Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Wrapping Up Christmas

We are back at home after a whirlwind trip to all the family. We made two stops in opposite ends of South Carolina so that we could see both of our parents. We love that they live in the same state making it a bit easier to see everyone. We started over at the lake with my parents where there was a lot of eating and game playing- some of my favorite things! 

Monday evening, after an afternoon of darts and shuffleboard at a local spot, we ventured downtown for pizza and to check out the awesome light display their little main street does. They time all of the lights to music and it is really quite impressive. It was a chilly night and definitely felt like December- its a miracle how quickly you lose your tolerance for cold. I kept reminding myself that I'd spent the last year and a half in PA and should be tougher but alas, I am not and was glad to be bundled up in my parka. 

Tuesday was a gloomy day but we didn't let that stop us! We went out for lunch...I said there was a lot of eating right? And then we went miniature golfing! Yes, in December. And yes, it was drizzling/raining throughout our 18 holes but it was SO fun! I don't have any pictures because as I said it was rainy so none of us were looking our best for a photo op. The spot we went is not your typical putt putt course...as in there is no windmill, or pirate ship or other themed characters all around. But instead, it is full of beautiful greenery, water features, sculptures. It's called Oasis and it definitely gives off an oasis vibe. 

Wednesday was "Christmas"! It wasn't really but we made it Christmas with all of our usual traditions. We opened stocking presents, ate breakfast casserole then opened some other gifts. And the remainder of the day was spent relaxing and watching the boys manage dinner. Seriously, you all haven't seen men discuss meat cooking until you have seen my husband and dad together. It was worth it though because they created a delicious prime rib for our Christmas feast! 

On Thursday we headed out of town to make our way to the next town for more Christmas. Hubby's grandparents would also be in attendance which was lovely since I hadn't seen them since our wedding. Friday afternoon we spent the day over at a high school friend's of my husbands. Along with some other high school buddies. I love that these guys have stayed so close and they are truly the most welcoming group of friends. And it's always fun to get everyone together! After a day of catching up it was back to the in-laws for more prime rib. Let me tell you, hubby was in heaven with all of the food choices over the week. 

Saturday was Christmas part 2 and the only evidence I have of it is a picture of our dog Bo in his new sweater...he was a big fan! 

I can assure you the rest of us also enjoyed the merriment of gift giving, and the delightful surprise of being able to be out on the porch in some gorgeous late December weather. We headed back to our own home on Sunday and began trying to unpack and organize. And figure out how our own home is so messy and cluttered when we didn't actually have Christmas here...

In other news...I am now 15 weeks pregnant and showing every bit of that. Not sure if it's baby or the Christmas cookies, or maybe a bit of both! 

I always love the space between Christmas and New Years. Perhaps because as a teacher I've always had that time off as opposed to going back to work in between. But I think it allows for the loveliest of transitions into a new year. There's time to slow down, reflect and look forward. I'm nearing the end of finishing a new years resolution- perhaps for the first time! I'll share more about in the next few days. And anticipating the new year with excitement and joy at the changes coming our way. And of course also practicing a new skill of balancing things on my belly!

Adorable mug courtesy of my sweet sister!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Big News!

If you follow me on social media then you already saw my announcement but hubby and I are expecting a bundle of joy this coming June! 

We are beyond thrilled with the news of our growing family and it has been so fun to share the excitement with our loved ones the last several weeks. We discovered we aren't great secret keepers when it comes to something that is so full of joy. 

I found out the Thursday before my cousin was getting married, just before leaving for a 10 hour drive from PA down to SC for the festivities. And because we had begun our relocation at that point hubby was already down south waiting for me to arrive. Which meant, it was just me when I found out. I was in a bit of disbelief, and cried happy tears and said a prayer of the utmost thankfulness to the Lord for an answered prayers. And then took a selfie so I could show hubby my initial reaction. 

Then I had to somehow keep that secret from him for the 10 hours of driving, where I talked to him on the phone 3 different times. I was so excited to tell him but definitely wanted it to be in person. The interesting thing was, we were staying the night at our close friends' house so we weren't exactly going to have much time just us for this announcement. But I had a plan. Earlier in the year I had found a shirt that I wanted to use to share the news with hubby and I packed that with me. It says "She's eating for two, I'm drinking for three." I knew he would get a kick out of it. So as soon as I arrived, I asked hubby if he would mind carrying my suitcase up to the guest room for me . He said of course and as we walked up the stairs I let him know I had brought something from home I thought he would want. So in our friends' guest room I pulled out the shirt and tossed it to him, giving him a moment to read it and process what it meant. His reaction has obviously been my favorite and it was simply the best finally getting to celebrate that moment together.

Ok this isn't actually right after I told him, its from the next day but I assure you we were riding a joy wave the whole weekend! 

But we decided we wouldn't tell anyone else just yet, we'd give it a week or two since it was so so early. Not to mention, this was my cousin's weekend and I didn't want to spoil it. However, it turns out its much harder to hide this information that one would think. Particularly if the people around you are aware you're working on adding to your family. So when I decline the pre-dinner cocktail, said no to the oysters at dinner and offered to stay sober and drive us home so we wouldn't have to Uber our friends we definitely suspicious. And by suspicious I mean they totally knew but were willing to pretend they didn't. Whew! One night down without spilling the beans (ish).

But then it was wedding weekend, surrounded by me entire immediate family and much of my extended family. When I asked for juice instead of a mimosa while the bridesmaids were getting ready, there was a hubbub of chatter from the other room about what that might mean. And a knowing smile and comment from my aunt. But I stayed strong and said I had nothing to share- it wasn't my day! But my cousin pulled me aside shortly after to tell me she was so excited for me and I knew there was no hiding it then- I do not have a poker face. So we exchanged hugs and excitement and my cousin became the 2nd official person to know about our bundle of joy. 

Well after that, I called hubby and told him we had to tell people- there was no way I couldn't tell my sister and parents. After all sister was also with us getting ready and mom and dad would be there shortly. And of course if we're telling my parents, we're also telling your parents and let's call our friends back and confirm what they already know. So with me in the parking lot of the wedding venue and hubby downtown killing time at Fall for Greenville, we facetimed our families to let them in on the news. Cheering and a few tears all around! 

This is my most recent belly picture. I'll actually be 14 weeks tomorrow so I'll have to take an update. Also, I'm pretty sure that's not all baby and is probably mostly cheetos. 

The bean spilling didn't end there and by the end of the weekend that whole side of the family knew/ But you know what, that's ok- those are our people and I think its good for your people to know all the excitement. 

So here we are...almost 10 weeks later and it's officially our in the world. We've seen our little munchkin and heard the precious heartbeat and spend most evenings talking baby names, or baby gear or baby questions while we relax on the couch. And I'm not sure there's anything else I'd rather do. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Final Hodgepodge of 2021

We had a great visit to my sister's last weekend that I want to recap but the Christmas shopping and wrapping and baking has me running around like crazy this week so stay tuned for that, hopefully before this weekend rolls around. But I didn't want to miss the last hodgepodge of the year, so I'm taking a pause from baking to answer today's questions. Join in at my mom's blog

From this Side of the Pond

1. How young is young? In the past, according to various organizations who decide these things, age 60 was the 'border age' to old. The World Health Organization has done new research recently and divided up the categories as-0-17 (underage), 18-65 (youth or young people), 66-79 (middle-aged), 80-99 (elderly senior), 100+ (long-lived elderly). Your thoughts on this particular breakdown, and also your thoughts as to where you land?

I think based on the people I know in their 60's this new breakdown makes so much sense! I know some spry and wonderfully fun people who fall at the end of the "young people" or beginning on the "middle-aged" and I would never describe them as old. I also like that it places me firmly in the young people category. And while I know I thought 31 seemed SOO old when I was a kid, it certainly doesn't feel that way now. Well except when I want to get in bed at 8:30 on a Friday night. 

2. TIME magazine has declared Elon Musk person of the year in 2021. What say you? If you want to know more about how they choose you'll find that info in the link here. If you were choosing, who would be your person of the year? 

I don't usually pay a lot of attention to the this announcement but I have heard a lot about Elon Musk this year. And while, I wouldn't say I've always been impressed with him or seen the huge appeal, he's definitely had some influence this year. The most interesting thing related to Elon Musk, I viewed this year was a docu series on Netflix called "Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space". While it doesn't center around Musk himself, SpaceX is his company so he obviously played an important role and I found the whole series very interesting. I recommend it if you're looking or a end of year show- just 4 or 5 episodes on Netflix. 

If  I were selecting the person of the year, I'm inclined to say teachers, or nurses or both. I would have said this same thing last year as well as these groups of people have continued to step up in challenging situations. 

3. I read here ten habits of extremely likable people which include-they greet the world with a smile on their face, they ask questions, they're consistent, they put the phone away, they remember names and use them, they keep an open mind and don't pass judgement, they're authentic, they're kind and generous, accountable for their mistakes, and they send thank you notes.  

So, are you likable-lol? Which one of these habits could use some further developing in your own life? What is one habit/quality you'd add to the list? 

Well I like to think I'm likable and I would say many of these qualities on this list are things I work to possess in myself. But there are definitely some areas that need improvement. If I'm picking one, it's putting my phone away. I definitely need to limit that time. I think I would add being punctual to that list. I love people who are punctual. 

4. One non-holiday related task/job/goal/dream on your to-do list that you hope/plan to make happen before the new year rolls in? 

Finish hanging pictures in our home...there's only 3 more. Does it count as being on my to do list but really my husband will be the one to do it? 

5. Share with us some of your holiday plans. 

Hubby and I will be visiting both sides of our family this holiday season, a few days at each. We sure would love if everyone could be together since neither of our siblings will be making it home this year but nevertheless we're looking forward to time with family celebrating the joy of the season. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Since I mentioned I've been doing some baking I thought I'd share what's on my baking list with a link to the recipe I'm using if you need any inspiration. 

Gingerbread cookies, Peppermint Snowball Cookies, Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Martha Stewarts (ok this isn't what these are called, but it's what I've always called them- I use a recipe card from my Mema, but I've found the link I think).

I also made this delicious white chocolate peppermint bark. I found this idea last year from a girl I follow on instagram and I've linked her blog post about it here for you. She even includes a little card that you could add to yours if you're giving it as a gift. So definitely check that out.  This is SO SO easy, takes hardly any time and makes the best neighbor gift or personal holiday snack- whichever you prefer.

1. You start by crushing a bunch of candy canes. You can use the large or small but I think the small are easier to crush and since I also crush candy canes for my peppermint snowballs, I'm all about making it easy. 

2. After crushing them, you want to sift them so there isn't as much peppermint dust in the mixture. You just want the chunks. 

3. Melt white chocolate. I'm sure you're supposed to use a double boiler but I don't have a bowl I can use for that so I microwave it and it does just fine. I do 1 minute, sitr, then 15 sec, stir then 15 sec and stir one more time- done! After its melted you'll add in some of the crushed peppermint- not too much but enough to distribute it through the chocolate.

4. Spread the mixture on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and sprinkle the top with more crushed peppermint. 

5. Let it set- it would set fine on the counter I'm sure but I do it in the fridge to save time. Takes just a few minutes.

6. After it's set break it apart and store in an airtight container till your ready to eat! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Gearing up for Christmas with the Hodgepodge

Linking up with the hodgepodge today. Head over the my mom's blog to join in! 

 From this Side of the Pond

1. 'Tis the season to be jolly....so are you? 

I feel pretty jolly for the season. It has been fun getting to find spots in the new house for our holiday decorations and starting to build some holiday traditions with hubby as this is our first married Christmas. I do wish some of the logistics of traveling and getting to all the people we want to see were a bit simpler but I'm not going to let it deter me from enjoying the season! 

2. Do you trim a tree this time of year, and if so is yours all done? What's something in your home-closet-life that needs to be trimmed in the new year? 

We did get a tree this year! It's artificial which I think is the way to go and I'm very happy with it. I don't do too much in terms of trimming aside from the lights (that it came with) and ornaments. I'm thinking as the years continue I may up my tree game but for this year I was pleased to get it up and working. 

Hm, do I need to trim anything in the new year? Probably. Moving alerted my hubby and I to how much stuff we have and we definitely have been working to trim that down a bit!

3. Are you 'dreaming of a white Christmas'? Is that a possibility where you'll be celebrating? According to
 this site the top ten places in the US you can count on for a white Christmas are- North Pole Alaska, Crater Lake Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, Winthrop Washington, Aspen Colorado, Ketchum Idaho, Mt. Washington New Hampshire, Whitefish Montana, Duluth Minnesota, and the Lake Tahoe town of Truckee California.

Of the snowy spots listed which would you most like to visit? 

I do love a white Christmas, though it seems unlikely that we'll see one this year- you never know though! Of the top 10 list, I think I would most like to check out North Pole Alaska. I mean, it just sounds like the perfect Christmas destination. But I also think I would like to head to Truckee at Lake Tahoe- I've heard Lake Tahoe is beautiful and I'm sure even more so when covered with a snow blanket.  

4. December 8th is National Brownie Day...will you be celebrating? How do you like your brownies-chewy or cake-like, frosted or plain, nuts or no nuts, a piece from the middle or give me the corner? As a child were you a member of a brownie troop? 

I saw that this was coming up. I may have to go get myself a brownie to celebrate! I will eat a brownie any way it is served to me, but I prefer no nuts, and no frosting and definitely prefer a fudgy/chewy texture but with a crisp top. I am definitely corner piece all the way because I feel like you get the best ratio of fudgy middle to crisp edge. 

I was a brownie as a child and I recall it being a fun time, although with far less actual brownies than the name implied. 

5. Share a favorite line or two from a Christmas carol or holiday tune. 

"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

Oh Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song and I think this line really captures the expectation of the advent season and the joy at the arrival of Christmas. And these last couple of years especially, I think people can truly relate to the idea of a weary world ready to rejoice. And Christmas brings that no matter what is going on around us. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

In my tree picutre above it may be hard to see but the topper for our tree is a fabric angel. And a fun fact about that angel is that it is made from the fabric of my mom's wedding dress. Last Christmas, just a few weeks before my wedding, my mom gifted me a beautiful robe to wear the morning of my wedding made from her wedding dress. Upon receiving it I quite literally burst into tears. Seriously, it was sort of embarrassing how overcome with emotion I was. See evidence below. 

Photo grabbed from my mom's blog, where you can read all about it.

But after recovering from that, I also discovered a beautiful Christmas ornament made of the same heartfelt material which worked just perfectly as a tree topper this year for our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs.

Photo grabbed from my mom's blog.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Weekend Recap

 It's a rainy Monday here in Tennessee, which definitely makes me want to just extend the weekend and stay snuggled on the couch. But I'm working on tackling our to-do list, a little at a time. The weekend sure was lovely though! 

Friday evening was date night! Friday has pretty much been date night for us since we started dating and it's one of my favorite parts of the week usually. But then, we went out for every meal for 2 weeks so date night wasn't really a thing and then we definitely needed a restaurant break and some home cooked food for a change. But after our brief hiatus, we were back to our favorite day of the week heading to 1885 Grill for a night out. Followed by some Christmas movie watching, a perfect date night in my opinion.

We had big plans Saturday to do things around the house, and head to the holiday market and the incline railway and the Alabama/Georgie football game-all in one day. But the things around the house took a wee bit longer than we expected so plans shifted to...finishing things around the house, eating Mexican for a LATE lunch and watching football for the rest of the evening. One thing, of the many, that I love about my husband is how handy he is. He put up some ceiling storage for us in the garage which allows us so much more space now that we were able to move some of the boxes that were lining the walls up to the ceiling shelf. And I say we, but let's be real, it was all him. I am very lucky. 

Sunday we found ourselves back in church after a long time of not going. Our previous church had a lot of regulations in place that made it hard to get to an in person service. So finally being back in a church building, worshipping alongside others and hearing a message from a real life pastor not on a screen was a delight for my soul. We're still in what I would describe as the "church shopping" stage of the move, but we enjoyed our visit here. And because we missed the market Saturday, we headed over after church to peruse the aisle of homemade pottery, jewelry, soap, spices and jams among other things. We didn't end up buying anything but it's always fun to "window" shop right? 

The day ended with me rushing to finish up Christmas cards so they could get ordered in time for me to take advantage of the sale and somehow manage to get them to me in time to mail out before Christmas. That second part remains to be seen but I'm hopeful. I will share here once I've sent them out but oh boy am I excited about the card we came up with this year! 

And because I still have not managed to master the art of remembering to take photos so I'll have them for the blog later...I will leave you with this one of our silly little guy in his Christmas best. Merry Christmas from Bo :) 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Normal Routine? Is That You?

 Nope, not yet. But we're trying! I had anticipated that since the move south meant I wouldn't be working right away I would have so much more time to blog. Hah! As it turns out, there is so much to do when you're moving that any extra time you do have, you are too exhausted to do anything else. But I do finally feel like this week, we're moving towards a semblance of normal over here. We officially moved into our home on the 17th- woohoo!! But let me back up just a couple of days. And yes, I know it's December 1st and I'm talking to you about mid November but that's where we are. 

In the few days before we closed on our home, I headed to my sister's home to visit with her family to give myself a break from hotel living and have something to do while hubby was traveling for work. It was so wonderful to eat some home cooked food after a week of nothing but restaurants and sister and I had some much overdue sister time. It's so exciting to only be a short drive away from her now. Now short is a relative term in my book because she was living on the other side of the world and then upon their return  I was still 11 hours of driving north of her. So it's not like they live down the street, but a quick 3 hours seems like a breeze! 

We talked and shopped and got lunch at the cutest cafe with an attached warehouse style store full of different booths of items to peruse. And I can't forget that sister time also equals nephew time! We snuggled and read 1,000 books and built towers so that we could knock them down and I soaked up every minute. 

It was a quick trip but just the refresh I needed to push me into the rest of my busy week. I left her house and headed straight to our house closing. After all the million papers were signed (seriously, why is it so many?) we started trekking around to get all of the utilities set up. I do not understand why things like the water and electric company are not smack dab in a central location. In theory, everyone needs to go there at some point, so why are they out in the boondocks? And not near one another? Electricity and water secured, we ran a bunch more errands to be ready for move in before grabbing dinner to celebrate our new home and prepare for one last night of hotel living before finally getting to move in.

The movers came the next day, oh and the internet company, and we had a bed delivered. So it was basically chaos but those movers really moved! Things were unloaded and out of boxes in about 6 hours. But let me not mislead you, when I say they were out of boxes, I did not say they were neatly put away. Merely out of a box and on a flat surface. Or in a big pile... 

So Thursday night was spent getting the kitchen counters cleared before ordering takeout pizza. You don't realize how much stuff you actually own until is all sitting on every surface in your home. Hubby and I both determined after this, we may need to pare down a bit. But while we are wanting to pare down, we also bought some new things - whoops! But we needed a new rug for our living room and found this beauty that I just love! 

We have since rearranged some of the furniture here, but the rug is still my favorite :) 

We spent the weekend putting things away, getting a few more things delivered, and trying to make our house look more like home. We had to be prepared for turkey day obviously! Wait, you didn't think that because we moved in the week before Thanksgiving that meant we wouldn't be hosting people at our house all the following week did you? On Tuesday my aunt and uncle brought my grandmother over to spend the week with us and Wednesday brought my in-laws for a few days, followed by my own parents arrival on Friday. Why have a new home if you can't fill it with people? 

It sounds like a lot and well it also kind of felt like a lot but mostly it felt joyful and warm and made me extra thankful we have so many people who love us. There was some seriously puzzling being done, games played, and of course too much food consumed! Hubby smoked two turkey breasts... one of which was wrapped in bacon! Plus we had all the fixings, my favorite is always the stuffing. It's really dressing I guess because I don't stuff it in the turkey but I always call it stuffing anyways. 

The last of our company pulled away on Sunday morning. And as one holiday ends, a new one gets going. We got a tree on Monday and I sure do love a lit tree in the evenings. I don't have a picture of it with ornaments on it but you get the idea. We had to get on top of things and at least get the tree up because boy our new neighborhood is full of Christmas spirit. They're going to think we're scrooges if I don't get my wreath on the door or some lights on the porch. Two weeks of my life, wrapped up in one post. But now that things are finally settling down...she says hopefully...I fully intend to be keeping you in the loop on a much more regular basis. 

And for those of you that weighed in on our zoo/aquarium decision...we went zoo! I took no pictures as proof but we made a good choice. The aquarium and about 100 other things are still on our list though! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Flashing Back with the Hodgepodge

Today I'm linking up with my mom's blog for another edition of the weekly hodgepodge questions. My mom started doing this in 2010! And after looking back to her first post we are flashing back to a few of those early questions. Head on over to her blog if you'd like to join in the fun! 

From this Side of the Pond

 1. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you had thought about it maybe another five minutes before hitting publish? Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? 

My mom and sister both had blogs up and running by the time I decided to jump on the blog train initially. I had to look back to see exactly when I started my blog but it was the spring of 2014. So I was nearing the end of my first full year of teaching, living on my own, and very much felt like I was at the starting point of adulthood. Being that I was a teacher, when I first started my blog I envisioned it becoming somewhat of a teaching blog and wanted the name to reflect that. There were a million teaching blogs so it was a bit challenging finding some sort of play on the word 'elementary' that wasn't already in use. But I settled on It's Elementary with some help from mom and sister and was pretty pleased. Looking back over my blogging though, it didn't really turn into the teaching blog I envisioned and is much more of a "here's my life" sort of blog. But nevertheless, being a teacher is a big part of who I am so I don't know that  I would change it even if it wasn't a huge pain in the behind. 

2. What bill do you least like to pay? 

Is all of them an option? I would say my least favorite is any bill I can't pay online for whatever reason. I usually set my bills up on autopay so I don't have to worry about them much. Every now and then though, there's a dr bill or the toll bill that came in the mail that requires a phone call or a mailed check and I find that to be much more tedious. 

3. What is your favorite word? Okay okay, calm down. How about one of your favorite words? 

I like a lot of words. I like words in general and I find my favorite words are words with too many syllables or silly meanings. I feel like I also appreciate several words that I never used before moving overseas and those have hung around as some of my favorite like knackered when I'm overly tired and gobsmacked. I'm not sure any other word conveys the same level of shock/ 

4. Is the glass half full or half empty? Elaborate. 

I consider myself glass half full and try very hard to have that outlook even when I don't want to. I think especially in the current world we live in, glass half empty is the easy option. Things seem like they are all a mess and out of control and it can be hard to look on the bright side or believe there is more good than bad. I however, hold myself tightly to the faith I grew up with and lean in to the many promises of good that can be found there. Those promises are not wrong, they aren't late and  they are definitely far from empty.

5. Were you here for that very first Hodgepodge post? If so, were your answers then similar to what they are today? Tell us what was happening in your life in November of 2010? 

I was around during that time, hearing about it from my mom, but was not in the blogosphere at that point yet so my answers are all fresh and new. But in general looking back at Nov. 2010, to Nov 2021 my life is very different. In 2010 I had just turned 20 , I was  a junior in college, I worked as a nanny for a nearby family and my life was all around pretty carefree. Since then, I graduated, then got my masters, adopted my Gemma girl, taught for 6 years, became an aunt once then again, moved to PA, turned 30, taught for a couple more years  got engaged, got married, and now moved to TN. A lot of life happened in those years, our family saw huge loss during that time, we also gained some new members. All of us live somewhere different than we did in 2010 but still love each other like nobody else but your family can. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Hubby and I are going to do a bit of downtown exploring this weekend and  since I am a giant kid at heart my requested first TN adventure is to the aquarium or the zoo. So what do we think...should we hit up the zoo or the aquarium this weekend? The aquarium is apparently pretty impressive and everyone says it's amazing however the zoo, I imagine, wont' have too many more good weekends for seeing the animals outside as it gets colder. Let me know which you would choose! 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Moving South

Well we have moved! Or should I say we are on the move? While we have officially vacated our old home, we can't quite get into the new one yet. So it's been a lot of driving, bopping around to both sides of the family while we made our way south. Which meant we stayed in 5 different spots in 5 different days. It was so wonderful to see family and people we love but it is so nice to know that for the next 6 nights I don't have to load and unload a suitcase from the car. 

We said goodbye to our first home together and while I thought I would feel pretty sad leaving, the bitter cold temperatures we were driving away from made it a little easier. I do feel a sense of sadness that we've closed this chapter since it was our first one together. But the excitement of what's ahead and the whirlwind pace at which we spent the last few days in our house getting things ready meant that by the time we were preparing to get in the car and drive off, we felt ready. 

We're now temporary residents of a hotel near our new house and there are definitely some things about hotel living that I could get used to. For example, no laundry, no dishes, no house chores. However, the other side of that coin is...living out of a suitcase, a lot of eating out, feeling a little stir crazy while my husband is at work and everything else that needs to be done is sort of at a standstill until we're official residents. So what is the first stop to make in a new town? Barnes and Noble of course! 

I found myself accidentally at the mall while on my quest for the nearest Barnes and Noble. An excellent place to kill time, while also finding some new reads to keep me occupied when I eventually make my way back to the hotel. The town we're in has pretty much everything but I am definitely still in the phase of feeling lost every time I get in the car. I wasn't able to come down when my husband went house hunting so yesterday was my first time seeing the new streets, highways, shopping centers etc. And while I  do not consider myself directionally challenged, I am very ready to feel more confident in knowing where I am and where everything else around me is also. 

One thing you will not catch me complaining about here is the weather though...high of 70 today! As I mentioned above it was freezing when we left our PA home. And I don't say freezing in an exaggerating sort of way. It was literally below 32 degrees. Our neighbor let us know there were snow flurries shortly after we left. SNOW! So the sunshine and warm temps were a lovely welcome to our new state. 

Now to decide which book I should start first...

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Wedding, Family and Full Hearts

Last weekend we scooted down to South Carolina for a special family weekend. My sweet cousin was getting married! We opted to head down Thursday to give ourselves a little extra time since the drive is so long. It's not fun to do it twice in four days but it would be even less to try and do it twice in just three days. And the other bonus of leaving early meant one extra day of hanging with some of our favorite people! We spent Thursday night at our close friends house, complete with snuggles from their two kiddos and then a grown up double date night. This is the couple that introduced us and we love them and their sweet family dearly so it was an awesome bonus to spend some time with them. 

Friday was low-key to start with a yummy breakfast from the local biscuit company. Oh boy am I glad to be moving back to the land of biscuits soon! And afterwards hubby and I headed over to my sister's in-laws so he could FINALLY meet her, my bro-in-law and their boys! I know, I know...it's crazy that they haven't met. But since hubby and I didn't start dating until after they moved overseas, they've had to settle for facetime introductions. It warms my heart that even with only facetime the boys have still gotten to know him and Shannon tells me they ask about their uncle often. But the in person meeting had been long awaited and was finally here! We played trucks and planes and they showed off all their toys and asked questions and snuggled and we were all around thrilled to be in the same room as one another. 

After our reunion it was lunch, repacking suitcases and then just about time to get dressed and ready for the rehearsal and dinner. It should be noted that it had been pouring cats and dogs for DAYS leading up to this weekend. Seriously, all week- just buckets. But it miraculously stopped in time for us to make our way to the ceremony space. The setting the bride and groom had selected was truly stunning with just the most gorgeous views of the mountains. Even overcast it was gorgeous. This picture does not do it justice but trust me, the Blue Ridge mountains are an A+ backdrop for a wedding.

We practiced till it was perfect...the coordinator made sure of it. Then we loaded ourselves up in the cars to head to dinner downtown. The dinner was delicious and full of delightful conversation with family and some new friends. Hubby makes friends easily and often and I never worry about dropping him into a situation where he doesn't know many people. After dinner, we met up with rest of the family and hubby got to meet the last few members that he hadn't met yet while we all hung out in the hotel lobby telling old stories and some new ones. 

Saturday came much too quickly. This was not a weekend for sleeping in. So our carload headed over to meet up with the rest of the bridal party to start getting ready. But of course, not before stopping at Starbucks. Every bride (and her ladies) needs their favorite coffee to start the wedding day off right! My cousin had gotten us the softest pajama shirts to wear while getting ready. So did I go into Starbucks in a pajama shirt? Yes. Was there a very long line and did I have to stand there in my pajamas for about 20 minutes? Yes. Was I embarrassed? Absolutely not. The shirts were exactly what I expected from my cousin because they were delightfully cozy as opposed to some of the less practical getting ready outfits you see brides give out. 

I should point out that my hair and makeup did not look anything like this when I was standing in the Starbucks line. They were much less glam and much more, I didn't get enough sleep.

Caffeine in hand we were ready! Because getting reading for a wedding takes a while y'all. Boys have it so easy, they arrive, get dressed and it's time to go. But we ladies have a few more things on our to-do list. But we make it fun, with lots of snacks, music and girl talk. There's not many quiet moments when you put 7 women together in one room for several hours. 

Several hours, an cans of hairspray later we were all dressed and ready, it was time for the main event. The bride was stunning and we all peeked behind the trees for her first look moment with her dad and then her groom before it was time to walk down the aisle. 

The ceremony was lovely, and only a little wet. Yes, there had been no rain ALL day. But we did get a small shower during the ceremony. But how can you even care when two of the best people are in the middle of the best moment of their life? Plus, it came complete with a rainbow! Now I know they say rain on your wedding day is good luck, so I have to assume that a rainbow appearing behind you while you're saying your vows is even luckier! I don't have any ceremony pictures just yet because it's frowned upon to take pictures while standing up in front of everyone as part of the wedding party but I assure you it was magical. 

A few more pictures then it was time for dinner. Oh and toasts! All three toasts were lovely and I am not sure I have ever laughed so hard at a toast as I did for the best man...it was so creative and witty and all the guests were very impressed. Should I ever need to make a toast in the future I will be asking him for advice. After dinner was dancing time. Now let me tell you, my husband loves to dance. Loves it! So we were out there most of the night tearing up the dance floor with all of our moves. Some of them graceful and impressive, some a bit more silly. My husband danced his tail off...quite literally. He may or may not have left the evening with a tear in his dress pants. 

Don't say he doesn't know how to have a good time! This photo was my husband's idea and I'm not sure my bro-in-law was quite as excited but I'm pretty sure it fills both my sister and I with immense joy that these two men got along so well their first weekend meeting. 

Plus we were together and we are each other's favorite people (shh...don't tell our husbands!)

A sparkler send off concluded the magical evening and we helped load all the cars with all the things before heading back to the hotel. 

Sunday equals another early morning, breakfast at a local spot and lots of hugs, kisses and see you soons to so many of our favorite people before making the long trek home. I've made that drive many times but after such a full weekend, I've got to say it was a bit tougher and required a few extra stops for renewed energy. But as I flopped into bed that evening I was overwhelmed with the joy from the weekend. My cousin is such a special person and she found the most special man to spend her life with, And celebrating that with the people nearest and dearest to me was such a gift. 

Cheers to the newlyweds and the best weekend! 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Big Changes

We got some big news at our house last week....

We are leaving Pennsylvania and headed down to Tennessee! Hubby has been moved into a new position at work that involves relocating down south. I am so very proud of him for this accomplishment in his career. He is the hardest worker and it is so exciting to see that pay off in a big way. 

At the top of the list of amazing things that this move entails are...

1. Being back in the south. Woohoo!! No offense to all of your northerners. We have loved living up here but we are southerners at heart and being back below that Mason-Dixon line is a plus for us. Not to mention we'll be sneaking out of here before any big snows! 

2. Being closer to our families. Being back down south means we are closer to all of our people. While we're still not exactly neighbors, we are exponentially closer to both sets of our parents and siblings as well. Speaking of siblings...my sister and I have been way far apart for the last, oh 11 years I'd say. Spread out over South Carolina, D.C., Washington (state), Korea, Pennsylvania as we've moved through different seasons. And now, by some miracle we will live in the same state! Cue the excited cheers!! 

There are all kinds of things on this list, but these two are the ones that sit at the top, that make us giddy to get going! 

But while there is a long list of excitement in this opportunity, it is not without a note of bittersweet emotion. We really have loved this area and there is some sadness to leaving it. One of those, the biggest one probably, is that I have been at a great school over the last year. Finding a school community that you love being a part of can be tricky and I lucked out with this one. And It's certainly hard to say goodbye to my kiddos early on in the year. So I'll be cherishing the next few weeks with them as we prepare to make the transition. 

And aside from my job, I am a super sentimental person so I can't help but think of all this house has held for us. This is the first home we shared together. We were standing at this kitchen counter (well the pre-renovation version) when hubby told me he loved me for the first time, on one of my visits up here. We toasted our engagement on that porch. We planned a wedding from this house, and started our life together here. So saying goodbye to it will definitely give me some big feelings.  

But mostly I am so excited for this next chapter for us. Off on a new adventure together. The next month is going to be wild, getting everything together. And there are some challenges, with hubby needing to be in two place at once (both home here and at new job there) but we're going to figure it out together!  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Birthday Weekend Recap

 My birthday was last week and boy do I love my birthday. I can pretty much guarantee I will wake up in a good mood and I did just that. I opened a birthday present, a few cards and soaked in a few extra minutes with my husband at home with me! He's usually headed to work by the time I'm out of bed so it was a special birthday morning to get to sip our coffee side by side and start the day together. I also treated myself to Dunkin Donuts, because birthday treats are a must. And to me a birthday treat is a fancy coffee and a sprinkle donut (or 2!). 

And then it was off to work. While I am of the belief that everyone should have the day off on their birthday, no one has put that in action yet so I spent the day with 22 of the coolest third graders and they were all on their best behavior. Which meant extra recess at the end of the day, which is both a treat for them and for a tired teacher too! And after that last bell I was outta there! We had made plans to spend the weekend in Harrisburg/Hershey for a little getaway that wasn't too far. We both needed a change of scenery and my birthday gave us an excuse to say yes! And y'all it was such a great weekend. It was laid back and relaxed and full of the best food and time with my favorite person. 

We ate the most delicious birthday dinner at The Mill in Hershey. Seriously, if you live nearby you must try it. It's a cool atmosphere with a truly stellar menu. We had cripsy brussel sprouts that were honestly food magic. As in we asked for a recipe so I could try them at home. (I'll keep you posted on that one). And I surprised myself by ordering brisket for dinner! The waitress told me it was her favorite thing on the menu and I think it earned that spot well because it was every bit as delicious as it looks in this picture. Probably more really. And no birthday dinner (or let's be honest any dinner) is complete without dessert right? Peanut butter pie is the way to my heart and this one was particularly delicious. 

And because we're no longer cool and hip in our 20's we called it a night after dinner. Being 31 is pretty wild right? Saturday was full of adventures! We ate breakfast at the hotel and then I got to see a little bit of hubby's old stomping grounds. He had lived here before moving to our current home so I got to see all his old spots. Downtown Harrisburg seems like a great spot! There are some of the most gorgeous old homes right on the river and the capital building was a sight to see! I'm definitely not above the "touristy" things when I'm somewhere new.

After a quick trip to the casino, because why not, we were a little bit richer and ready to spend our winnings on a couple of beers and a soft pretzel the size of a bicycle wheel. I mean maybe I'm exaggerating but it was pretty huge. Also, can I just take this moment to tell you one of my favorite things about living in Pennsylvania? There are soft pretzels on SO MANY menus! And I think that is how it should be everywhere. 

This brewery was so fun! It's a favorite local one of hubby's and the vibe inside was great! A fun mural on the wall, yummy snacks and delicious beer made both of us pretty happy. 

And after a few beers what is a great idea? Axe throwing of course! Have any of you done this? It's become pretty popular! I had done it one other time and I think it is so fun. It's a little tricky to get the hang of, unless you're part viking, which apparently my husband is because he's a natural. But after you get the feel for it, it's a pretty good way to let off some steam. 

We ended our day by checking out a few local restaurants downtown for some sips and snacks including a super fun piano bar. It was a little italian place and I had a tiramisu martini which was dessert in a glass. And because no day out is complete with late night pizza we grabbed some before heading back to the hotel. Does it count as late night pizza if it's 9:00 and not 2am? As I said, 31 is wild y'all. 

Sunday we were headed home but not before brunch! Did we do anything besides eat? I'm not sure. We ended the weekend at Millworks (which is different from The Mill from Friday). It was another great spot though, a former mill turned restaurant with in house art galleries. The artists are right there on sight which I found super fun! Also... who thinks I need one of these firewood walls in my home? Just me? 

and they had the tastiest brunch menu. A savory bacon jalapeno donut, and friend chicken biscuits and sausage gravy. My southern heart soars when I find somewhere that does a yummy biscuit, especially if it also has gravy. I will say, I have yet to taste a truly southern version way up north here but this was close and filled both my belly and southern soul .

This weekend was filling in so many ways. Not only did we leave the weekend with full bellies but also my heart felt so full of joy and rest and ease from a weekend spent with the person who makes me the happiest and who knows how to make me smile and laugh like no one else. Cheers to 31, can't wait to see what this year holds!