“…When I get home, I'm getting a CAT scan!...”
The room grows dark and as the credits roll, I sit up off the couch and tip toe up the stairs and around the corner. Sleepy eyes reignited by the lights from the banister that glimmer down the hall, casting shadows of cozy sock feet.
The faint smell of balsam, cinnamon, and Christmas cookie candles swirls from the kitchen toward the ceiling, just another part of the magic left hanging in the air.
My sheets are cold and blinds left open just a sliver, wide enough to let in the moonlight and the memories of Rudolph’s journey down Twelve Oaks.
I drift to sleep and travel back in time to whispers at 6 am, peeking into the darkness.
“Have you gone downstairs yet?” A grin so big you can hear it as I poke my head into my brother’s room. We walk softly but not quite, too excited for everyday footsteps.
Mark in his hoodie, Lindy in pajama pants and fuzzy socks, hair still curled from the night before. Downstairs Ashley sleeps, bright blue walls turned midnight.
We glide across the hardwood and catch a glimpse of what we’ve been waiting for.
A cheerful round tree twinkles in red, green, and gold surrounded by presents wrapped with snowflakes and candy canes, sticky bows and bright ribbons, tissue paper tucked under branches and name tags for everyone in the bunch.
We look around in awe. Stockings stuffed to the brim, barely hanging on to golden snowman hooks. Packed with Andes Mints and chocolate covered cherries, orange tic-tacs, mouth wash, Chapstick and socks.
The yellow chair and green couches from the night before have been transformed with presents, each meticulously placed. Nike shoes and socks, a basketball, a camera, boots, sweaters, pea coats, lotion, play station games, DVDs and perfume.
Each kid gets their own moment.
“I love this.”
“That’s the sweater you asked for!”
“Aw cool, Mark!”
“That’s so cute!”
So cozy, so familiar. Not that long but so many years away.
Warm hugs, pictures, a click of the camera. Rocky in a Santa Hat, Amy Grant and breakfast casserole. Grandparent hugs around the neck and hot apple cider. Teddy bear nightgowns and American Girls. Walkmans, tapes, and Star Wars. Feet curled up under us as we snuggle up for yet another viewing of Ralphie and his Red Ryder. Neighbors running down the street, barefoot and plaid pants. Robes and bedhead.
Smiles and tree lights left on for hours.
I turn over in bed as my phone buzzes and Christmas greets me with bright morning light.
“Merry Christmas my twin!”
Another year surrounded by the best. This time a little older, with a growing family around the tree. Wedding bands and babies, loss patched up and healed by little hands and new additions. Milestones met, and traditions kept.
But still so merry, and just as bright. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”
It is becoming all too common to hear about tragedy happening in our world day after day. It seems like the sadness never ends. It’s just sickening. I can’t imagine how gut wrenching it must feel to have known someone at the airport in Turkey or at the club in Orlando.
Regardless of religion or background, we can all agree that what’s been happening lately is completely heartbreaking. And regardless of political stance, we can all agree that something needs to be done about it.
Sometimes I catch myself feeling disengaged because it doesn't impact me directly in my safe little bubble. Or I get frustrated for a hot second because I feel like I need to do something tangible but I look around and I’m lost on ideas, feeling like whatever I do won’t make a difference anyway.
But I have to remind myself that those thoughts aren’t true. And that those thoughts don’t give God enough credit. Loving others and prayer are both actionable things. Powerful actionable things that I am capable of doing whenever I can. And they're things that can make a difference.
I can't keep focusing on praying for my own little circle 99% of the time. God is bigger than all of this heartbreak. We have more power than we think because we have Him. We can’t let ourselves forget that.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives…” 1 Tim 2:1-2
OCTOBER 12th, 2017
“I want to. I just can’t.”
These words play over and over in my mind like a scratched up CD.
“I want to. I just can’t.”
“I want to. I just can’t.”
How strong is the “want?” That’s what I want to know. I had heard him hurl these words at me and refused to believe them. But that didn’t stop me from feeling the twinge of finality in my veins, blue and snapping like a gas fire.
It had been months now. Well, two. But the toll it had taken on me would make you think it’d been years.
“Sweetie, you look tired.”
The plump waitress whose nametag read Brenda patted my arm in a way only Southerners could pull off. “Why don’t you grab yourself one of them Cokes over there. I won’t tell.”
That was yesterday. I had taken refuge in the local meat and two, picking at a plate of chicken and dumplings the size of my face. Half moon carrots floating in the gravy like little orange boats without a sail, unsuccessfully weaving in and out of the cavernous mountains of dough built around them.
She was right. But I was way beyond tired. It’d been 61 days since I’d slept for more than two hours. And today I was back in our apartment, curled up in a kitchen chair wearing the only item he’d left – a UVA t-shirt, soft and worn with time.
My notebook lay sprawled out in front of me with a list of possibilities. And by list I had one item. Under “Reasons!?!” all I’d jokingly come up with was:
1. FBI agent
Scribbled out angrily at my own immaturity.
My frustrated fingers run through my hair involuntarily, slicking back the thin brown wisps he’d kiss every morning on the way out the door, gently pulling me up toward him so he could reach my forehead.
I run over the last few weeks Tyler was here in my head. The night before he left was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a Thursday and we’d both come home from work, put our sweat pants on and immediately plopped in front of the TV with a bowl of Cheerios and the latest episode of House of Cards.
That night we had fallen asleep in our usual position; him laying flat with one arm above his head, me diagonal, head over his heart. A rhythmic beat I’d fallen asleep to for over 3 years.
I didn’t realize that night would be the last.
FEBRUARY 12TH 2016
I can’t remember the last time I got something in the mail.
I was leaning against the counter, still sporting my button-down and slacks like I hadn’t been home for a solid 45 minutes. Still standing there, mouth open at the words I’d just read on the paper now becoming damp with sweat in my hands.
I heard a clink by the door and turned, my heart pounding in my chest as footsteps and the jostle of keys grew louder. Hiding the paper behind my back, I watched the door open quickly and two seconds later Willow was prancing toward me with a smile on her face, just like always.
“Hey babe! I missed you.”
She kissed me quick and soft on the lips and nuzzled her face into my chest, waiting for my arms to wrap around her in welcome like they did every night after work.
I reached behind me and discretely slipped the paper on the counter, face down, stretching my arms around her slender frame in a hug that meant more than she knew at the moment.
“I missed you too.”
She looked up at me and smiled and then walked away in a blink, toward the fridge. Her mind already on dinner, energy always cranked up to high despite the long work hours and morning kick-boxing schedule she kept up without fail.
I studied her back as she knelt up and down outside of the fridge, opening drawers and gathering produce for a home-cooked meal. Slipping the paper down by my side, I turned to walk out of the room.
“I’m gonna go change!” I said, making my way toward our bedroom, out of sight, and twisting the knob to shut the door in silence.
I flipped the paper over in my hands and read it again, line by line. Each letter, every word, as if they hadn’t been read a hundred times over since I peeled the seal open with delightful curiosity.
She can’t find out. I felt my stomach twist and churn like it hadn’t done in years. Low could never know about this.
For the past month or so I've been working with one of my closest friends, Emily, to help design various items for her wedding. We ended up creating place cards, a menu, a schedule, and a program, front & back.
I'm home sick today, but we finally finished up all the edits and I think it turned out pretty nice. I'm excited for their wedding on Saturday! Hopefully I'll feel better by then :)
Tap, tap, tap.
I walk down the sidewalk and hear the familiar sound
of my wooden heels as they hit the pavement.
Old boots pulled up over worn in jeans,
another Somerville morning in the books.
Look both ways, headphones in, sun’s out.
I cross the street and the old houses seem to nod at me,
an A.M. “hello.”
Dilapidated from years of wear
but with a charm all their own.
Purple, cream, light blue.
like a field of flowers, yellowed with time.
The fire station’s flags wave happily
and stoplights shine dim as
cars, salty with remnants of winter,
crack windows to welcome in spring.
I pause, left, stroll over stripes
and head toward a local favorite.
At 3 Figs a customer pulls the door open quickly
and I’m greeted by white walls,
and the delicious scent of coffee, freshly brewed.
A front row to people watching,
I order and lean against the wall
sleepily gaze, impatiently waiting
as the clock ticks away toward work.
A cup, a lid, Greek yogurt and a caffeine jolt to-go
I head out the door toward the train.
Passing puppies and pot-holes,
bikers and beat up driveways.
Yoga studios, and a basketball court full of book-bags and
children anticipating school.
Round the corner, a wave of recognition,
I stride forward with Porter in view.
And with hands in my pockets, it hits me.
I smile. Soak it in.
Another year of a southern girl in a brisk, big city.
Not too shabby. Not too bad.
And then I shake it off.
Cut it out with the sentiment.
There’s no time for smiling in New England.
After almost a year of talking and 9 months of dating, my soul mate, best friend, and the love of my life asked me to marry him on “our bench” near Harvard Square.
It is still a complete dream to me! All of it. The way we met and how we knew we were meant to be so soon in our relationship. And nothing explains it but God! He has blessed us like crazy and he completely orchestrated our meeting. That’s the only way it makes any sense!
So many things had to align.
- Texas guy - Boston girl
- His Match.com account was just beginning – My Match.com account was expiring in less than a week.
- I randomly changed my search location. I didn’t even want to move to Houston but for some reason I typed it in after googling Texas zip codes. – He was magically in that zip code range! What.
- I had my “interested in” height set to 5’10. - He lied about his height and said that’s what he was. (He’s like 5’8ish).
- His interested in height was a minimum of 5 feet! - I'm 4'10 and I wouldn't have come up if he had searched for me.
- I didn’t even message him, I just liked his picture – He noticed that and was intrigued enough to message a Boston girl about it.
- Before my account expired I randomly gave him my phone number, with no hopes that it would work. We were so far a part. – He texted me anyway, why not? ;)
- We both had to like each other enough to want to meet in person from 1800 MILES AWAY.
This is by no means normal. This is meant to be! Destiny, fate and all those cliché words. It may sound cheesy, but I believe it! It can happen? Right…?
Anyway. The past year with him has been rewarding, challenging, comforting, way too expensive, romantic, full of learning, traveling, loving and all of it has been completely worth it. He is my team mate and perfect balance. He’s the sweet to my salty. He makes me a better person. He’s a live on the edge kind of guy. He loves me despite my sarcasm and independent personality. And I love that he’s goofy, incredibly smart, super handy, and tender-hearted. I can’t wait to be his wife.
So, I’m guessing you want the story?
Well, he completely caught me off guard! I knew it would be sometime in the next few months, but I had NO CLUE it would be on Friday. I had picked up on a few hints from him the week before, but he did a good job of completely flipping on me and he got Lindy in on it to convince me that it would be a long time from now.
On Friday (another thing that made me not expect it) I was treating him to a date night since he had been such a huge help for my family during Lindy’s wedding weekend. We met for lunch (where he acted completely nonchalant WHILE HAVING THE RING IN HIS POCKET!!!) and then he explored until I got off work.
After work we headed over to Boston Public Market, and strolled through the North End. We got Italian food at the same spot we went to on the first weekend he was here, and then shared espresso and tiramisu at the oldest Italian Caffé in Boston. From there we went to see a show at the Improv Asylum! I knew he loved comedy shows and we had so much fun. You can get drinks and bring them in with you and the show was hilarious! I’ve had a busy few weeks so it was nice to have a good laugh with my guy.
On the way home he had told me he wanted to stop by Harvard Square to go back to a bench (that we have now deemed “our bench”) that was had kissed on the first night he was here. I had actually asked if he would rather go to Davis Square which is closer to my house. But since it was his night and I was treating him, I let him choose. Lucky him! I could’ve ruined the plan!!
We walked through Harvard Square toward our bench and it was super chilly! It’s right on the water and you can feel the wind coming off the water. We were sitting together and before I knew it he was down on one knee. I think I said “Nuh uh!! You’re kidding. NUH UH! WHAT. You’re kidding” about 100 times. He said some really sweet words, and of course I said “YES!” Duh. Of course. Absolutely. And that was that! Before long we will be Mr. and Mrs. Shipman.
We have a lot to figure out! Like…. Where we’ll be living, what we’ll be doing, minor stuff. But the only thing that matters is that we’ll be together! And right now that’s more than enough.
P.S. If you want to read about our story from the beginning, go here :)
Today my best friend gets married. Last night I shared this poem instead of a speech. We wanted to avoid any tears at the wedding tonight! So here it is for anyone that wants to read. We're so excited for today! The best is yet to come.
Where to begin…
A friendship deeper than words
To my twin and perfect puzzle piece.
Together from day one.
A picnic basket then big girl beds.
Sharing bath time and bed time.
Losing teeth and learning words
On the same clock.
We slept side by side
One room, two little blonde heads
Sound asleep on lamb chop sheets.
American girl dolls, stuffed animals and beanie babies
strewn across the room.
We played house and dress up.
I was orange, you were pink.
And that was that.
We matched in pigtails and overalls
twirled to Mariah Carrey, ran around to Amy Grant.
Belted out Shania
And threw it back to 70s tunes
moonwalking with Dad in the kitchen.
We were Ashley’s life size dolls
Mark’s biggest fans
And Daddy’s squirrels.
Best friends, companions and even competitors.
We were tan and tiny, and you were the tomboy.
We had swing set summers, pool party birthdays
And a childhood that can’t be beat.
3rd grade and 5th grade classmates.
Growing older, but never apart.
And then we were middle school bound.
Straightened hair, tight jeans and
5, 7, 9. We were getting older
and getting crushes.
You flipped down the stairs in your Timbalands.
And we both flipped out about every new release of Harry Potter.
We were avid movie goers and A.I.Mers
Away message posters and “messy bun” pros.
We were going to dances, going through drama
And going down down with Fall out Boy.
We were church camp roommates,
Bible study buddies,
And pretty disrespectful to our parents.
By eighth grade we had made it out alive.
And then we were Panthers.
Freshman, best friends,
and lunch buddies always,
we were music blaring-loners,
Under the desk readers,
And a little too unconcerned with school.
As the morning driver, I let you sleep.
Coming into your room
Off goes the fan, on goes the light,
“get up Lindy…”
But really…get up. We’re gonna be late.
We were soft ball players
And Godiva chocolate cheesecake addicts.
And all we needed was each other.
You were my person. My confidant.
My forever best friend. My twin-lin.
Part of my nightly routine
“Goodnight Lindy, I love you!
I love you too!
I’ll see you in the morning.
And then, in the blink of an eye,
East and West we went.
t-shirts, jeans and shoes.
Purple and gold, Black and gold
Hugging so tight we couldn’t breathe.
And that’s when you met him.
Freshman year at ECU.
Your new best friend, your Wendy’s buddy.
“He’s like you in guy form” you’d said.
And I could deal with that.
You were beaming.
Falling in love and I loved it.
A front row seat to my little twin’s story.
I knew why you liked him.
Goofy and sweet, cute and athletic,
and he treated you like a queen.
He was your frat guy, formal date, and fellow Pirate.
New red cowboy boots, Trips to the Jersey shore.
He made you happier than ever
and that was all I had ever wanted.
I welcomed him with open arms
And he bought me Reeses.
So I decided you could keep him around.
Years went by and I became the third wheel
that actually felt wanted
And I was thankful for that.
Never replaced, but willing to see my place.
I watched the two of you lean on each other
Through sunshine, rain,
And your fair share of storms.
You turned each other to God,
Sang with accents in the car
And reminded each other that laughter, dogs, and working out
were always the best medicine.
6 years of ups, downs,
and lots of lattes,
I hugged you both along the way.
And so I just knew
A ring and a wedding made sense.
And I was happy to be in on it.
You’re growing up,
finding your way,
and getting married.
A friendship deeper than words
To my twin and perfect puzzle piece.
Today I raise a toast and smile
knowing that you’re ending up with the only other puzzle piece
that I see fit.
Some nights you just need to take it easy.
Since I woke up Monday morning, I've felt like I've been battling a cold. Work has been busy, Todd is back in Texas, and my immune system is like, "what the heck is this weather?"
So for the past few nights I've decided to focus on getting some rest. I've skipped the gym, curled up in bed, watched a little Parenthood, and gotten some much needed sleep.
Last night I was craving comfort food, but I wanted to eat healthy, so I came up with this semi-homemade little creation. It took me about 15 minutes to make and it was so delicious! Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most satisfying. Enjoy!
1 can of tomato soup (I used Amy's organic tomato, low sodium)
2 cups of baby spinach, torn into pieces
1/4 cup of quinoa
2 tablespoons of reduced fat feta
Red Pepper Flakes
Cook the quinoa as directed, using the soup instead of water. Once tender, add in the spinach, spices, and feta. Stir until wilted. Sprinkle with another dash of feta for looks, and feast! (*best enjoyed on the couch whilst wearing pajamas)
Got a new camera so I took it out for a walk and pretended like I knew what I was doing.
It’s a brand new year, you guys! And you know what that means? New resolutions. Gotta love ‘em.
One of my resolutions, which I’ve made repeatedly for about 10 years now, is to eat healthier and get in better shape. Crazy right? I’m probably the only one who resolved to do that.
I want to eat less cheese, bread, super sugary fruit, and simple carbs and try to stay in a good calorie range for my size. Less chocolate, less binge-eating guacamole (which is one of my hidden talents) and more vegetables, protein, and leafy greens. Try to cut back on lattes and save alcohol for the weekends. And work out as much as I can.
Anyway, this is a goal I’ve made a bunch of times, but this year it’s a little different. In about 65ish days, my best-friend-twin will be marrying the love of her life, and I am lucky enough to be the Maid of Honor who gets to stand by her side! I am SO excited. I know it’s going to be the most amazing ceremony and celebration for them after a long journey and I can’t wait for that wonderful day to finally get here!
But I also know that being in a wedding means posing for SO. MANY. PHOTOS. And that’s where the resolution comes in.
I love taking pictures! Don't get me wrong. You've seen it. But sometimes they’re not as flattering as you wish or thought they'd be. And as I think about this wedding, it hits me …. I’m not going to get to wear sleeves, so my pasty arms will be on full display. I’m going to continue being as white as a ghost (which is “healthier,” right? No tanning bed’s ya’ll.) And I’m going to be standing in front of all our closest friends and family with all eyes on…THE BRIDE, duh. And then it’s going to be documented in photographs that’ll live on for generations to come.
But, really… no pressure!
So, that said, it’s safe to say I haven’t exactly felt like a 10 on the self esteem scale. Especially after so many holiday treats.
I know I am my own worst critic. I compare myself like nobody’s business and put myself down better than anyone. And since reality has set back in after getting back to Boston, I’ve kind of wallowed in this blah attitude. And I lovingly threw all my complaining onto Todd (I’ve since apologized, don’t worry) and I let myself live in a permanent state of Hanger (hunger induced anger) for a while. Which I’m working on. (Almonds. Lots of almonds.)
And then after a few huffs, puffs, sweet comments from Todd, and the help of some NeedToBreathe, I finally kicked myself out of it. And that’s when I realized how completely unfair I was being! Not to myself, but to God.
Have you ever heard someone you love talk bad about their self? And you’re thinking “Woah, woah, woah. What the heck? You’re awesome and talented and smart and perfect and beautiful and you’re being completely ridiculous. You need to chill.”
I’m pretty sure that’s how God feels about us when we put ourselves down. (minus the ‘what the heck’ part.)
But for him, it’s even more exaggerated because He made us. Like, he actually created us. I know if someone put down something I had made the way I put down myself, my feelings would be hurt hardcore. We’re His creation! A work of art. Down to the detail! And talking down about a work of art like that doesn’t make anyone feel good.
So that’s why I’m modifying my resolution.
Healthy, constructive criticism is needed if you want to become the best version of yourself. So yes, less guacamole. But putting yourself down isn't how that works. So instead of only focusing on eating healthy and exercising more, I’m going to switch my point of view and resolve to respect myself more in general.
I want to focus on getting good sleep, exercising regularly, eating foods that are good for me, enjoying the (metaphorical and literal) sweet aspects of life, doing my devotion regularly, finding a balance between work and social life, and trying to only think positive or self-reflective thoughts about myself and lifestyle.
When it comes down to it, looking and feeling your best starts with putting others first and finding your worth in God’s opinion of you. And that’s what I want to do as a Maid of Honor and what I'm sure will come across in the beautiful pictures that will be captured at Lindy & Sean’s wedding.
It’s a brand new year, you guys! Treat yourself to some chocolate.
(** Full disclosure: I have probably written a post just like this for the past 10 years along with this same resolution. I'm trying, ya'll.)
I know it’s a little early for a recap...
But this week I've been reflecting a little bit over my morning cup of coffee and during that time I started thinking about all of the ways in which God has blessed me, shaped me, and helped me make it through this year.
2015 was an eventful one. In 2015 I said goodbye to some of my best Boston friends. I hit the slopes, saw the Red Sox, and went to lots of concerts. I lost my grandmother to ALS and I watched Lindy & Sean cope with the passing of his parents. I visited my twin and a friend in NYC, went to a few beautiful weddings, and started life in my Boston/Somerville apartment for the third consecutive year. I got my wisdom teeth out. I worked hard, quit cooking for Café, and spent a few late nights in the office. I tried online dating, where I met the guy of my dreams. And visited Texas, Detroit, and LA for the first time. I ate too many sweets, made my own green juice, tried new Cooking Light recipes, and was bored, too busy, happy, sad, laughing, in love and everything in between.
Life sure is a roller-coaster! And in the midst of so much craziness, God has always been there. Whether I’m ignoring him like I too often do, or acknowledging him as I should. Obeying him or brushing him off. He’s there, and his plans for my life continue to blow mine out of the water.
I want to remember that as a start 2016. And try to step back from my OCD, planner tendencies and just let him guide me on this crazy ride. I’ll say that every year and who knows if I’ll ever get better at it! Thank the Lord for grace.
So anyway, here are a few updates on my life since I’ve been so MIA.
YEAR NUMBER 3!!! What!?! Still perfect. Still beautiful. It’s home and I love it. There is no place I love more than this city. The longer I’m here the more I think I may never leave… maybe. (If only my family and boyfriend weren’t so far away.)
Work has been NUTS. It feels like I have been working a lot this year. Especially in the past few months. I’ve been on GM for over a year now, but I’ve also been able to do work for Baskin Robbins, Boston Properties, our internal award show, Goodyear, and EyeBuyDirect. It’s been an adventure! And it’s definitely pushed me to get better at what I do. I also got to go on a product video shoot in Detroit, and then we edited them in LA. I'm always learning something new! And I’m almost at my three-year mark...crossing my fingers that a promotion or something will come through soon. But I know God has a plan.
My fam is as wonderful as ever. I miss them. Lindy & Sean are engaged. Ash & John are about to have a fourth little munchkin. Mark is in Amman, Jordan being super cool (per usual.) And the rents and all the other branches are still happy & healthy. How did I get so lucky? They’re the best.
I posted the story so you already know - but Todd and I have been talking online since the beginning of May and dating since we met for the first time in July. I can’t believe that pretty soon it’ll be our 6-month anniversary. This year has flown! I think we've done a pretty good job of making time to see each other, even though it’s tough to take off work and definitely an added expense. But he is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I never fully realized it until now, but relationships are definitely hard work. But so worth it. And he challenges me to be better, treats me so well, and makes me the happiest girl ever. #cheese. Maybe one day we’ll even get to live in the same city! I am so thankful for the crazy way God brought us together! Don’t know what I’d do without him.
These days I feel like I’m barely home! Charlotte, Texas, away for work, whatever. I feel like I’ve barely gotten to engage with my friends, small group, or keep up regular attendance at my church to see the people I love so much up here. So I’m really looking forward to that next year, hopefully! PLEASE, MORE FRIEND TIME. They’re all so precious to me. But, with Lindy’s wedding in March and Emily’s wedding probably sometime soon after, I know I’ll still be on the go-go-go. Here’s to hoping I get some quality Boston weekends in there somewhere!
And here are a few of my (yeah-right-but-lets-hope) goals for 2016:
1. Eat healthier. Get in better shape for Lindy & Emily’s weddings.
2. Floss daily. (Seems easy right? NOPE)
3. Do my devotion every day. I’ve done it for the past 5! (Which shouldn’t be a victory but it definitely is.)
4. Spend less. What a crazy idea…
5. Read more books.
6. Cook more new recipes! And host dinners so I don’t have to eat them alone.
And that pretty much sums it up. So exciting, right?
I’m hoping for snow. Not saving enough. Still addicted to coffee. And so, so blessed.
Cheers to another amazing year. Merry Christmas!
A couple of days ago, my coworkers and I had a "HAPPY OKTOBERFEAST" potluck at work. And dang, can we cook!
We had so many delicious dishes that were all homemade and SO good. Tomatillo salsa, ceviche, pulled pork, hummus, rosemary honey corn biscuits, pumpkin chocolate chip bars, and I brought apples and heath bar dip and a fall salad.
I wanted to make sure we had some veggies in the mix, and the salad I made turned out to be a pretty big hit! It's very autumnal and simple to make, so I wanted to share it on here in case you were looking for a little fall salad inspiration. It's easy to get caught up eating lots of indulgent, cozy food this time of year, but sometimes a hearty salad can really hit the spot. Happy fall, ya'll!
1 container of diced butternut squash
1 bag kale greens mix
1 bag shredded brussel sprouts
1 small bag (baking size) walnut pieces
1/2 container of crumbled feta cheese
apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400
- In a large bowl, mix in feta, brussel sprouts, and kale.
- Cover a small cookie sheet with foil. Place butternut squash on the cookie sheet and top with olive oil, about 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, about 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands until evenly coated. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
- Using the same pan as you used for the squash, cover walnut pieces with a spoonful of maple syrup, and a dash of salt, pepper, and sugar. Baked until caramelized and brown.
- Once cooled, place squash and walnuts on salad mix.
- In a small mason jar, pour in dressing ingredients. Shake & taste! Adjusting until it's the right mix of tangy and sweet.
- Pour dressing on top of salad, toss with tongs until evenly coated, and enjoy!
On July 9th I went to sleep with the worlds biggest butterflies flapping around in my stomach. I mean, think about it. A guy was flying here from Texas. To Boston. FOR ME.
TO SEE ME.
That’s a lot of money, and time to spend on someone you’ve never met. And it had been smooth sailing for so long, what if we met and all of these feelings just shattered? What if in person he totally sucked? What if he thought I was too short? What if he had horrible breath or something? What if what if what if… What if we didn’t do this and just let it end as a cliff hanger?
The next morning I woke up super nervous. Todd had arrived in Boston while I was asleep, and when I turned on my phone that morning I saw a few Snapchats from him as he landed in Boston and crossed the bridge into Cambridge.
My heart somersaulted. He was here. THIS WAS REALLY HAPPENING. He’d gone from being 1800 miles to 2 miles away.
I did my hair & makeup, put on a new little dress that I had bought, grabbed a change of clothes for later and headed in his direction. Todd was staying at the Harvard Square Hotel, so our plan was to meet at the Harvard T Stop at 9:30. I’m a morning person after all, so he was going to have to deal with it.
Davis. > Porter. > Harvard Square > HOLLLLLLYYYYYY LORD. What am I doing?
I got off the T and headed toward the main entrance, a nervous wreck and sweating like crazy. And then I realized we hadn’t chosen an actual spot. The Harvard T stop has like 5 entrances… I probably should’ve been more specific. Crap. I shot him a text while I was still underground, strategically trying to buy more time before I went outside and met a random stranger from halfway across the country.
He was by the CVS apparently, so I stalled… mentally gave myself a pep talk, and hopped on the escalator with my heart pounding in my chest. But when I got off I didn’t see him.
Either that or he looked REALLY different from his pictures. Where was this guy? Hello...He wasn’t by the CVS…
And then I saw him coming from across the square. And he was so cuuuuute.
And holding flowers. SO SWEET.
When he came up to me for the first time I don’t really remember what happened. We hugged. And we smiled a lot. I think I said “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE HERE!” at a painfully high pitch probably about 8,000 times.
And then we had what will probably always be one of my favorites dates ever, and maybe even days.
We grabbed coffee and quiche for a breakfast at Crema Café. We talked and talked and talked. We established a vibe for walking side by side. He gave me a Texas bandana & some Mayhaw jelly. We walked in the shade through Harvard Yard.
I listened to his crazy Texas accent. We strolled through the square and perused through Black Ink and the Coop. We looked at sunglasses at Urban and Red Sox gear at City Spots. We took the T over to South Station and sat in the sun eating Clover & avocado bacon grilled cheese. And then we visited Harpoon.
I think Harpoon is when it hit me. Or us? He has said it too. We were planning on going to the 1pm tour but they were sold out, so instead we bought a flight of beers and a giant cinnamon sugar pretzel and spent the next hour and a half just hanging out, talking (cough cough.. looking at him) and figuring each other out.
And it started dawning on me that the longer I was with him, the more I liked him.
I liked him even more in person than I did online. How was this possible? Something’s gotta give! And yet he was exceeding my expectations. He was chill, he was a gentlemen, he was warm and laid back and handsome. He was smart and talkative and friendly. He was goofy and endearing. He was everything I thought he’d be and more. And we’d only been together for half a day!
And the rest of the weekend it only got better!
We got cocktails, biscuits, and BBQ at Sweet Cheeks. We sat real close at a Red Sox game against the Yankees. We walked along the water near Harvard Square. We had our first kiss.
We spent day two seeing all of the sights around Boston. We walked the Freedom Trail. He held my disgustingly sweaty hand. We shared falafel and got coffee yet again.
I took him to see my office and we walked through the cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill. We visited Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. We got sangria and Italian Food and danced the night away with my friends near Fenway.
Sunday was very laid back. We went to church and had brunch with some of my best friends. We put foil on my windows in my crappy, non-air-conditioned ancient apartment. We gave up and went to Target to soak in the AC and bounce bouncy balls.
We drove around the suburbs and stopped for Sonic. We relaxed at my house and looked at books and talked on my bed for hours. We became boyfriend and girlfriend. And then that night, we held hands, got seafood and found ourselves front row to a random fireworks show right along the water. And that’s how it all began!
That's the story. That was two months ago today. And these past two months have been full of skyping, snapchatting, texting, flying, exploring NYC and Texas, hugging, learning, and laughing with each other. He makes me the happiest. Long distance is hard work, but it feels totally worth it!
Obviously there’s no telling what the future holds. But I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that I changed my zip code to Houston that day.
Happy 2 months, babe! I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So I guess it was in his hands now.
I gave him my phone number, my account was expiring. What else could I do? This guy lived in Houston. I was in Boston.
He wouldn’t do anything about it. What was the point? But really. What was the point?
Fun while it lasted though! Like a little blip of hope for my future. Maybe I wasn’t going to be a cat lady. Maybe there were good guys out there! I would just have to move to make them a reality. Too bad it couldn’t be him though…He was perfect. Just look at him.
Anyway, there I was. Kind of bummed. And offline. And staring at my phone every two seconds.
Annnnnnd nothing. (15 minutes later) Still nothing.
And then, a day or two or eternity later…my heart flipped as a text from an unknown number popped up on my phone.
“Hey! It’s t.ship from Match!”
Wait, what? WHAAAAAT. Really? No…He actually texted me.
It was a MIRACLE. He was real. Houston, problem averted.
And so it began. Lots and lots and LOTS of texting.
During work, at home, at night, in the morning.
Excessive? Yes. Did I care? Nope.
So why stop the madness there?
Todd - “Are you on Snapchat?”
You’re laughing aren’t you? Because if you know me at all, you know that I’m on or have been on every social media platform around. Pshhh, am I on Snapchat? Of course I’m on Snapchat. DUH. (As Mark would say, “does a one-footed duck swim in a circle?)
Me - “Yep! But I have to warn you, I’m an avid snapchatter.”
He had no idea what he was signing up for. And that’s when the real fun began.
You want to see my coffee addiction? Snap, Espresso. The truth was out. How about my dinner? Yes, I am addicted to avocado. Look I’m folding clothes! Look I’m at a concert! Look I’m working out. Look, this is me at the beach. I’m with my friend Christina. I dance around in my room for no reason. This is my roommate Laura. Meet Claudia. This is Hannah. See how addicted to chocolate I am? Look, blue sky!
Todd now had insight into the world of Laura. I was weird. And I was real!
And I got to see his world too. I saw his big blue truck. His drive to the beach. “Met” his roommates. Saw where he worked. Saw pics of him & his fam at the ranch. Heard his (super sexy) Texas accent. Saw him sitting in a lot of Houston traffic. Got a sneak peek of his cooking skills. Yes, he can even cook.
We had taken a step in the digisphere. And somehow I’d developed a crush on this guy. He was so cute and funny. I think I even smiled when I thought about him. Which was a lot considering we’d never met. What the heck was I doing!? I was crushing on a random guy in Texas.
And then one night he texted me something like this…
“I’d like to take you out on a Skype date."
“A Skype date?! I’ve never been on one of those!”
“Me either! We can go anywhere! My kitchen, the porch, the den... wherever you want!”
Um, that’s adorable. A Skype date huh? I said yes, of course. And we set a date.
The first time we Skyped I think we talked for about 4 hours. You read that right. FOUR HOURS. And it flew by.
Talking to him was so easy. We just clicked. It made sense. I didn’t care about anything – what I said, how I looked, if I was funny or witty. And the best part was, by the end of the night we had even talked to each other in British accents. That’s when I knew this guy could really hang.
And so we kept it up. We skyped and snapped and texted the entire month of June. And it wasn’t just fluff. We talked about real stuff. You know, dating material.
It was officially becoming “a thing.” We weren’t a couple, but we were definitely something... A weird, nebulous, romantic, completely illogical something.
And even though we were undefined, I was definitely sure of one thing…
I REALLY liked this Texas guy. More than any other guy I’d talked to.
And I was pretty sure he liked me too…
And so… we skyped and snapped and texted some more.
And we made some plans.
And on July 10th, Todd landed in the wonderful city of Boston.
Well hello, blog world! It's been a while. I have a fun multi-part post for you.
In case you were wondering, September 12th marks 2 months of being the girlfriend to this dreamboat right here.
Pretty crazy, isn’t it? A tiny girl living in Boston ends up dating a cute guy from Texas. What are the chances?
Over the past couple of months trying to figure out this whole long distance thing, I’ve fielded quite a few questions. “So…you’re dating a guy… from Texas?” Or “How did ya’ll even meet?”
And that’s why I’ve decided to write a post about our little one-of-a-kind story. It’s a bit long, so I’ll split it up. So, here you go. This is how I met Todd...
A couple months back, around the end of April, I got fed up with my nonexistent love life and decided to try online dating. 1 in 4 relationships begin online these days! At least that’s what I had heard via eHarmony commercials. So I thought, why not! I’m not getting any younger. And it will probably be super entertaining. So, I bit the bullet and bought a one month subscription to Match.com. (If I was going to do online dating, I was going to filter through sketchy people by paying for a service – assuming that most guys just looking for a hookup buddy weren’t going to spend money on it.)
I created a profile, (yes, I included the fact that I was a 4’10 pocket-sized 23 year old) uploaded some pictures and let the messages roll in.
HOLY WEIRD. Some of these guys were the definition of sketch. Like, really? Did you really send that as a message to someone? Wow, dude… Bless your heart.
LIKE WHAT. Who writes that?? Did girls fall for any of this? Did he really just use the word “dazzling” in everyday conversation? No thank you. These guys were not fitting the bill.
And, aside from the weirdness, I knew one of the things that was surely limiting my results in Boston was the fact that I was looking for a Christian guy. It’s not exactly the Bible belt up here. And settling for someone that listed “Christian/Protestant” on their profile but was looking for “Atheist/Jewish/Buddhist/etc” in a girl just didn’t make any sense to me.
So after a week or two of straight up duds, it occurred to me that maybe Boston wasn’t the best place to look. I’m from North Carolina. I'm a grits eatin', country music listenin', Bible-readin, Southern girl. Not sure any of these “Yankees” were gonna cut it.
So, with encouraging yet skeptical (and slightly judgmental) laughs & looks from my roommates, I decided to do a little “social experiment.” A lot of my best friends had plans for grad school, weddings, etc. in the fall of 2016, so I had always told myself I d be closing the Boston chapter of my life around that time. So, even though it was way far in advance, why not search for guys strategically based on where I might want to move?
Yep. I became a MAJOR weirdo and changed my search zip code on Match. It still said that I lived in Boston, but I started looking at guys in Southern cities just for the heck of it. It was fun! It was pointless. Nothing would come of it. I wasn't going to date these guys. But it was fun! Like research… maybe it would help me figure out where to move. Up my chances, if you will.
So I looked in Nashville. And Dallas. And Charlotte, Austin, Raleigh, Charleston, Atlanta, and on and on. And then, for absolutely no reason at ALL (especially since I had never even considered living there) I looked in Houston.
And that’s when I saw this super attractive guy in my search results. Not only that, but he was a Christian (like, a real one), he liked to travel, he was smart, handsome, southern, he played the piano, he was adventurous, and he liked “long romantic walks to the fridge.” He seemed pretty perfect (besides that fact that he lived 8 million miles away.) So, just for kicks, I clicked like on one of his profile pictures and went on my merry way.
Well, a couple of days passed without a single thought about this random Texan, (surely consisting of messages from 40 year old men calling me a “fun-sized piece of eye candy”) and then, on May 4th to be exact, I saw a familiar face in my inbox. T.ship had sent me a message.
Sadly I didn’t save it. But it was something like… “What are you doing creepin’ on Texas guys? Are ya doing some window shopping?”
Hahaha what!? Ballsy! And yes, I am in fact doing some window shopping. He had caught me. And he was funny, which made him even more attractive. I needed to message this guy back. Because why the heck not!?
So I responded. And so did he. And we messaged back and forth. And back and forth. And again, and again, and again.
And after about 3 weeks of messaging him, talking about everything from God to food to dogs to whatever else you could think of, I got an email informing me that my Match.com subscription was about to expire. What was I going to do? Just stop talking to this guy?
No… that didn’t make any sense. It made wayyyy more sense to continue talking to a random guy I’d never meet that lived hundreds of miles away. Yeah, much more logical.
So, game time decision, I told him my account was about to expire and even though nothing was going to happen… I gave him my phone number.
A little Monday summer inspiration.
In honor of my Digitas anniversary, here's a little list of twenty things I've learned so far.
1. Positivity breeds productivity.
2. Sometimes your best ideas get killed.
3. Coffee was, is, and always will be your best friend.
4. Constructive criticism is the only way you’ll get better.
5. Don’t get attached to headlines or ideas.
6. Work is fun if you want it to be. You control your own attitude.
7. Writing is totally subjective.
8. Speak up if you can add value to the conversation. Do it!
9. Hard work really does pay off.
10. People like puns. (If they say they don’t, they’re lying.)
11. You are not your job.
12. Don’t be afraid to reduce, reuse, and recycle ideas.
13. Take notes.
14. Dream big! They might buy it.
15. If you randomly dress up, people will make jokes about you interviewing somewhere else.
16. Respect - you get what you give.
17. Write it out and then whittle it down. Concise is nice.
18. That being said, people don’t like rhymes. (If they say they don’t, they’re not lying)
19. Take advantage of mornings.
20. You can always, always find dessert.