2012: A year in review

31 December 2012

Hello, friends! I am back in North Carolina after my many travels (including an unexpected car rental and late-night drive home after our second flight was canceled yesterday!!) and happy to be back with you! I’ve enjoyed the quiet for the past few days, but there’s no way I could let the new year pass without some talk of looking forward and back. After all, I adore a good goal and love discussing such things with y’all. Before I get into what I have planned for 2013, however, I wanted to take a quick look back at where we’ve been in 2012. It’s been a marvelous year!

Em for Marvelous

In February we hosted our first adult dinner party. It had a Julie & Julia theme and was a rousing success! Itching for round two. I also celebrated my 25th birthday. In March we planted seedlings to start our balcony veggie garden. The weather warms up significantly in NC around this time, and we spent lots of time enjoying the beautiful outdoors!

Em for Marvelous

In April we celebrated Easter with some of my family in Williamsburg, Virginia. John and I also took an amazing weekend getaway to Beaufort, SC, and the Inn at Palmetto Bluff! (Covered in four parts: here, here, here, and here.) Still one of our favorite short getaways ever. John’s parents came to visit and we took them strawberry picking. We also squeezed in time for an engagement session with Gina Zeidler!

In May, I helped plan a Kate Spade-themed bridal shower for my sister-in-law Marget complete with colorful nail polish favors. Such a fun project!

Em for Marvelous

In June we got outside often, watching outdoor movies, going for our first 2012 swim in the Eno, and hiking at Hanging Rock State Park. (I record some of our hiking adventures here, but you can also follow along on John’s blog.)

Em for Marvelous

At the end of June I was lucky to be able to work remotely from my job for three weeks so I could stay in New England for a series of important (and close together) events. Things kicked off with my uncle’s wedding in Maine, complete with s’mores on the beach. I was honored to be asked to photograph.

Em for Marvelous

I spent a week with some of my family in Connecticut, then joined John at the black tie wedding of two of our dear friends at a Newport mansion. So fun to get dressed up!

Em for Marvelous

I headed back up to Maine for the Fourth of July and spent my time picking blueberries, going on boat rides, eating, playing games, and hanging out with my cousins. My bridal shower, hosted by John’s family in Connecticut, and bachelorette adventure, hosted by my sisters, came next.

In the middle of July John flew up once again for his sister’s wedding weekend, which we were lucky enough to witness. I was especially honored to be a bridesmaid! A riverboat ride and lunch at our favorite lobster shack completed the festivities.

Em for Marvelous

The rest of our summer was spent doing our favorite summer-y things, mostly outside: eating ice cream in the country, walking on the golf course behind our apartment, working in our church’s garden (that’s me harvesting okra), swimming and hiking around the Eno, going to the beach…

Em for Marvelous

Somewhere amidst all of that fun and tons of wedding projects, I decided it would be a good idea to take up calligraphy. I can’t say my timing was impeccable, but I’m glad I finally went after something I’ve been wanting to learn for so long! I also finally bought my first pair of cowboy boots (one of my 101 goals!) after about three years of coveting and saving, and can safely say I have absolutely no buyer’s remorse, just pure joy :)

Em for Marvelous

September was a big month for us. After a last flurry of activity, we drove to Connecticut for our wedding. We were blessed (truly blessed) with impeccable weather for the entire week leading up to our big day and the wedding weekend itself. An amazing celebration of love and joy that, needless to say, we will never forget. Full recap coming soon! Our wedding was followed by a three-day minimoon in Virginia!

Em for Marvelous

We were happy to settle back into “normal” life in October. I began the name change process (more about that soon, if you’d like), I started taking Pure Barre classes, and we began the house hunting process! (Update coming on that front early in 2013, too!)

Em for Marvelous

We took our annual trip to Asheville in October (here, here, and here). We tried to get outside as often as we could, including hikes around Umstead, one of our local parks. Some of my family came to visit for Thanksgiving, and I traveled to Palm Beach for work in December!

Em for Marvelous

We finished out 2012 with a perfect Christmas season. We tried to bless our “neighbors” (who took on many different forms) as often as possible (including bringing warm brownies to my favorite folks at Jiffy Lube!), we got into the true spirit with many activities at our beloved church, we sent out our first photo Christmas cards, and we celebrated with our families both down South (that’s our apartment on Christmas morning!) and up North (complete with tons of fluffy white snow).

2012 was a great year.

I’ve been working through Lara’s goal setting steps as I look forward to 2013, and I’d highly encourage y’all to do the same! The first step is always to look back, I think, and so I wanted to share some things that worked, and some things that did not work, in 2012. First, five things from my list of what did NOT work well in 2012:

1. I did not exercise enough restraint in certain spending areas (ahem — clothing).
2. I did not innovate in my Etsy store and therefore lost sales compared to 2011.
3. I did NOT do well getting up promptly in the AM and started too many days on a harried foot.
4. I did well faithfully reading the Bible but could have absorbed and processed much more if I had kept something of a prayer/verse journal.
5. I did quite poorly at responding to personal emails promptly. I love and value my long distance friends but did not show them this through my response time.

And now, ten things that worked for us, or that we made happen, in 2012:

1. I planned a wedding with intention, joy, and love.
2. We completed our emergency fund, paid off my first student loan, and saved towards a down payment. We stuck faithfully to our budget system and truly cherish the things we did spend money on.
4. We worshiped faithfully at both our local church and online at Church of the Resurrection and grew in our faith with thanks to both. We were grateful members of a thriving young adult group at our church.
5. I was able to use my expertise to help several dear friends who are in the process of getting married. My “day job” continues to be a labor of love that I find deeply meaningful and challenging.
6. We continued to go on adventures large and small, expensive and free. We enjoyed the beautiful surroundings we’ve been placed in and took advantage of the things going on around us.
7. I wrote posts I am proud of on EFM, and heard that some of them helped some of you. I loved getting to know y’all better this year and writing about things that really matter to me.
8. We deepened our local friendships and made new friends. We made time for dinner parties, triple dates, outdoor movies, game nights, swimming adventures, and tennis outings, among other things.
9. We were good parents to two adorable kitties.
10. John and I loved each other well. We continued to value each other, to encourage each other, to be grateful for each other, and to look at each other with joy every day. We know how lucky we are to have found each other.

Finally, I have to say again that it’s been a delight to be a small part of y’all’s lives this year, and to have you as a part of mine. I’ll be back tomorrow with more on my plans for 2013!

Merry Christmas!

23 December 2012

christmas tree with star lights

Martha Stewart

My family (mom, dad, sisters, and brother in law) arrived last night, and we’ve already gotten together for a huge dinner with fifteen of our local cousins. This morning we’ll go to church, and then spend the afternoon wrapping (maybe using some of these ideas), playing games, and taking a walk. Later in the week we’ll travel around New England celebrating with my mom’s side of the family, my dad’s side of the family, and John’s family. (Whew – and yippee!)

I wish you all the most joyful holiday with those you love and lots of time for relaxation and regrouping. I will see you back here before you know it!

Christmas cards 2012

18 December 2012

Thank you again for all of your help choosing our Christmas cards! As usual, y’all were divided on which design was best, but option no. 1 came out on top in the voting.

Minted Christmas card options

As much as I loved the sentiment of option one, I thought the type treatment competed with the image we had chosen. (The detail of the bouquet made the text a bit hard to read.) Same problem with number three. We decided to table those for another year, and instead went with a design with no danger of that problem!

newsletter christmas card

Of course, I think any Minted design would have looked beautiful with Tanja’s gorgeous images! We feel so lucky to have worked with her.

minted christmas card

And here’s our inaugural newsletter! I laid it out in Illustrator, had it printed at Fedex Kinko’s, and owe much inspiration to Amanda Jane Jones.

newsletter christmas cards

Finally, I addressed each envelope to our nearest and dearest…

washi tape envelope

…including one for y’all!

gingham christmas card

Have you sent out cards yet?

Board No. 97: Blue and White Christmas

17 December 2012

A blue and white Christmas inspiration board to start your week off on a peaceful note.

Web

China hutch photo from Veranda by Max Kim-Bee; blue and white ornaments; window box + wreath from Martha Stewart; monogrammed napkin from Carolyne Roehm; ginger jar centerpiece; mini angel food cake from Martha Stewart Weddings; vintage napkin rings from Southern Living; blue and white present from Carolyne Roehm; blue and white china tablescape from Traditional Home

P.S. More Christmas boards: cherry + sky, icy blue + gold, and soft pastels

Em loves you: A Christmas giveaway

14 December 2012

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jessica @ The Jessentials!

I do! I really do love y’all! And as a special thank you from me to you in this season of giving, I am happily offering up the chance for one of you to win one of my very favorite things (Oprah style).

John and I have amassed MANY beloved shows over the years, including The Office, 24, The Amazing Race, Downton Abbey, Survivor, and, of course, LOST. The show that has undoubtedly most captured our hearts, though, is Friday Night Lights.

Y’all, this show. From the first episode, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the residents of Dillon, Texas. And if you’re anything like us, Tami, Coach, Julie, Riggins, Lila, Smash, Matt, and Tyra will practically become members of your family. Seriously — a year after we’ve finished the series, we’re STILL known to have extensive discussions about their respective life choices.

A few more reasons why I love Friday Night Lights…

Tami Taylor. Smart, sassy, always knows what to say, loves her man. Inspired me to buy cowboy boots. As my bio says, I want to be her when I grow up.

Coach. LOVE Coach. I find him hilarious, and tear up any time he has a sensitive scene with one of the players.

Coach and Tami’s relationship. It’s said that Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler insisted it be written into their contracts that Tami and Coach would never have an affair, since they didn’t believe that would be compatible with their characters’, well, characters. Their marriage on the show is not perfect, but it is real, and loving, and inspiring. Tami and Coach are consistently played to perfection and are the show’s anchor and heart, in my opinion.

Emotional realism. Friday Night Lights is very real. It doesn’t try to preach. It just tells the story of these people as their lives intertwine, evolve, and separate again in a way that feels so true.

Riggins. That is all.

The football. Yes, the football! Before this show, I knew next to nothing about the sport, and though I still don’t know that much, I enjoy watching it now, and John and I have even ventured out to some Friday night high school games in our area just for fun :)

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. This has become a daily saying in our household, usually accompanied by a fist bump.

Friday Night Lights giveaway

So yes, we love Friday Night Lights. If you love this show, too, then you know what I’m talking about. And if you’ve yet to be exposed to the wonder that is FNL, I’m excited for you to begin the journey!!

To be entered to win the complete series on DVD, just leave a comment below. If you’ve watched some of the show, then please tell me who your favorite character is and why he or she is your favorite. If you’ve yet to watch an episode, then list a few of your favorite TV shows. Try not to include any spoilers for the benefit of any newbies who might be reading!

I’ll draw a random winner on Friday, December 21.

Much love to you all!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jessica @ The Jessentials!