It’s That Time Again!

Holiday traditions

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas is right after. I can’t even believe it. There are about 45 days left of 2014…wait, really?! Is it just me, or does every year seem to go by faster and faster as we get older? Since this will be my last Holiday Season being “Single” I am going to share the traditions I have had since I was a child, and what I expect to change this time next year.

Thanksgiving always starts with me and my mom enjoying a cup of coffee while watching the Macy’s Parade and reading the Black Friday Ads, I love having this time to start the day and I can’t wait to do it again this year! As I was growing up we would rotate between my Grandparents on my Mothers’s side and my Grandmother on my Father’s, we did this until about 5 years ago. Then my mom decided she would start hosting Thanksgiving and whoever wanted to attend, would come over to spend the day.

Within the last 5 years we have developed the tradition of my Mother’s family all coming over in the early afternoon, eating a wonderful meal (Turkey, Ham and all of the sides), playing some football, watching some football, and playing charades. It is one of my favorite days within the year, and even though I see my family practically everyday, but knowing that we are all together, drinking, eating, playing and laughing is the best way to calm my heart.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we normally go to 34th Street in Baltimore to look at the lights. There is an entire street covered in lights, and people from all over the state come to visit. It is really awesome to see a dozen neighbors come together every year to spread the Christmas Spirit. In recent years we have cut down our own tree, but there is a small complication (I will get to this later) with that this year so we plan on buying one from a lot.

Since last year was the first year of being in my own space, Dave came over and we decorated the tree. I was constantly away during the first few weeks of December though so when I finally made it home 4 days before Christmas, he had surprised me and decorated the outside and inside of the house. I was so excited to see everything so lit up and beautiful. How did I get such a romantic?

This will be the last year of this tradition for me, but on Christmas Eve my siblings, parents and myself read Twas The Night Before Christmas, open 1 present, and then go to sleep to be pulled out of bed at the crack of dawn by my brothers who are impatiently waiting to open their presents. We all wait for the videocamera to be rolling and go downstairs to open presents. I am really going to miss this tradition, but can’t wait to start a new one with Dave next year!

The day after Christmas is a favorite of mine as well. For years me and my mom would wake up, get Starbucks and head to the mall, Target and a Christmas store called Valley View Farms to buy Christmas things that go on sale. Lately, my sister has been joining us as well, and it is a wonderful way to savor the holiday spirit for a few more hours.

New Years Eve used to be all about staying home, enjoying amazing food that my dad has made, and watching the ball drop as a family. But they I turned 21 and wanted to go to fancy parties to bring in the new year. While that is all fun and exciting, I am going to stay home again this year with my family, and Dave will be joining us as well. I am looking forward to sharing an old tradition with my family again.

Other smaller traditions for us include collecting an ornament from a special event in each year, the lighted boat parade, and watching Santa drive by the house on a fire engine. I am so blessed to have these times with my family, and I can’t wait for them to begin again.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

 

A Bad Review: Marley Lilly

In July I shared my experience with Monday Dress which you can read about here. Well today I am here to share a quick story about their sister company, Marley Lilly. I really don’t like publicly giving a company a bad review, but I am really upset that these two companies have the terrible customer service that they do. I feel like others need to know which companies to look out for when it comes to getting what you are looking for.

In the spring I started looking for a duffel type bag that I could use in place of my backpack on quick trips. Most of the time I use my backpack and a carry-on, but there are times that all I need is my laptop, charger and a change of clothes so I wanted a cute medium sized bag for this. I found what looked to be the perfect bag on Marley Lilly’s website. It was purple (all of my luggage is purple #sorrynotsorry) and I could have it monogrammed.

I loved it when I received it and couldn’t wait to use it! I didn’t need it for about a month, but the very first time I did use it, the zipper broke. This was pretty frustrating since it was the first use of the bag. I continued to use it a few more times though because it did hold everything I needed to carry. But after those few uses the handles started falling part! The bag is still useable, but I won’t be using it anymore because of the way the bag looks and I fear the bottom may just fall out. The threads were continuing to come loose and the handle keeps loosing material.

I decided to email ML just to let them know of the poor quality of the bag and their response was “sorry you had trouble with my order”. I feel like the staff they have running the customer service department has never worked with the public before. It is quite a shame they have responded in this way twice because they seem to have a lot of competition in the online boutique world these days.

Glad all of that is off of my chest…Back to normal happy and excited Macy tomorrow!

Wedding Wednesday {Tips To Pick a Venue}

choosing a venue

I am so very happy that it is already Wednesday, lucky for me the end of today is the end of my official workweek since I am at a conference. I only have a few updates from this past week, but I am looking forward to lots more for next week!

Since last Wedding Wednesday we have changed our minds twice about the Save-The-Date images. We are finally settled and will be ordering them as soon as we are reunited on Thursday. Along with choosing the images and layout, we decided to address them by hand. As much as I love calligraphy, we just can’t afford to spend $400 on it for the Save-The-Dates. I am also hoping to be better at it myself by the time our invitations go out. It’s a shame that even having them printed in so expensive!

Another big thing we have finished is the rental company for tables, linens, etc. I have looked at so many options and to say we finally found a great company is such a relief. I am still deciding on buying or renting drapery for the tent, but I still have some time. I have a perfect vision for everything but not the extra time to sit down with everyone and go over everything.

Since I didn’t have too much to share today, I am hoping this list will help any future brides. When a couple is trying to find their dream venue, it is easy for several things to be overlooked. I put this list together of 15 things any couple should look for, ask or check on the contract. The list could be longer, but to me these are the most important to stick to.

1- If your event is being held outdoors, what is the back-up plan in place at this venue if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Most venues won’t allow you to change areas if it’s raining the day of without an extra added fee, and some won’t have a backup space available. A way to avoid this is to already plan on having a tent either through the venue or an outside source.

2- Are you able to host ceremony and reception at the venue. This may not be a big deal for all brides because of the ceremony being held at a church, garden, etc. but it is nice to know this information moving forward.

3- Is there a noise restriction past a certain hour? If your wedding is in a hotel or outside, there will most likely a 10 or 11pm noise restriction. If you plan on partying all night long (woohoo!) make sure you don’t have a certain time to cut off the jams, or just move the party to a nearby bar.

4- Are there other events (weddings or otherwise) being held the day before, day of, and day after my event. This will give you a chance to think about rehearsal dinner scheduling, set-up day of (for your vendors, not you!), where you will be getting ready, timing of your wedding, and brunch the following day. Even if you don’t plan on having any of these at the venue, it is nice to know what you are working with.

5- Is there a space for the bridal party and groomsmen to get ready on site? Are they far enough away from each other that there is no chance for the Groom to see the Bride before she is ready?

6- What is included with the cost of venue? Catering, tenting, chairs, fireworks, etc! When working on your budget it’s easy to know what is going to be a part of each aspect. Having a caterer included in venue has its positives, but also it’s negatives if you plan on hiring someone else or want a certain meal.

7- Are outside vendors allowed? Is there an extra charge for using vendors outside of a venues preferred list?

8- What is the payment schedule? Some venues don’t need final payment until a week before the event, but others want it 3 months before.

9- When will the venue need the final headcount? If the final headcount is lower than the original estimate, will you be charged for the estimate or final number? Some venues will charge you based on the original headcount and it will not change if the final number is lower.

10- Will there be a provided point of contact day of the wedding? Even with a wedding planner this is important. They will be an aid to the planner in many aspects and have experience with the site.

11- Are there alcohol limitations? For example, many parks won’t let you serve alcohol or you need to get a special license for the day of your wedding.

12- Are there set-up fees? If tables, chairs, linens, place settings, etc are provided, is there an extra charge for the venue to set these up?

13- Who is in charge of clean up? Depending on the venue it could be their staff, rental staff or each individual vendor.

14- Is guest parking available? Is it included in the price? Most couples wouldn’t want their guests paying $50 for parking while they attend your wedding, so add this into the contract if you can. If there is no parking, see if there is a recommended shuttle service.

15- Are taxes, fees and gratuities included in the final quote? Don’t let the vendor slip in extra charges once you have signed the contract.

Hopefully this will be able to help some Brides-To-Be’s out there!

I am not hosting my link-up this week because I am co-hosting with Kristyn and some other lovely Wedding Wednesday Bloggers. I have loved following along with Kristyn’s Wedding posts and really enjoy her blog, Chits and Giggles. If you don’t already follow her blog I suggest you check it out!

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Hopes & Plans {Wanderlust}

wanderlust link-up

First let me say I am loving the idea of a themed Hopes & Plans to talk about my Travel Bucket List! I have posted about this before, but it is always fun to talk about it again, and a few of my destinations have changed a bit. My list is endless, so I figured I would share my top 7 places outside of the US today, and then next week (since the Hopes & Plans link-up is becoming a monthly thing, I will share my top 7 within the US).

dublin

Dublin, Ireland- I have some Irish heritage in my family, so that is one of the main reasons, but in general I would love to soak in all of the history in Ireland. I want to stroll through the castles, drink for a few hours in a pub, hear stories being told is adorable Irish accents, and see places I could only imagine in my dreams. Every photo of Ireland looks magical, and the movies portray it as a fairytale land. I would love to experience that first hand.

venice

Venice, Italy- Luckily, I will be spending 3 days in Venice next summer during my honeymoon, but until that day arrives it will continue to be on my bucket list. I can’t wait for the canals, romance, history, food, wine, and everything in between. I want to wander the streets until it’s dark and wish I could live in a place as beautiful as (anywhere) in Europe.

bali

Bali (Thank you, Eat, Pray, Love)- Have you watched Eat, Pray, Love? If not- I highly recommend it, if you have, I am almost 100% sure you want to go to Bali now too. has such a life changing experience while she is there. I want to learn about the culture, soak in the sun, and eat foods I would have never thought about trying. A room over the water would be an added bonus.

sydney

Sydney, Australia- Australia has been on my bucket list since I was 7 years old. Then the Real World went there and I just about died. The beaches, people, accents (can ya tell I have a thing for accents?), animals (minus the spiders-eeek!), food, etc all seem amazing. It is also pretty cool that the seasons are opposite ours, so for the first time ever I could have a pool party for my birthday.

blue lagoon

Iceland- A few of my friends have taken trips to Iceland and it looks amazing! It also helps that Kaelene from Unlocking KiKi shares so many wonderful stories from her expat life there. One day I will visit The Blue Lagoon, waterfalls, and explore Reykjavik.

tok

Tokyo, Japan- Tokyo is one of Dave’s top destinations and since talking to him about it, it has become one of mine as well. He wants to experience it for the cars, but I want to visit for the nonstop happenings. The photos make it seem like New York City to another level. I also wouldn’t mind having Japanese food everyday all day.

What is on your Travel bucket list?

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Wedding Wednesday {Guest List}

The time has come where we needed to finally get our absolute final guest list together. Dave and I both have large families, which means right off the bat our guest list is pretty large. It also doesn’t help that we work for a small(ish) company, so it is easy for us to be friends with everyone we see everyday. We had just started the list and were at 100, so we started going a little bit slower.

I have always been very close with my grandparents group of friends, and they have been there for every big moment in my life, so of course I want them there. Dave is also close with all of the adults from his childhood neighborhood, so he wants them there. These cases just seemed to be never ending. In the end we had to sit down and really decide who we would be upset to not have attend the wedding, and made our list based on that.

Luckily, we know our caterer and the venue doesn’t limit the number of guests so we could invite as many people as we wanted, but still keeping rentals in mind. Our guest list is now finalized around 200 people, but we are happy that most of our friends and family will have the opportunity to share in our big day.

The reason we needed to finalize our guest list is because we plan on sending out Save-The-Dates this weekend! Yay! I can’t wait to show you all what we are sending out. For now, here are some more of our amazing Engagement photos by Bulldogs and Cupcakes Photography. Spending the wee hours of the morning on a beautiful beach with my best friend was amazing. It was even better that Leah was a dream to work with, I can’t wait to have her around for more of our big moments.

Beach 3 Beach 2 Beach 1

Beach 5 Beach 4beach 7Beach 6
Have some planning tips to share? Photos from the big day? Link-up and lets see it!

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Hopes & Plans

How it it Tuesday already? Being away since November 1st really has all of my days messed up. I am currently happy to be in my office back to work as normal, yet trying to remember where I left off 11 days ago. First of all, I would like to thank our Veterans for fighting for our freedom. Please go enjoy all of the free things you are able to get today, take a day off of work, and enjoy your family. I wish everyday was a day for Veterans to be remembered and pampered, out of everyone, they deserve it!

Now that the important stuff has been mentioned, onto my longgg weekend. I love when weekends last forever, but this one seemed to last forever because of all of the coworker bonding, and festivities that occurred. As most of you know I spent last week in San Francisco (I will be recapping this soon!) and was off to Jacksonville, Florida over the weekend (I will be recapping this area soon enough). It was wonderful to have most of our staff together to hang out for a few days and we were able to do some fun activities.

We went to the Autobahn Raceway which has go-carts that go up to 50 mph, that is super fast for a tiny cart made of medal. We all had so much fun, and I would highly recommend this to any team of people. It was really nice meeting the spouses of all of my coworkers and just hanging out with everyone away from the madness of Baltimore. It was also great to be able to wakeup right next to the beach every morning.

After the busyness of the last few days I am very ready to share some new things about my life and get back on this blogging train. I am going to spend this week preparing a post schedule and taking some photos, and then it is ON for the next few months. I will still be taking part in the Hopes & Plans link-up and Wedding Wednesday, but there will likely not be another post until next week after Wednesday.

This week-

1. Get a post plan together. I want to consistently post about things that will interest more people, so what would YOU like to hear about? I want to know more about my readers, maybe a survey will be soon?

2. Make some blog changes design wise. I really would love to get a better design for my blog, which also means paying for a self-hosted WordPress page. I will need to find an extra $99 but I think it will be worth it. If anyone has suggestions about this, please send them my way.

3. Get my interior design skills ready for the next big step for Dave and I! More about this next week.

 

I am SO excited to share my Travel Bucket List with everyone for this link-up next week, and to start taking part on a monthly basis with larger goals!

One Lovely Blog Award

On Wednesday I was nominated by a Fellow Maryland Lover, Laura from The Life We’ve Imagined. I have been following Laura for a while now, and I love reading about all of the Baltimore activities she does, her vacations and everything in between. Thank you so much for the nomination!

I have seen many blog awards around here and while all of them are neat, but this one is different because it isn’t just about answering questions, it’s about sharing 7 facts about yourself. This is a fun way to get to know the bloggers you follow, stumble upon or find through these nominations!

One Lovely Blog Award

So here it goes:

One Lovely Blog Award

1. The three jobs I have really wanted throughout my life were Chef, Marine Biologist and Wedding Planner. I was in Culinary school in High School for 3 years and realized it wasn’t for me, I actually hate cooking now. I still would love to be a Marine Biologist but I would have had to go far away for college and I wasn’t ready for that. I am slowly on the road to being a Wedding Planner so I can’t wait for that!

2. I was homeschooled from 1st-7th grade, and no I am not a hermit. It is so surprising to people when they find out since I am pretty social, but I had plenty of interaction with other kids.

3. I played softball for 13 years, danced for 10 years and was in Girl Scouts for 13 years. I loved all of them, but wish I would have stuck with Dancing instead of Girl Scouts, the schedules just didn’t work out right.

4. My favorite show of all time was Friday Night Lights. #ClearEyesFullHeartsCantLose. My second favorite was probably One Tree Hill. I could watch both of them over and over.

5. Two of my obsessions are the Baltimore Ravens and Sharks (if you have followed me for a while though you probably already knew that). I would decorate my entire house in purple, black and sharks if Dave would let me.

6. I never ever liked cats. Actually, I hated them. Then when I laid eyes on SharkBait, I couldn’t help myself but fall in love with her cute little face. She is a pest at times but I can’t imagine her not being around the house.

7. Avocados are my favorite food ever. I could and would eat them on just about anything. Have you ever heard or watched the subway commercial with the women going back and forth about loving Avocados more than the other? Well I could have easily been one of them.

Yay! I made it to 7 facts about me, now it’s time for me to nominate a few of my lovely blogger friends. Join in if you want, ladies! :)

1. Vivian from VivanStoneXO

2. Lisa from Lisa Loves John

3. Kate from Relokate

 

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