Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Mismatched Bridesmaids

I know I've shared this sentiment before, but I was never the little girl that dreamed about wedding details. However, I've always known exactly who I would have standing by my side on the big day. When we got engaged one of the first things we did was sit down and figure out who we wanted to be in our bridal party (read more about my girls, and my bridesman, here!). As soon as that was over I went to the immediate detail of what they would wear...even though we were 15 months away from the wedding!

Even before the mismatched bridesmaid look was plastered all over Pinterest, I just knew that identical bridesmaids weren't in my future. I've been in my fair share of weddings up to this point and to all of those brides--I love you, and had a blast at your wedding, but it's just not my style. Especially once I selected my wedding party that ranges in age, size, color, etc. I knew there was absolutely no way I could select one dress that would 1. flatter each of my gals and 2. make them each feel comfortable which is one my top priorities for the big day.

Mismatched dresses it was! Even though you'd think this means less decisions there were still quite a few things to think through. Would I give my girls a color swatch and have them select dresses somewhere on a scale from light to dark? Would I select a dress color at David's bridal and then let the girls pick a particular style? (shout out to my girl Mo who did that!) Ultimately, I decided to give the least amount of direction possible: a navy dress that doesn't go below the knees and isn't in a shiny fabric.

Along with the dress stipulations I provided a few examples of dresses that I'd found online to showcase some of the style of the wedding. It's going to be pretty casual and nontraditional, so a fair amount of dresses are game. A few girls already wore navy in another wedding so can get another use out of the dress, because let's bring up the elephant in the room--I've yet to re-wear any of my bridesmaid dresses.

Some girls, like my sister, ran with this. She was immediately looking at dresses left and right and before Thanksgiving had purchased two to have me look and decide. Others have needed a bit more structure and so we've had longer conversations about it. A few of them are coming to Richmond this weekend and we're heading to the J.Crew Clearance store in Lynchburg where there's an entire room of the store full of bridesmaid dresses marked down to $70-$80.

At the end of the day, I'm incredibly glad that I made this decision. I absolutely can't wait for my wedding day to see what every girl has chosen and how they style it differently. I can't wait for pictures to see each their personalities shine through. And most importantly if they are uncomfortable in, or don't care for their dress--not my fault!

If you're thinking about mismatched bridesmaids, here's a few tips I've found helpful:
The Secrets for Successful Mismatched Bridesmaids by Belle
The Secrets for Successful Mismatched Bridesmaids Part 2 by Belle
Bridesmaid Dress Shopping, Made Easier with Joielle by A Practical Wedding

What do you think about the mismatched bridesmaid look? Have you been in a mismatched wedding, or had mismatched bridesmaids yourself?

ps. shout out to one of my lovely bridesmaids Lauren, who's birthday is today! Love you lady!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Motivation

via College Prepster
The more time I spend in adulthood, the more my personal definition of success has shifted. Success for me used to be reaching that end point. I graduated from college, found a great first job, then I was accepted to and attended graduate school. The logical next step was a job. My search started early and hard and I'd have to say that I snagged quite the offer with my current workplace. 

In the past two years I've learned that success is more than just finding a title and a role and settling. There's still a good deal of hard work that needs to be put into your current position as well as staying focused on goals to work towards. 

After stumbling around for the past few years and having a few moments of wondering if I'm in the right place the clouds have finally cleared and the sun came out to show me some new goals. Ironically enough this happened on a snow day. 

So on this Monday I'd like you to stop and take a look at yourself, your life, and your work. Just because your life may give off the facade of success, doesn't necessarily mean that you yourself feel successful. If it's not adding up, start thinking about how you can get back to a place where you like who you are, what you're doing, and how you're doing it. 

That Maya, one smart lady.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1096 Wonderful Days

It's been 1096 days since Mr. Young and I made things official. While it's hard to believe we've been together for three years sometimes, it also feels like it has been many more.

Since this very first picture of us (babies!)...

I graduated from South Carolina with my Masters degree
We both re-located to Richmond, Virginia and moved in together
I started a new job, and Mr. Young did as well
We got two little kitties, said goodbye to one, and welcomed another to the family
Celebrate milestone birthdays of 25 and 30
Mr. Young put a ring on it!
We've been on countless trips by ourselves, to visit with friends, and celebrate marriages
Moved into our first real house
I ran my first half-marathon and Mr. Young survived me during my training period (I think the latter may be the bigger accomplishment!)
We've made considerable strides in wedding planning and booked a killer honeymoon

What you can't see though are all of my favorite things.

Like waking up with Mr. Young or when he brings me breakfast in bed on the weekends. Especially his mini omelettes because he knows I love anything miniature sized. Playing Scrabble over coffee on Sunday mornings and knowing exactly how make a perfect cup of java for me. Sneaking flowers home from the store to surprise me when we go grocery shopping and leaving sweet notes around the house.

Lucky for me I only have to wait another 129 days until he's mine forever. Happy anniversary my love, here's to many more!

photo by Sean DeWitt photography

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Motivation

It can be hard to focus on enjoying the day to day when you may not have anything big or exciting on your calendar for the week. After a busy weekend of wedding planning, running around town, eating out and going to the ballet, I looked at the week ahead last night and let out a short sigh.

This is something I'm still adjusting to over the past two years now that my schedule is not fully reliant on my course syllabi and trips every weekend. It's one of those "grass is greener" things for me as I can recall so many times in college or grad school where I just wanted a weekend I could savor. Now I have plenty of time to savor yet I sit around anxiously looking for something exciting to do.

So even if this is just another week for you with no big projects or events at work and no big weekend plans on the horizon, take time to stop and enjoy where you are. Once you reach your goals, take some time to soak it up. 

How do you remind yourself to stop and enjoy the moment?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekly Roundup

TGIF and Happy Valentine's Day, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to another edition of the Weekly Roundup, a post where the content is always random but you're always guaranteed to learn something new. That sounded way too Drew Carey a la Whose Line Is It Anyway?

A snow day from work yesterday gave me the chance to catch up with my bloglovin' feeder where I fell in love with Live Creating Yourself all over again and found myself swooning over Alaina's home office

I went farther down the rabbit hole as I had forgotten that Alaina's day job is with The Everygirl, an online resource "helping to shape the creative, career-driven woman to experience her life better lived." The Everygirl has a variety of both lifestyle, career, and wellness related content and I would highly recommend checking it out. 

Yesterday right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Federal Judge Arenda L. Wright ruled the Virginia Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional. What great timing for all couples in our state to know that they'll be able to celebrate their love?

Weekly highlight was that yesterday I finally made some clear career goals that are both exciting and frightening at the same time. I believe that anything truly great in life should come with a dose of scariness. This will probably not come to fruition for quite a while, but what a feeling. 

Looking forward to... spending the entire weekend in and out of wedding planning appointments with my mama. Oh, and going to try on my wedding dress!!

#myjam this awesome inclement weather announcement from Durham Academy. I would have died to have seen my teachers or administrators do this when I was in school!

What have you been digging this week?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Mediterranean Honeymoon

I'm going to be completely honest with you today. As soon as we got engaged, the thought of our honeymoon was one of the first things that excited me. You see I was never the little girl who dreamed about her wedding. I've dreamed of how I'd get engaged, giggling with my girlfriends while I get ready for the big day, and most of all--the honeymoon.

The "traditional" honeymoon was always on my mind. I can sit on a beach in the sun forever and I knew that all I wanted was to finally go somewhere in the Caribbean or Latin America and do just that for a week with my new husband. Well, the future hubs had other plans in mind--a trip to Europe. We all know who would actually end up planning that trip, and there was no way that I was going to be planning a big European adventure on top of a wedding.

Put those two ideas together and BAM! Mediterranean cruise it was.

We decided to combine the best of both worlds, and not have to worry about finding somewhere to stay in a list of cities in several different countries. Looking at the itinerary I was definitely feeling the Eastern side of the sea a bit more. While I haven't been to either countries, I just feel that Spain and France are "typical" travel destinations, and I'd like to go there some day but not for this trip. So our criteria as we began searching was that the cruise had to go to either Croatia or Greece and either Rome or Venice, bonus points if we could hit them all! No such luck.

The cruise that we booked will leave out of Istanbul and then port in Mykonos, Greece; Athens, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Sicily, Italy; Salerno, Italy; and finally it will end in Rome. It's been a dream of mine to go on a gondola ride in Venice, and whenever people talk about the city they absolutely swoon, so we're going to round out the trip by heading up there after the cruise. 13 blissful days.

I couldn't be more excited about this trip for a slew of reasons. One, it's my HONEYMOON!! Mr. Young and I travel well together as his laissez faire attitude balances my need to control our days down to the last second. He gets to see many historically rich places, and I get to swim in the Mediterranean Sea (!!!!!). When we're in Sicily we are hoping to have the chance to meet some of my family that still lives over there which is incredibly exciting because I've never met anyone from my dad's paternal side.

Seriously though, I'm getting so worked up over here just thinking about freakin' amazing it's going to be and doing some research for this post just upped my excitement even more... #drool

Venice via 
Valletta via
Mykonos via
Sicily via
the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul via
Have you traveled to any of these destinations? If so I'd love any tips on places to see, good options for transportation, must-eat food, and what attire you may recommend. I'd love any and all information that you'd be willing to share as we plan our itinerary for the trip.

Also, if you missed yesterday's post I shared a bit about where we're going right after our wedding since the honeymoon trip will not be for a few weeks later. Not quite the Mediterranean, but the B&B is absolutely adorable!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Romantic Getaways

I have always enjoyed reading Megan's wonderful accounts of traveling adventures and so decided to link up with her today for her Travel Tuesday! While I do have the ultimate romantic destination coming up soon, my phenomenal honeymoon, I was already planning to post about it tomorrow so you get a little something extra.

When Mr. Young and I were still living down south and mainly saw each other on the weekends, we made it a point to take a lot of weekend getaways to explore new places and get out of town together. We quickly discovered that we really enjoyed charming bed & breakfasts in quaint little towns where there wasn't too much to focus on besides truly spending time with each other. The breakfast and company is pretty fun as well.

Over New Years 2012 we tacked a trip to The Brickhouse Inn in Columbia, NC, onto a trip we were taking with friends to the Outer Banks. I saw the house as a deal on Living Social and seeing how close it was to our already planned vacation, decided to book it as a Christmas surprise for Mr. Young. We were with family and friends the entire break so it was nice to have a few days to ourselves.

The house itself was absolutely adorable, and what's most fun about a bed & breakfast is getting to talk to the owner or manager and learn more about the history of the house and their experiences with running it. We lounged on charming porch swings in the amazing weather (I think it was 60* in December?), walked to dinner at one of the only restaurants (where MY befriended the head of the town council our first night), and poked around in little shops. One day we even took a small trip over to Edenton, NC, to do some historic sightseeing which is always a must for Mr. Young. If there is a canon close, he will find it.

Once I knew we were moving to Virginia I kept my eyes peeled for a deal not too far from Richmond. With a crazy summer and big transition coming soon, I knew a weekend away would do us good before school started for us both. I found the absolutely idyllic Inn at Kelly's Ford, which Mr. Young was extra pumped about because the house is pretty much on an old Civil War battle field.

I bought him a pair of water shoes with the knowledge that we'd be getting in the river, and surprised him after work on Thursday night with a note instructing him to pack a bag! We left after work on Friday for a nice getaway over our year and a half anniversary weekend.

While this B&B was much more secluded (no where to walk except the river and the stables), we absolutely loved it. There's a main house with a bunch of guest houses and we had a massive suite, but could walk over to the main dining room and Pelham's pub on the back porch of the main house. It had amazing views of the grounds and having this for a view while enjoying wine and dinner was perfect...

Included in our package there was a dining credit along with the opportunity to engage in an activity of our choice on the grounds. This trip was yet another surprise for MY, and I had no clue that he used to ride horses! Unfortunately this option had to be booked in advance so we settled for canoeing down the river, which was quite eventful considering there was maybe three inches of water in the river. We still had a wonderful time and on the way home we stopped in Fredericksburg for food and (you guessed it!) more battlefield touring.

It was a perfect weekend and we've been trying to get back. I've seen a few other deals for them on Living Social, but with the wedding we just haven't been able to indulge. Maybe for a first married anniversary trip.

Come back tomorrow for an even better post all about our honeymoon! We are hoping to get many suggestions and tips from friends who have traveled to these destinations before. As a sneak peek I'll share that we booked yet another B&B, the High Meadows Vineyard Inn, for a quick "mini-moon" the Sunday-Tuesday after our wedding weekend since our real honeymoon isn't for a few weeks later. The suite we'll be in is straight out of a magazine #swoon

Have you ever been to a B&B? Or is the scene not for you? If you're a fan, feel free to share any in the Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina area--we'd love to add some to our list!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Motivation

I believe that this is crucial as we think about our values, beliefs, wishes, and dreams. It's can often be easy for us to come up with our priorities in life, I think it's harder to actually live them out. Make a list of your priorities and then take a look at your schedule from last week. Where did most of your time go? 

Seeing how someone uses their time is eye opening and truly shows what you do or do not place value on in your life. Is your schedule in line with your priorities? Your goals? Dreams? Wishes? Values? Every day is another chance to change it, so take a look at your time today (especially your free time) and use it intentionally. 

Happy Monday y'all, let's make it another great week!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekly Roundup

There are so many things I find during the week that I'd like to highlight or share with others. For a while now I had thought about beginning a Friday series to do a roundup of these different pieces including a mashup of articles, moments, food, music, and anything thing else random that I've found throughout the week. Grab a cup of coffee and catch up with the Weekly Roundup!

This is now from two weeks back but I really resonated with Jess when she wrote about When Your Goals Change. I also may or may not have gotten a bit giddy when she featured a quote from my comment on the post in her Get Gutsy newsletter!

I was excited for the Biggest Loser finale, yet unsure how I felt about the winner, Rachel Frederickson's ghostly appearance and dramatic weight loss. I've been trying to find words for my opinion on the situation and Danica from It's Progression was able to channel my thoughts in this post.

Just now getting in the groove with healthy eating in 2014 like me? Check out these 49 detox recipes from Greatist that are also satisfying. #amen

Weekly Highlight was hearing Cammie Dunaway, the Global Chief Marketing Officer and US President of KidZania, Inc. which is probably one of the coolest things I've heard of--click that link! She gave a talk through the business school on our campus about passion, purpose and play.

Most Drool-worthy Pin goes to Keep it Sweet Desserts for their (get ready!) Salted Caramel Oreo Bars 

Looking forward to... my BFF and her husband coming to play in Richmond this weekend!

#myjam Wintersleep's "Weighty Ghost"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Save the Dates

Happy Wedding Wednesday y'all!

When it comes to wedding planning there are some things that get me totally jazzed and other things I could honestly care less about. Of some of the few things I really care about, paper is one of them. I have an eye for design and in another life (or maybe a future one?) could have seen myself as a graphic designer.

Unfortunately, most drool-worthy announcements and invitations also cost an arm and a leg which was not going to fly with this thrifty bride. I knew that I definitely didn't want to sacrifice on invitations, but there were options to make inexpensive, yet gorgeous, Save the Date cards.

As soon as we got engaged I knew that Vistaprint would be a great resource to have things printed for the wedding, even if it was just a ton of inexpensive and personalized thank you cards. I purchased a Living Social deal over the summer that was $10 for $50 worth of merchandise! #score When it came time to order our StD cards (awkward abbrev, right?) I knew this was going to help us get there.

We decided to go with postcards since you don't have to pay for envelopes and you can save by using postcard stamps. You may not get the same selection of stamp styles (there's no wedding postcard stamp that I could find), but that is not something that gets me that excited and I made do with the apple stamps at our post office.

Vistaprint has a simple StD postcard that we selected, uploaded our own image for the front, and used their sample text for the back. We took one of our engagement pictures and put text on top of it for a more customized look. If you don't have editing software like Photoshop or InDesign (or have a fancy friend that could help) then you can use a site like PicMonkey, which is actually what we used.

Super excited when they came in, but what's up with my pinky?!
You do have to order these in large quantities, so even though we only needed 135 we had to order 250. We have so many left that I keep joking about plastering an entire wall in our house with them. Creepy? The good thing was if I messed up when addressing them, or when a few were returned with a wrong address, it was easy and convenient to just pop another one in the mail and not have to worry about running out.

We ended up spending a bit more than the deal was for so overall we spent $27. 65 on our Save the Dates. You read that correctly! It was more to mail them, $42.90 for postage, than it was to actually order the postcards. And since we spent so little on these I didn't feel quite as bad about splurging a bit for our invitations.

Don't feel like you have to sacrifice what you want because of your wedding budget. There are many ways to get crafty and work with what you have. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Year of Joy: One Month In

It's hard to believe that February is here and I'm certainly hoping that the first few days of warm weather this month brought us is a sign that it's about to start thawing out here. While it won't be quite as warm the rest of the week, at this point 40* sounds like heaven to me. And it's disgusting that I just said that.

Anyways, the real point of this post is to check in on my New Years "resolution" of seeking joy this year. It's always easy to make a goal, but accountability will help you stick with it. The last time I shared some goals for New Years 2012 I started a weekly recap like this, this, and this, that really helped me to see what I was doing each week. I'm not going to try and be somebody's hero and give a weekly update again (because I think I stopped after seven last time!), but monthly will do.

We may be just one month in, but I think I'm kicking butt. January's focus was on cleaning and organizing and I did incredible amounts of it around the house. After putting away Christmas I reorganized our attic space and also rearranged my office, cleaned out drawers, and finally found places to put a few pieces of small furniture and decorations that were sitting around from the move.

The cleaning may have not gone quite as well but still better than last year. Mr. Young and I have a tendency to get sucked into this little game called "disregard all adult responsibilities during the week to the point that your house looks like a war zone and then spend all of Saturday and most of Sunday doing six loads of laundry and scrubbing everything from top to bottom". We've been making a true effort each night to do a pick up of what's lying on the kitchen table or left in the living room, and trying not to leave dirty dishes in the sink. With no dishwasher this one can be easier to get away with sometimes.

As I keep organizing and cleaning on my mind I've now also added February's focus: morning time. I used to be a beast at getting up crazy early and having time each morning to workout, read, blog, whatever I chose, before heading into work. I'm a morning person and so many of these things just won't happen after 5:00pm for me. Yesterday and today the alarm was set back to 6:00am and I am thoroughly enjoying my time to lounge around the house rather than fire drill to get ready and out the door on time.

I challenge you to take a few minutes and reflect on the past month. Have you started to blaze a trail towards your 2014 goals? Whether it's been a small or large step remember that the best way to tackle eating an elephant is one bite at a time. And if you're not too pleased with how January went remember that you can always start again today.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Motivation

Monday is always the best time for a nice dose of motivation to start the week. On Monday mornings as I walk into work I challenge myself to read through some of the quotes on my Wise Words Pinterest board instead of starting to check email from my phone. 

A good quote, along with a good jam session in the car, is a recipe for starting the week out right. This week's motivation is here to help me power through some big things to check of my to-do list at work, and also some around the house. If you want something, you have to go out and get it so it's time to get to hustlin' ladies. And no, not that kind of hustlin'. 

Happy Monday! What are you setting out to do this week?


Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Reads

Last fall I began capturing the books that I read as a part of the reading challenge I did with Megan over at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. I always read so many books that I know others would enjoy and there are always a few that I want to share more about to give people a good sense of what they're getting into before picking it up to read.

I had an ambitious challenge of reading 52 books last year, and ended up with a total of 29 which was still not too shabby. This year I went with a more realistic goal of 35 books and I'm already on track, hopefully I'll be able to reach it. One thing I'm weaving into this list is to try and read a handful of books that are coming out as movies over the next year since I'm always kicking myself in the butt for not reading them first. Here's the list I'm working off of if you'd like to check it out.

Since January began with getting sick and simultaneously getting addicted to Scandal I only got through three books this past month. The first was Big Cherry Holler which is a follow up to Big Stone Gap which I read in the fall. Some people have gone crazy over this series, and while I wasn't dying to see what happened next to Ave Maria, the main character, I was still decently intrigued to continue the story. I think that I may have liked this one better than the first as I feel the story became richer. This series is definitely worth a read, I'm now working on the final installment.

I can't quite remember how I came across More Baths Less Talking. Maybe I randomly saw it on Good Reads and thought the title and cover were cool? It's important to understand that this book is a compilation of a monthly column that Nick Hornby writes in the UK where he shares the books he both purchased and read that month. It's no novel, and there's no story, but some of the columns are pretty hilarious. Others, not so much. One thing I loved was that I got so many great book recommendations from reading his reviews. I made sure to highlight them all on my Nook as I read and then at the end I added them all to my to-read list on Good Reads.

While I didn't think it was going to happen, I managed to squeeze one more book into the last few days of January. Labor Day is one of the books turning into a movie that I wanted to read before seeing it on the big screen this year. I saw the movie previews before ever hearing about the book and was intrigued about this story of an escaped criminal that takes up residence with an odd mother and son pair living in the New England on the Thursday before Labor Day. I'd have to say it was a bit slow to start, but the back story on the mother and son were important for setting up the rest of the book. It wasn't hands down phenomenal but I thought it was a good story and I was pleased with the ending.

Hope that your reading is off to a good start this year as well. Did you read anything great during January you'd like to share? I'm always looking for a good book recommendation to add to my list. Stay tuned for monthly reading recaps this year, maybe I'll get crazy and make it to four books in February!