Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013

Alright, folks, it's time for a little year-end review! I'm copying everyone else and taking a look back through the months of 2013... I can honestly say that this year has been one of the most life-changing and incredible years for me, and I feel so blessed to have made it through in one piece!

Let's do this thing:


I bought my first official blog design from Marquis and it jumpstarted my blogging "career".


I celebrated my 23rd birthday.


I started to get serious about wedding planning.


I went on my very first "blate" with my loves, Kendahl & Whitney.
I went to a Taylor Swift concert.


Andrew graduated from the University of Georgia.
I left my insurance job after a year with the company.


We flew out to Austin and signed a lease on our apartment.
We attended my best friend's wedding.
We attended Andrew's brother's wedding.


Nothing much happened this month... Just kidding ;)

I had my bachelorette party at New Smyrna Beach.
We had the most amazing wedding weekend imaginable (detailed posts to come... eventually)!
We had the most amazing honeymoon week imaginable.
We moved out to Austin with the help of Andrew's parents.


Andrew started his job at VMware.
We attended another of our best friends' wedding.
We added some feline members to our little family and they quickly became the loves of my life!


I officially changed my name.
My parents & brother came to visit.
I started my first-ever part-time job at Ann Taylor LOFT.


My sister came to visit and we went to the Austin City Limits music festival.
My one-year "blogiversary" occurred, and I celebrated by starting a brand new blog!


We spent Thanksgiving week in Georgia with my family.
Andrew got promoted!


Andrew celebrated his 24th birthday.
I accepted a job offer (more details to come soon)!
We went to a John Mayer concert.
We spent a week in Florida celebrating Christmas with our families.

So, there you have it. A year's worth of memories, compiled into a single blog post. Who knew it was possible? Thanks for time-traveling with me today, and I hope you all have a safe & fun New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Late...

...in publicly wishing my husband a Happy Birthday, that is! ;)

Last Tuesday was Andrew's birthday, and since I've been the worst blogger ever I didn't even have time to post about it, so I'm going to spend a little time today celebrating him.

Here are 24 things I love about Mr. James (since it was his 24th birthday):

1. He was arguably the world's cutest baby.

2. He's 6'3" and I'm 5'7" so I never have to worry about being taller than him.

3. He loves the Lord.

4. He loves cats.

5. He is a wonderful cook (see photo proof here).

6. He is business-savvy.

7. He dresses well.

8. He makes me feel special.

9. He is great with kids.

10. He always takes care of me.

11. He is trustworthy in every way.

12. He is one of the most humble people you will ever meet.

13. He is constantly making me laugh.

14. He has introduced me to (aka: forced me to watch, but then I fell in love with) some of my favorite movies & tv shows.

15. He puts up with my crazy, obsessed Bachelor-watching rituals.

16. He knows basically everything about technology.

17. He doesn't hog the covers.

18. He always drives, even on long road trips.

19. He prays with me every night.

20. He supports me in all that I do.

21. He encourages/inspires me to be healthy.

22. He kills all the bugs in our apartment.

23. He is pretty darn handsome, if I do say so myself.

24. He is the love of my life.

...Thanks for letting me gush on my husband! I hope this gave you all a little insight into the man who puts up with the woman behind this blog.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Concert & An Engagement

Sooo, last Friday night was a very happy night for this girl.

Not only did I get to see an absolutely incredible show by John Mayer, but one of my best friends (who just started a blog, btw!) got engaged to her long-time love!!!

It was almost too much joy for my little heart to handle :)

Here are some pictures to commemorate:

Honestly, if you ever have a chance to see John Mayer live, you should take it. He is one of the most talented guitarists out there, in my (and Andrew's) opinion! He is so funny and spontaneous and just really made it an awesome and special show for all of us in the audience. Basically, I'm obsessed.

Now let's see if I can figure out how to upload a video:


I think I did it! I couldn't send a clip long enough, but he was basically in the middle of a guitar solo and it rocked my socks off.

Anyways, I hope you guys are all having a wonderful week and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap!

My Thanksgiving week was wonderful. It was full of rest, good food, and laughs - all with my five favorite people on the planet! Here are some pictures that attempt to capture the weirdness that is my family (plus an obligatory picture of food):

In addition to spending three days in the Georgia countryside, I also got to go to a UGA football game. Andrew & I were so excited to watch our dawgs play in person... Especially when we ended up winning!

All in all, I have so much to be thankful for. It feels great to be back home in Austin, and there's nothing better than being reunited with my precious babies :) I'm looking forward to a (hopefully chilly) holiday season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Next Week

...I will be with mi familia!!! We will all be in the same place for the first time since July. I'm so excited! The plan is for me & Andrew to fly into Atlanta on Tuesday night, where someone will pick us up (Mom & Dad?) and bring us back to my grandpa's house (which we call "The Farm") in Woodland, Georgia. We'll stay there and celebrate Thanksgiving with my family until Saturday, when we plan to head back to Atlanta somehow (Mom & Dad?) to go to the Georgia/Georgia Tech game! We'll stay somewhere that night (hopefully not on the street...) and then fly back to Austin on Sunday morning. I can't wait for a week of relaxation, stuffing my face, and being with the people I love.

William (16), Nancy (49), Bill (51), Anna (20)
Poppy (84)

All this to say, I will probably not be blogging next week because I won't have time and/or internetz. Try not to miss me too much and I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some Updates

Hi everyone! It appears my slacker tendencies are still in full effect, so I apologize :( But I've actually been too busy to blog, so I guess that's good, right? I figured I would pop in today and give you guys some updates on what's been happening in our lives:

First of all, I'm starting to feel more settled here in Austin - yay! I'm getting better with directions, which is nice, but most importantly, I'm starting to actually do things with friends! The girls that Andrew works with have been so great about reaching out to me, as have the girls from our Missional Community. I'm SO thankful! We also recently had Becca and her fiancé over for a movie night, which was so nice and relaxing.

On a less fun note, I have been sick (or something) for about a week now. I say "or something" because everyone here has tried to convince me that's it's allergies, but I've never experienced allergies this bad. My throat is raw, my nose is running, I lost my voice, I can't stop coughing... It's miserable! I've tried a bunch of different OTC medicines, but nothing is working. Any suggestions???

Lastly, I have a new addiction/obsession/true love/whatever. It goes by the name of Game of Thrones and it is incredible. Andrew begged me to watch it with him until I finally gave in, and I'm so glad I did! Yes, it is (very) intense at times, but if you are willing to push through that, you will be rewarded with the most complicated and brilliant story probably ever created. My absolute favorite character is Daenerys Targaryen - not only is she stunningly beautiful (see below), but she is a heroine for the enslaved and a woman who is making her own dreams come true by not giving up.

Well, that's all for now, folks. It's time for me to get out of bed and start the day. Thanks for checking in! :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Drawing Near to God

I'll admit, I'm still struggling with this whole "unemployment" thing. It makes me question my qualifications and unfairly compare myself to others on an almost daily basis, and that's no fun.

However, I try to remind myself that this has happened to many others before me, and will happen to many more in the future, so I do understand that I'm not alone.

I also know that God is teaching me some amazing things during this time... even if I don't always like to admit it. Being unemployed has taught me about humility, selflessness, and (most of all) patience.

One thing that has been very encouraging to me, for many years now, is Jesus Calling. I use the app on my phone and absolutely love it! If you are ever looking for a daily devotional, I definitely recommend this one.

Recently, I read the snippet below and wholeheartedly related to it:

Thank you to everyone who has continued to lift me up as I learn to be satisfied with God's will and not my own!

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Journey to James

Sooo I told myself I would post 3 times a week, and last week I failed :( Maybe I will post 4 times this week to make up for it? (Don't hold your breath, though...)

Anyway, apparently in Texas, they want to make it as difficult as possible for a newly-married girl to change her last name. If you haven't been through this process (which I'm assuming most of you haven't), I'll enlighten you a bit.

Step 1: Get a new social security card. It's easy enough if you don't mind the 2 hour wait at the administrative office, or the 2 week wait for your new card to come in the mail.

Step 2: Get new car insurance. Andrew & I went with Geico, because they seemed to be the cheapest for someone like me who may or may not have gotten more than a few tickets in the past few years...

Step 3: Take proof of your new car insurance to a place that does car inspections. Your car must "pass" in order to move on the next step. My car did not.

Step 4: Take your car to a mechanic to fix whatever issue caused it to fail, and return to the car inspection place.

Step 5: Take proof of your new car insurance and your car inspection "pass" to the tag agency to receive new Texas plates and registration (and pay a hefty $200 in order to do so).

Step 6: Take your new Texas registration paperwork and your new social security card (and a million other identification documents) to the DMV to receive a new license with your new name! Except they only give you a temporary license and you have wait a couple more weeks for a real one to come in the mail...

Step 7 (which I have yet to do): Change your name everywhere else.

BUT I promise, it is all worth it. Because once you have that shiny new license in your hands (for me, my first new one in 8 years), the long journey will be a distant memory.

And yes, now you all know how incredibly awkward I was at age 15... You're welcome ;)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bishop & Landy

I've always like cats better than dogs, but I never knew just how much love I could have in my heart until we got these 2 precious babies.

Here is their story:

Andrew & I decided long ago that one of our first acts as a married couple would be to adopt a cat. (You see, I got lucky enough to find a man who not only tolerates cats, but actually likes them!) So after we had gotten somewhat settled here in Austin, I was having lunch with my friend Becca and she told me about an awesome shelter called Austin Pets Alive. I checked out their website that day and knew I had found our baby boy: Bishop, a 2-month-old Siamese/Tabby Mix.

Andrew agreed, so we headed to the foster home to meet him. Once we got there, his foster parents began telling us how he was found alone and had been placed with a litter only 1 week older than him. It turns out he had bonded pretty strongly with one of the girl kittens in that litter: Bertha.

We decided right then and there that we couldn't separate such a close bond... We would adopt both! The only issue was that we hated the name Bertha. Fortunately, we had a clever solution. Since "Bishop" was our boy's shelter-given name and just so happened to be the name of Andrew's hometown, we decided to name our girl after my hometown, "Orlando", but call her "Landy" for short!

A few days later, we brought them both home, and my life has been better ever since. I truly am obsessed with them, and I don't care who knows it... If you have pets, I'm sure you can understand - or maybe I'm just crazy. Either way, I appreciate you for making it to the end of this post! :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Married A Chef

Well, not technically, but Andrew may as well be one. He is very talented in the kitchen, which is a good thing because, like I said in this post, my kitchen abilities are less than ideal.

So today, I'm going to take a moment to highlight some of my most favorite meals that my husband has made for me since we've been married. Enjoy!

meatloaf, collard greens, rice

chicken enchiladas, mexican rice

sausage, red & black beans, onions, rice

crockpot roast, zucchini/squash/onions/kale, rice

panko-crusted chicken, brussel sprouts, rice

ground turkey, zucchini/avocado/tomatoes/onions, cheese & sour cream, rice

teriyaki chicken, zucchini/onions, fried rice

As you can see, we're big fans of zucchini and rice in this household. Maybe one day I'll even take the time to post recipes for some of these meals, but for now, pictures are all you get ;)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Playa Mujeres

ATTENTION EVERYONE: If you are ever going to have a honeymoon trip in your future, you have to go to the place we did. That is, if you want to have the best, most relaxing week of your life. (And why wouldn't you? After months of planning a wedding, you deserve it!)

It is called the Excellence at Playa Mujeres, and it is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort about 20 miles north of Cancun, Mexico.

We were there for a week, but I could've stayed forever. When we weren't enjoying the amenities that our room had to offer (hello, private pool on the roof!), we were exploring the rest of the resort, which includes 7 other pools (one is a lazy river!) and 8 delicious, multicultural restaurants (our favorite was the French one!).

We were also given the royal honeymoon treatment since we were, in fact, on our honeymoon. This package included breakfast in bed, a free massage/spa session, and a private dinner on the beach (which was definitely the best of the three). 

The only time we ventured outside of the resort was to go on an excursion and it was SO worth it! We visited Rio Secreto, an incredible underground river/cave. It was discovered only recently and remains virtually untouched, so we were able to swim through the crystal clear water without any man-made obstructions. See what I mean?

Somehow, I'm actually not getting paid to talk about this place, but if I haven't done a good enough job of convincing you to give it a try, feel free to check out their website (Mary Grace & Price, I'm counting on you guys!).

Playa Mujeres, I'll be back for you soon ;)