on due to the clasps…so now I wear his initial instead!).

my necklaces!

I got to meet my friend Kelly’s little man Jacob last Sunday. He is only a week and a half old and he is perfect! He came a few weeks early but he is healthy and doing great. I am so happy to have another friend with a baby – my other friend Kelly had her baby Kate in December. So many baby snuggles in my future!

Two things I’ve been practicing with for wedding events and the actual wedding day after INTENSE research and review reading:  This sunless tanner (use the application mitt!) and some hair extensions so my thin hair can be on fleek. No shame. My legs are white, white, white and until I can lay by the pool (with SPF, of course), I’m trying to look a little bronzed in my white dresses for showers and events surrounding the wedding. I don’t think I’ll use it for the big day because I would hate to risk being streaky and I would never forgive myself if I stained my dress! But it has been working really well so far! The extensions are real hair, high quality, and matched my  hair really well. They are just a few inches longer than my real hair. They just give it some life and fullness, and whatever I decide for my wedding hair, my hair stylist suggested them to just give me a little more oomph! I ordered them from Bellami Hair in the ash blonde color.

I ordered this tote way back in April (it was a definite splurge, a treat yoself item I bought when I finally got approved for my Master’s degree extra pay!). It was on backorder because I got the petal pink color – I guess it’s all the rage this season! I have had my eye on this bag since about a year ago, but couldn’t bite the bullet. My best friend Whitney got one for Christmas and I decided I just had to have it. I haven’t gotten a purse since this bad boy last summer which I’m still carrying, and I haven’t gotten myself a NICE purse in……..ever? So it arrived yesterday and I’m just delighted.

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

FriYAY feels!


cloth & paper notepad, feyoncé mug was a gift!

FriYAY!!! The weekend is upon us. This weekend, I’m at the beach with some of my favorite people, celebrating my best friend Whitney for her bachelorette weekend! She’ll be getting married in about a MONTH – I can’t believe it and I can’t wait to stand up there next to her while she marries the love of her life! Her bridal shower was in February, which was a ton of fun, so I know this weekend will be grand. I’ve really been looking forward to it!

I’m so ready for spring and Whitney’s wedding has kind of been that stepping stone for me – like, by the time she gets married, spring will be HERE. And then before you know it, the 100 degree, 100% humidity days will start rolling in just in time for mine and Andrew’s wedding in July! I especially love the warmer weather for when I go watch Andrew’s baseball games after school. At the beginning of the season, it’s frigid by the end of the game, but by the end of the season, I’m getting sunburned and sweating. Either way, I still love it!

Speaking of Spring, all the florals are out in stores in full fledged glory. I’m loving this dress – and you can’t beat a price like that for a nice dress from Loft!

I’ve been using Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer for a couple of months now and have COMPLETELY fallen in love with it. I’m still using my Bare Minerals BarePro foundation, but once it runs out, my next purchase will immediately be the new Shape Tape foundation. I can’t wait to try it! I’ll have to decide on either the matte or the hydrating.

I’m starting to think about the honeymoon in July, and I realized I don’t have a matching set of luggage. When I graduated high school, I got a nice set – but that was 13 years ago! That makes me feel old. I’m l-o-v-i-n-g this set and daydreaming of my new monogram – but this one is probably a more affordable and realistic option!

That’s about all that’s going on with me! Celebrating huge life events like my best friend getting married, preparing for mine and Andrew’s wedding, my best friend Kelly having a baby in May…and our high school’s spring break and Andrew’s birthday are in just a couple of weeks! I’m so looking forward to that week off so I can take care of things I really need to do – like deep clean, de-clutter and donate things I am no longer using, and do my taxes (fingers crossed!).

I’ll be sharing photos and insta stories of Whitney’s bachelorette weekend for the next couple of days, so follow along on Instagram! Enjoy the weekend!

 

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!

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!


 

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.

FriYAY feels!

Friyay! I still can’t believe we’re engaged and I am still just so happy and excited! My friend Lindsey got me this mug as an engagement gift. I also had a couple of students who got me little engagement gifts, which is so sweet. We are working on securing a venue and date right now, and I just signed up for an account with The Knot to help me keep track of all my wedding planning and details!

Other things I still can’t believe include the fact that Christmas is in THREE DAYS. What?! I feel like such an old fuddy-duddy saying this, but it seems like it just comes faster and faster each year (I also feel like a fuddy-duddy for even actually saying fuddy-duddy…blame my future husband for that lingo).

My Christmas gifts are all wrapped up and ready to be delivered. I won’t see some friends to celebrate until after the new year, so that’s always a fun thing to look forward to once everything else has quieted down. I got everything ready last night for heading home:  Laundry, wrapping gifts, last-minute cleaning before leaving, packing up myself + the doggies, etc.

One of the best Christmas happenings is that one of my very best friends had her baby girl this week!!! She has the sweetest face and name, and I can’t wait to hold her and love on her as soon as I possibly can. A lot of the people I care most about are having babies, getting married, and making big life changes that are all exciting. It just feels like a happy – yet hectic – time in life.

Finally, yesterday my department at school had a Christmas party and it was a pot luck. I brought my “famous” banana pudding. Everyone raves about it, so I thought I’d share it here! I actually got it from my dad’s wife Kathy, but it is always a HUMONGOUS hit and it is so delicious. It’s adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe, and I think the difference is in the pudding mixture, lemon juice for the bananas, and the type of cookies that you use. Literally every time we have a department function, everyone wants the banana pudding. Give it a try this Christmas and see how delicious it is!

Not Your Momma’s Banana Pudding

1 (12 oz.) container cool whip – this generally comes in 8oz containers so I usually just use the leftover 4oz for low fat desserts!

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups milk ( I use 2%)

1 (5 oz) box instant French vanilla pudding mix  (I can never find this in French vanilla and just go with regular vanilla. MAKE SURE it’s instant!)

6 to 8 bananas, sliced  (dip them in a small bowl of lemon juice before layering them)

2 bags chessmen cookies  (Pepperidge Farm – I always buy 3 bags, because sometimes there are broken ones in the bag and I am extra and want it to look nice…and also because extra cookies)

Note:  Of course, you can make any of these lighter by using low-fat options.

Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using a separate large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

There it is! The best banana pudding I have ever had, seriously. The lemon juice keeps the banana slices fresh and correctly colored, and it also adds a nice something to it. On top of that, the pudding part itself really is delectable. This time my sister made it for me while I was at school to help out – she is the best!

That’s it for now! I am heading to Andrew’s mom’s house for a night, then to Asheville with my family for a few nights over Christmas, and then I’ll be back in town to enjoy my last few days off before school starts back up again. I plan to write before or on the new year, because I have a couple of resolutions I want to share! Everyone have a very merry Christmas!

Gettin’ hitched!

We are engaged!!!

I wrote about our story/how we met a little while back, and Monday was the 2 year anniversary of when Andrew asked me to be his girlfriend. On Tuesday, he asked me to be his wife! It is so surreal to even write this post, and it has only been a couple of days, but the week has been packed and full of emotion and excitement!

Tuesday at school, Andrew told me he had made us reservations for Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Raleigh, and so I was already excited and looking forward to a fun evening out together. We were getting ready to leave for dinner, and he stopped me in front of my Christmas tree and said he wanted a REAL reason to celebrate, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so shocked I asked him if he was serious or if it was a joke! We were so excited and all of a sudden the shock wore off and I started boo-hooing (of course!). I made Andrew tell me all of the details of how long he knew, did anyone else know, allllll the questions! We headed to dinner and he told me all the things he had rehearsed in his head all day to say – when he actually proposed, he was so nervous he forgot everything he wanted to say! We had such an exciting and happy dinner. The manager brought us a glass of champagne, and we just enjoyed ourselves so much!

at sullivan’s after our dinner!

The ring was Andrew’s mom’s. His dad gave it to her for their 30th wedding anniversary, and with his dad being gone now, it is such a special reminder every time I look at my ring. It is beautiful and exactly what I wanted! I was giving Andrew a hard time because I have been getting regular gel manicures for months, and the weekend I decided to do my own nails and stop going to get them done professionally, he proposed! That’s how it goes, right?

Hopefully soon, we’ll be picking a date and starting to nail down some details, but for now, I am just so excited and trying to soak it all in!

We’re getting married! 🙂

FriYAY feels!

Finally Friyay!

This week flew by. I was off Monday and Tuesday, and on Monday I worked for hours agonizing over my budget and how I can save and plan better next school year so I won’t need to have a summer job. Reality check. I also made a goal to really focus on being active this week, and I stuck to it! Small victories.

I mentioned my Fourth of July plans earlier this week, but it was such a great time! The food came out perfectly and it was so nice to just relax and kick back a little bit. We didn’t end up going to the baseball game, but it was nice just to stay home and be near the dogs and take it easy!

filet mignon, honey lime ginger grilled scallops (adapted from here), garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, and grilled balsamic brussel sprouts (andrew had brats and burgers like a true american)

I got my hair done last Saturday and I am loving it! It’s always nice to get a little refresher from Jamie at the Parlor. (I’ve been going to her for like 10 years, no joke).

My family is going on a beach vacation in August, which I am so excited about! I am looking at these and these. Also loving this coverup and this coverup that could also double as a cute summer dress!

Finally, I mentioned my best friend’s wedding in this post, and a couple of weeks ago we ordered our bridesmaid skirts and tops for the big day! I absolutely can’t wait to see how everything comes together. When I put on my outfit and imagined everything on the big day, it suddenly became really real to me that this is happening! I’ll be crying like a baby when Whitney walks down the aisle (what else is new?).

That’s all, folks! Happy Friyay!