September Checklist

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Buh-bye Summer and hello, September! This is my favorite month of the year, rivaled only by December because of our wedding anniversary and Christmas, naturally. I am looking forward to cooler temps, SEC football, tall boots and pumpkin spice everything. Can I get an amen? Here are some of the events and happenings I’m excited to welcome in with open arms this month:

September 4: National Hug Your Boss Day

Yes, you heard it right and this is for real. This will be a lot less awkward if you actually like your boss but if not what a great team-building moment.

September 7: Labor Day

No work! No school! I plan to spend the day with my better half being lazy.

September 10-17: New York Fashion Week

While I won’t be flying to NYC to hit the tents this year, I do plan on wearing my best yoga pants and flipping through Vogues September issue while I watch the shows from my Macbook.

September 8: National Grandparents’ Day

Give your precious grandma or grandpa a call and tell them how much you love them! Brownie points if you send a sweet card via snail mail – correspondence is everything!

September 18: My Birthday

Shameless plug! Gifts not required but I never turn down dark chocolate.

September 20: National Wife Appreciation Day

I thought for sure this was every day but alas, the US of A has deemed the third Sunday in September as the day husbands should step it up.

September 23: The First Day of Fall

This is the day I will allow myself to fully embrace all the pumpkin and cinnamon smells and flavors – pumpkin spice latte anyone? Fingers crossed it will no longer be 90 degrees and I will be able to frolic comfortably in jeans. xo

B’s Movie Guide: War Room

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I love my job. I get to do what I love (publicity) with some incredibly talented women who I respect a great deal (Icon Media Group) and promote books and films that are making this world a better place. Our company has had the honor to work with the talented and just plain nice Kendrick Brothers (Fireproof, Courageous, Facing the Giants) to promote their latest film, War Room that opened on Friday.

I got the chance to see it for the first time a couple months ago at a screening in Orlando and from the first scene I was hooked. I laughed, I cried (of course) and there were about 27 times where I wanted to jump up and say “YES.” It’s just one of those films that leaves you full of hope and reminds you there is good in this world. I won’t ruin the movie by telling you much about the plot but the film shows the power that prayer can have on marriages, families, careers, friendships and every other area of life – if we only use it.

Make no mistake, it’s a straight up prayer rally from beginning to end and will leave you with plenty to think about. Given the broken state this world is in, from politics to the evening news to the MTV VMA’s, we could all use a couple hours devoted to something good and positive and so much bigger than us. Prayer is powerful, and you’ll feel ready to tell the whole world all about it after you’ve seen this movie. So grab a friend, plenty of popcorn and go see what all the fuss is about. xo

P.S. To learn more about how this “faith-based drama became a sleeper hit” read this from Entertainment Weekly.

Fave Five

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[ Lunch at Torchy’s with Emma Grace ]

We were in Houston all week visiting Taylor’s family and more specifically, hanging out with our newest niece, Emma Grace. Little Emma is oh so sweet and loves morning cuddles, pointing her finger while saying “no no” and eating copious amounts of ice. The week was filled to the brim with quality time with family, getting some pool time in and eating plenty of good food.

Last night we flew out of Hobby a few hours past our original departure time, thanks to too many storms in the area, so we were super thankful for Southwest’s funny flight attendants and complimentary Sprites. The best surprise was the welcome wagon with “The Bells” sign waiting for us once we arrived in Nashville – so thankful for sweet new friends who pick you up at the airport after midnight even though there’s a golf tournament bright and early the next day.

This week we’re on the road again, headed to Pigeon Forge for a conference Taylor’s attending. Dad is speaking so that will be fun to hear him and plus, I hear the shopping is pretty excellent. Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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[ When in Texas ]

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[ Hours of entertainment ]

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[ Double date to Mia Bella in Vintage Park ]

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[ Welcome wagon at BNA ]

Real Talk: No More Single vs. Married (Please)

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We’ve all seen them. The articles that poke fun at married women who are labeled as “sublimely unhappy” and “overcompensating” if posting too many pictures of one’s spouse – The Most Annoying Things Married People Do On Facebook – and even more annoying, those that pit single ladies against the married starting in the very title – What Single Women Hate About Married Women. Sure, it’s all in good fun but is it helping anything?

I was single for a solid 27 years before I was ready to meet the right guy and then later tie the knot. To some that was a long time to be stay single, I am Southern after all,  and believe me, I heard it all from “When are you going to finally settle down? to “Enjoy these single days while you have them!” For a while the majority of my girlfriends were also single and we shared the good and the bad of being on our own and embracing life as free agents. When those same girlfriends got married my relationship with them changed, sure, but never once was I made to feel inferior or “less awesome” because they were in a serious relationship with a man and I wasn’t. Honestly it was pretty great to see my friends happy and so in love, which gave me hope that one day God would bless me with a good man. (Insert: Taylor)

As a very new newlywed I read “Why I Refuse to Join the Smug Married Club” thinking maybe there was a list of behaviors I should note and avoid like the plague. Are married women smug? Is that a thing? Is it inevitable that both groups secretly dislike each other simply because of their relationship status? Does something terrible happen to our manners once we add the Mrs.? I’d like to think not and now eight months into marriage I can proudly say I just don’t get it. I have friends who are happily single and happily married. Oh, and I also have friends that have KIDS. Can you believe it? As women, we are always evolving and changing, whether it be chasing the career of your dreams, marrying your best friend, working on your nursery to welcome in a little one or planning that trip to Vegas now that you’re retired. Who says we can’t all be supportive and happy for each other during every season of life?

Maybe I’ll alone in this, I don’t base my friendships on my girlfriend’s relationship or marital status. The guy they’re with – or not – is not why I cherish their friendship. They are supportive, hilarious, fiercely loyal and overall go-getters. We talk about men and relationships from time to time, but there are plenty of other topics — answered prayers, work, trips, where we ate the night before, whatever’s in People, etc. Being in a relationship hasn’t given me some sort of amnesia about being single, nor has my new role of wife made it impossible for my girlfriends to stomach hearing about what’s new with me.

No matter what box you check off to describe your status: single, married, divorced, widowed, or it’s complicated, that alone does not define you. Sometimes being single is awesome, and sometimes it’s not. I’d say the same is true for marriage! I have never been happier than I am today, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love so much about my single days. We’ve gotta stop with the negative and embrace where we are today, in this moment.

Ladies, let’s pull it together and support each other in every season of life. Enough with the team single and team married business – let’s all make the choice to be happy and live full, extraordinary lives. Let’s stop telling ourselves we can’t relate to that friend anymore because we’re in “different phases.” Enough with the silly articles that cause division and try to put us in categories. I pray you’re in love with your life and everyone in it, and not afraid to show it! Happiness is contagious and love is necessary. xo

Fave Five

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[ The most gorgeous Friday morning view ]

This week has been pretty busy so I’m beyond thankful for this lazy Saturday. Our only plans include a round of golf for Taylor and an afternoon manicure for me. It’s so nice to have a morning to drink coffee and stay in our pj’s when usually we’re running to and from at rapid speed. It’s also nice to have a free weekend before we head to Houston for the week to visit Taylor’s mom and everybody.

As I reflect on this past week I can’t help but smile from ear to ear at how blessed we are with this wonderful community that has welcomed us so warmly. Just the other day someone commented how we’ve only been here a couple months and I was like, wait WHAT? Then I realized it has only been two months but how incredible to feel like we’ve been here forever in the best way. God is so good, and I hope your weekend is full of rest, good times with people you love and of course, good eats!

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! xo

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 [ The beauty of starting a new book ]

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[ Sweet welcome-to-the-neighborhood basket from our neighbors down the street ]

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[ Buddy’s love affair with the Today Show continues ]

FullSizeRender[1][ Celebratory Chinese with this handsome guy ]

5 To-Do’s Before We Bid Summer Adieu

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Unofficially summer is coming to a close soon, what with school starting back and Labor Day inching closer and closer.

While I’m not a fan of extreme heat and pesky mosquitos, I still find myself a little sad to see the summer go. Don’t get me wrong, I adore fall – SEC football, boots, pumpkin spice everything! – I usually longingly wish I had taken the time to drink up some of my favorite summer pastimes just one more time before the cooler temperatures take over for good.

So this time, no longingly looking back! Let’s all soak up every last ounce of summer goodness. Let me suggest a few ways we can all savor summer before we bid it adieu until next year:

Spend an afternoon in the water – Cliche I know but truth this we will be missing the blue water and hot pink donut floaties pretty soon. Grab your friends and hit up the lake, river or pool, or in my case friend’s pool, and soak in the sunshine only after you’ve applied plenty of SPF. Safety first.

Pack a picnic basket and spend the night underneath the stars – Taylor and I have become big fans of packing a picnic and heading to the drive-in theatre down the street to watch a double feature while we eat. Whether you choose to go fancy with a killer cheese plate or more casual with honey mustard chicken tenders and spruced up watermelon, there’s just something special about eating outside. Plus, this is the perfect time since it’s just cool enough once the sun goes down!

Buy all the peaches – It is no secret I am a fan of peach anything, so I adore summer since peaches are at their peak. Plus, they’re gorgeous and smell amazing – what’s not to love? Enjoy these last weeks of summer by buying the juiciest peaches and trying some recipes. My favorites include peach, ricotta and mint toast, grilled peaches with pecans, and this classic peach cobbler.

Throw on your favorite sundress and strappy sandals – Soon we’ll be in layers and wearing boots so this is the time to give some of your favorite simple, summer pieces one last hurrah. Appreciate the fact that you don’t need a coat nor do you need socks…or depending on the occasion, shoes!

Take your workout outdoors – Whether it’s a morning walk or a quick round of golf, get outside and get moving. We love to complain about the humidity that overtakes the South during the month of August but it’s a beautiful thing when you can burn so many calories just walking around your neighborhood! Anyone into yoga? I’ve recently taken my morning practice to our back deck and it’s so peaceful to be outdoors while I work on my down dog. xo

Links I’m Loving

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  1. 8 things people decide within seconds of meeting you. (businessinsider.com)
  2. Easy and delicious pie dough – video included to make this super easy. You’ll never buy dough from the store again! (cupcakesandcashmere.com)
  3. The beauty philosophies of French women worth paying attention to. (style.com)
  4. Top misconceptions about Christians. (projectinspired.com)
  5. How to email someone you’ve never met so they’ll actually reply. (apairandasparediy.com)
  6. 5 myths about marriage. (relevant.com)
  7. Is Facebook messing with your self-esteem? (time.com)

Back To School

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How is it already August? I don’t know if it’s the serious heat or the fact that our summer has been jam-packed but it doesn’t feel possible that everyone is going back to school this week! There’s something magical about this time of year, when we lazily say goodbye to summer and hello to the promise of fall. Oh, and am I the only one that loves to walk the school supplies aisles and check out all the latest notebooks and pens? Once a teacher always a teacher, I suppose.

Do you remember how you felt on the first day of school? From grade school to college, I was always so excited to meet my teacher(s) and see my friends, all while sporting a new outfit and monogrammed everything, of course. With a new school year beginning, I’ve thought a lot about how much of an impact teachers had on me over the years. Yesterday in our 20’s & 30’s something’s class at church we all talked about people who have influenced and changed us for the better – would you believe almost every one of us named a teacher?

For me it was Lisa Kee. I knew her most of my life since she went to church with us since I was young, but it wasn’t until I was in her Honors English class in high school that she rocked my world. She stood on tables to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, played loud music and ran around singing at the top of her lungs – all for the sake of a teachable moment. She taught me not to be scared to get creative and always told me to shoot for the moon. She helped me fall in love with writing and taught me to think outside of the box in every aspect of my life. While I cherished her and told her so as often as I could, it’s funny that I never really stopped and thought about the tremendous impact she was having on me until years after I left her classroom and she left this world. She taught me life lessons that went far beyond the classroom, shaping me into the woman I am today and for that, I will always be grateful to her. She holds a very special place in my heart and if I turn out anything like her, I’ll be content.

So to all of the teachers out there, I pray you have a fruitful semester filled with more good days than bad. Remember, you are doing an incredible thing just by doing your thing. Sure, you’re teaching important lessons and grading papers and having grade-level meetings and playing crowd control with all those kiddos but you’re doing so much more. You’re inspiring. You’re leading by example. You’re preparing students for successful careers. You’re pushing students to go further than they’ve ever dared to go before and for some, you’re the constant in a world filled with unreliable people and circumstances. Teachers and principals, you don’t hear it enough but please hear it now – we appreciate you! xo

The Newlywed Life: Comfort & Joy

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Last week I had one of those terrible couple of days that were almost comical based on how many things went south. I was feeling resentful, exhausted, and just over it – I wanted to (at least mentally) crawl under the covers for the rest of the week.

I spilled everything to my husband who is by far one of the greatest, and most patient listeners I have ever know. He listened as I explained every detail through bouts of crocodile tears and when I had said everything (twice, I’m afraid) he said “I love you.” While he began to offer up additional words of encouragement I felt everything shift – I realized I was far too focused on myself. I quickly realized I was throwing a pity party for myself and my husband was nicely trying to bring me back to what is most important. I wasn’t quite ready to forgive myself for the little mistakes I had made, but I knew I needed to kick the negative by bringing in something positive.

I pulled it together and made Taylor dinner with chocolate chip cookies for dessert (just because). We ate our cookies while watching a movie and soon I was laughing the night away. I took the focus off myself and poured all my energies into showing my husband love, and it made me completely forget about everything I had been so upset about hours earlier. It was a nice reminder that focusing on love is the quickest way to get rid of negativity and leave only pure joy. xo

Ten Things

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[ So much excitement over the new floors]

This past week was a little nutty, with both of us busy at work and the floors being installed at the house so we were more than ready for the weekend! Our weekend was busy but full of fun, just as it should be. Friday night Taylor opened the ceremonies at the local Relay For Life event which was special to both of us for so many reasons, and afterwards we went on a date to the local drive-in and saw Jurassic World. Have you seen it? We loved how the movie gave plenty of throwbacks to Jurassic Park, which we both grew up loving, and we felt like we were back in a simpler time as we shared a popcorn and Coke at the drive-in. Buddy and I enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning while Taylor golfed, then we all did a little shopping before having dinner + game night with friends! We rounded off the weekend yesterday with a “meet and greet” held for us at church which was a great time to eat too many sweets and get to know people in the community.

I’m really excited about this coming weekend because Taylor’s mom and younger brother are coming from Houston to visit – YAY! – so you better believe I have Taylor working on a honey-do-list that is growing by the minute. Have a great week! xo

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[ Gorgeous and straight from a local farm ]

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[ Lovely housewarming gift from one of my favorite ladies and new mom]

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[ We get pretty competitive when it comes to corn hole ]

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[ Date night with my love ]

20150618_101126[ Proud wife ]

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[ Name tags + a cute baby named Katie made for a fun afternoon ]

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[ Buddy is easily the most popular family member ]

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[ My handsome guys ]

[ One of my favorite shots of Dad from our wedding, taken shortly after we drove away, in honor of Father’s Day ]