Monday, November 10, 2014

cheers to a Charlottesville weekend

hello friends! It's been a while, and it's been quiet on the blog, but trust me -- there's a lot that's going on in the McCall household! Exciting updates to come soon :)

This past weekend I hopped in my car and roadtripped up to Charlottesville to visit Lauren, my sweet friend and favorite bride-to-be. I'm going to be her Matron of Honor, and it was so fun to get to catch up and talk about wedding planning with her! The weather was amazing, and I was so glad to get out of Raleigh for a bit. I haven't visited the mountains in who knows how long, so this escape was just what the doctor ordered.

On Saturday after I arrived, we took a scenic drive through the mountainous countryside around Charlottesville and stopped for lunch before visiting the Bold Rock cidery. First of all, I had no idea that a cidery was a "thing," but I LOVED it! We had a cider tasting and were able to learn a bit about the cider-making process, which was really interesting. After exploring a bit, Lauren and I each got a pint and sat outside taking in the amazing view you see below. Needless to say,  I was in heaven.

After a little more mountain exploring, we went back to Lauren's place for dinner and a low-key night in. We got up in the morning and grabbed a coffee as we walked around UVA's campus. There's something I just love about college campuses during the fall -- I really makes me nostalgic for my undergraduate days. Not going to lie, though -- I'm glad I wasn't the one scurrying to the library on a Sunday!

After grabbing lunch at Bodo's Bagels on campus (I always request a meal there when I visit C-Ville!) we visited Jefferson Vineyards. We enjoyed a wine tasting and then, just as we did yesterday, sat outside taking in the gorgeous views and amazing weather. I wish we had time to visit more of the area wineries -- I know there are some great ones that I haven't made it to!

 I was sad to leave Virginia, but I'm so happy I was able to get away for a bit and have quality time with a dearly missed friend. Lauren is finishing up nursing school this year, so I'm hoping to squeeze in one more Charlottesville trip before she becomes a married lady -- any great spots I missed?

Have a great week, friends!


Sunday, October 12, 2014


I wish every single one of you reading this post could have met Martha, one of my very best friends.

Some of you DID have the joy of meeting Martha, and I'm sure you would agree with this statement -- you're a better person for knowing her.

You might remember I wrote this post last October, a few days after the finding out that I could no longer hug Martha, text with her each Tuesday night about Chicago Fire, and boo-hoo my eyes out while watching wedding videos with her.

Exactly one year ago, the Lord took Martha to Heaven to be with Him eternally. I have no doubt about that - if there's one comfort I have in the loss of a friend, it's that she has seen the full extent of the Lord's glory, mercy, power, healing and peace. I just know she is rejoicing in Heaven, singing Needtobreathe songs and teaching everyone her favorite Camp deSoto line dances - all while wearing Patagonia shorts and her spirit jersey, of course. Yup, pretty much sounds like Heaven to me, and I can't wait to meet Martha again there one day.

Sometimes I can't believe it's been a year. Sometimes it feels like it's been so, so much longer. It was a hard year. Between learning how to be a wife, moving to a new city, moving away from friends, losing a friend, finding a new job - it's been a constant roller coaster of emotions. I think I cried more tears this year than I have any other year since probablyyyyy about age 5. Some were sad tears, some were happy tears. I cried on the drive home from Spartanburg the day after she died. I was alone, it was noon, and I was listening to Needtobreathe. Because Martha loved Needtobreathe. I cried on the airplane to Nashville to go to her funeral. Once again, I was alone, but this time, listening to a Ben Rector song. A few weeks later at church, I tried to hide the tears as I took communion and listened to the band play "Come Thou Font" - one of her favorite hymns. Music reminds me of Martha for some reason, and I'll take any small reminder of her.

That Ben Rector song - please listen to it if you haven't - has been my song this year. I, too, feel like I've been on a sailboat. I've seen storms and choppy waters, and dark nights when I thought it would never get any better. I've seen beautiful rainbows and calm waters that give me peace. Some would run away from God in dark times, but if anything, I ran toward Him. And it pains me to think that there are others who have to go through hard things without confidence in Christ. Of course, there were days when I felt so alone, so helpless. But when I was alone, He was (and is) there. One of my very best friends texted me a few weeks after losing Martha and said -

"God is working... He never stops. He doesn't let us down or give up on us or forget about our struggles. He sees every tear and frustration and heartache, and he works through and in those things, too."

Those words carry me through to this day. Losing Martha gave me a more clear view of the Gospel. Of just HOW incredibly beautiful and wonderful the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ is. God works through all circumstances - even through hurt and tears. I think Martha would rejoice in the fact that this past year has drawn me closer to Him - just the way she always did. Martha and I had a very special friendship, and that deep, special friendship is because of Jesus. Martha pointed me towards Christ SO often, and for that I am grateful. She lived a life that was selfless, full of peace, and that brought joy to all around her. Truly, that girl had friends everywhere and showed Jesus to all of them. She loved God, and loved others. Isn't that what we're all supposed to do? She had done that so well, and though I miss her each day and wish the Lord hadn't taken her from me, I ultimately know that His plan is perfect and He is good. And that carries me through.

I wish I could remember the day I met Martha. Sadly, I don't. What I do remember so well, is my last day with Martha. Friday, October 11, I had finally reunited with my closest college friends after not seeing any of them since the sparkler exit of our reception back in June. I saw Martha in front of one of the Village apartments on campus, and literally ran toward her. I yelled "Marf!!" (a little excessive, but whatever!) and experienced the best hug she's ever given me. You see, Martha kind of disliked hugs, and always talked about her "bubble"... but that night, she let me burst it, just one more time. And I am eternally thankful.

Martha taught me many things on her time on Earth, and many things even when she left us. She taught me to loosen up a bit and not let grades define my life. She exposed me to some of the most beautiful wedding videos I've ever watched. She taught me that size large t-shirts are the way to go. She also taught me about perseverance, finding joy in suffering, loving others well, loving Jesus, and resting in His perfect peace.

If you're still reading this - I'm glad. I hope you've gained an understanding of how much this wonderful friend meant to me. And if you knew Martha, I hope you're nodding your head in agreement. I wish no one would ever have to lose a friend, but because this world is broken, we weep over our cherished ones. We long for the day without hurt, and it will come one day. Meanwhile, when we hurt, we pick ourselves up, and we turn towards the Lord. He's building us, molding our character and shaping our lives to reflect His glory, and reminding us of our HOPE in Jesus.

To those of you who have carried me through this year - I am eternally grateful for your love, encouragement and prayers. I am blessed with wonderful family and friends from all parts of my life who have loved me and motivated to continue and take each day as it comes. I have come to cling to community, both those in Greenville and Raleigh. It brings tears to my eyes to think of all who loved me so well during this extremely tough time. My core group of college girls has been my rock. My husband, my parents my other best friends - they've all been there for me this year and I am so grateful. This year also brought me a new church community in Raleigh, and there are no words to express how thankful I am for that. I've made friends who let me cry over coffee with them about things that hurt, and invite me over just to craft or run errands with them. I pray that I can show all of these people that I've named the same friendship and joy that Martha gave me, and demonstrate to them how knowing Martha and loving Jesus has made me a better person.

365 days later, I still miss you immensely, Marth. Life has changed a lot, and it breaks my heart that you're not here to see it first hand. Miss you, love you. Keep watching over us all, my sweet friend. Until we meet again.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

today I am...

// missing my alma mater and all those who made my 4 years there special. There's something about fall that makes me nostalgic for a beautiful college campus.

// savoring the Bath & Body Works "Leaves" candle and burning it like it's my job. After stumbling upon a major sale and snagging one, I might never turn back.

// enjoying the fact I have some fun fall road trips coming up. Greenville, Wilmington and Charlottesville. So ready.

// loving this incredible "monster" cookie recipe I made last night. I had to bring most of them to work today so I wouldn't eat all of them by myself!

// relaxing on the couch and catching up on all my favorite shows -- New Girl, Chicago Fire, Scandal and The Voice!

// painting burlaps like a mad lady. So thankful for all these new projects but it's definitely keeping me busy!

// debating whether or not I want to start running again. Now that the weather's cooler it miiiiiight be tolerable. Maybe.

// craving some of those pumpkin candy corn things. You know what I'm talking about? Too soon? Nahhhh.

How are you today?


Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall bucket list.

y'all. I LOVE fall. I love everything that comes with it. Snuggling up in sweatshirts, taking in the atmosphere of a college campus when the leaves are changing colors, finally making the switch from an iced coffee order to a warm coffee order... it's the little things. The temps in NC don't necessarily indicate it, but today is the official beginning of fall and I couldn't be MORE ready. Type-A that I am, this past weekend I sat down with Andrew and had him help me think of things we must check off the list before the season is out. Thus, we have:

the mccalls fall bucket list

go to a Clemson football game. 
carve a pumpkin. 
dream up a clever costume idea. 
bake a "fall" treat - apple pie? pumpkin muffins?
take a day trip to chapel hill.
go on a hike and take in the gorgeous fall colors.
find a great pair of riding boots. 
go camping.
take a weekend trip to Charlottesville.
try a new coffee shop.

Some of these are solo things for just me, but I'm looking forward to doing most of them with Andrew and enjoying all autumn has to offer here in NC. Annnnnd hopefully I'll report back and be able to share some of these autumn activities on the blog. Anything I need to add to my list? Any and all suggestions are welcome :)

Happy Fall, y'all!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

20 things.

Hey friends! If you can't tell, I'm suffering from a bit of a blogger's block lately. In an effort to get back in the groove, I've decided to share 20 random facts about myself. It's always a bit easier for me to do grab-bag blog topics like this to get my creative juices flowing.

I'm fairly open on this blog, so it's kind of hard for me to think of interesting things to share with y'all. I really love it when other bloggers do posts like this, so hopefully you'll enjoy a little glance into the everyday Ryann. Here goes nothing...

1. I hate tomatoes. But I love all things tomato related, including: marina sauce, tomato soup, ketchup and salsa. I've tried repeatedly to like plain tomatoes, but I just can't. do. it.

2. The part I hate most about my body is my armpits. I'm not talking like the underarm armpit area that you shave. I'm talking about that weird bulge that I have where my arm connects my torso. I know, that's kind of weird, but I'm SO self conscious about that area when I wear sleeveless tops or strapless dresses. Oh great, now everyone's going to be looking at that in my photos... ha!

3. While we're talking about weird body things... I brush my eyebrows every morning. Don't laugh. You know those browliner pencil things with the little brush at the end? Yup, use one every day. The nail salon ladies always say "You have such BOLD eyebrows" after asking me if I want them waxed. I think that's an insult, but I'm not sure.

4. Andrew and I don't have cable, and at first I thought it would be the hardest thing ever. However, thanks to Netflix (still mooching of the parentals' account... thanks, dad!) and our newest purchase of a ChromeCast (I CAN FINALLY WATCH HOUSE HUNTERS!!!!), we're never lacking for something to watch.

5. Speaking of Netflix, I've watched the following shows in their entirety (at least all of the episodes available on Netflix!): How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Rec, New Girl, House of Cards and Mad Men. Which one should I watch next?!

6. I'm obsessed with ice cream and fro-yo. Even after a huge meal, there's always room.

7. I used to be very musical. In my glory days (majorly joking) I played the viola and piano and sang in the chorus. Unfortunately, I would have a hard time doing any of those things today.

8. Speaking of extracurriculars, you name a sport... I tried it. And most likely stunk at it. Dance, gymnastics, t-ball, basketball, volleyball, golf... the list goes on.

9. My high school senior superlative was "Most Likely to Succeed." Very flattered and all, but I'm still trying to figure out what that exactly means... ha!

10. I was extremely involved in Zeta Tau Alpha during my time in college. And I'm "that girl" that really misses it post-grad.

11. My favorite color is turquoise. Just in case you don't believe me, I painted my kitchen table that color. So, yeah.

12. I used to really dislike cheeseburgers. Then I let my dad and Andrew drag me to Five Guys and my life was changed forever. Now I'm usually the one to suggest a trip there!

13. Andrew is my high school sweetheart. I think it's pretty awesome that we're married and all. :)

14. I was an English major in college. And I'd rather write a paper than take a test, hands down.

15. My eyes are TERRIBLE. I mean, absolutely horrible. I've worn glasses since second grade and contacts since 6th grade.

16. If I could meet any famous person still alive today, I would want to meet Ellen DeGeneres. LOVE HER.

17. I have puppy fever to the highest degree. Like, it's out of control. Unfortunately, as long as we're still renting I'll have to put my puppy obsession on hold.

18. Throughout my life, I have wanted to be the following things when I grew up: artist, marine biologist, veterinarian, college professor, wedding photographer. I think I'm still trying to figure it out.

19. I'm married to a Lord of the Rings fanatic. And somehow, after 4+ years of dating and more than a year of marriage, I've managed to avoid watching the series in its entirety. I'm just not as into it as Andrew is!

20. I'm randomly obsessed with pineapples. I realize this has become a trend lately, but I've always loved having this symbol of Southern hospitality all over my house in decor, prints, and burlaps, of course!

Shoutout to my dear fwiend (yup, you read that right) Cameron for this blog post inspiration, thanks to the text I received from her earlier this week.  Not pictured is the list of 5+ very detailed blog post topics that I will definitely be using... you can always count on friends to be there when the creative juices run dry!

Can anyone relate to any of my random facts? I'd love to see a post of yours! Thanks for reading, friends! Hope y'all have a great start to the week. 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

life lately!

Hello dear blog friends. I realize it's been a bit quiet (again) around here lately, but I wanted to check in and fill y'all in on what I've been up to!

This summer has been a crazy one for the McCalls. Not that we've really had anything big going on, but it feels like most weekends we were on the road or just occupied in some other way. This summer was a weird one for me- I'm still getting used to the fact that summers as I know them are basically over. I mean, I always had a job or an internship during the summer while in school, but this first "real world" summer was definitely an adjustment!

So, since we're in town for the weekend (finally!) I'm soaking it all in, sitting here on our couch, watching Netflix all afternoon. It's pretty excellent... especially since I'm watching The Parent Trap. I'm feeling all nostalgic for pre-trainwreck Lindsay Lohan and really craving some peanut butter and Oreos right now, but that's beside the point. Here's what's up in the McCall household these days:

it's back to school time!
Andrew started classes this week - I can't believe it's already that time. I have a feeling this year is going to fly by - the first year sure did! Andrew had a great summer interning at an incredible firm, and he's going to keep working a few days a week while also taking a full class load and serving as a TA. So proud of that guy!

i'm SO over summer.
I know, that sounds so horrible. But I am SO ready for fall. I'm craving riding boots, vests, cool weather, warm coffee and football. Who's with me? We're going to try to make it down to a Clemson game this season, and we definitely want to make sure we squeeze in a chance to root on the NC State Wolfpack while Andrew's still a student!

but... i'm so ready for wedding season!
Despite being totally over summer, I'm extremely ready for NEXT summer... my sweet Little who got engaged earlier this summer has officially asked me to be her Matron of Honor! I'm so extremely excited to help her prepare and celebrate this fun thing called MARRIAGE! What's more... Andrew's going to be a groomsman, too! 

i'm officially that old married lady obsessed with furniture.
On a whim, Andrew and I decided to stop in a furniture consignment store down the street a week or so ago.. we fell in love with the beautiful piece you see below. We're not ones to be compulsive buyers, but this beautiful china cabinet/buffet/whatever you want to call it was calling our name. We got it for such a great deal, and it fits perfectly in this spot in our little eating nook. After a little elbow grease and some styling, it was good to go and looked amazing in our house. It's so fun to collect pieces like this we can enjoy for years to come, no matter where we call home!

i've decided I want to be a professional doodler. 
I realize that might sound like the dumbest thing ever. But, after taking a brush lettering class at Gather in Cary (oops, never did a blog post like I intended to on that...) I've become slightly obsessed with brush lettering and lettering in general. I've bought some brush-tip markers and sharpies and have been doodling away. My next goal? Learn calligraphy. If you know of any classes/teachers in the Triangle area, let me know!

So, there's your daily dose of randomness. Thanks for sticking with me, friends! :)


Thursday, July 31, 2014

travel in style

I never have claimed to be, and I probably never will be, a fashion blogger. But that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with it when I find an outfit I love, right?!

If you've been following along for a while, you may remember my maiden voyage into fashion blogger territory-- I may have liked it a bit, so I'm back at it, this time with one of my favorite travel outfits. This past weekend, the hubs and I hit the road to Charleston to celebrate yet another cousin's wedding (tis the season for wedding festivities, amiright?!) and some quality time with my parents and friends who live in town. Charleston is right under four and a half hours from Raleighwood, so for this travel outfit, comfort was key. 

top {on sale now!} / shorts {similar} / monogram necklace / hat {similar} / bracelets / watch / sandals {not available online}

Comfy tee (the fact it has a precious pineapple print is a plus!), chino shorts and comfy sandals are my go-to travel outfit, whether I'm tearing up I-85 to visit the family in Greenville or elsewhere. J Crew chinos are usually my shorts of choice, but I found these at Old Navy a few summers ago and couldn't resist snagging some pairs on sale! 

And of course, whether I'm typing away at the computer in the office or riding shotgun down the highway, a cup of coffee is always necessary in the morning. An iced coffee in my favorite insulted mason jar is enough to get me out of the bed, any day of the week! Who's with me!? 

What's your go-to travel outfit? Are you a casual-and-comfy kinda gal like me?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

sore feet, mimosas & pretty dresses

Those, my friends, are the makings of an incredible wedding weekend.

Is it just me, or do wedding weekends make you want to just explode with joy and happiness and dread going back to "real life"? This past weekend, I enjoyed an especially wonderful weekend, celebrating the marriage of my cousin Blaire and her now-husband Kyle.

Growing up, I’ve always been close to my extended family, and we always joke that Swiger weddings (my mom's side of the family) are an event to behold – always a good time, always a party. I knew Blaire and Kyle’s wedding would be no different. They’ve been together for quite some time, and ever since they began dating, we’ve always considered Kyle a part of our family – this weekend it was finally made official! The way they care for each other, love each other, and support each other during difficult times has been truly incredible to see, and I’m so glad the Lord brought these two together. I knew this weekend was going to be a special one!


I took a day off work on Friday in order to make the trip to Greenville to attend Blaire’s bridal brunch at Brick Street Café. It was major déjà vu, considering my aunts held my brunch at that very spot just last year. It was a sweet afternoon of catching up with family, getting to know Blaire’s bridesmaids, and eating some delicious food – Brick Street’s famous sweet potato cake, included!

I had the pleasure of attending the future diPretoro’s rehearsal dinner as the photographer. It was an elegantly simple gathering, one of lots of laughs and tears as the groom stood up to thank all who have loved and supported the couple throughout the years, and talked about how much Blaire meant to him. My parents and I were on clean-up duty at the venue, so we stayed late straightening up and came home exhausted after a fun, long day.


Saturday morning was déjà vu all over again, as Blaire’s bridesmaids came over to get ready at my parent’s house. I kept having flashbacks to the morning in June when my bridesmaids and I sipped mimosas and got prepped for my own wedding day. It was so fun to spend this time with Blaire and her girls as she prepared to become Mrs. diPretoro!

Of course, Blaire looked stunning and the wedding ceremony was beautiful. My cousin Sarah and I were the greeters, handing out programs to all who came. Even though the day was a bit wet, the rain managed to let up at all the right times and it even cooled down what could have been a miserably hot July day.

had to snag a selfie before she walked down the aisle!

I hitched a ride with Sarah and her boyfriend to the reception (unfortunately Andrew couldn’t make the wedding weekend – one of his cousins was getting married the same weekend so we had to pull double wedding duty!) at Zen, a beautiful, modern venue in downtown Greenville.

The food was amazing – I’m talking build-your-own burger sliders, salad bar, mashed potato bar and more – and it was quite a party. The DJ was great and my cousins, aunts and uncles took OVER the dance floor, literally dancing the night away until it was time for Blaire and Kyle to leave.

There was a fun surprise during the reception – I got to meet Tahj Boyd, former Clemson quarterback! A March of Dimes fundraiser was going on at Zen in the next room over, and Tahj and Connor Shaw (of USC) were the featured guests. I couldn’t resist the chance to introduce myself and snag a photo op!

My wedding date for the evening - ha!

my fellow greeter/dance partner/cousin/bestie since day 1!

with the happy couple!

matching my mama - I got dressed first, I swear!

Sadly, the time came for the celebrations to wind down. The happy couple ran outside through a tunnel of sparklers and hopped in the back of my dad’s baby blue Mustang (like the one from Princess Diaries!) to take them to their hotel for the evening!

and they lived happily ever after!

It was a truly wonderful weekend and my heart is so full. I have total wedding nostalgia, and I miss my family and Greenville like crazy now that I’m back in NC. I’ll be back soon, though.

Cheers to the new Mr. & Mrs. diPretoro and wonderful wedding celebrations!


Monday, July 7, 2014

july goals

Welp, I'm a little late in the game, but I wanted to share my July goals to keep myself accountable. Here's what's on my heart and my mind this month:

{one} exercise at least three days a week. 
It only took about a year (I'm embarrassed to admit), but we finally joined a gym here! I majorly fell off the workout wagon in my first year of newlywed bliss, and I'm excited to get back into a good exercise schedule. Overall, the McCalls are really good about eating healthy, but we've been lacking in the active department lately. I'm already loving the sore feeling I wake up with after a great workout! (Urm, sometimes...)

{two} go through my closet & drawers. 
I feel like this is a recurring theme for many bloggers these days, and I too am looking to simplify. I've created an Instagram account for my closet (@shop_ryannscloset if you're interested!) and have signed up for Poshmark. I'm basically just trying to de-clutter and get rid of excess. If I haven't worn it recently, if it doesn't match my current style, if it's more college-y than wife-y (you know what I mean!?) then it needs to go.

{three} kick the crafting back into high gear. 
I'm still trying to get back into the groove with making my burlaps. Between exercising, cooking dinner and spending time with the hubby in the evenings, I feel as if there aren't enough hours after work to do things! If only I could quit my day job and create all day... maybe one day :)

{four} be more intentional in my scripture reading.
Y'all, I've gotten so inconsistent at reading God's word, and I hate it. I do well for a while, then I have one off day that messes with me and I get out of sync. I was a late bloomer and am awaiting my copy of Names of God, but I'm excited to catch up with this blog Bible study from Rachel and Nicole!

{five} plan our anniversary trip.
Though we celebrated our anniversary last week, we didn't actually do much at all. We've talked about taking a weekend trip somewhere in September for a late celebration, but we haven't made any moves yet! Any suggestions for a great weekend getaway destination relatively convenient to NC or a place within our great state we need to visit?!

I feel like this month is going to fly (sorry to be all cliche), but with travel plans literally every weekend this month, there's a lot going on and lots of fun with friends and family to look forward to. I can't wait!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day, friends!

The McCalls are having a very low-key Fourth -- no day at the pool, lake, beach, or big party for us this year. Even though we're not doing anything very out of the ordinary today to celebrate, I've reflected on the many freedoms and blessings I've already enjoyed today, ones that I don't want to ever take for granted:

the freedom and blessing to enjoy my cup of coffee this morning
the freedom and blessing to bike through my neighborhood without worrying about my safety
 the freedom and blessing to enjoy a day with my husband 
the freedom and blessing to look forward to a delicious, filling meal tonight
the freedom and blessing the open my Bible this evening for devotional time

Freedom isn't free, so thank you to all the men and women who serve and have served, and their families who also have also sacrificed for our country. I am thankful to live in a land of so much opportunity --  one nation, under God. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

one year.

I can't believe that today marks one year of marriage to this handsome fella...

one year since I wore this gorgeous dress... 

...and one year since I danced the night away with my friends and family, and ran off to a week of bliss in St. Lucia with Mr. McCall!

But really, it's blowing my mind that today, June 29, I have been a wife for a whole year. Marriage has been everything I've thought it would be, and nothing I expected. We've been through a lot this year - and I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else. More "first year" reflections to come, I'm sure!

On that note, I realized that I TOTALLY dropped the ball last year on my blog wedding recaps... and I think I'm going to pick that ball right back up, even a whole 12 months later! SO excited to go through our photos and reminisce again :)

Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband! Cheers to many more years to come.


Monday, June 23, 2014

weekend antiquing at Cheshire Cat

This weekend was a wonderful one, full of spontaneity, randomness, and somehow within all that, productivity. After a long week for each of us and late nights on Thursday (Andrew up waiting on delayed flights to come back into town from a work trip, and me staying up to wait for him), we were ready to simply relax. We slept in way too late on Saturday to accommodate our initial plans to go on a donut date, so we opted for brunch at Cameron Bar and Grill instead -- just as fun! We started wandering around Cameron Village and decided to wander venture into The Cheshire Cat Gallery. 

If you're in the Raleigh area, or ever visit, you MUST visit The Cheshire Cat Gallery! As we made our way down the stairs, we were overwhelmed by stuff. I usually hate the word "stuff," but that's really the best way to describe everything in the gallery! From prints, to books, to furniture, to random junky trinkets, this place had it all. It was one of those places that you know is a gold mine... as long as you're willing to invest the time in finding the gold. Well, ladies and gents, I found my gold... bamboo mirror. 

I've been searching for the perfect piece to put over our mantle and as soon as I saw this one, I started obsessing. I made note of it, and continued wandering the store, keeping it in the back of my mind. We left and did some things around the house, but I kept going back to that gorgeous mirror, deathly afraid someone else would find my beloved bamboo treasure. After Andrew saw me literally pining for that mirror as I stared over our mantle, and having a conversation about how this piece would fit into our budget, we decided to go back for it. I was SO nervous that it wouldn't be there, but I was so relieved to find it was right where I left it. There was the slightest scratch at the top, so I was able to haggle the price down a bit, but I'm so bad at haggling. It makes me feel so awkward. Anyone else hate it? This is how the conversation went:

Me (to saleslady): "Hi, I'm interested in this mirror, but I noticed there's a blemish near the top. Is that the best price you can give us?"
Saleslady: "Yes, if you pay cash or check I can probably do better. $20 off?"
Me: "Okay!!!!!!!!!!!"

So, not sure if that's considering haggling. BUT, small steps friends. I need to let the bargain shopper in me do her thing once it comes time for us to invest in pieces for a bigger house of our own! What do y'all think of this mirror!? 


Amidst all that craziness, I did find another gem on our first trip to Cheshire Cat! This gorgeous straw bag jumped out at me and I was hooked... especially since I had my eyes on an updated Kate Spade straw bag that was on sale only a week earlier. It ended up selling out before I could make a decision, but I saved a TON of money going for this "vintage" one instead! With the exception of a little wear on the leather handles and discoloring of hardware, it was in perfect condition. And it was a decent enough size to fit my huge wallet, business card holder, and other handbag essentials, and for ONLY $20!

Isn't it so great? I'm definitely excited about our thrifty, stylish purchases, and will definitely head back to Cheshire Cat just for fun or to search for a great piece. There were so many things I wanted to get-- prints and precious brass giraffe figurines from Curio, old books to decorate with, elegant wood pieces... if only I was made of money and had more square footage! Have you ever had any really great antique-ing experiences? What do you think of these finds?


Friday, June 20, 2014

{five on friday}: advice for the engaged lady

This past weekend I had a lot of wedding excitement- between one of my very best friends getting engaged and helping host a wedding shower for my cousin, all the excitement of our season of engagement came rushing back to me. As I was talking to my cousin about honeymoon plans over punch and cookies at her shower, I had a pang of sadness, remembering how much fun Andrew and I had on our honeymoon, and wishing I could rewind a little bit back to that time.

As more and more engagement announcements are popping up on social media, I couldn't help but think of my time as an engaged lady, and a few words of advice for all the engaged-and-going-on-married ladies out there who are preparing for their wedding, and even more importantly, their marriage! Today's "Five on Friday" link-up is a little different than my normal randomness, but I'm so excited to share...

{one} enjoy this time. 
I had lots of people tell me this when I was engaged, and I mostly just laughed it off. Of course, I loved the wedding planning process, but balancing that while finishing senior year and beginning a job search was stressful. Looking back, though, it was such a sweet time. It was a time of anticipation, preparation and excitement. Some days I wanted to pull my hair out in frustration, but looking back, I truly cherish that time. 

{two} invest in your future marriage.
For Andrew and I, marriage counseling was a given. My RUF minister from Wofford did our ceremony, and part of this process was doing counseling sessions with he and his wife once a month for a few months. It was so wonderful to not only learn the Biblical basis of marriage and how the Lord uses it to draw us closer to Him, but to learn it from wonderful role models of a Christian marriage. During our engagement, Andrew and I also read through Timothy Keller's "The Meaning of Marriage," and would talk through each chapter whenever we visited each other on the weekends senior year. It's a great read for all -- ladies who are single, engaged and married. 

{three} be intentional in your friendships. 
As a new wife, it's easy to get comfortable in your new daily routine with your husband and live in la-la-newlywed-land, just the two of you. But -- it's still essential to be intentional in spending time with your girlfriends. If I'm being completely honest, I still struggle with this. I've never been the one who wants to "go out" on the weekends -- I'd much rather cozy up and just stick to my normal routine of evening Netflix, reading, or crafting and hanging out with Andrew. Yes, your relationship with your husband is the most important one in your life, but carving out "girl time" is SO essential. Whether that's initiating a coffee date, organizing a double date (that counts!) or regularly catching up with friends over the phone -- just do it. Its therapeutic, it's fulfilling, and so necessary.

{four} speak. and listen.
Give yourself grace, and give your future husband grace, too. Just like you're not sure how this wife thing works exactly, chances are your guy isn't too sure how it works just yet, either. Talk about things. Don't expect your husband to intuitively know when you're frustrated, or stressed, or sad, or whatever. Share with him. Share with him your goals, your needs, and what you're feeling. And remember, this goes the other way around, too. At times Andrew can be a man of few words, but I can't stress how much taking turns speaking and listening is absolutely essential for a fulfilling marriage and a happy home.

{five} pray for your fiancee. then your husband. then your family.
Growing up, I had this idealized image of marriage -- I thought I would get married, travel a bit, have babies, then be happy as all my friends went through the same process, and that by some miracle we would all end up together in one place and our kids would be BFFs, too. Didn't we all want that? (Still sounds pretty peachy to me, to be honest!) Throughout our season of engagement, however, I learned that marriage is so much more -- a partnership in the Gospel, and a lifelong commitment that requires prayerful preparation. I try each day to pray for Andrew in some way, even if it's as small as praying he has a good day at work. Sometimes I pray for his happiness and purpose in life after grad school, sometimes I pray for our family, and sometimes I pray for our future home. I would encourage you to pray over your relationship, continually, and through all stages of life.

We're coming up on ONE YEAR of marriage next week (crazy!),  and I by no means claim to be a marriage expert, but I feel like I could add a gazillion more things to this list. Wives out there -- do you agree? What would you add?

For you engaged ladies that actually made it to the end of this post... you're the best. Like I mentioned, enjoy this time. It's so sweet, so exciting. Stare at your sparkly ring, pin like it's your job, and relish in the newness and excitement in creating this new life together. But, in all of this, remember you're preparing for not just a wedding, but also a marriage. And it will be so very wonderful. 

Thank you Darci, April, Christina and Natasha for a wonderful opportunity to link up! 


Friday, June 13, 2014

Five on Friday

I'm excited to once again be linking up with Darci, April, Christina and Natasha today -- TGIF, friends!

I'm Greenville bound today! After work we're heading to the promised land (a.k.a Greenville, SC) most specifically so I can help host a bridal shower for my cousin, but also just to catch up with family and friends and celebrate Father's Day with the padres in my life. It's been a few months since we've been back so I'm super excited. The only bad thing? In order to leave early after work, I'm coming in early... eeeek. Must. Have. Coffee.


I'm on the prowl for some new throw pillows for our bed. Anyone have any suggestions as to where to find some quality, yet inexpensive pillows? I've seen some pretty ones on Etsy, but I always get nervous ordering stuff like that online when I can't see them in-person. I'd love to find a navy pillow to go with the coral pillows I have on our white quilt. Something like this maybe? 

I am unhealthily obsessed with corgis. Thankfully, I'm not alone.  For some reason, Andrew and I have started looking up YouTube videos of corgis ("Corgi Flop" anyone? Check it out -- it's a gem.) and pictures... Since we're renting, we can't have a dog, but if we could... at this point, it'd be a corgi. 

Married ladies... I need your help. Our one year anniversary is quickly approaching (WHAT!? Crazy.) and I am still at a loss of what to get my husband. Paper is the traditional first anniversary gift... anyone given a great, thoughtful "paper" gift to their husband? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Heard of Ashley Brooke Designs? I'm obsessed... especially with this tank. I'm thinking that if I got it, I might juuuuuust be able to get back on that gym grind. Cute workout clothes are always great motivation, right? 


Have a great weekend, friends! 


Sunday, June 8, 2014

{must read}: Cold Tangerines


If you haven't read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist yet, RUN, don't walk, to your closest bookstore. Or buy it on Amazon here. You'll thank me later. Well, actually, let me first give you a little glimpse of why you should read it. THEN lace up your kicks, my friends.

You know those books where you just sit there and read, and you just want to exclaim to yourself, "YES!" Or, basically turn your pages pink (or yellow or red or whatever color marker you're using) from highlighting or underlining meaningful passages or revelations that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, Cold Tangerines was one of those books for me.

Shauna Niequist has become a popular name in the blogosphere, most notably for her book Bread and Wine, which I have not yet picked up, but I plan to soon enough. Not that I dare equate Cold Tangerines to any other book, because it is so beautifully and exquisitely and wonderfully written, but my friends who were enthralled by Love Does by Bob Goff will also fall in love with Cold Tangerines.

To quote Shauna Niequist's website, a short synopsis of Cold Tangerines:

"Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room to breathe, to rest, to break down and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak and boredom and broken glass."

Honestly, I'm not going to be able to add much more than that. These few sentences do a wonderful job in gathering the essence of Shauna's writing. It's one of those books that you could just read over and over, and most likely have zillion new takeaways each time. Her stories are honest, open, and raw. There are hilarious stories where you feel like you really want to be Shauna's best friend. There are heart-breaking stories that make you ache for her, or even, in my case, make you feel relieved, knowing that you're not the only one who has experienced such heartbreak, and make you thankful that Shauna has put her experience so elegantly and poignantly into words.

Since getting an iPad for my birthday, I've been hungrily reading whenever I have a free moment using the Kindle app- on my lunch break, before bed, while sipping on my smoothie in the morning before work... you get the picture. As I mentioned, I would find myself highlighting so many of Shauna's beautiful statements and I love the fact that with the Kindle app I'm able to go back into my "notebook" and look at them all in one place. I just had to share some of this lovely woman's wisdom with y'all:

Friends, this day is a beautiful, wonderful gift. If you know me or you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that this past year I was met with heartbreak from losing a very best friend -- and that heartbreak continually reminds me of the fact that each day is incredibly precious.

No matter what phase of life you're in, it seems that there's always the feeling that there's something more, something better out there. If you're anything like me, you're continually looking into the future, hoping that you'll find satisfaction and happiness there. That's one thing I majorly struggle with... contentment in where I am right now, in this very day. Cold Tangerines challenges you to find the small celebrations in each day, to realize grace, and to discover God in places you may least expect Him... in coffee shop conversations and soup and world-shattering tragedies and babies and writing in pencil, and so much more.

Find this book, and read it over and over and over again. 
Then let me know how much you loved it. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

23rd Birthday Weekend Recap!

Though I think they're awesome, I've never really been one to make a huge deal about birthdays -- well, my birthday that is. However, my 23rd birthday took the (birthday) cake for awesome celebrations. And strangely enough, it was my first birthday away from my closest friends and family (Andrew excluded) -- but it was still one of the best. Let's get started with a birthday recap, shall we?

Since my friend Natalie was going to be in town for my actual birthday dinner, Andrew and I decided to go ahead and do "our" birthday celebration the evening before. I knew immediately where I wanted to go -- Hayes Barton Cafe. It's a neighborhood favorite, tucked in the Five Points area of Raleigh and just a 10 minute walk from our little house.

Ever since we moved to Raleigh, I'd heard great things about HBC's food, and especially their cake -- explanation later. Anyway, after work we freshened up and headed to dinner shortly thereafter. HBC is relatively small, and seating is at a premium. Oftentimes you'll see people lined up out the door as early as 6:30! It's definitely a special place. As soon as you enter, you're transported into the 1940's. World War II-era pictures and memorabilia are all over the wall. You get this warm, cozy feeling as you sit down to a candlelit table and just take in the awesome atmosphere. Luckily we were seated immediately and after enjoying caesar salad, we devoured the evening's special, pictured below:

 This is exactly what it looks like... literally, filet on top of mac n cheese. YUM. As I mentioned, HBC is "famous" for their cake -- the selection and the size. After a run-through at the cake case with our waiter, Andrew and I each settled on a flavor: chocolate chip cookie dough cake for me, and chocolate peanut butter for the hubby. As you can see below, the slices are ginormous. I've eaten the cake already in 2 different sittings, and it will probably take me 2 more sittings to eat it. BUT IT'S DELICIOUS.

{saturday - the day of! }

The morning of my 23rd birthday, we woke up at a decent time because I wanted a proper birthday breakfast -- a Chic-Fil-A chicken biscuit, of course! 

After lounging a bit and enjoying morning coffee, we got ready and made our way to go pick up our "couple friends" from church we were going to have a late lunch picnic with. We stopped by Neomonde, an awesome Mediterranean restaurant not too far from my office. We get a smorgasbord of items and had a potluck-type lunch outside on the grounds of the NC Museum of Art. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time enjoying the wonderful weather and great company. 

Saturday evening, my BFF Natalie happened to be in town with another friend and was able to join me for my birthday dinner. We enjoyed some yummy Mexican, but we couldn't leave for dinner without a photoshoot, amiright?

{and beyond...}

On Sunday, we went to church and immediately after enjoyed a church-wide picnic at a local park down the street. It was really great spending time with our community group and meeting new people in the congregation we haven't had a chance to get to know yet. Our church has blessed us so much in the past year!

In other news, between all this eating (but seriously, I feel like that's all we did!) we went on a crazy goose chase with the Postal Service to track down my gift from my parents. At the time, I had no idea what the present was. Long story short, the USPS promised my mom next-day delivery on an insured package, and it didn't happen. Maybe because that "next day" was a Saturday... and our neighborhood post office is closed on a Saturday. WOMP WOMP. After many trips and calls, we finally tracked down the gift, and I am excited to FINALLY be an iPad mini owner! Whee!!!! And Andrew gave me the most gorgeous Kate Spade case to go with it! Definitely worth the wait. 

As I was getting it all set up last night, I noticed that my parents had this engraved on the back... so sweet! I have already loved reading with the Kindle app and using all my social media outlets on it-- I'm one happy blogger!

Thank y'all so much for the "happy birthdays" on my previous post and on Instagram! I definitely felt the love this weekend and cannot wait to see what year 23 has in store for me!