Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Countdown to '09

I can't believe another year has already come and gone! 2008 definitely brought amazing memories, huge milestones, and lots of good times. Here are some of the most memorable:
  • We got to see snow in Atlanta in January
  • Ryan started at a new firm in March
  • My mom had a clean bill of health at her first annual post-op exam in April (and all of the others in between)
  • I moved into Ryan's house in early May after renting out my condo
  • I started a new job in late May after a brief hiatus
  • A bunch of wonderful girls joined me in Cape Cod for my bachelorette trip in June
  • And just in case you didn't know...Ryan and I got married in October!

In between, there were a bunch of weddings, births and other exciting events for our friends and family. It was a big year for us! I am so glad we were able to share in all of these memories together, and I am excited to see what 2009 has in store!

Happy New Year!


Family Christmas, part three

I'm doing a little bit of catch-up since it's already New Year's Eve, but I couldn't leave the rest of our Christmas out out the blog.

We drove up to Atlanta last Monday to begin our Christmas break and got into town in record time - only 6 hours and 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I have had a cold for the last week and a half, so it was a rather sniffly visit (one of my sisters was also sick) but still relaxing. Ryan and I both had to work on Tuesday, so I just logged in from my parent's house and worked on some projects to pass the day. Then we went over to Kelly and Lincoln's house for a delicious tortellini soup dinner (thanks to Alex, the chef in the family) and some quality "Pass the Pigs" game time.
For Christmas Eve, my dad, Lincoln, Ryan and I hit the courts for a mean tennis match and I am proud to say my dad and I won! It felt good to be running around since I haven't been back to the gym since the wedding (oops). Then we got all dressed up and went to Mt. Pisgah for Christmas Eve service. Once we got back home, we played "sets and runs", a card game passed down from my Italian relatives, while dinner was prepared. We had our traditional shrimp and pesto pasta, a Christmas Eve staple for the past 14 years (which we discovered in my mom's 'Christmas Memories' book). Then it was present time. We typically give all of the sibling gifts that night so Christmas morning is left to whatever Santa brings. We also get a new pair of pajamas to sleep in that night, which has also been a tradition since I can remember. I was so glad Ryan got to take part in all of our little traditions for the first time!
On Christmas day, we waited for Kelly and Lincoln to drive back from their house before spending a long, lazy morning opening gifts. We took a break for our yummy egg souffle and blue berry muffins (with the crumbly topping), also a tradition, before finishing up. Everyone was very generous and I received so many lovely things! My new hubby bought me the iPhone and his gift was a new flat screen TV for the bedroom, so it was a techie Christmas for each of us.
After the gift giving, the boys wanted a rematch so my dad and I took to the courts again and, again, beat them in a close match.

After we got back home and cleaned up, my aunt, uncle and cousin came over for dinner and to hang out. Our Christmas dinner is something I look forward to every year - beef tenderloin stuffed with spinach and red peppers with twice baked potatoes. Yum! Alex spent the two days before creating a masterpiece of a cake, which we all enjoyed for dessert along with homemade cheesecake. Needless to say, I was stuffed!

After spending the day after Christmas hanging out and relaxing, we got all packed up and drove back to Orlando on Saturday. It was a wonderful holiday, the perfect first Christmas, and I loved sharing it with the people I love most!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family Christmas, parts one and two

Before heading to Atlanta, we celebrated Christmas with Ryan's side of the family on Sunday. We had his dad, dad's wife Beth, Grandma and sister over for a holiday lunch - sort of. It was probably in the 80s and we grilled burgers and hotdogs, so it wasn't the most festive meal but it was still very nice to have everyone over and to visit for an afternoon. We exchanged gifts and his dad and Beth got us a whole rack full of wine. It is definitely appreciated and will go to good use! Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from the day because Beth was the one taking pictures, so I will have to post them when I get them from her.
That evening, we went over to his mom's house to be with his mom, brother and sister. We ate a delicious lasagna for our holiday dinner. It's so different from my family's traditional recipe, but it's so good! We brought the Merry Mojitos and salad from our party earlier in the week to round out the meal. After dinner, we gathered around the tree and exchanged gifts again. "Santa" was very generous and we both got some nice clothes and I got an adorable snowman cookie jar and stuffed snowman to display with the rest of my collection.
It was the perfect start to our holiday week and we are both looking forward to celebrating our first married Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family up in Atlanta.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas dinner party

I was very excited to host a real, grown-up dinner party at our house last night. We invited some close friends over to begin a great holiday tradition and had a total of 10 folks that squeezed around our dining room table. We actually brought in another table to fit everyone, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting the house all spruced up for the company. It was fun to use so many wedding gifts, too!
Everyone offered to pitch in so I asked them to each bring either an appetizer or dessert and that we'd provide the main course. It worked out perfectly and we had some great food! We served a delicious Honey Baked Ham with potato casserole, spinach salad, asparagus and a mainstay in our family - cheese rolls. Since pomegranates are in season, I took full advantage and used them to make our salad Christmas themed.
We also offered a holiday beverage...the Merry Mojito! It was yummy - Bacardi Mojito mixed with club soda and pomegranate juice. There was a small bowl of mint leaves and pomegranate seeds for people to garnish as they pleased. They turned out so pretty and very festive!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

We went to the Morgan & Morgan (no relation) holiday party last night and had a blast! It was held at the Rosen Center down on International Drive and because of the event, they offered discounted rates on the hotel rooms so we took advantage and spent the night out there. It was great not to have to worry about driving home after all the fun - we just went right upstairs to our room.
They had delicious food in two buffets and some yummy desserts, not to mention an open bar, DJ and dance floor. I partied out on the dance floor with some of the other wives while the guys all hung out. There is always great people watching at firm events and last night did not dissapoint. I'm just bummed I didn't catch any pictures of our entertainment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The big reveal!

Ryan was out of town this weekend to witness the Gators win another SEC Champhionship (yuck) so I thought a little home improvement project would surprise him when he got home. I always underestimate the enormous amount of work involved in home projects...maybe because those shows always make everything look so easy!

I started bright and early Saturday morning and headed to Home Depot for some supplies. When I got home, I sanded down the door in the kitchen that leads to the garage and painted a layer of Kilz to tone down the olive brown color. I also tested a small square of the green paint I bought and thought it looked good. After a short break to watch the game, I went back to work all night and got two walls almost totally painted.

I woke up the next morning and hated the color. It was so much brighter than I thought and way too intense. So back to Home Depot I went for more choices and supplies. I get really frustrated with choosing paint, since it never looks like what the tiny paint chip shows, so I ended up finding a green that was similar to the gray we already had in there...same color family, just a different tint. After testing it and one other color, I finally settled on a lighter sagey green, used that little quart up and went back for the third time to get some more paint. I was up till almost 11:30 painting and cleaning up my mess, trying to get things back in order before the hubby got home today.
He landed from Atlanta and I was sure he wouldn't want to go into the office but he did. Just to be safe, I left work early and worked from home for the afternoon in anticipation of him coming home early. No such luck...But when I heard the garage opening I ran to the kitchen and hid to surprise him. It was so funny to watch him in one of the mirrors as he walked through the door and it registered. I don't think he was expecting it and it might have even confused him a bit.
And the end result? Ta-da!
Honestly, the color is so similar to what we already had, just more green than gray, but you can barely even tell in the photos!
I have to say, it's not finished but I am quite proud that I pulled the whole "While You Were Out" surprise on Ryan. I finished all of the walls and got at least one layer of primer on all the trim so it looks pretty put together. And he says he likes it, so it was a successful home improvement. Just remind me the next time I say I am going to take on a "small" project how much harder it really is to accomplish! I am totally beat!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Okay, I tried to spice up the blog background with a seasonal theme and I hate it but I can't get it back to how it was...I'll have to work on this over the weekend.

and now I just deleted it all together. Bummer.

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

We got our tree on Wednesday night and set it up in the foyer (after having to move the couch that had taken residence there since I moved in last April). The guy at Home Depot where we got it told us to feed it Sprite or 7-Up so we mixed some Sprite Zero with a pitcher of water and are hoping that it likes it!
After letting the branches fall over night, we spent last night stringing the lights and putting up all of our ornaments. I definitely have a snowman theme going with what I have collected through the years, but I also have tried to accumulate some "keepsake" type of ornaments that remind me of the ones we loved so much growing up. My sisters and I actually used to play with some of them like they were dolls (a nutcracker and ballerina, in particular) so I wanted our kids to have that option, too. I'll take more pictures of my favorite ones, but here is how it turned out:
It has a great shape and almost touches the ceiling...oops!I realized taking this that the lights are a bit uneven...I'll have to fix that later.

I am so excited that Hairy Dog finally has a tree to be displayed on. Of course, Ryan has a glass ball Gator ornament but we don't need to show a photo of that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving (part two)...a little delayed

Our trip to Atlanta for Thanskgiving was a great time with family and friends. We arrived just in time for dinner on Wednesday night after making the drive up. The rest of the weekend was filled with basically the same I love Thanksgiving! We had the holiday dinner at my aunt's house and as usual the pups stole the show while we all played with them in the chilly backyard. It is always fun to see my niece and nephew Jack Russels, as crazy as they are.

Westin and Tessa, asleep on my lap after a long day of playing.
Ryan and I actually ventured to the outlets on Friday to see what deals there were to be had and to use up some wedding gift cards. I am very pleased with my purchases of green berry sprigs and Euro pillow shams. Man, I must be getting old if that kind of stuff excites me.

The little green berries remind me of the floral arrangements at the wedding.
We had dinner at close family friends that night and hung around catching up since the wedding. Saturday was filled with football watching and although my bulldogs did disappoint, I still love them. We wrapped things up with drinks on Saturday night with good friends and then woke up (fairly) early Sunday for the miserable drive back. It took almost 9 and a half hours to make it when it should really take 6 and a half, so you can imagine our delite. At least we made it home safely! Now it's on to the next holiday and getting the house ready for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving, part one

We just finished hosting Ryan's mom, brother and sister for Thanksgiving dinner (part one). We had a delicious Honey Baked Ham, green bean casserole, potato casserole, broccoli, and stuffing with an apple cobbler for dessert. I am stuffed! We got to use all of our new china and stemware for the occassion and I was so into our "tablescape" that I had to take photos of it. For the flowers, I decided it was more economical to buy a plant at Publix versus an overpriced bouquet, so I just cut a bunch of stems from it and put it in one of our new PB square vases (thanks Meg!). I thought that was pretty clever.

We are off to Atlanta tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving (part two) with my family. I am looking forward to the time at home and seeing everyone up there. If I don't post for a few days, have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving and remember all that we have to be thankful for this year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So thankful!

One of my blogging sisters, Kelly, tagged me to list the "7 things I am thankful for" after she put a little twist on the "7 things you don't know about me" list. Well, one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that my family sits down to a delicious dinner and then goes around the table and lists what we are thankful for, using each letter of the alphabet. So to put my own spin on the list, here is my alphabet of thankfulness.

I am so thankful for...

A - art, and all the ways to express creativity through it.

B - brunch because it takes my least favorite meal (lunch) and replaces it with my favorite (breakfast)...yum!

C - cold weather, and the unseasonably chilly temps we've been getting here in Florida.

D - dirty arnold palmers (the drink, not the man), thanks to Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade.

E - email, so I can keep in touch with people more easily.

F - family, including my new husband, and how close we are. There are lots of other "f" things I am thankful for (friends, faith) but family definitely tops the list.

G - Georgia Bulldogs!

H - health, and the fact that all of my family members are doing so well, especially my Mom.

I - Italy, and the wonderful memories I have from studying there.

J - my job, because I know how fortunate I am to have one.

K - knowledge, and being able to learn something new every day.

L - lobster bisque, because it is such a luxury to order out.

M - the Morgan family, who have welcomed me as one of their own even before I was officially a Morgan myself.

N - the Nathan family, because I will always be a Nathan deep-down.

O - October 18, my wedding date.

P - the pups, and having them all recognize me each time I come home.

Q - quirks, because I know I have a lot of them.

R - Real Simple magazine.

S - sisters, both family and sorority.

T - Top Chef, Top Design and all those other great Bravo reality series.

U - The United States, and the fact that I am lucky to have been born and raised in such an amazing country.

V - Volvos, because they are safe and stylish and I love mine!

W - wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

X - X-mas (I know, that's a stretch)

Y - yogurt. frozen, that is. specifically, Publix low-fat cookies and cream frozen yogurt.

Z - Zyrtec-D, because without it my allergies would be out of control.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

I have now been married for one month (yesterday) and thought it was about time to recap some of my most favorite little things about the wedding. I honestly loved every part of it, and all of the "big" stuff worked out perfectly and will stand out in my memory forever (or at least I hope) but some of the little things really stand out.When we first got to Hilton Head, my mom surprised us with baskets of customized koozies for all the cold beverages we would enjoy throughout the week. They were the perfect copy of our logo!I had seen letters through my wedding planning and loved the initial statement on the front doors that the wedding was for K and R.I thought my flowers turned out beautifully but what I loved most were the little green berries in the boutonnieres and bouquets for that little pop of green.We had a small wine theme that started at the very beginning of planning. While most of the ideas went away as the paisley theme evolved, we still used wine bottles for the table numbers and I loved how they turned out.Adding to the little bit of wine theme, I found cork votive cups (at West Marine of all places) that were scattered around the whole reception and I made a real corkboard to post the table assignments for the dinner.Our guest book was very special - a collection of photos from Hilton Head that we took, so we could flip back through and remember the island with special messages from our guests. (I actually have yet to see the notes from everyone...the book is still at my parents house so I need to get it at Thanksgiving!)

As silly as I look in this photo, I truly enjoyed when the groomsmen circled around me and started singing "You've lost that loving feeling." Not only did we all get into it, the whole reception circled around us and Ryan popped in to finish singing the song. It was totally impromptu but so much fun!And, finally, our getaway car...lots of special people helped to make the "Just married" sign and beautiful tissue paper flowers that hung off the back of my dad's convertible. There were also corks on some of the flowers and Bud Light cans tied to the back for sound effect. The best part was when we were driving to the Westin under the "tunnel of love" and the cans echoed their clanking announcement of our marriage. I didn't expect it and it was the perfect finishing touch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tis the season

I can't believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means Christmas is right on its heels. I have been very excited about this holiday season since it will be my first as a newlywed! With that comes all sorts of fun things but the one thing I am really excited about is a whole new option for Christmas notes - the joint photo card! And since we just got married, you bet I want to do a photo card with some wedding pics. Most of my photos are on Shutterfly right now, so here are some of the cute designs I have already started perusing. Notice the variety of green and brown-themed perfect! (And no, I don't know any of these people...they are just models from the site.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Heavenly bed

I am fully rested after a wonderful night's sleep in our "new" bed! We received some of our bedding last week from our registry and with the gift cards we got, I finished buying everything we needed for the perfect bed. New pillows, new down comforter (I ended up upgrading to the Hotel Collection and am so glad I did!), new sheets, new duvet and new shams...and ta-da!

Okay, so it's not our real bed, but a pic of the bedding we got from PB. I love the cleanliness of the white with the small touches of icy powder blue. Now, I just need to figure out how to decorate the rest of the room so it all goes together! I am catching up on back episodes of "Top Design" from our DVR to get inspiration.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Honeymooning in St. Lucia

I'm finally caught up to post about our honeymoon!

We left Hilton Head on Sunday after the wedding to drive up to Atlanta and spent the night at my parent's house while they stayed in HHI for an extra day. We got to visit with the pups for a night before heading to the airport first thing in the morning. It was actually pretty smooth getting through security and we thought we could try for an upgrade to first-class but it turned out everyone was on their honeymoon and the flight was packed so no such luck. We also ended up getting delayed because one couple felt the need to bring their dog on the trip but it got lost in a luggage room somewhere in the airport. When they finally got the dog loaded below, we were off.
We touched down in St. Lucia on the lower end of the island and Ryan tried to surprise me by arranging a helicopter ride to the hotel. However, the wait was just as long as the van ride so we decided to hold off and take the resort van on the hour and a half ride. It was very scenic and our driver pointed out all sorts of sights and facts about the island, like how bananas grow - they are St. Lucia's biggest export and grow everywhere!
We got to the resort and they gathered us into the concierge lounge to check-in while the sun set outside. We finally got to our room late in the evening and settled in a bit before heading down to dinner. Once we ate and toured around in the dark, it was time for bed - which turned out to be the story for much of the week! I am not sure if it was the wedding being over or the sun and abundant food (and drinks) but we went to bed really early each night. Other couples toward the end of the week said they experienced the same thing so we joked that they drugged the food.
The only day it rained was Tuesday, but that was fine because we still braved the weather and hung out at the pool bar before heading inside for a nap all afternoon. It was nice to have so much downtime! Wednesday we laid out all morning and got massages in the afternoon. They were nice but my lady was convinced that my skin was severly dehydrated and that I needed to come back for a scrub. I politely declined and decided to exfoliate when I got home (which I still haven't done yet).
We ventured out that night and took the van to one of the sister properties on the island for dinner. It was there that we got to hear Cowboy Eddie sing country music while we ate delicious fajitas. It was just so funny for the restaurant to have entertainment like that, being a tropical island! I was dying to go up and request "Friends in Low Places" to see if he would do it.

On Thursday we went ziplining, which was amazing! We took a van to the rain forest and got suited up in harnesses and helmets. Then we hiked up a bunch of platforms before letting go and zipping through the trees to the next platform. I was terrified at first and thought way too hard before letting go on the first one, but I got the hang of it and really enjoyed the views. The last line was 150' off the ground and was the best one, by far.
Once we got home, we met up with some couples we had befriended at the pool bar and hung out until the sun set. Then we all went to eat at the beach restaurant, still in our bathing suits and cover-ups. I am pretty sure the waitstaff and other tables hated us, because we were quite silly and caused some comotion (some of the boys had been enjoying mimosas all day long). We had fun, though! We then went on to watch the resort entertainment for the dancers, breathers and limbo-ers. It was really cool to watch! After they were done we stuck around for some dancing in the lobby (don't worry - there was a band and it was organized) before hitting the sack.Friday had more laying out and then an evening sunset cruise down the southern coast of the island. I loved it and could have stayed out there all night staring at the stars and rocking on the waves. We had dinner with another group that night, at the English Pub that the resort tried to recreate.
We found a nice secluded pool on Saturday and stole some floats from abandoned lounge chairs to read and float in the water. Then, as silly as it sounds, we headed back to the room to watch some afternoon football games. It was actually nice to relax in the room and cheer on our teams. We spent our last night at dinner just the two of us, and went for our second time to the Italian restaurant on-site.
For one last excursion, we decided to wake up early on Sunday and hike up Pigeon Island, a nearby mountain and historical site. The views were stunning and even though we huffed and puffed the whole way up, it was totally worth it! We only had so much time before we had to go back down again and get ready to go. We finished packing up and took a van back to the airport to catch our plane to Atlanta, and then Orlando. We didn't land until about 12:30 am Monday morning, and thankfully Ryan's mom picked us up from the airport so we didn't have to take a cab.
We were very thankful to have been able to take such an amazing trip. St. Lucia was incredible and definitely the perfect end to a wonderful wedding week! And we are trying our best not to let the honeymoon be over, even though we are back to work and back at home. So far it's great being a newlywed!