Advent has been huge for us. This practice is about finding the stillness in this season, living in the tension between the coming of the Messiah as a baby and the advent of his coming again. It is so easy to miss the thread of spirituality in all the celebration, so at the end of each day, Ben and I meet at our dining table, light the candles, and read from The Art of Simple’s “Simple Advent Guide”. The guide provides a reading, question to consider, and a suggested song from the playlist linked below. This time has been so meaningful for us. We draw near to Jesus as a little family everyday and it is priceless.
2. Real Trees
Having a real tree in the home for Christmas has been a value for both of our families so we went to Saum’s tree farm this year to cut down our own. I choose to decorate with sentimental ornaments instead of perfectly matchy and it stands in our living room as a representation of where we’ve come from and where we are now. Plus, the smell!!!
3. Elf on the Shelf!
Last week, I came home from school and told Ben about my third graders announcing that their elves had come over Thanksgiving weekend. He could tell how excited I was for them so HE GOT US OUR OWN ELF! He moves it every morning because I hop out of bed SO excited to see where Buddy has moved. Ben is basically a saint. Here are some of the sweet places I’ve found Buddy this week!
4. Christmas Eve Letters
On Christmas Eve, before I turn in with my siblings for our annual sleepover, Ben and I have decided to take a minute to ourselves under my family’s tree to trade letters. We are going to write about the biggest lesson we learned during our year together and our most treasured memory. Someday, when years have gone by, I know these will remind us so much of who we were in our first years.
What are your couple traditions for this season? How do you make the season special for your little family of two?
Black Friday Steals
This year I'm online Black Friday shopping for the very first time! The deals are so good that it can be overwhelming! So I'm breaking it down for you.
First off all there are two gift guides you need to plan around. The Sorta Awesome Gift Guide gives some pracitcal ideas for gifts that also give back to the community. If you want your gifting dollars to be doing some good for others this year, this is a great guide to follow.
Living with Landyn's gift guide is also a go to for me because of her incredible taste and o how specific her choices are! She has guides from fathers-in-law to tween girls and it's pretty perfect. The price point is a bit higher so these might be good for inspiration. Landyn also has a Black Friday guide that I'm super excited about. Both are linked below.
For Black Friday shopping, there are two companies in particular that I am SO excited about! Their products make perfect and thoughtful gifts and they help support small businesses (Small Business Saturday is this week!) I've linked to their shops below but you should sign up for the newsletter or follow them on Instagram to get the best discounts.
Last year I wrote a post on how to do your Christmas cards on the cheap (linked below) and this year after a lot of pricing, I found that the best deal is a Vistaprint. We ordered 100 5x7 full color photo cards and envelopes for about $65. That was only possible because of the Black Friday weekend deal though, so if you want it, go snag it up! They make the design process super easy so it shouldn't take you long to link it together.
Our Christmas shoot this year is from our go-to photographer, Cassidy Dawn Photography. We ALWAYS love her work and this year was no exception!
Well it has certainly been a minute and SO MUCH has happened. Here is a quick and dirty update on everything that has gone on around here in the last few months.
We've been married for two years now (look how precious) and we've moved to a new apartment, praise the Lord (and look how decked out for fall)! My sister graduated and is living in Columbus so dreams do come true, we went to Disney (it was as magical as I knew it would be), and we went back to Virginia Beach (and stayed in this darling beach house). My girlfriends and I went to Nashville and met my favorite person on this planet (Annie F. Downs!!!!), I moved to Olentangy to teach music and I love it with all my heart, and I started grad school at OSU that is kicking my butt and one of the best parts of my life. I went to El Salvador on a mission trip that changed everything for me, and here we are in fall, on our way toward the holidays and taking stock of how very much there is to be thankful for. SO as soon as you get through this little photo album collecting down here we'll get started on my favorite new things of fall 2017!
1. Apples apples apples
The neighbor closest to my parents' house is about a quarter mile down the road and has a whole front yard full of apple trees. When we all went on a walk after dinner the other night he stopped us at the end of his driveway with grocery sacks and asked us to take as many apples as we could carry. So ever since, both drawers of my fridge and my whole fruit basket have been overflowing with apples. I've been using them in my decorating to try and find some use for them all. So finally, I cracked out my crock pot and make some homemade apple butter! I've been canning it and bringing some extra cans with cute labels as housewarming gifts all fall! Here is the link to the recipe I used, and can I just say that I think it's probably the best.
2. Pumpkin Patch Photo Shoots
Last weekend we gathered each of my siblings and a mess of our friends together for a big fall themed weekend, and the highlight was (and always is) our annual trip to the pumpkin patch for a photo shoot. Every family needs to get on this! It's free, it's adorable, and your adult children keep on coming back for it because apparently everyone can get behind posing for cute pictures when there are pumpkins in the background.
3. This Album is Everything
Ben and I are coming up on one whole year married! Because our summer schedules are crazy, we decided to celebrate early and spent last weekend exploring Nashville!
After what we felt was the perfect trip and having fallen completely in love with the city (as in liked it so much we briefly considered actually moving) we have a few favorites to share.
We woke up stupid early on Saturday morning with a looong list of places we hoped to visit in just one day. To get our coffee fix we headed straight for Crema, a super hipster third wave coffee shop in the SoBro neighborhood. Ben had a drip coffee and I tried their latte and both were amazing. Unfortunately it rained literally the entire day so we couldn’t enjoy the patio with a stunning view of the city - so that’s definitely on our list for next time.
After coffee we drove to 12 South to try a world famous 5 Daughters donut. I don’t have enough words for how charming the decor was and how mind-blowing the vanilla buttercream stuffed maple glazed donut was. You absolutely cannot miss this one.
So about 12 South - we were chatting with friends to get recommendations and they suggested that we stick to 12 South for shopping because it’s less touristy and I’m SO thankful we got that advice! The neighborhood is absolutely enchanting and Ben and I squeezed in a walk through some of the residential neighborhood to marvel at the gorgeous homes before it started pouring on us. To get out of the rain we ducked inside The Frothy Monkey. They had an adorable spiral staircase and a Caramel Coconut Latte that looked incredible so even though they were way too packed with people avoiding the storm this time, we are definitely stopping here for coffee on our next visit.
To wrap up our time in 12 South I almost gave Ben a heartattack when I literally jumped for joy over unexpectedly finding a Draper James (Reese Witherspoon's to-die-for Southern clothing store) and a Sprinkles ATM! I carried around a free sweet tea and dreamed about decorating our new apartment with floor to ceiling Draper James and Ben agonized over his cupcake decision before settling on the Salted Caramel (which of course he loved).
After dropping by the Farmer’s Market and doing some quick shopping downtown, we took a 30 minute drive out to Franklin, TN. We had heard it had a busy and precious downtown and that was the understatement of the century. The down was the perfect vision of a tight knit small community and the bustling local shops were chock full of one a kind finds. We found a store packed with all the southern brands that Ben loves to wear and we spent way too much money on t-shirts from Southern Shirt and Patagonia. We stumbled upon a shop called Imago Dei (in the image of God) that touched my heart in every way. The sweet poster below was posted on their wall.
After the rain caught up with us in Franklin we drove back to Nashville and into the neighborhood of East Nashville. We stopped for a bourbon at Holland House while we dried off and waited for our table at The Pharmacy next door. We waited over an hour for our table at Pharmacy and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t say this kind of thing lightly. This was the BEST burger I have ever had. It lived up to the hype and then some. I had The Cheeseburger with a turkey burger and caramelized onions with sweet potato fries. It was such a filling lunch that we never got around to getting dinner!
After lunch we were feeling pretty exhausted and drove back downtown to check out Pinewood Social. This is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited and I would LOVE to see something like this here in Columbus! It’s a pool/bowling alley/bar/restaurant/lounge that serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee, and cocktails. It is a little bit of everything done so well. I got a scrumptious mocha and Ben had a citrus coffee soda that was surprisingly not gross! This was the most relaxing stop! I definitely recommend it!
Finally we drove into Hillsboro to visit Parnassus Books! This adorable bookstore is owned by Ann Patchett! She is a brilliant novelist and owns a bookstore chock full of beautiful books and literature. The shop is guarded by the sweetest little patrol puppies that make the whole experience that much better. After dropping by the iconic lobby of the Hermitage Hotel pictured below we popped by our hotel for a nap and a change of clothes before getting ready to go back out for the night!
When we headed back out for downtown that night it was around 1am and we went straight for 1920’s speakeasy: The Patterson House, where the cocktails are crafted by mixologists right in front of your table and cost an arm and a leg. The decor was so classic and luxurious and the atmosphere made you feel like you were sitting in a movie scene, but after spending $13 each on two tiny cocktails we were very ready to get back into the live music scene and save our money!
We dropped by Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge intending to hop from bar to bar but the band playing on the 2nd floor was so good and the dancing so fun that we ended up settling in for the rest of the night listening to Old Crow Medicine Show and making new friends.
Ben had a meeting back home around 6 so we knew we would only have time on Sunday for a quick breakfast. We were so stressed out over all the good choices but we finally settled on The Pancake Pantry and were SO happy we did!
I had sweet potato pancakes with maple cream syrup with the dark chocolate chip pancakes and thought they were just perfect. Ben had the Farmer’s Breakfast and called it the very best breakfast he has ever had. We are pretty obsessed with getting a brunch in every weekend so that is high praise.
I hope this quick and dirty runthrough of our favorite stops in our whirlwind tour of Nashville inspires you to spend your weekend getting to know this beautiful and welcoming city. On our next trip we are hoping to catch a show at The Bluebird Cafe, a concert at the Ryman, visit the Grand Ole Opry Land Hotel, and take a tour of the Belle Meade Plantation. Do you have any favorites that didn’t show up on our list? Comment below to give us your recommendations!
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, second year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."