'Tis the season.

It's December, y'all-- how did THAT happen?  It feels like I blinked my eyes and the summer fast forwarded through the fall, I ran a marathon, and now our tree is up, glitter is everywhere, the office at our apartment complex sees my face and immediately goes to the mailroom to retrieve the embarrassing number of Amazon boxes with Christmas gifts inside, and I'm packing our Christmas cards to fill out on a plane tomorrow night because THE TIME!  WHERE DID THE TIME GO!?!  I know I'm not alone, because pretty much everyone that I've come across, in blog world and the real world, has said at least once "How is it already December X?  We only have three weekends left before Christmas!  GO GO GO!"  True... this is true.  

If Thanksgiving weren't so darn late this year, I feel like I would have my game much more together.  There's usually that week between turkeys and trees where you can breathe, make all of your necessary lists, take down and pack away your fall decorations and give everything a good cleaning before bringing out the Christmas stuff, get a fresh holiday mani (or is that just me?)... just enjoy the end of one holiday before going into the next.  This year, I woke up the morning after Thanksgiving and immediately thought "It's almost December-- I'm so behind!"  I raced out of bed, pounded a green smoothie, and started cleaning the apartment while throwing pumpkins and my Harvest candles at Brian so he could pack while I pulled out the stockings and ornaments.  I felt legitimate anxiety that was only enhanced by my knowledge that we would be gone the first weekend in December and leaving for Texas on Sunday the 22nd.  That gives us one uninterrupted weekend, next weekend, and I intend to soak up every second of it AT HOME with Brian.  Everything just feels very rushed right now, and I am not a fan of feeling rushed, especially at Christmastime.  

There are few things that I love more in the world than coming home on a cold December night, putting on my most favorite snuggly comfy clothes, pouring a glass of wine, plugging in the tree lights, and cozying up on the couch with Brian by my side and a Christmas movie on the television.  It's my happy place, and I try really hard to sit and enjoy it, since we only have one month out of an entire year to soak up Christmas.  

This season is by far, without a doubt, my most favorite time of the year.  Despite all of the craziness, people act just a little bit kinder, smile just a little bit more warmly, and are in the spirit of giving, which just warms my heart.  Getting older is funny.  I'm not sure when the transition happened, but it's so much less important to me now to have stuff.  I struggle to make wish lists to give to Brian, my parents, and his parents-- I mean, sure, there are always a few things that I would love and am usually lucky enough to receive, but it just feels a lot less important these days.  I'm much more interested in giving, and helping others.  And we have the little nephew and niece now, so it's beyond fun to get to see Christmas through their eyes.  

We fly home to Texas on Sunday, the 22nd, and I'm so excited and happy to spend our engaged Christmas with my family.  Brian hasn't been home since we got engaged, so everyone is very excited to see him and congratulate us as a couple.  And all of the little things that make being home at Christmas so perfect-- those special ornaments on the tree, my mom making batches of "Trash" (supremely doctored up cereals + nuts + pretzel sticks just... heaven), doing appetizers and drinks on Christmas Eve after going to the children's Mass... all of it makes me feel just giddy inside.

After stressing away most of yesterday morning about which Little People set to order for the nephew, I ordered an Ann Voskamp book, "The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas," that guides you through the real meaning of Christmas.  I'm really hoping that taking quiet time to sit and read through it each day will bring me a little bit more peace this holiday season.  I'm so blessed and lucky with everyone and everything in my life, and I don't want to miss out on realizing that this year.

With that, I'm off to run errands.  Brian and I were asked by his sister to be our little niece's godparents, so we fly out to Baltimore tomorrow after work!  But not before I take a little time by the tree tonight.

Happy almost Friday, lovelies!

19 days and counting.

19 days from now, I'll be lining up at the Start line on Staten Island to run my first marathon.  This time last year, I had the exact same thoughts, countdown, jitters and excitement constantly rolling around in my mind and I can't really believe that I'm here once again.  

This hasn't been my best training season, and I can definitely admit that.  It's kind of interesting-- last year I obsessively trained and whittled down my lists to prep for the race until I was at my wits end, snapping at my family and Brian, crying at the drop of a hat, not sleeping.  This year, while I've trained, I haven't trained at my hardest and I know that I won't run the best marathon that I'm capable of, but I'm much more laidback going into the whole mess.  

I'm not happy with my training, knowing that I could have done better.  The stars just didn't line up this fall as perfectly as they did last year, and it's taken A LOT for me to keep pushing and trudging along.  And while I'm not happy that I'll basically be settling with my finish time, I'm happy and proud that I've stuck with this.  Believe me-- there have been moments when I strongly considered cancelling my entry.  At the end of the day, as stressed as I may be, I'm not a quitter.  I also know how many people supported me and fundraised for me last year, so this race isn't only for me but for them as well, and to quit on myself would be quitting on everyone who believed in me.  I, in good conscience, could never, ever do that.

Truly-- the majority of my thoughts are consumed by this impending 26.2 mile marathon that I'm preparing to run.  While I'm not obsessing over the details, I'm obsessing over LIFE.  I feel like other runners may understand what I mean.  I evaluate my shoe choice each day depending on which gives me the most support and stability while walking-- my cute leopard flats have been momentarily retired.  When I'm walking through grass, I constantly watch for holes and slopes, knowing that one is just waiting for me, hidden in the grass, waiting to take me DOWN.  Every meal reflects back to which workout I have next, and every glass of wine is debated against how many miles await me the next morning.  

It is exhausting.

Adding to this whole shit show is the half marathon that I ran this weekend.  It was my first (race-- in training, I've run that distance time and time again), and I wish I could say that it was my last but I don't think it will be.  The course was in Boston and constant. hills.  (I believe I texted my good friend and fellow almost-NYCer afterwards to say "Those hills were a motherfucker," because YES.  Yes, they were.)  The start was downhill and fast, so I paced myself well for 5 miles, and then hit a turnaround point on the course where I looped and realized that I was nearing the end of the pack.  The majority of the runners were apparently much faster than I was, and even though I was pacing at a great pace for myself, I felt slow.  I also started to realize that all of those awesome crowds who were cheering for everyone early in the race?  Yea, they start to dissipate once the main group comes through.  So there I was, far enough behind the fast people and far enough ahead of the last crowd to be completely alone with my thoughts and self-doubt.

Even with my music, I was alone with my thoughts, and that's about the worst possible thing to happen to me during a race.  The more I let myself think, the more I doubted myself, what I was capable of, if i would finish, if I would get hurt.  The miles crawled by, with the only interaction with anyone being at water stops.  I had to pee so unbelievably badly was quickly becoming dehydrated, so I stopped at along the way for a bathroom break.  At that point, I was TOO dehydrated, so every Gu Chomp and sip of water felt like waves in my stomach, pushing me to complete nausea with every bouncing step.  

When I got to Brian at Mile 9, I was just not in a good place.  I started sipping Gatorade, which I never drink, which only made me feel more sick.  At that point, I just wanted to finish and go home.  I knew all of my time goals were way past feasible, and my left foot was starting to twinge.  As I came up on Mile 11, something pulled on the outside of my left foot, and I slowed to a walk.  Walking uphill, around curves, on dirt trails... it was never ending.  I started to powerwalk to my music, just to keep up a decent pace and test my foot to see if it was okay.  I wasn't collapsing, so I figured I must be reasonably fine.  I made it to Mile 12 and lined up with the sweetest girl named Aileen.  As we both swore and cursed the race and the fact that we were running through a zoo at that point, we agreed to push each other to the finish.  When she'd stop, I'd push her and vice versa.  There was a note in the race handbook that only people who finished in under 2:30 would get a medal.  Aileen was upset because she had fundraised and ran the race for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her sister, who has leukemia.  She said that she had really wanted to run and get a medal to give to her sister, but that her boyfriend, who had also run (very quickly, I might add), would give his to her sister if she didn't get one.

The last bit of the race finishes on the track of a stadium and we joked as we rounded the last corner that there's a reason why we never ran track in school.  The announcer said my name and which town I was from ,and I crossed the finish with a smile, with Aileen following close behind.  As we walked towards the track exit I saw groups of volunteers still handing out medals and pointed them out to Aileen-- I have never seen someone so, so happy.  She took her medal and gave me the biggest hug and told her boyfriend, who was waiting past the finish line for her, that I had pushed her through and to not stop.  I can't lie-- as awful as I felt and as angry at myself as I was for how the race had turned out, that felt pretty good to hear.  

I found Brian and the fab Caitlin and her boyfriend Andrew, who had come to cheer me on (and jog with me at one point!) and promptly collapsed on the ground.  It was a long and tortured downhill walk back to the train, and then a long drive home.  After a long shower, a delish lunch and a change into yoga pants, I retired to the couch with pumpkin beer for the rest of the day.  

Today, two days later, I'm hobbling around.  My knees keep catching, my quads are on fire, and if I had to move anywhere quickly, I would surely be left behind to die because moving fast isn't happening.  I may have shed a tear walking down the stairs this morning.  And yes, in the back of my mind, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that 19 days from now I run twice that distance.  I keep telling myself that I haven't trained for hills like this course since NYC isn't hilly-- yes, there are bridges and then hills in Central Park, but for the most part, the course is generally flat.  I'm coming up with my little plan for the marathon and know at this point, I'll do the best that I can.  I'm resting my foot, icing, and running easy runs for the next three weeks.  I can only prep my body so much at this point, and while I want to RUN this marathon, I'm also going in with a completely different mindset from last year.

This is probably the one time that I will ever run the New York City Marathon.  While I want to try my best, I also want to enjoy and soak in every single moment of the day.  From catching the bus to Staten Island to waiting in Runners Village with Meridith, to hearing "New York, New York" play at the starting line.  I want to remember the signs and the cheering people and all of the daydrinkers who come out to support the thousands and thousands of runners.  I want to capture that moment as I come off of the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan and it's a "tunnel of sound," giving me a much-needed push at Mile 16.  I want to stop and hug my family and friends as I see them along the way and not rush past them as if I'm too busy to stop for 2 seconds.  I want to never forget the day, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I possibly can.

I just ran my first half and have my first full right around the corner-- go big or go home, right?

Legit case of the Mondays.

You know you're in for a bumpy Monday when you pull into your office parking lot and there are only 2-3 cars parked.  Brian's office moved back to downtown Boston today, so he has to be at the train 15-ish minutes earlier than usual, which put me at my building 15 minutes early.  So as I rolled in today, armed with my large iced coffee and a lot of hope that today will fly by, I notice that the parking lot looks peculiarly... empty.  Most noticeably missing were the cars belonging to those who occupy our little executive wing, so the head honchos were MIA.  

My first thoughts, of course, went to the possibility that there was no work today.

"Is it a holiday?  Isn't Columbus Day in October?"

I monitor our office holidays PRETTY DARN CLOSELY, so I had to scratch that one.

"I know-- it's an off day because the end of the third quarter was last week.  Things were crazy, people were traveling back and forth across the country.  Yes, that's it-- they gave us a free day off and I just didn't hear about it!"

As I pulled out my phone to look up barre classes that are open during the day and thought of the fun little fall craft that I'm working on at home and would be able to work on while watching Scandal in my yoga pants all afternoon... the CEO pulled in.  Right next to me.  With a wave and a smile, he headed into the building.

Wisdom for today: Mondays are bad enough, but when you're teased with the possibility of an unexpected free day and then it's RIPPED from your hands... you're probably going to need more coffee.

We had one of those lovely, unexpected weekends where we didn't HAVE to do a single thing.  I woke up early Saturday morning to get my run on (NYC Marathon = T-minus 27 days and counting!!) and whenever I felt like I was dying, I would stop and snap pictures.  I may hate running at times, but it never gets old running in Scituate along the water:

After stopping by the grocery store (and liquor store) for essentials and Dunks for my standard post-run reward (large iced caramel mocha with skim and 2 Splenda, por favor) on my way home, I pulled into our complex to this gorgemous sight:

Dear Fall in New England-- I will never stop loving you.  Ever.  Promise, hugs and kisses.

We proceeded to spend the remainder of the afternoon on the couch rotating around to the different college football games.  I found a surge of energy and deep-cleaned the apartment, then took the most pampering, long hot shower EVER.  Face mask and scrub, clarifying shampoo + deep conditioner... it was fantastic.  It was a date night IN night, so while I cooked, Brian mixed up Round 1 of cocktails that we're auditioning for our signature cocktail at our wedding reception!  Contender #1 was a delicious concoction of bourbon, apple cider and ginger beer, courtesy of The Tampopo Post (try it immediately; it is divine!).

(the website's pic, not ours.  love the apple garnish though!)

My routine on Sunday mornings is to sleep as late as possible (maybe 9am-- if my body could sleep longer, I would be a much happier person, promise) and then have alone time catching up on my DVR shows.  Yesterday was no different-- I made a cup of coffee, lit all of my fall candles, and settled onto the touch to watch the Bravermans and my good ole Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.  Brian ran errands by himself all day, so after finishing up a few little things to prep for the week, I decorated for fall/Halloween and hung out with Olivia Pope until he was home.  

Sometimes a girl just needs to decompress to the extreme, and I'm so glad that I made time for myself to do just that.  Alright, lovelies-- back to the battlefield.  Fingers crossed that today flies by for you, too!

Five on Friday!!

{one} fall, sweet fall
Autumn has finally arrived in Boston and I could not be any happier!  This pale skin was MADE for riding boots and sweaters, so it's been wonderful to slowly but surely pack away the sundresses and bring out the long sleeves and leggings.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to decorate for Halloween that weekend-- couldn't do it.  Nope, this girl needed to wait until October 1st struck to justify decking the apartment out for the fall, so this weekend IT IS ON.  I also consider this as the clear zone to watch Hocus Pocus and get excited about it.  It was airing on the TV last month and I just felt like I would be doing wrong to Wini, Sarah and Mary to watch it before the month of October.

{two} It's handled. 
I have officially jumped on the Scandal bandwagon and have no plans of ever looking back to a world without Olivia Pope.   Basically, I not only want to be a gladiator in a suit, but I also want to beg/borrow/steal Ms. Pope's AMAZING wardrobe.  The woman can rock a power suit like nobody's business, all while ruling D.C. in platform pumps.  I find myself alternating between wanting to cry and cheer her on at nearly ever episode.  I'm halfway through Season 2 on Netflix and am avoiding the TV (and the temptation of our DVR) like the plague right now so I don't hear or see any spoilers!  Also?  I totally dress JUST LIKE THIS when I have wine on girls night in with myself.

{three} Old Navy for the win!
I've picked up a few fall essentials from Old Navy recently and I cannot lie-- they're on their A-game lately!  Clothes can be very hit-or-miss for me there, but after placing a little order to test the waters, my few new fall favorites have left me majorly impressed! 

Adorbs, right?  The dress is perfect for work, as is the navy sweater, and I just can't get past the cuteness of that fox (my namesake) in glasses.  Lurve it!

{four} stay-in saturday... and sunday 
This weekend will pretty much be the first (and last) weekend for awhile where we don't have anything planned, other than my 20 mile training run tomorrow morning.  We have big unplanned plans to potentially go apple-picking, watch lots and lots of football while eating yummy football snacks, start testing potential drinks for our signature cocktail at the wedding, and catch up on all of our DVR shows.  I plan to spend 85% of the weekend in yoga pants, on the couch with wine and my man, and I could not be more excited about it!

{five} camille.
These gorgemous lovelies just made their way into my shopping cart at Crate & Barrel.  Apparently it's the wine glass that Olivia Pope drinks from on Scandal.  I shall cheers her from the couch in style, y'all!  Treat yo self to the Camille Red Wine Glass-- perfection!

five on friday!!

I'm hoping that every single one of y'all are in the same boat as me when I say AMEN FOR THE WEEKEND.  This week just felt like the days would never end, and with a fun-filled weekend ahead of us, I'm just hoping that this work day flies by!  I'm linking up with some of my fav bloggin' ladies for "Five on Friday," and I highly suggest that you join in as well!

We're meeting up with Brian's cousin and his fab girlfriend (also a Katie!) and some of their friends tonight for drinks and I'm so excited!  We've been so crazy busy lately, it feels like it's been forever since we've taken time to just hang out and catch up with our friends, so tonight will be very much appreciated.  We have plans to head to Davis Square, which is a fun little part of Boston near Cambridge-- I had an internship in the area years ago but we've never been to any bars or restaurants, so I'm looking forward to seeing the nightlife.  Plus, I like to never pass up a reason to make the trip into the city. The temps are supposed to cool down throughout the day-- perhaps tonight will be the perfect night for my first Shipyard Pumpkinhead of the season (cinnamon sugar on the rim of the glass, please).

After battling the urge for a few weeks now to debut my fall decorations, I'm thinking this weekend might be THE TIME.  I already have a menu planned for chili and stew and a fridge full of yummy fall-ish beer (perfection for football watching, obviously), so what's better than to arrange a few pumpkins and wreaths?  The main issue that I battle is that I'm decorating a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment and have enough decorations for a 4 bedroom house with multiple living areas.  'Tis a serious issue, y'all.  I usually go all out while Brian's out of the apartment, and then he comes home, asks why (enter season here) exploded in our home, and I start taking pieces away until the space is cute, not cluttered.  When it's cool enough to sleep with the windows open and my yummy fall candles are burning away, the tables are just begging for that autumn leave arrangement, no?

The longer I've lived in Boston, the less of a baseball fan I've become.  Basically, I peaked as a Red Sox fan when I first stepped off of the plane at Logan and the enthusiasm has slowly declined.  I mean, my first fall here, I saw two no-hitters IN PERSON and they won the World Series!  Once we started going to games more regularly, I quickly realized a baseball fan, I am not.  It's bound to be a looong night when you think it's the fifth inning AT LEAST, only to check your watch and realize it's the bottom of the second (does it sound like I know what I'm talking about?  Oh, good-- because I do not).  Regardless, there's just something a little magical about a game at Fenway Park, and I can most certainly tolerate it in small doses!  My fabulous Uncle Frank in Connecticut mailed us four tickets as a "just because" gift for the Red Sox/Yankees game on Sunday night!  If you need me, you can find me in a field box, sipping a beverage and trying to get service on my phone to Instagram the night away.

So I haven't blogged since the whole engagement announcement, but I am DELIGHTED to say that our entire morning tomorrow is blocked off to do wedding things-- EEK!  While we aren't sharing much info quite yet, we've narrowed our venue options down to our top two-- one is a country club, so everything is covered, we just get to make our decisions (love); the other is a completely blank space, which I've always thought that I wanted so that we could completely make it our own... but that's a lot of stuff to figure out.  Bringing in rental companies, caterers, not to mention the standard vendors (music, florist, etc).  We're hoping seeing the places in person tomorrow will give us a little more insight as to which way we'd like to go-- the "blank space" will be being setup for a wedding, so we can get a visual of how the room would be.  

The OCD part of me is just ready to set the date  (we're flexible, depending on when our venues are available), book The Big Stuff (ceremony/reception venues, photographer, band/DJ for us) and then the smaller things will fall into place.  I'm not crazy about spending tons on flowers-- it's just not super important to us.  And the details, to me, are the fun part. So loads of stress will be off of my shoulders once I know we have a spot for things to happen.  Also, I never thought that Brian would really care about the little things, but he's been so gung-ho right along with me, so that's been a lot of fun.  He even coached me through my first sticker-shock meltdown on Monday night.  Between the fiance, my Southern Living planner plus the insane binder I put together, and myself, I think this little wedding will come together just fine.

I run the BAA Half Marathon in Boston ONE MONTH from today.  THIRTY days.  I run the New York City Marathon in 50 days.  FIFTY.  I'm pretty excited for the half-- I've trained for the marathon twice now and have run more than 13 miles countless times on training runs, but this will be my first actual half marathon, where I get to stop at 13.1 miles and have a medal placed around my neck.  However, once the morning of November 4th (the day after the marathon), I feel like I'll wake up and either want to run forever, or swear off of it for the rest of my life.  Training this time has been for the birds, and I'm just kind of ready to be done with it.  I'm excited of course, and I think that the overall spirit and feeling at this year's NYCM will be just amazing, considering all that NYC has been through post-Sandy.  Plus my mom, an aunt and Brian will be there to cheer me on, along with other friends who are planning to head to the city to join my cheering squad as well.  

I know that I haven't been as focused on training this year as I was last year, so I'm trying to really pick up my midweek runs going forward so that I'm a little more prepared.  When I get so exhausted and think "This isn't fun anymore.  This isn't easy," a little voice says "Well of course it's not.  You're running a marathon to challenge your body and your mind beyond anything that you thought possible.  If it were easy, would it be such a privilege to be running this course right now?  I think not.  Pick it up, slowpoke."  And so I run.  Continuously.  For hours on end.  New shoes are in the plans for this weekend, and I just ordered a new lululemon top-- it's the little things to perk you up, right?  Anyways, the reality of TWO races in the next sixty days hit me and HOLY MOLY was it a reality check.

Wedding Wednesday: WE'RE ENGAGED!!

(and yes, I totally did the dance in my head post-proposal)

One week ago today, the love of my life proposed and I said YES!  HOLY MOLY.  It has been a WHIRLWIND of the past 7 days-- he popped the question Wednesday night and I was on a plane to Texas to visit my family for a planned Labor Day weekend trip at 7am the next morning.  

It could not have been more perfect timing-- while I most certainly wish that Brian could have come along with me, it was initially planned as a quick trip home for me to see everyone, and turned into "Hi family, I've missed you, and I'M ENGAGED!!"  It meant so much to me that it all worked out so that I could share in the excitement firsthand with my family and closest friends and see their smiles and hear the squeals face-to-face instead of over the phone.  My mama and I spent the weekend pouring over my Pinterest boards and flipping through bridal magazines.  My cousin, Nicole, and I talked for hours Saturday night over drinks about colors and themes, pictures and dresses... and I was blissed. out.
A good chunk of this past week's paycheck went towards bridal magazines-- I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn't buy an actual printed magazine until I had the ring on my finger.  Well guess what, y'all-- 

How did it happen, you ask?  Well, Wednesday evening, we drove into Boston last minute for dinner.  I was perhaps just a tiny bit hopeful, like butterflies in my stomach, but honestly didn't want to get excited since I knew that Brian knew I still needed to pack and get ready to fly home the next morning, so I marked it up to him saving me a night of cooking.  

Once we'd parked, Brian asked if I wanted to take a quick walk since we were half an hour early for our dinner reservation.  I said sure, and we headed off in the direction of the place that I'd secretly been hoping we were heading, the Wharf near the New England Aquarium, where we sat for hours the night of our first date and talked and talked the evening away.  We walked over to "our spot" and he said the most wonderful things ever, I blubbered away and... 

 And just like that, we were engaged!  The best proposal I could have ever hoped for, to the most amazing man I could ever have dreamed of marrying.  We walked (or I floated) back to The Palm for our dinner reservation and I called my parents to tell them the news.  Needless to say, they were just a little bit excited, and didn't quite catch on when I informed them that they were going to have a son-in-law.  Even typing it now, I cannot stop smiling!  When we walked into the restaurant, I couldn't help myself and immediately told the hostess that we had just gotten engaged.  She squealed, the manager overheard and informed us that they would be happy to reserve the backroom of The Palm for any future event needs (I laughed, and then thought "Oh my word, I can actually consider things like this now!!).  Once we were seated, complimentary champagne was sent over, and the smile didn't leave my face the entire night.

Dinner was wonderful, and I alternated grinning like a crazy person at my FIANCE, tearing up, and calling our family and friends.  Everyone was just so happy for us, and we feel so blessed to have such amazing family and friends to celebrate with at this exciting time!  I may have taken two or twenty pictures of my ring because... why not?

We called his sisters and parents on the drive home so we could both be on the phone and tell them the news (his parents had known that it was happening, just so it doesn't sound like we told everyone and then his parents), and I think my favorite reaction was from his oldest sister Meghan (Colin and Meredith's mom).  It's totally normal for us to call and just small-chat with them on speaker while we're driving, so we played it off like we were doing just that, and then Brian says "So I made Aunt Kiki official tonight." Complete SILENCE from Meg. 

"... What?  What did you say?!"  
"I made Aunt Kiki official tonight!"
"You're kidding!  I knew it!  Are you joking?  Did you really?  She's official!?  Ohhhh I want to see the ring!  Tell me how... no, Brian stop talking.  Kiki, take me off speaker and give me all of the details so I can hear every word."

It also sounds kind of corny, but I kind of love that Brian doesn't have any brothers, and I've never had a sister-- now we'll have each others siblings as one big, happy, dysfunctional family.  Isn't that part of what marriage is all about?

As for actually being engaged... I have no idea what to do next.  Since I flew out the morning after it happened, and just flew in late last night, I've hardly spent two minutes with my new FIANCE to plan anything.  Yes, I've had ideas and eleventy billion plans in my head for years now, but since it happened and this morning, I've been asked no less then fifty times Where? When? How many? Who? Colors? Size?  I've even already gotten criticism on an idea that Brian and I have always loved but I'd never even vocalized!  An aunt just out and said how she hates this particular thing and it's horrificially tacky... but we still kind of love it.  

I was all worked up and told my mom what had happened and she said probably the one thing I'll have to keep coming back to throughout this entire wedding planning process: "People are going to give you every opinion and piece of advice that they can think of because they think their input is valuable.  Sometimes it is, but a lot of times it's nonsense.  At the end of the day, plan this wedding for you and Brian because you two are getting married and it's YOUR day.  Listen and smile to everyone and be gracious that they care, even when you don't want to.  If you decide to take their advice, wonderful.  If not, you do not worry about hurt feelings because you can't please everyone and it's not your job to.  At the end of the day, try to involve the people who mean the most to you, and keep yourselves happy or you'll stress yourself to pieces."

This is true.  Mama knows me and she knows that I will legitimately stress myself to pieces to try and please everyone.  We have time to get all into the details, but for now, I want to talk about the fun stuff with my future hubby, and just revel in the excitement of being engaged!  Let the planning begin!!  And be prepared for Wedding Wednesday, my friends-- things are gonna get real!!


I have always been a HUGE fan of the theater.  Musicals, plays, the ballet... if you put a ticket in my hand I can guarantee that I'll be in my seat, loving every second of the show.  I feel pretty lucky to have been able to see live a handful of the more popular shows in recent years, and they're fabulous memories across the board.

My very first show was 42nd Street.  

I was young, somewhere around middle school age, and I probably didn't appreciate the experience as much as I should have (it was ON BROADWAY, not a traveling show, which to me just makes a show LEGIT) .  My younger brother Clint and I went with an aunt, uncle and a cousin from Connecticut.  I remember thinking "That was a lot of singing and dancing," and "Is this ever going to end?," and "I'm tired."  Ah, the ignorance of youth.

Show #2 was also seen on a summer trip to Connecticut.  We went with the same aunt and cousin, as well as my aunt's sister.  I was a freshman in high school and completely convinced that I was going to move to New York when I graduated, go to NYU and become the Next Big Thing in publishing.  We saw Mamma Mia! at Winter Garden Theater on Broadway and it changed. my. life.  I was convinced that if Broadway theater made my heart as happy as it did, that I was destined to move to NYC and make it-- if I could make it there, I could make it ANYwhere (I know... I know).

I vividly remember the entire theater being out of their seats, dancing in the aisles and singing along with the show.  It was so, so much fun and I cried when it was over.  Not an ugly cry or anything, but there was definitely emotion, and if I had to pinpoint that feeling I would say that I was straight-up sad that it was over.  After buying my show t-shirt for $32 (still have it), I left thinking that I was of course destined to be a performer on Broadway, regardless of the fact that I'd never taken any sort of professional dance, acting or voice lessons-- I was a triple NON-threat.  That little dream obviously faded, but after that show, I was HOOKED.

Once Brian and I started dating, I became determined to see The Nutcracker here in Boston.  The ballet comes to the Boston Opera House every Christmas, so for at least two of my birthdays, I've convinced him that it's just not Christmastime without seeing the Sugarplum Fairies.

I know that I'm alone in this one, but I would go every single year to see it if I could.  I love getting all dressed up and seeing moms and their little ones there together, decked out in their holiday reds and velvet to see the show.  Babies are a little ways off for me yet, but I vow that if I'm ever blessed with a little girl, seeing The Nutcracker together every Christmas will become our tradition.

Having always loved The Big Apple, I've always ALWAYS loved The Rockettes.  It's just not Thanksgiving unless I see them high kicking away in their heels at the Macy's Parade.  I'm pretty positive I also entertained the idea of becoming a Rockette, especially after being on the dance team in high school.  If I could high kick on a football field for 3 minutes, I could surely do the same on a stage... for an hour.  

I digress.  When The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular toured to Boston last winter, it became my life's goal to see them.  Brian made it happen for me, and it was amazing.  Truly.  The girls are so talented and pretty and enviable LEGS FOR DAYS... but it was TWO hours.  Of kicking.  And tap dancing.  And shuffle-stepping.  

We went for my birthday in early December so it certainly got me into the jazzy Christmas spirit... but I'll likely never, ever see them again.  Two hours of two-tapping is a lot to take in.

Knowing I had struck out with my last two shows being not all that guy-friendly, when In the Heights toured to Boston, I knew that we had to go.  

I gave Brian the heads up that it was indeed a musical, but that there would be dancing and guys fighting and it was based in Harlem (I think), modern day.  We bought tickets, we went... and he LOVED it.  The soundtrack and stage decorations were both phenomenal and the cast was just so sassy-- just a genuinely well done show.

All of this brings me to last night.  I have a running list in my head of Broadway Shows to See, including but not limited to Newsies, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King... and Wicked.

Be still, my Wizard of Oz loving heart, because I can mark the last one off of my list!

Wicked has toured in Boston a few times since I've lived here, but we've just never made it a point to go.  When I found out the show was not only coming back this summer but opening a mere DAY after our anniversary, I knew it was meant. to. be.

After a quick stop for dinner, we settled in for two and a half hours of one of the best performances I have ever seen.  I laughed.  I clapped and cheered.  I teared up.  I gave a standing ovation at the end.  It was so excellently well done, and I would go again tonight if I could.  I can't lie-- Wicked remains on my list of shows to see ON Broadway, but not for the sake of quality.  I can't imagine it being executed any better, there's just something about seeing shows in NYC that make them feel that much more "real."  

Until then, I'll keep loving the fact that I found a guy who'll put on a brave face and sit through musicals with me, secretly loving them as much as I do.

Unofficial disclaimer: All pics, excluding the last three, are from The Google and are NOT mine. 

At least it's Tuesday...

Yes, today is Tuesday but nothing exciting or blog-worthy happened yesterday, unless you consider my going home, changing into yoga pants and watching Crazy, Stupid, Love for the umpteenth time with a glass of wine while Brian was at softball "exciting."  

After five long weeks of being busybusybusy every weekend, I was finally able to enjoy two entire days of NOTHING... and it was DI-VINE. 

Saturday morning kicked off at 4:30am when I woke up for my pre-long run breakfast.  Did I mention that I'm training for the NYC marathon again?  I am.  Did I mention that I'm hating every second?  No?  Oh, well... I am.  And I can honestly say that the novelty of waking up at  4:30am to eat breakfast has SO worn off.

I do not work out well on a full stomach, but if I don't eat ANYTHING before a long run, my energy deflates real fast.  So, peanut butter and banana on wheat two hours before I run it is.  My training schedule said 8 miles so I hit the dreadmill and (kind of) knocked it out.  My shins were flaring up last week and the last thing I needed was to run 4 miles away from the apartment and then realize I wouldn't be able to make it back home, so I played it safe.  AWFUL.  Hated it.  Watched the seconds tick by.  And THAT is why all long runs going forward will happen outside.

Regardless, I survived and was glad to be done with running for the weekend.  Next weekend is 10 miles, my first double digit run of the year.  Cue the ice bath and wine!

I managed to shower, throw on an outfit (if you can call it that-- we're talking Tempos and my brand spankin' new home. tee, which I'm LOVING.  Also? That's not me.  I could never pull off a pink lip like that but would kill for her arms) and make it to the nail salon by 9:30-- whoop!  

Since I was there so early, I thought I would be in and out in an hour, tops-- the spot I go to usually does a great job but are speedy, which is important to me because WHO has time to sit in a nail chair for hours on a Saturday?  Not me.  A one hour manicure and one hour pedicure later, I was finally on my way out the door.  I admired my gorgey nails for approximately four hours before three nails on my right hand chipped and now the top edge is wearing off on my left hand.  As the girl was doing my nails, she kept watering down the polish (even after I asked if they maybe had a spare bottle, or if I should change colors), so I'm going to guess that the polish was weakened and is just chip-chip-chipping away.

Sidenote: tell me ladies, is a gel/shellac mani worth the $$?  Because I'm thinking I'd rather pay extra for one mani to last 3 weeks, versus 2-3 manis over a month.  And yes-- I do my nails at home on occasion, but sometimes there's just nothing better than a fresh mani done by someone else.

Brian was off running boy errands so I spent the afternoon catching up on all of my Real Housewives, lounging on the couch, and eating a lunch consisting of Triscuits, cheese, and grapes.  Like I said-- DI-VINE.  Knowing that we were going out for date night, I poured a little dressing drink and got ready.  Two hours later, completely ready with big hair and a complete outfit, I realized I may have started a little early considering that Brian wasn't yet home.  So I did what any sane girl would do:

Settled on the couch with my wine, fresh mani, and Marky Mark.  It was such good one-on-one time with myself, and I swear that just having that afternoon to decompress left me in such a good mood for the rest of the weekend.  I have zero pictures of actual date night, but it was fun and so very needed.

Sunday I slept until 9 (this is HUGE for me), sent Brian out for coffee and whipped up a little breakfast.  I've been craving huevos rancheros like nobody's business and could basically eat eggs with refried beans every single morning, so adding a little corn tortilla and avocado just sealed the deal that much more.

The rest of the day was spent doing laundry for the week, changing sheets, straightening up-- the usual.  I had a pot of bolognese sauce simmering away on the stove, and with a clean apartment and my favorite candles burning, I could not have been happier.  Oh wait, yes I could:

We watched Wally White from bed and then I promptly fell asleep at 10:15-- party people!!  

All in all, the weekend was just what we both needed to just relax and reboot.  And now for the important question-- is it Friday yet?

five on friday

Happy Friday lovelies!!  Today I'm joining some of my fav bloggin' ladies for the weekly Five on Friday link-up.  I'm thinking it will be a great way to share my own blog while finding fabulous new blogs out there as well-- super exciting!

This southern girl has invested in a new curling iron.  After reading lots of reviews, scouring blog hair tutorials to see what equipment those gals are using, and consulting the Beauty Bibles (namely InStyle), I settled on a Hot Tools 1 1/4 inch iron.  
I may or not be tracking this delivery like it's my J-O-B and cannot wait to try it out tomorrow night (date night, whoop whoop!).  

Sidenote: Living in Boston, I feel like big hair is something that I must maintain in honor of all southern girls living north of the Mason-Dixon line.  This past weekend we were with friends and everyone was getting ready to go out.  Armed with my teasing comb and hair spray, I set to work on my hair.  The MA ladies were joking about the amount of hair spray I was using, to which I responded "Girls, you've got to tease it to Jesus!" 
"Tease it to please him?" 
"No... to Jesus.  You know-- the bigger the hair, the closer to God?" 
Blank stares.
Our southern hair chatter is apparently a thing these Yanks will just never understand.

Come this Labor Day weekend, I will be HOME SWEET HOME!

Since I've only been at my new job for a month, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to go home this summer at all, and that was just TOO MUCH for this girl to handle.  So I chatted with my manager and agreed on me taking a long Labor Day weekend holiday!  I cannot wait!!  I haven't been home since LAST Christmas and won't go home again until THIS Christmas, so this is a much-needed little trip home.  It'll be just me-- I love going home with Brian, but some one-on-one time with the family and girlfriends is just needed sometimes!  Queso, HEB and Chick-fil-A, here I come!

Two words: DATE. NIGHT.  We have been busy for the past FIVE weekends and it is high time for a date night with my man.  Saturdays are always our nights, and unless plans come up with friends, we keep that reserved as our date night.  Six years since our first date and I'm still every bit the believer that it is muy importante to take that time for each other.  Depending on the week, I'll either cook a nicer dinner than a typical weeknight meal, we try a new spot for take-out, or we go out.  I like a good wine-on-the-couch night together as much as anyone else, but sometimes you just need to get all dressed up and hit the town, which is our plan for tomorrow, particularly since it's our big night out to celebrate The Big Six!  

I'm already picturing it, and the picture is fabulous-- getting ready with my dressing drink (or, you know, a good glass of wine) while I curl my hairs with my new curling iron, then heading out with my handsome honey-- perfection!

Since we've been so non-stop busy, I haven't had time for a good mani/pedi in weeks, so I have allotted a full two hours of Just Me Time tomorrow morning to remedy this situation.  'Tis shameful, especially if you were to see the shape that my nails are in right now.  I plan to have myself waiting in the parking lot when they open at 9am so I can get first pick of the polishes!  

Is it just me, or does it drive you nuts when you go to a salon midday and approximately 72% of the bottles are at the various nail stations, so you have to act all stealthy and eye the bottles as you walk past to see if there are colors you can swap out with the one you settled on?  Drives me crazy!

Summer is always one of my favorite times due to all of the little farmers markets that pop up in my area.  Seriously-- I come home with mammoth tomatoes, zucchini, fresh cheese and bread... I could go on for days.  A lot of our dinners have started to revolve around what beauties I pick up over the weekends, which I just love.  Early in the summer, I found myself with three enormous zucchini and we were both craving a light but filling pasta dish, so I got to Googling and searching my fav foodie blogs for a solution.  Enter our summer obsession: Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn and Basil from the lovely Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats.

Seriously, drop everything that you're doing, get these ingredients in your kitchen, and make this dish happen.  I've made it for dinner guests, gave the recipe for a bridal shower recipe book... I could not possibly rave about it any more.  The dish comes together super quick, it makes more than enough for leftovers, and it's just so fresh and delish!  We either have it as a main dish or as a side with grilled chicken-- either way, you cannot go wrong.  And I honestly don't think that you can mess it up.  If you try it out, let me know if you love it as much as we have!  Kudos to you, Kristin!

Cheers to the weekend!