For Thanksgiving this year, our first as a married couple, we went to Ryan's dad's house for the day (part of our master plan for the holidays, which we figured out months in advance).  It is always slow-paced and relaxing there and we enjoyed a wonderful day of cooking, eating and being with family.

Ryan made his first turkey ever and it was awesome!  He put a brine on it the night before and it was oh so moist and flavorful.

You'll have to excuse the fact that we already dug into it once this picture was taken.

My favorite dish in the world!  My mom always made this sweet potato casserole while I was growing up and I couldn't image a Thanksgiving without it, so, naturally, I made it and brought it over.  And it was a huge hit!  I was so proud :)  The best part was Ryan's uncle's mom, who, at 93-years-old, declared it was the best thing she's ever eaten.  She proceeded to protect it the rest of the night and took the very little leftovers there were home with her to eat later that night.  It was hilarious.

I also made a praline pumpkin pie that was pretty good too.  You cover the top of the pie with pralines right before serving, so sadly, they aren't in the picture.  But we just finished up the leftovers last night and I must say it's pretty good!



To My Husband,

I am thankful for how you listen. When we talk, you hear what I say. You value what I say and take it into consideration and then respond. When I talk, I am so quick to think of a response or rebuttal that I don't always hear what you are saying. I know that if I listened to you better, I would be wiser and my problems would be easier.

I am thankful for how you love Cira and I, your girls. Your love makes us a family. You hold us together and are the foundation for our family. I cannot wait to see what an amazing father you will be to our children. That will be the greatest blessing of my life.

I am thankful for how you are so good to my family and yours. This is so important to me and I am so grateful that we are blessed with families that love and support us to no end. Thank you for always supporting me and for loving my parents and siblings as if they were yours all along. I am thankful that you have such kind parents and siblings whose love has given me not just in-laws but great friends.

I am thankful for your passionate outlook on life. You inspire me with your dedication to your interests and how talented you are. You have lead me to new adventures in life and have helped me find my passions along the way.

I am thankful for your love of cooking. There is no better feeling than being at home with you while we drink wine, make a meal and then collapse on the couch together. I am thankful that you care about our health and find such joy in being a foodie.

I am thankful for your handiness. I would have no computer, Internet, or TV without you. I would have clogged drains, a broken refrigerator, and a lot of frustrations. As a matter of fact, you fixed the TV this morning so I could watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I am thankful for your smell :) When I hug you, I literally get a physical high because of your pheromones.

I am thankful for your intelligence. I am so proud of your accomplishments while you were in college including your leadership as the SHRM President, your excellent GPA, your Psychology major and Business minor, your internship and your research, to name a few. You also worked and planned our wedding in addition to all this during your last semester of college.

I am thankful for the way you look at me. I will always cherish the photographs taken the day before our wedding at our rehearsal. I feel a physical squeeze in my heart when I look at the way you looked at me that day.

I am thankful for how we laugh together, mostly when we are alone. You do it without even trying and it makes me get a perspective on my problems when you make me smile.

I am thankful for our future. We are so blessed by our marriage and it takes my breath away to know that this is my life and that it will be for the rest of our lives.

I am thankful God chose you and I together.

Love, Your Wife



On this Thanksgiving eve, I thought it would be fun to do a "this time last year" type of post.  So... this time last year, my aunt Jackie and cousin AnnMarie flew out from Florida and we had a blast, as we always do with them.

We looked for bridesmaids dresses (pictures of which are in the "Wedding Prep" post a couple weeks ago), we went shopping, and prepared for Thanksgiving.  And the best part -  they threw me an awesome "Out of Town Wedding Shower" since they wouldn't be able to make it to the bridal shower in May (even though AnnMarie ended up flying out anyway!)

My fabulous "I kiss better than I cook" apron, I guess you would have to ask Ryan :)
Such a great Thanksgiving we had, amidst all the wedding-planning and stuffing-making craziness.  It was so exciting knowing that our wedding was coming up and having family out to help with the planning was great.

This year, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, will be wonderful too.  We are going to Ryan's dad's house and it will surely be less active and more relaxing.  And it is oh-so-wonderful that we don't have to make the drive back up to Fort Collins this year.  We can stay as long as we like.

Oh, and stay tuned for a special Thanksgiving day post tomorrow.



Image found here: www.kosherdeluxe.com.
 If I had a dollar for every time I swore that "from this point until the day we get married, I am going to eat well and workout," it would have paid for the entire wedding.  For awhile, I was dedicated.  I was pretty dedicated to waking up early and going to the gym before work... well, for two weeks.  I was pretty dedicated to cutting out carbs... OK, so it was for two hours.  I was pretty dedicated to the whole "I'm going to look the best I ever have on my wedding day" craze for awhile too.  But then I realized, well, that sucks.  I was not enjoying life or the wedding-related festivities that occurred what seemed like every couple of weeks.  So I gave up on the whole idea of looking like all I did was eat steel cut oats and juggle a kettle ball around

The funny part is, the week before our wedding, I dropped more weight that in all the previous sixteen months of our engagement combined.  And not on purpose, at all.  I just had a nervous ball of energy in my stomach and was bouncing off the walls.  This energy, combined with the fact that I was simply too busy too eat much, did more than any amount of sit-ups and steps on the damned StairMaster ever could.  And for the record, I never wanted to lose the lbs. anyway, I simply wanted to look fit and trim like any other bride.  I realize that this may not be the healthiest regimen ever, but I did not do it on purpose.  

They say the average newlywed woman gains 21, yes 21, pounds her first year of marriage.  I am proud to say that I am halfway there, and we have not been married for half a year yet.  But only because I lost so much weight the week before our wedding.  So as of right now, I'm back to normal, right?  Whatever.

Anyway, as I scarf down my second third chocolate chip muffin, I am enjoying the sweet, sweet relief of post-marital bliss, a.k.a. no more you're-a-bride-so-you-better-look-your-best chanting in your head as you climb stair, after stair, after stair.  I am also proud to say that I have worked out a whopping ten times since we got married.  And I've been eating my heart out.  But anyone who knows me knows that this is pretty typical.

Also for the record, I am not "letting myself go," although you're probably convinced that that's exactly what I'm doing.  I repeat, I am not.



My mom always puts not one, but two "Happys" when writing "Happy Birthday" in birthday cards.  Hence, there are three in the title of this blog post.  This weekend we celebrated my mom's 39th birthday by getting away at our family friend's cabin in the mountains.  We played games, took walks, read books, and relaxed.  It was wonderful that we were all able to unwind together.

Packing for the two of us - I received an actual comment from the husband on the great selection of t-shirts.

Mom making prosciutto-wrapped chicken deliciousness.  The dish earned a different name over the weekend, but we'll let that story be.

Typical sibling behavior.

More typical sibling behavior.

We taught Brianna and Kelsea how to play poker and Brianna cleaned up!  She won 10 buck-a-roos!

Our cozy little cabin room, it was lovely!

Hello there!

We made spaghetti bolognese for everyone.  Again, one of Ryan's specialties and if you've never had it you are missing out!  But feel free to ask, he loves to make it :)

Our room at night with the fire blazing outside.  It was perfectly charming and relaxing.

We woke up to this breathtaking scenery Sunday morning.

My husband and I!

My sexaaay husband in his flannel!

Happy, happy birthday Mom!  We hope it was fabulous and we love you!



I woke up this morning earlier than normal to take my little sister to school and walked outside to a gloomy, overcast, no-sun-shining kind of day.  There was frost on my windshield (since the hubs and I haven't traded the garage spot for the outdoor spot yet) and my car was a little slower than normal starting up.

I love these days.  They feel oddly comforting and even relaxing.  They remind me to slow down a little bit and take it all in.  Maybe it's because the lack of color makes you appreciate other things or allows your eyes and mind to take a break from constant bombardment.  Maybe it's because other people seem to slow down on these days as well.  Maybe it's because the clock actually does pass by slower than a second at a time.  Gray days are still, quiet, and introspective.

We are staying at our friend's cabin for the weekend which makes this weather that much more enveloping.  I'm sure the sun will be out by noon, but for now, I'm enjoying the gray.

This photo was taken on our trip to Michigan a few summers ago.  While there, we visited Mackinac Island and rode bikes around the town.  It's rather magical, really.  It feels as if you have gone back in time 100 years because there are no cars or chain stores.  Just big, beautiful homes, horses, and bicycles.
So slow down, cozy up, and have a wonderful weekend.  Pictures of our adventures to come.  I would have put an exclamation point after that last sentence but even that seemed a bit too jarring for this slow, hazy day.



Yesterday afternoon it began to snow!  Not sure if you can tell by this picture, but there were flakes coming down and it ended up being a decent dusting.  On Sunday, the temperature was in the 70s and Ryan and I were walking around in t-shirts and jeans.

This is what we woke up to this morning.  Last night it was really coming down and looked beautiful.  This picture through my window of the giant dirt mound in our backyard really doesn't do it justice.  Anyway, when Ryan left for work this morning he told me to stay warm, so I'll do the same to you!



Ok, so I totally ripped that off from a popular TLC show that I may have watched a bit too much of while we were engaged, but it is exactly what I did!  Trying on wedding dresses was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of the whole wedding planning process.  Our long engagement allowed for time to try on all sorts of fun dresses and us girls had so much fun doing so!

Now for the details: I tried on around 30 dresses at 4 different boutiques.  I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted from looking through no less than 50 bridal magazines.  I wanted a strapless gown with a fitted silhouette and a little bit of bling.  I also wanted something unique yet classic.

I'll start with some gorgeous gowns that definitely deserve pictures even if they weren't meant to be.  Scroll down for the quest for the perfect dress!

Sweet and pretty, but just not me.

Looking back, I completely forgot about this dress but it is stunning.  It is simple, elegant and beautiful, but I wanted something a touch more fun and modern.

This is a gorgeous dress and I love the unique beaded top.  However, my hips are the widest part of my body and the vast expanse of white satin laying across them accentuated said curves a bit too much.

The princess dress!  This was so much fun to wear, but I'm 5'8 and in this dress I was both tall and wide.  Too... much... dress.

I really loved this dress!  It was modern, had great details and fit perfectly.

I love the blossom on the side and the fun pieces of fabric hanging down which gave it so much interest.

One of my favorite features was the asymmetrical hemline around the skirt.  It was so unique and gave the gown much more depth.  But, was this dress "The One?"

After wearing it around the boutique and mulling it over with my mom, Brianna and Katira, we decided it wasn't destined to be.  I love the features of the dress but since it was my wedding dress I was looking for and would be in pictures forever, I wanted a dress that was more classic and timeless.  I also wanted a dress that I wouldn't changed one thing about.  My mom knew that it existed.  On with the hunt!

An exquisite cathedral veil.  The drama and elegance would have been great with the formal aspect of our wedding but it didn't quite mesh with my vision of my wedding gown, still yet to be found...

Drumroll please... I found it, the perfect dress!  Although I must say that I did not know it right away.  I actually picked out several other dresses and then grabbed this one on a whim.

Then I put the dress on...

...and paused for a second in the dressing room and was speechless.  I think I may have found the one!  I couldn't wait to walk out and show everyone!

My mom knew it the second I walked out.  I had found my perfect dress!  (Minus the bright orange clips up the back).

This was such a special experience for her and I.  She was so thoughtful, fun, and giving throughout the entire wedding planning process.  Love you mom!

Here's a detail shot of the applique.  I love the way it secures the layers of the dress and adds a little bling bling!

The lovely ladies with me when I found the dress.  And yes, those are tears in my mother-in-law's eyes, so sweet.

The gorgeous hairpiece and necklace that Sheri so kindly bought me that day.  They were the perfect accents to my gown.

It's official!

Time to celebrate!  Poppin' champagne... this would be an example of the after-wedding-planning drinks I have referenced in blog posts past.

No, Ryan was NOT present when I found my perfect wedding dress.  But, as the perfect fiance, he did meet us for lunch afterward to partake in the celebrating.  He hasn't even seen any of the pictures of me trying on other dresses, let alone ones of "The Dress."  These have been in a top-secret file for the past year and a half!