Friday, February 14, 2014

Letters to My Husband

Happy Valentines Day!

Today seems like the right day to share one of my favorite wedding projects.

I know that a lot of couples share letters with each other on the morning of their wedding. I also have known a few girls who have kept journals where they wrote letters to their future husbands in the years before they knew who he was. While I like aspects of both ideas, when I knew Brandon was "the one" I decided to start keeping a journal for him that would end with a letter written to him on the day of our wedding. 

The first letter.

This became one of my favorite wedding projects. I started the journal in early December 2012 and the last letter was written on the day before our wedding. I sent the journal home with him after our wedding rehearsal with strict instructions not to read it until the next morning. The book was mostly made up of letters I wrote, but also favorite bible verses, quotes, song lyrics, etc. 

I'm the first to admit that I'm not a very good secret keeper - and this was one that was VERY hard for me to keep! But it was totally worth it.

I had a lot of fun collecting quotes, marriage advice, etc.

Brandon brought the notebook on our honeymoon and it was so sweet to see him read it during our first week as husband and wife. While most of the notebook contains memories or things we had already talked about, I also spent time reflecting on different issues or events that had happened, writing down my hopes and plans for our future, and simply putting into words all the things I love about him. 

Of course I had to sneak a little Downton in there! (Although this season is starting to lose my interest...)

While I would argue that saying such things in person is always the best, I know we will both treasure this journal for years to come because it captures a very special year of our lives - as it starts only about 6 weeks after we started dating and goes through our engagement, his move to Michigan, wedding planning, and our last moments of "singlehood."

I am so blessed to be the wife of such an incredible man! 
Here is to the first of many Valentines Days together!

Wedding day letter!

The last page of the journal.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

I am loving this season of married life! My mom was teasing me the other day that she thinks I was born to be a wife...I'm pretty much sure she is dead on :) Not only do I love my man, but I love these days of continuing to learn more about one another, figuring out how to live together, and setting up routines and schedules.

One of the things that has been a huge help to me has been meal planning. I hate actually doing it, but it has made our weekday lives flow so much smoother. With both of us working full time we've found meal planning to be one of the keys to maximizing our evening time together and ensuring we are eating healthy.

Last August we both decided to cut as many processed and high preservative foods out of our diets as possible. It was a challenge for both of us, but especially Brandon who was living on his own and used to the convenience of highly processed and prepared foods. Six months later I've learned to really expand my cooking skills, and meal planning helps ensure we are eating natural, whole foods about 90% of the time (we are still working on breakfasts....). One of our biggest changes has been making whatever we can from scratch - breads, tortillas, salad dressings, etc.

Here is what this week looks like for us:

Breakfasts (like I said, this is where we are working on improving, we are also both creatures of habit and convenience in this area):
  • Brandon: Protein Bars, Smoothies, Kashi Breakfast Cookies
  • Me: Instant Oatmeal, Cereal, Fruit
  • Weekends: Eggs, Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
  • Brandon: Leftovers (he loves leftovers which is perfect when you are only cooking for 2!)
  • Me: I make a big batch of soup on the weekend and will take that a few days a week or a salad with beans, homemade bread, and veggies/fruit
  • Saturday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Steamed Broccoli and Carrots
  • Sunday: Dinner with Mom and Dad
  • Monday: Chicken Fried Rice, Zucchini
  • Tuesday: Italian Sausage Soup, Whole Wheat Bread, Salad with homemade dressing
  • Wednesday: Baked Sweet Potatoes stuffed with chicken, zucchini, squash, and red onion, green beans
  • Thursday: Cheese and Black Bean Quesadillas on Whole Wheat Tortillas, salad
  • Friday: (Brandon's birthday dinner with my extended family) White Chicken Chili, salad, bread
Clearly I have a favorite recipe site right now :) What are some of your favorite meals? 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Free Body Image Webinar!

recently began sitting on the board of a non-profit group I feel very strongly about. The group was established to provide hope, networking, and financial aid to those seeking treatment and freedom from eating disorders.

The Kirsten Haglund Foundation was founded several years ago after my friend Kirsten spent the year 2008 as Miss. America with a platform emphasizing eating disorder awareness and treatment.  Kirsten and I were both diagnosed with anorexia within a year of each other and she has been one of my biggest confidants and encouragers.

Today Kirsten is giving a free webinar on "Love Your Body, Rock the World." Although the foundation seeks to reach those in the secular world as well, Kirsten's faith played a tremendous role in her road to recovery and the woman she is today.

If you are interested, the webinar is available at: 
12:00pm CST //  Click here to watch:

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Wedding Lifesaver

While I hope I won’t bore you too much, be prepared for several wedding-related posts over the next few months. Lets face it, I had so much fun planning and preparing that I can’t just walk away from the day without sharing a few tips and favorites! And the photographer won’t have our professional pictures ready for at least another two weeks....

So for today, here is my #1 lifesaving wedding tip. Have a wedding coordinator.

Don’t be confused, I don’t necessarily mean a wedding planner, or even a professional. I mean a friend, a relative, someone who can be your right-hand lady on the wedding day to make sure everything is properly executed and flows smoothly.

I had known several brides who shared with me that their biggest frustration on their wedding day was that they got caught up in the little details - people asking them about last minute changes, making sure thing A got moved from location 1 to location 2, making sure Jimmy was in the right spot, etc. It distracted them from enjoying their wedding day and being able to spend time with their guests.

Now, if you are a totally easy-going bride who could care less where Jimmy stands or whether or not 10 people are calling you on your wedding day asking last minute questions, then please go ahead and ignore this post. However, I know myself. Like it or not I have a strong type-A personality and love for things to be organized. I knew that if I wanted to be able to fully relax and enjoy my wedding, I needed to know that another capable person was in charge.

Enter Amanda. Friends since middle-school, Amanda is perhaps even more organized then I am (maybe). She has known me for years and knows my preferences and how I tend to operate. Added bonus = she has experience with event planning and is the secretary at the church where Brandon and I got married.

Amanda and I met a few times in the months leading up to the wedding and the week before the wedding I gave her all of my master lists:

- The set-up for the reception hall

- The seating chart

- The ceremony program

- All of our wedding party's and vendor’s contact numbers

On the wedding day, Amanda was my go-to contact person. Everyone had her cell phone number and I left my phone at home! Among other things, she and her husband did all of the transportation of the items we wanted moved from the church to the reception hall, and were the first ones to arrive at the reception to make sure everything was set-up the way I had imagined (although we had a great coordinator assigned to us by the hall, I wanted someone who really knew what I was thinking to double check things).

The end result was amazing. I had several people tell me the day of that they could not believe how relaxed I was - and it was the truth! Thanks to some serious preparation, after the wedding rehearsal I was able to place everything in Amanda’s hands and just enjoy the day!