a few announcements (and a confession)

Hello, my loves!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Over a month, in fact. I’ve read that in order to be a successful blogger, you should post on a regular basis.

Welp. I have broken that rule many times.  But the blogging gods are obligated to forgive my absence, because I have some pretty damn good excuses.

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First, an important life update: Drew and I bought a house! We were hoping to buy a home sometime this year.We moved at the beginning of June, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect…it’s just that moving requires a lot of cleaning and packing and unpacking. It’s been an exciting–yet exhausting–few weeks; while we love our home, there are some maintenance issues that need to be fixed. Like, ASAP. And then I can finally put my design knowledge from all those episodes of Trading Spaces to good use.

Then–because when it rains, it pours–the real trouble began. About a week or two after moving, my car’s transmission died. After a few Google searches, we realized that a new transmission–and a few other related repairs–would cost more than my car was actually worth. (A 2006 Mazda 3 with a dead transmission? Not a hot spot for lots of cash money, folks.). I made plans to donate or sell it, and Drew and I came to terms with using one car between the two of us.

For a couple of weeks, carpooling worked extremely well. I pass Drew’s office on the way to work, so I’d drop Drew off in the morning and pick him up on my way home.

Then, one fateful day, when I was FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM DREW’S OFFICE, I got into a car accident.

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Fortunately, everyone involved was safe. It just meant that Drew was stranded at work for a couple of hours, and that we were officially without a car. Currently, we’re using a rental car (yay, insurance!), but the insurance claim has finally been settled and I successfully sold my car. Our house still needs some work, but we’re in a much better place–mentally and financially– to handle it.

We also visited my family in Missouri over the Fourth of July holiday! We celebrated our family’s July birthdays, too. I did start writing this entry over the weekend…but I didn’t get very far. Basically, I was partying too hard to blog.

In other news…

I’m excited to announce that I am now a prose reader for The Cerurove! It’s a lovely literary journal that you can read online; the editors were kind enough to publish my flash fiction piece for their second issue, and so this community has a special place in my heart. We’re currently accepting submissions–we’d love to read your work!

These days, much of my writing time is dedicated to poetry. One day I read the news and did what any sensitive artist type does: I wrote about it. The result? I’m working on my first chapbook manuscript. It’s a critique and love letter to America, and it is both very difficult and very easy to write. I have no idea if or when or how it will be published–but I promise that it’s actively in progress. At the very least, I will one day share my work here.

Needless to say, blogging hasn’t been on my list of priorities.

But I also find myself frustrated with the blogging world. Everything–from the writing to the photos to social media–has to be perfect. You need to know your audience. You need to build your brand and use it to your advantage.

The problem is, I don’t know what my brand is. Am I a book blogger? An author and poet? A wannabe travel writer? A social justice advocate? An occasional theologian? In my mind, these things are intertwined; reading and travel feed my empathy, which affects my politics, which affects my faith, and on and on it goes.

This line of thinking does not fare well in hashtags or algorithms.

I don’t have the time or energy to build a better website; nor do I want my content to be perfectly curated.

I want to write.

I want to be me.

When I first started this blog, I wrote about whatever I wanted. I liked knowing that people read my posts, but at the end of the day, it was all for me. It isn’t the way to build a successful blog, but I find myself longing for this carefree freedom. Perhaps this inherent brandlessness was my brand all along.

I do have another post planned for my Read and Resist series, and I’ll definitely write about our trip to Iceland. In the meantime, I just want to discover everyday, ordinary magic. ❤

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The Paris of the South

I’m lucky enough to have more than one best friend, and I’m even luckier to count my mom among them.

I know it sounds cliché (especially on Mother’s Day) but it’s true. We do all the typical mother-daughter things: I call her when I’m angry and need to vent, and I call her just to say hello. I ask her for advice. And, of course, I always want to talk to her when I’ve had a bad day–because even though I’m technically a grown-ass woman, I still believe my mom can fix everything.

I also just love spending time with her. We’ve watched a lot of trashy television and visited a lot of wineries. And it’s always a blast.

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Go on, look at how cute we are! Please ignore the freakish reflection of my arm.

A few weeks ago, Mom and I took our first-ever trip together. We decided to visit Asheville, North Carolina–neither of us had ever been, and it was only a four-hour drive from Atlanta. We had no itinerary other than spending time with one another. And drinking wine. Obviously.

We left on a Friday morning, enjoyed a breakfast at Waffle House (“I’m in the South, after all,” Mom reasoned), and arrived in Asheville that afternoon. While our journey was relatively short, it was a beautiful drive. We made a quick stop near Tallulah Gorge, and the mountains in North Carolina were breathtaking.

Our hotel was located in Biltmore Village, so we took some time that evening to explore. There was plenty of shopping–including huge retailers like Chico’s and lululemon–but we preferred browsing places like The Olde World Christmas Shop, which has two stories full of holly jolly Christmas glee. And yes, it was just as incredible as it sounds. I was also a huge fan of Nest Botique & DIY Studio and the Village Wayside Bar & Grille.

 

Vanderbilt vibes. 💰🌷⛰#wanderlust #asheville #ashevillenc #biltmoreestate #biltmore

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The next day was dedicated to Biltmore Estate. Since our hotel was so close to the ticket office, we made the mistake of thinking we could walk to the actual estate…only to find out it was about three miles away, and you could only access everything by driving! So, we walked back, grabbed our car, and made the drive to the famous Vanderbilt house.

While I wish that our self-guided tour was a little less streamlined (you have to follow a line, and the path is blocked off with red rope), it’s an absolutely gorgeous place to visit. My favorite room, of course, was the library. Apparently, George Vanderbilt loved travel and books–so I think we would have had a lot to talk about. You know, except for the fact that he was super rich and lived over a hundred years ago.

Downtown Asheville was probably my favorite place to explore. There are so many wonderful shops and restaurants and breweries–you can’t go wrong!

On Sunday, we headed back downtown for the most important meal of the day: brunch. When searching for places to eat on Google Maps, we thought the Tupelo Honey Cafe sounded decent enough–and then IT BLEW OUR FREAKIN’ MINDS. We ordered coffee and mimosas, and had one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. I mean, goat cheese grits?! Sweet potato pancakes?! Is this what heaven is like?!!

(I was under the impression that the Tupelo Honey Cafe was only in Asheville, but on their website, I discovered they have several locations. There is one in the suburbs of Atlanta and I AM FREAKING OUT. Mom, I know what we are doing next time you are in town.) 

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Asheville is a beautiful town, and it made the perfect mother-daughter weekend trip. I’m already looking forward to my next visit: Mom and I have already talked about returning sometime next year, and my best friend will be staying in Asheville this summer. If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I love hearing from you all!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I can’t wait for our next adventure together. 

To all the mamas out there: Happy Mother’s Day. I’m so grateful for all of you, and I hope you get to celebrate in the very best of ways today. I also know this is a painful day for many–so to all the women, mothers, and children who are hurting today, you are seen and loved. You’re heroes, too. ❤️

i heart new york

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Photo by Tom Ritson on Unsplash

No other place has quite pulled at my heart like New York. My love for the sprawling, impossible city started with a key chain. 

Dad had just returned from a business trip; it was lucky, really, because I was still at that age where I selfishly expected gifts from my parents when they traveled without us. When we arrived at the airport, Dad handed me a keychain shaped like the Manhattan skyline. It was just for me, and I proudly clipped the tiny golden city to my backpack. Like so many other dreamers, I made myself a promise: one day, I would see New York City.

The keychain is long gone, but I kept my promise. I visited New York for the first time when I was fifteen, and have been fortunate enough to see it again. In 2017, I was in New York twice for work; last week, though, I took a trip just for fun.

Our good friend R.T. invited Drew and I to come to New York with him and his wife, Holly. Drew had never been to New York, and I’m never going to turn down a travel opportunity–so we accepted the invite and booked our flights a few weeks later.

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We stayed in an Airbnb in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is famous for its community of artists. On every corner, we saw beautiful and delightfully quirky street art.

#newyork #newyorkcity #brooklyn #bushwick #bushwickstreetart #wanderlust

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We made ourselves at home in Brooklyn, but our first order of business was Broadway.

We all attended the matinee showing of Mean Girls–and it was a dream come true. As a die-hard fan of the film (I mean, who isn’t?), I had extremely high expectations. The musical captured the original story’s hilarity as well as its heart, and the audience cheered during some of the most iconic lines.

Drew also ordered us cocktails: “Burn Book” and “Is Butter A Carb?” We even got to keep the cups!

And yes, we wore pink. I mean, come on. It was a Wednesday, and we had to look fetch.

After dinner (and, let’s be honest, a few beers), it was time for our second musical: Avenue Q! The show is off-Broadway now, but that shouldn’t stop you. It’s freakin’ hilarious and probably one of the best commentaries on adulthood that I have ever seen. Don’t bring your kids, though. It will be really, really awkward. Trust me.

The next day, we had one goal: food. R.T. was determined to get some Joe’s Pizza.

While we were eating, a local New Yorker overheard us discussing pizza. You know. Like you do in New York. He recommended several places, including one down the street, and as soon as we finished Joe’s, we headed down Bleecker St. to Fiore’s. This was my favorite of the pizzas, but Drew and R.T. remain loyal to Joe’s.

But it was all delicious. So much pizza. So much happiness.

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Then, something truly magical happened. “Don’t freak out,” R.T. said, “But there’s a cookie dough place across the street.”

Well, we freaked out, and had to grab some cookie dough soon as we finished our pizza. World’s Best Cookie Dough offers freshly baked cookies, raw cookie dough, and milkshakes. We became BFFs with one of the employees and Drew discovered his new favorite cookie. The only downside is now every kind of cookie dough is slightly disappointing. And I’ll never have a milkshake that good ever again.

Even though we decided to skip a few classic tourist spots, like the Empire State Building, we had fun exploring Times Square (The Disney Store is top-notch!) and Central Park. We also made a day trip to see Statue of Liberty! I had never seen it up close, and the trip was definitely worth it. If you decide to visit Liberty Island, beware of scammers–there is only one official ticket vendor.

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Later that night, we decided to have dinner at Lips. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the whole trip: drag queens put on a show while you eat and enjoy cocktails. We probably enjoyed too many cocktails–if there is such a thing at a drag show.

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Our bank accounts say there is such a thing. WHATEVER, BANKS. We got these cool rings with our drinks. So who’s laughing now?!

We were there for diva night, which meant the queens performed as Cher, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Joan Rivers, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. They were all incredible. If you’re jealous, don’t worry–there are several locations throughout the US. Just don’t forget to make reservations, and bring cash so you can give the queens tips. Performing is still work!

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On our last day, we headed for Coney Island. Holly and I had both been dying to go, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s so delightfully weird, with just enough circus creepiness to make the whole park an adventure.

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The subway ride to Coney Island is no joke, so we were starving by the time we arrived. Drew and I ate more pizza, and then we stood in line at the famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs. As the sole vegetarian of the group, I skipped the hot dog and got a beer instead. I know. Poor me (#sarcasm). We also rode the legendary Wheel of Wonder and their roller coaster, the Cyclone. If you love theme park rides, they’re both worth the cost ($8 and $10, respectively). Drew and Holly weren’t fans of the Wheel of Wonder, but we all agreed the Cyclone was a blast.

Coney Island is definitely one of my new favorite places, and I hope that one day I get to go for the Mermaid Parade!

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He was helping me with the picture. Apparently. 

As always, New York was absolutely wonderful. No trip is ever the same, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again. There are still a lot of pizza places and cookie dough flavors to try. ❤️

ring in the new year

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Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

We made it.

We actually made it through 2017.

I don’t need to remind you that 2017 was an exhausting year, right?

Even on a personal level, a lot happened–I mean, I got married, which is a pretty big deal.

But in the wake of extreme political turmoil and anxiety, the Internet has decided that 2018 is about LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. Or, as my friend Chris put it, “SPICY BUSINESS, 2018.”

Take that as you will, but for me, spicy business is all about living your best and most adventurous life.  I’ve already gotten a new tattoo; yesterday, my friend and I took a yoga class at a local cat shelter. If that’s not spicy business, I don’t know what is.

 

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Usually, I’m extremely skeptical about New Year’s resolutions. The reasons vary: I hate how we act as though we can only set goals on the first of the year; I resent the fact that most resolutions fizzle out by the end of the month; and I tend to think that New Year’s Eve is an overrated holiday.

But there was something about 2017 that made me reflect on the past, as well as the wonderful things to come. Here’s what’s on the horizon for 2018:

A new home.

Drew and I are planning to stay in Atlanta, but we have been toying with the idea of our future home for a while now. While I do love our current house–it is full of so many memories and so much laughter–Drew owned it before we even started dating. This year, we hope to move into a home that we choose together.

And maybe I’ll get my Beauty and the Beast-esque library.

Adventures with people I love.

Drew and I had an adventure-themed wedding because we think our marriage is an adventure…but we also want to see the world together. We’ve been talking about visiting Iceland for AGES, and today, we booked a flight for August.

We’re also planning to join our friends in New York, so Drew will finally be able to experience one of my favorite cities!

Later this year, my mom and I are planning to spend a weekend in Asheville, and I still need to visit Xan in Chicago. It’s turning out to be a busy year, but how could it not be?! There are so many places to see! (#SPICYBUSINESS!)

A regular yoga practice.

Exercise and I have never had the best relationship. I hate running and most forms of cardio; gyms make me self-conscious at best and anxious at worst; and, to be perfectly honest, there are just other things I would rather do. Binge watching Netflix is just more fun, okay? LET ME LIVE.

Enter yoga. My first introduction to yoga was during a high school P.E. class, and since then, it’s been a constant in my life. An irregular constant, but a constant nonetheless–whether it was on our Wii Fit or a YouTube video, yoga has always appealed to me.

Because of this irregularity, I know that my body functions much, much better when I take time to move and stretch. When I start complaining about back and neck pain, Drew suggests that I start doing yoga again. And he’s always right.

But yoga is a spiritual practice–it rejects the idea that the body is inferior to the spirit. I often need to remind myself of the connection between my physical body and my spirituality; after all, I believe that God created our bodies and wants us to take care of them (not to mention that bodies are especially significant to Christian theology). Where better to practice this than on the mat?

Writing.

There are times when writing feels as natural as breathing: I get inspired and knock out a poem or a blog post in record time.

But lately, writing has been more like swimming. I’m racing against the clock, pushing through the deepest waters, and my lungs are screaming for a chance to exhale.

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid of sounding less eloquent and poetic than I’d like and I’m afraid whatever novel I pursue will die with the five thousand other stories that are rotting in the graveyard of my hard drive.

So, I make things easier on myself.

I leave everything undone.

I know that this is not a good reaction to fear. It isn’t good for anything, except making myself feel worse as the year goes by.

This year, I want to remind myself that writing is not only my passion, but it’s also a process. It’s often a slow process. But that’s okay, because I never want stories to end, anyway.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

-Shannon Hale

What else?

Less burnout. More tattoos. More magic. More books. More light. More love.

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Happy New Year, sweet friends. I hope and pray that it’s one of the best. ❤

Newlyweds, Part II: Honeymoon Adventure!

To read about our wedding ceremony, read Part I here

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It is no secret that I love all things Disney. But when I added ‘Disney World’ to our list of honeymoon options, I didn’t think it would actually happen. Fortunately, Drew loves theme parks and roller coasters as much as I do, so he agreed to go to Disney World as long as we could go to Universal Studios, too.

Obviously, if your fiancé suggests adding another theme park to your trip, you can’t say NO. Like, pull my arm, why don’t you?

Our wedding took place on a Saturday night, and we left for Orlando Sunday morning. I think if we had a chance to do it all over, we’d wait a day or so–traveling right after wedding festivities is pretty exhausting. At that point, I was powered by pure excitement…BECAUSE WE WERE ABOUT TO RIDE THE MAGICAL EXPRESS, Y’ALL.

And it is nothing short of magical: once you get to the Orlando Airport, you follow signs for Disney’s Magical Express. After you check in, a bus will take you to your Disney resort! No worrying about getting a Lyft or renting a car. They’ll even pick up your luggage and deliver it to your room (although if you are a paranoid control freak like I am, I suggest grabbing your luggage anyway).

As strange as it sounds, I think the hotel was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I’d been wanting to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for AGES, and our honeymoon was the perfect excuse to book a room. I loved it from the moment we walked in. The concierge complimented my nails, and when I oh-so-casually thanked her and told her I had to get fancy nails for our wedding, she handed us ‘Happily Ever After’ buttons to wear. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Our room overlooked the ‘savanna,’ so we spent a lot of time searching for animals. I usually want to do as much as I can when I’m on vacation, but staying in isn’t so bad when you can see giraffes and zebras from your window.

The next morning, we had breakfast at Boma before heading to the parks. Our plan was to spend half day of the day at Magic Kingdom before making it to Animal Kingdom for our first FastPass ride. Here’s what actually happened: we got distracted by watching the animals from our room,  so we only had enough time for a quick walk down Main Street …but we were able to buy our bride and groom mouse ears! SECOND MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Then, it was off to Animal Kingdom!

Since Animal Kingdom focuses on–well–animals, it’s more about attractions and animals than rides. The rides they do have, however, are totally worth it. Dinosaur scares the bejeezus out of me, but it’s still my favorite.

Drew’s favorite part: “Going to the Rainforest Cafe to have beer and French fries. It was fun to chill and just live our best beer life.”

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He also met a new friend!

The next day, we celebrated Halloween by visiting Hollywood Studios. It was the perfect day with just the perfect amount of spookiness. To get into the Halloween spirit, I wore my Hocus Pocus shirt and traded in my bride mouse ears for Halloween mouse ears (don’t worry–I still wore my button!). Drew didn’t wear anything special because he hates happiness, but he took this selfie with me.

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He’s such a good sport.

After lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, we headed for my favorite ride of all time: The Tower of Terror.

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YOU CAN CHECK IN, BUT YOU CAN’T CHECK OUT. Just kidding. We were fine.

Drew’s favorite part: “Tower of Terror. Partly because the ride was really fun, and partly because of your excitement.”

At Magic Kingdom, WE GOT TO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN AGAIN! We were lucky enough to snag tickets for the last day of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it–kids and adults are allowed to wear costumes, and the Sanderson sisters put a spell on the entire party. Later on, there’s a parade and fireworks. Since we’re an #oldmarriedcouple now, we left after the parade…but we made up for it later by watching Stranger Things. Party hard.

Drew’s favorite part: “Buzz Lightyear!” [as in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We rode it four times.]

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We spent our last day at Disney World at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. I’m a sucker for Halloween festivities and Halloween, but our Epcot day might be one of my favorites of the whole trip. We went back to wearing our bride and groom mouse ears, and practically everyone we saw congratulated us. One elderly man told us to never go to bed angry, and then handed us a two-dollar bill. “As long as you have each other, you’re never broke,” he said.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but the food, wine, and beer was delicious. Epcot gets ALL the points.

Drew’s favorite part: “The Chinese restaurant. I got those pot stickers.”

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Now, I’m a bit of a Disney snob, so I wasn’t expecting Portofino Bay, our Universal Studios resort, to be nearly as amazing as Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was wrong. We may not have been see African wildlife from our balcony, but look at that view!

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We had two whole days to spend at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Not surprisingly, my favorite part of both parks was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was able to visit Hogwarts a few years ago, but this was my first time visiting Diagon Alley and riding the Hogwarts Express.

I only freaked out a little. And by that I mean a lot.

One of the best parts about Universal is the Express Pass. If you are staying at a Universal Studios resort, you automatically get an Express Pass; you can also use it an unlimited number of times. So, obviously, we rode everything at least twice.

Except Dudley Do-Right. That ride shows NO MERCY.

Drew’s favorite part: “Hmm. Seeing how excited you were about Diagon Alley. You were so pumped. And also how we figured out the secret to the Men In Black ride!”

Y’all. We SLAYED the Men In Black ride. If you know the secret, we’ll have to go to Orlando together and discuss some serious strategy (to be honest, I’ll probably tell you the secret in person, but this ups the intrigue a bit and makes me feel really cool.).

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At the risk of sounding cliché, I completely understand why Disney and Universal are highly popular honeymoon destinations. The week went by way too quickly, but it was the perfect way to celebrate our marriage. I’m already itching to go back–do you think I can convince Drew to go again for a milestone anniversary?

Just kidding. I’m just happy that he’s the one I get to celebrate with.

Here’s to happily ever after, Drew. I lava you. ❤️

Newlyweds, Part I: Celebration!

Last February, Drew and I decided to take advantage of our long weekend and take a trip to Nashville. It’s a relatively short drive from Atlanta, after all–why not? We had so many adventures planned: coffee shops, live music, a day at the library…little did I know that our weekend getaway would become a pivotal moment in our lives.

I was oblivious, of course. We were snuggled up in our AirBnb room, watching How I Met Your Mother and laughing at the gang’s latest hijinks. I was reaching for the remote when Drew told me to wait.

And I saw he had a tiny box.

And then he said he hoped I would go on another adventure with him.

And then he asked if I would marry him.

I think you know what happens next.

I guess he's stuck with me. 🙃

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We settled on an October 2017 wedding date. It felt pretty ambitious, since I’m REALLY UNORGANIZED and I hate planing things, but it was perfect. We didn’t extend our my stress for a year (or more) and our venue was extremely helpful throughout the planning process. Plus, October is my favorite month, so our anniversary just gives us another reason to celebrate!

Our family and friends were especially phenomenal. For instance: Xan was my maid of honor and helped create our save-the-dates; Drew’s groomsman Chris designed our invitations; Erin made cookies for our wedding guests; and my cousin/BFF/basically sister/bridesmaid Alyssa did my makeup on the wedding day.

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Everyone in the wedding party also reminded me that I needed to eat and gave me lots of bread and peanut butter. Also, it’s also very hard to eat while people are doing your hair and makeup.

Our parents handled a lot of things we probably wouldn’t have given much thought to otherwise. My mom bought wedding favors and helped create centerpieces (my grandma also provided the books we used; the day of the wedding, our friends Anica and Cathi helped assemble everything!), She also convinced me that the bridesmaids and I should have bouquets…which was an A++ decision, because I found an amazing Etsy shop and the flowers were GORGEOUS.

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LOOK AT HOW CUTE MY MOM AND MY AUNT KRYSTAL ARE. JUST LOOK.

My dad found our transportation vendor, and on the wedding day, he picked up the desserts from the bakery. Drew’s mom planned the entire rehearsal dinner, came with me to every wedding dress fitting, and scheduled my hair styling trial. My aunt and my grandpa created our photo booth backdrop, and everyone helped assemble the props while Drew and I were on our flight. Meanwhile, our flower girl and ring bearers just kept being freakin’ adorable.

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Courtesy of my aunt Kathi–if you need a good photographer, visit her page!

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Our wedding day was an absolute blast. The girls and I got ready while drinking champagne (thanks, Heather!) and hate-watching Fifty Shades Darker (they found it on TV while I was in the shower).

Getting pretty. 💕👰🏻🌈🥂🍰 #mawidge #turningturner #marauderwedding

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While I highly doubt our luck would have been compromised if Drew and I had seen each other before the wedding, we opted to avoid one another until our first look photos. We’re still waiting for the photos to come in, but Erin snapped this awesome picture of me hiding from Drew.

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Drew said he thought I’d have a poofy, Cinderella-esque dress. I SURE SHOWED HIM.

The ceremony itself was everything we could have hoped for. My brother walked with my grandma and my mom down the aisle; Drew walked with his mom, while my dad walked me down the aisle. Xan’s father was our officiant, and my friend Christina, one of my favorite people in the whole world, did our ceremony reading.

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So basically, I was crying happy tears within five seconds of the ceremony starting. I was crying and sniffling even harder when we read our vows to one another. And I had a microphone, so I may or may not have mixed feelings about seeing our wedding video.

After we were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Turner, we each grabbed a drink from the bar (priorities) and got ready for more photos (there are always photos that need to be taken at weddings). Then, it was time for dinner, more drinks, and dancing–the best part, other than actually getting married, of course.

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One of my favorite moments was when Chris asked the DJ to play “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”

AND THE DJ ACTUALLY PLAYED IT.

If I have any advice for brides-to-be, it’s to play that song, because if you do all the millennials will sing and dance along dramatically. And if you don’t, your wedding will be a FAILURE.

Just kidding. But it was really, really, fun.

Some of the wedding gals. #turningturner

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It was all so fun, in fact, that it ended way too soon.

Weddings are strange. You spend months and months planning this big, beautiful thing, and then it goes by in a big, beautiful blur. Some things did not go as planned–it’s just how weddings are–but that’s okay. We were celebrating love, and love is big and beautiful on its own.

The next day, we headed to Orlando for our honeymoon! Stay tuned for the second part of this post, where I’ll tell you all about our Disney and Universal adventures. Spoiler alert: it was amazing and I want to go back ASAP.

Until next time, my loves!

Quarter-Life Celebration!

 

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I don’t know if I feel like an adult, or if I ever really will, but I turned twenty-five the other day! That’s worth celebrating, right?

In honor of my twenty-fifth year, I have compiled a list of twenty-five things that I think and feel. There is no rhyme or reason to this list; I just want to remember what I was like after spending a quarter of a century on this earth. Enjoy, and feel free to write a list of your own in the comment section!

  1. I often feel like I am made up of contradictions. I hate crowds, but I love places that are typically full of them, like cities and theme parks. I want a cute apartment in New York but I also want a little cottage in the English countryside. I love to travel and plan adventures with Drew, but I also just want to stay home in my sweatpants and watch Netflix. I claim to hate religion and that I just want to love Jesus and love people, but sometimes I become the most religious person I know. But maybe I’m not a contradiction; maybe I’m just human, and that’s okay.
  2. Writing is somehow the easiest and hardest thing in the world. For someone who wants to write for a living, I sure spend a lot of time not writing. I should get on that.
  3. I had never thought of myself as a particularly materialistic person, but I’ve come to realize that’s only true when it comes to technology, cars, and jewelry. I’m more likely to spend my money on, say, a cute mug that I don’t need, while refusing to buy something I actually need, like shoes that don’t have holes in the soles, because what I have is fine and shoes are expensive. Fortunately, Drew is good at reminding me that I have plenty of mugs, and is sweet enough to suggest a charity wedding registry (He also bought me an air purifier to help with my allergies, another item that I would have briefly considered before balking at the price and convincing myself that being sniffly 24/7 isn’t that bad.). I know I need to practice resisting things, and I am forever grateful that I’m marrying someone who is helping me (whether or not it’s always intentional).
  4.  There are many ways to say, ‘I love you.’ It’s like learning another language; the more you get to know someone, the more you notice and understand.
  5.  Wedding planning is certainly stressful, but not nearly as stressful as I had expected. I also know not everyone has such supportive friends and family members as I do–and I’m sure my scatterbrain has found some rest because of it. I’m so grateful, because it also makes planning kind of…fun. Is this how organized party people feel all the time? Except I also feel like I need a Remembrall. So…probably not.
  6. I love children and want to be a mom one day, but I don’t think I’ve hit the baby fever phase of my life yet. However, I do have kitten fever, and would love nothing more than to adopt kittens and bottle feed them until they are old enough to eat real kitten food. I’ve tried to convince Drew and Kate that we need another animal. All my attempts have been futile.
  7. Cooking (or, in my case, trying to cook) is the worst. I just don’t get it when my friends say it’s fun and relaxing, because if I try to embrace my inner Gordon Ramsay, I feel like I’m going to burn our house down. For instance: Drew and I tried Hello Fresh for about a month. At first, we LOVED it. Then, after a few culinary mishaps, we decided it was way too hard to cook during the week. But when I sit down to eat a meal with my family or read about The People’s Supper or listen to stories about the early church, I start to understand–at least a little–why someone would rather cook and share a meal than order a pizza. Maybe I can start with simple recipes and work my way up.
  8.  I miss the days when I could read and write for hours without interruption or distraction. The Internet and Netflix are a part of it, sure, but I know I only have myself to blame.
  9. I often struggle to call myself a writer, or even claim to be a creative person, because I hardly ever finish the projects I begin. My blog is full of drafts. My Novlr and Scrivener folders are full of drafts. I’ve been a winner during National Novel Writing Month, but never made it past the editing phase. Right now, I’m struggling to finish this list; I seriously considered ending this at number 10.
  10. I fall more and more in love with Atlanta every day. While I claim Missouri as my home state, it’s not entirely true; my family moved from Texas to Maryland to Georgia to Missouri. Missouri always felt like mine because I had extended family there; when we moved, it felt like it has always been home. Cities were another matter entirely. We lived in Kansas City, but my mom is from St. Louis. I have family on both sides of the state and resent the rivalry between KC and STL. I couldn’t claim either city as my own. But Atlanta is starting to feel like mine, and it is so, so wonderful.
  11. One time, RuPaul retweeted me and I FLIPPED THE HELL OUT and told everyone I knew and it was the BEST DAY.
  12. I value hard work and admire people who have a strong work ethic (I am a Hufflepuff, after all), but I often resent the “hustle” that my generation has had to adopt. Obviously, there are people who are older and wiser who have done the same–but thanks to the Internet,  we are now at a point in history we are bombarded with messages every day about work and success. It’s as inspiring as it is exhausting.
  13. I never, ever thought I would move back to the South, let alone move there to be with a boy. But here I am. And I am so, so happy.
  14. I only allow push notifications from my Goodreads app. I’d like to think that says something about my bookish, anti-tech ways, but it doesn’t. I’m still on my phone all the time. I’m trying want to break my tech and social media addiction, but I’m not sure how to in a way that doesn’t cut me off from the world entirely. Sometimes that scares me; sometimes, I think that’s exactly what I need (especially with our current news cycle).
  15. I keep reading this list for inspiration. It’s from Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog; I have completely fallen in love with her work and have been reading her blog like another book.  I’m also in love with Gala Darling, whose blog is always full of inspiration and magic.
  16. Some of the most wonderful people I know are those who I have never met in person; I’ve only met them because of the Internet (such as my fellow staff members at Thistle and the Teacup Trail). I love how the Internet breaks down barriers we didn’t even know existed.
  17. Thinking about the future freaks me out–but not necessarily my future. Just the future in general. Whenever I think about the year 2020, or the year 2030, I have a mini existential crisis. I mean, think about it: self-driving cars! The Internet of Things! People born in the year 2000 will be adults and I will have no excuse to think that 1990 was ten years ago! People born this decade will literally not know a time before iPhones. Sometimes it just completely weirds me out that we are in the year 20-anything! Drew claims he has never experienced this. Then again, he is really excited about self-driving cars.
  18. I wish I had time to learn ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew, so I could read the Bible in its original language. Words are important. We miss so much beauty in our modern translation.
  19. I miss my blue hair.
  20. My first-ever published poem was about how much I hated working a 9-5 job, and I just wanted to write and make the world a better place. Looking back, I know I didn’t really hate my job that much; my heart and soul were just in a really bad place. I was horribly depressed, and battling anxiety like never before. Writing was a crucial part of my healing process, but pain is not a crucial part of the creative process. We all need to stop romanticizing the starving, heartbroken artist.
  21. I have the best best friends in the history of the world.
  22. I love the fact that Disney is releasing more princess movies, but it’s making me re-think all my favorites and it’s just another existential crisis waiting to happen. At least I know Jasmine will always be my #1 (followed closely by Belle and Rapunzel. And Moana. And Aurora. Dammit. They’re all wonderful, okay?).
  23. When I was little, all I wanted was a dog. I still love dogs–I love all animals–but cats have become somewhat of a personal mission. I’m extremely defensive of them (why do people expect them to act like dogs?!), and I volunteer at a cat shelter on a weekly basis. I feel like God knew that even though I wouldn’t become a veterinarian (my childhood dream, before I realized I don’t do well with blood), He knew that animals would be a huge part of my life. My childhood dream of helping animals is coming true–just not in the way I would have thought. Isn’t life incredible?
  24. “White Man” by the Michael Gungor Band  is my favorite song about God.
  25. My hope and prayer for this blog is that it becomes a safe place, where we can talk and love and learn together. I know I don’t always post here on a regular basis–sometimes not even a semi-regular basis–but I promise I’ll never abandon it.