phillip and kelsey do boston – day 2

day two in boston started with breakfast at, where else, dunkin’ donuts!  we had some coffees, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches as we planned out the rest of our day.  our first stop, and probably the most important stop of the trip, was to visit the hospital where phillip and his sisters were born.  so we caught the train and headed to dorchester.

now the st. mary’s center for women and children, st. margaret’s is were michele and kim spent several months delivering their miracle babies over thirty years ago.  since we were there on a weekend, we couldn’t get the full tour, but the receptionist charlotte was happy to show us around the grounds as much as she could.

phillip & charlotte.

as charlotte led us through some of the buildings, she was happy to give us some history of the grounds.  it turned out she has been working there for quite some time, so she was able to tell us all about the purpose of the center now, how some of the rooms were used when the grounds were still a hospital, and even where some of the original architecture and artwork is still maintained.  it was so special to watch as phillip took it all in, soaking up the place where his story began so many years ago.

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eventually charlotte did have to return to her desk, but she suggested we go sit in the garden since the weather was so nice out, and that is exactly what we did.  it was so pleasant to slow down, even if just for a few moments, and appreciate all the good things going on at this place.  🙂

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the wedding chronicles | decision #20

THE DRINKS

a lot of folks say there are three key things that make a great wedding:  the music, the food, and the drinks.  with the music already covered and the food chosen as well (more on that later), the beverage situation also had to be discussed with the reception venue.  now, i’m not saying that in order to have a great reception that alcoholic beverages are a must, but the general culture of our family and friends is that we like our drinks and we like to keep ’em comin’!  so the question on this one wasn’t “are we going to have drinks?” – it really was “what kind of drinks and how many shall we have?”

after deciding adult beverages were a must-have for the reception, for us it really came down to what we could afford.  now, i think we’re luckier than most in that we are getting exactly what we want as far as the drink menu goes, and the reason i say that is because alcohol can get expensive, and very quickly!  what you will find out if you haven’t already is that many venues have a drink (and also food) minimum, and that number is often higher than you’d expect.  some venues might have a reasonable beer and wine menu (which i think these days is more than enough for your guests), but the second you throw in hard liquor that cost can jump up, which is understandable if you think about it.  if your venue doesn’t offer beverage services, another option you might encounter that i think is intimidating at first but actually pretty cool is the venue that is byob.  the reason i say intimidating at first is because it might be hard to fathom how you will figure out how much booze to buy for your guests.  it’s never happened to me, but i imagine the bar running out of booze could be a quick buzzkill for any reception.  however, do not worry because there are several ways you can “calculate” how much each guest will likely drink and from there determine how much to buy in total.  i’ve even heard that if you buy, say, a case of beer from costco but don’t open it that you can return it.  well, that’s pretty awesome!

my overall suggestion in this regard to any couples planning their wedding would be to only do as much as you want and as much as is comfortable in your budget.  sure, what guest wouldn’t want top shelf this and barrel-aged that?  but if the feel of your reception is something more casual (think a backyard bbq with coolers of local brews) or unique (i’m still hoping i’ll get to go to a brunch reception with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys), then do you!  remember, your wedding day is a reflection of you and the things that make you happy, which might not necessarily jive with all your guests.  but at the end of the day, it’s not really about the drinks anyway, right?  😉

the wedding chronicles | decision #8

THE PAPER

of all the things that i’ve somehow been mostly undecided on, the “paper” aspect of our wedding is the most unexpected.  when i talk paper, i mean save-the-dates, invitations, programs, menus, the works.  it’s interesting because when it came to the venue, the dress, and other things, i (and where applicable, “we” with phillip) have been able to make a decision and move on to the next item on the lengthy to-do list.  however, this one has tripped me up somehow and it kind of cracks me up!

let’s take the dress, for example.  after picking out my wedding dress, i came back to the condo and threw away all my magazine tear-outs that were wedding dress related.  i didn’t want to see something different than what i picked and then start to second guess my choice.  wouldn’t that just be the worst?  why yes, it would be!  so, why can’t we pick an invitation?  well, i’m thinking it might be because we kind of worked backwards in the process, but i’m betting we’ll get it sorted out soon enough.  so, do you want the whole story?  okay, here’s the whole story.

after picking the sites for our ceremony and reception, an easy thing to start doing was looking at invitation designs.  although i would have loved to give a local artist our business, it’s just so darn easy to go online and browse through hundreds of designs and colors.  for phillip and me, minted.com is where we landed to start perusing our options.  it ended up actually being a lot of fun at the start because we got to order free samples of some of our favorites so that we could check them out in person.  when we unfortunately weren’t in love with any of our first 10 free samples, we ordered 10 more.  it’s hard to resist when they make it so easy with those promo codes!  with 20 different samples on our hands, we took them to the venue and, after much deliberation, settled on a design that would work well with the theme of our big day.

that should be it, right?  wrong!  well, we then needed to pick out something for the save-the-dates, which had to be going out soon (six months ahead of the wedding date to be exact per all the magazine articles i have read).  i didn’t want the save-the-dates to be too matchy-matchy with the invitations (i write this as if someone would actually care), so we went with something that was simple but still formally styled for our guests.  i liked it, phillip liked it, so we ordered 100 of them!  they shipped in quick fashion, we addressed each and every one of them and ended up actually putting them in the mail today.  also a good thing, right!  mostly yes.  i say mostly yes because in looking at the save-the-date designs my eyes wandered and were caught by all the new invitation designs i hadn’t previously seen.  heaven forbid we go with the one we already selected!  however, phillip humored me and let me order another group of 10 samples that i just cannot wait to see.  the best part about it all is that we now have the save-the-date design that we can put side-by-side with the invitation to see which ones really suit each other.  perfect!

now, i don’t doubt at all that someone reading this is thinking “really, kelsey?  aren’t you overthinking this whole situation?”  you are precisely correct that i absolutely am!  like many aspects of a wedding day, some of the finer details you spend your energy on likely go unnoticed by the masses.  however, here is the catch:  things that are cheaply done (or done without much thought) are noticed (and usually not in a good way) while things that are nicely done but not typically memorable (like the design of your save-the-dates and invitations) aren’t usually commented on at all.  interesting situation, yes?  i couldn’t agree more!  now, i’m not at all advising you drown your life savings to get the most expensive invitations you can find, and everyone has their own style and budget that will determine what they can and cannot do.  it really should be simple in that you should do what feels right to you and choose something that represents you and your fiance and your wedding day vision.  for me?  i fully admit the pickle i am in over our invitation design is purely one of my own making.  however, you wanted the truth about this whole “planning a wedding thing”, and this is my verison of it.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #6 and decision #7

THE COLORS & THE BRIDESMAID DRESSES

about a month ago my mom and i took my bridesmaids kari, jamie, and sarah out to go shopping for their dresses here in atlanta.  we fueled up with an energizing breakfast at the local flying biscuit and then headed to the salon to see if we’d have any luck.  i was certainly hoping that would be the case considering that sarah was moving back to california and that football season would easily get in the way of scheduling more appointments that worked for everyone.  i’ll spoil things right now and tell you that with a group of supportive girls around me, we made easy work of finding looks that flattered everyone.

tiaras for everyone!

now, before i get into all the juicy details about the bridesmaid dresses themselves, let’s talk about another wedding decision that oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with them:  the wedding colors.  if i’m being honest, my ideas about the colors for our wedding have changed nearly a countless number of times.  first it was oxblood and sage (inspired by a wedding magazine article), then it was pretty yellow roses that caught my eye at church, and then a pale pale green i thought was certainly the way to go.  this was all fine and well until kari, jamie, and sarah all started trying on dresses for me and i realized my color vision was a little off.  although the pale and dusty green i picked out was pretty in my mind, in person it didn’t quite match what i was picturing.

thankfully the salon had rows full of dresses and i was grateful the girls didn’t mind trying on dress after dress.  sometimes that’s what you have to do to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.  plus, seeing a dress on your body can be much different (and sometimes much better) than how it looks on the hanger.  i mean, you might as well try on as much as you can while you’re there and make the most of your time!

when shopping with your bridesmaids for their dresses, here are a few bits of advice.  if you and your girls are anything like me and mine, many of them (if not all of them) have different body shapes.  what this means is that a single style might not work best for everyone.  now, if your vision is for all the girls to wear the same dress, just know you might hit some snags in this regard.  and, if that is the case, it’s extremely common these days for girls to wear different style dresses that complement one another and oftentimes also the bride’s dress (such as the neckline or cut or fabric).  this can help your bridesmaids feel their most beautiful because they’re in a dress that makes them feel comfortable and confident.

next, unless you want everything uniform, maybe entertain the idea of putting the girls in different shades of the same color or even different colors altogether that go with your overall theme and vision for your wedding day.  this one is totally personal preference and all i’ll say about my girls is that they look like perfect angels in gorgeous shades of blush.  🙂

and finally, as mentioned in previous posts of the wedding chronicles, remember that the decision is ultimately yours as the bride.  it is extremely kind to be sensitive to your girls’ preferences and opinions (and i’ve always appreciated when i’ve been treated this way as a bridesmaid), but it is your wedding day after all and that’s what is most important.

the wedding chronicles | decision #5

THE WEDDING PARTY

although a necessary decision to make, choosing who will stand next to you and your fiance on your big day might not be easy.  now, phillip and i are lucky in that we were sure pretty early on who we wanted up there at the altar on our wedding day – the people most important to us!  however, i feel like i can safely say the same is likely not the case for most couples.

when it comes to the wedding party, most often family is involved to some degree, and even though family should be supportive to whatever the bride’s and groom’s wishes are, usually feelings and emotions drive actions rather than logic.  it’s a very fine line because the people closest to you have helped mold you as an individual and, quite possibly, mold you as a couple as well.  so, it makes sense that you may want their opinion.  however, where do you draw the line?  do you ask a certain person to be in the party because a family member says it would be a nice gesture?  or do you pick, maybe, a college friend because that person has been like a brother/sister to you?  if any of you reading this have already had your wedding, i’m sure you’ve encountered a situation similar to what i have described.  and for those of you yet to cross this bridge, i will give you this advice and leave it at this:  i encourage you to do what you feel is right as far as who and how many people are in your wedding party.  after all, it is your day and the vision you have as a couple should be what comes to be.  however, i also advise you to tread lightly, respectfully, and maturely when you are asked why you have made the choices you have.  be prepared for the fact that everyone might not be on board or in favor of what you have decided.  feelings may be hurt and you might get pressure from folks to change your mind.  at the end of the day, though, all that matters is that you are happy, and that should be enough reason for anyone to understand and support you both on your big day.  on this decision, i wish you the most luck i can.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #3

THE DRESS

now that phillip and i are less than eight months out from the big day, things are really starting to kick into gear.  the to-do list hasn’t necessarily grown, but we’ve realized that it’s time to start making some more decisions.  the latest and one of the most exciting decisions?  the dress!

most folks consider the dress the crown jewel of the wedding day, and understandably so.  the bride is wearing the dress all day, she’s being photographed in it from sun up to sun down, and it’s the most important dress she will wear in her entire life.  so, it makes sense that people tend to make a big deal about it!  but, with all the expectations that guests have about the dress comes the pressure to feel like you are picking the perfect one.  as alluded to in other wedding chronicle entries, some brides have a specific vision for themselves and don’t sway from that at all.  this could be in regards to the venue, the meal, the cake, and especially the dress.  for those brides, i say, “more power to you!”

my situation for the dress, though, wasn’t exactly that.  i’d first tried several dresses on with my mom back in april, and this past weekend she and my bridesmaid kari and i made a return trip to birmingham to see if i could make a decision.  as far as dress shopping goes, we’re in crunch time and needing to order asap!  the good news was all the dresses i liked in april were still front-runners this time around – they were just so different!  then, our trusty consultant laura at bella’s bridal over in hoover was so good at her job that she pulled even more contenders, and it was then that i realized i might be in trouble.  with so many beautiful gowns surrounding me i now had quite a dilemma:  what part of me was my dress going to represent?  would it be the old soul part of my personality?  or maybe the fun quirky side?  what about a little romance?  and what would others picture me wearing?

if you’ve ever watched any wedding dress shopping shows, the emotion of this important choice can take two routes:  one of excitement and joy or, as we many times see, one of disappointment.  it breaks my heart when i see brides who aren’t surrounded by people who only want to see them happy.  it is the bride’s (and groom’s) day after all, and shouldn’t the bride be wearing something that makes them feel confident and at their best?  yes, and without any reservations or doubts!  so here is my message to dress-searching brides everywhere:  come with ideas, enjoy the experience, stand up for yourself, don’t try on anything outside your budget, and choose a dress that makes you feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.  if this means bringing only a few people to your appointments, then politely do so.  too much distraction and sometimes too many opinions can cloud things, and the last thing you want to do is make a deposit and walk out of the salon with a sinking feeling in your stomach.  this is the biggest day of your life an you deserve to feel great about each decision you make!

with the wrong crowd you can see how things could start to get very stressful very quickly.  and without supportive people around me, i might have spiraled into dress distress!  however, once i focused my thoughts, shut my eyes, and pictured myself walking down the aisle, i knew that my biggest inspiration would be coming from the church and the reception site, which led me to make the perfect dress choice for the occasion.  as the tears flowed and clapping filled the dressing room, i confidently said yes to the dress!  we celebrated and toasted with glasses of rose champagne, thrilled that another detail of the big day was coming into focus.  i feel lucky to have had a pretty easy time searching for and deciding upon a dress and cannot wait to reveal it to everyone in april!

The Adventures of Kiwi Kyle | Part 4

With my work trip coming to an end soon, I’m very much looking forward to getting back to Atlanta.  My family, my house, my bed, chicken tenders, etc…However, I will miss some things about New Zealand.  The traffic (or lack thereof), the pineapple lumps, and the coffee.  “But Kyle, isn’t the coffee in New Zealand the same as in the States?”  Well, yes and no.

In New Zealand, they don’t have the concept of drip coffee like we do in the States, as everything is espresso based.  When I ordered a coffee for the first time, the server asked if I meant a “long black.”  I said “Sure!”, having no idea what a long black was.  Well, after a little research on YouTube, I figured out what a long black is.  Check out this video so that if you ever find yourself in New Zealand you’ll know what a long black is right away!

viva las vegas!

this time last sunday, kiley, kari, and i were recovering from a fun couple of days out in fabulous las vegas!  besides being in desperate need of a girls’ weekend away, we also were in town to see the legendary britney spears in concert!  before we get to that, though, there are plenty of other things to share first.

after getting a good night’s sleep on thursday at kiley’s parents’ house (thanks, mr. and mrs. a!), we woke up and grabbed an energizing breakfast at craft kitchen before taking a smooth ride out east to our first tourist spot the hoover dam.  our trusty transportation for the weekend?  kiley’s dad’s souped up jeep wrangler.  how bada** do we look in this?!

a short 45-minute drive later we arrived in clark county, nv and joined the other masses of international and local visitors as we explored this american wonder.  unfortunately the dam tour was closed that day, but we had plenty of other seeing to do as we followed the roadway and sidewalks to get incredible views of lake mead, the colorado river, and the intake towers, flow gates, and spillways.

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if you ever find yourself in the area, i highly recommend making the trek to the dam.  there’s plenty of parking, plenty of fascinating information, and plenty of good photo ops to fill a few hours of your day.

something else that’s cool?  you can stand in two states at once – neat!

upon hiking back up to the car and chugging some water, we drove ourselves about an hour the other direction to check out an art installation off interstate 15 called the seven magic mountains.  designed by internationally renowned swiss artist ugo rondinone, this public installation is designed to represent the creative human presence in the desert with bursts of “form and color.”  pretty cool, right?

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one of the most fun things about visiting seven magic mountains was people-watching all the visitors who were trying to get the perfect filter-worthy photo for their social media posts.  not wanting to miss out on the entertainment, i snapped an inspiring shoot of kari against these brightly colored boulders.

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and kiley got in on the fun, too, with a model walk of her very own!

we were now in a pinch to get washed up and ready for the concert, so we hit the old dusty and headed back home.

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weekend warriors

recently my mom spent a couple of her final summer days at the condo with me before getting back to the school year grind at omhs.  while in town, she was kind enough to help us out with some home improvement chores that have been on the list a while but sometimes always seem to bump down in priority as the days come and go.  as a result, phillip and i rode her wave of can-do inspiration and completed a couple other projects on our own!

first up was the shower stall in my bathroom.  now, when you think about showering, you likely are getting in and out and moving on with your life.  naturally you probably don’t think twice about the condition of your shower unless it really is in despair.  for the perfect example, take my shower.  off the bat nothing appears glaringly wrong.  however, it had now come time that the bad grout job done by the previous homeowner be rectified.  enter phillip, me, a very sharp blade, and some very affordable sealant.

before we could apply the good stuff, we first had to get rid of the grody gunk that was already lining the corners of the stall.  thank goodness i have a strong live-in fiance for times just like this one!

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wooh!  i think i just broke a mental sweat watching phillip – good work, honey!  the next part was the more fun part, which was watching our quick weekend improvement come to life.  with a little elbow grease the shower was looking like brand new with some fresh grout from top to bottom in those corners.  now, we weren’t exactly going for perfection, but to the naked eye, things look much better.  i think i feel cleaner already!

with one bathroom marked off the list, we kept the good mojo going and took on our next project in phillip’s bathroom.  a pretty small space to start with, my mom commented that getting rid of this floor-sitting shelf and adding some shelves on the wall would help make the bathroom feel larger.  although it looks pretty compact and out of the way, we didn’t realize until we were done how much more open everything now feels in there.

so, i was off to ikea to find us some wall shelves to replace these shelves.  i wasn’t quite sure of what i wanted but then, out of nowhere, i spotted exactly what i must have.  before i got too excited, i made sure to double-check the shelf size against the wall measurements i’d written when i was at home and…it would work!  even though this new shelf was much longer, only one certainly wouldn’t do.  and, since when decorating things often work better in sets of three, three new shelves are exactly what i took home with me.  i even got lucky and found a very similar shelf being used in one of their many display spaces in the store.  instant inspiration!

i barged in the condo door and was bouncing with excitement about my fortunate finds.  “we must complete this project right away!” i hollered at phillip.  and, like any loving partner, he gladly obliged.  in our case, we were literally working with a blank space just above the lovely yellow tile and the toilet.  doesn’t it just look like it was meant for something more than being a white wall?  i couldn’t agree more!

after very carefully reading the instructions and inspecting the parts and hardware we would need, we got to work.  i was phillip’s trusty assistant and photographer for most of the afternoon, not wanting to miss a beat of the action or a moment of the fun.

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as phillip was putting up the final shelf, i was too overcome with excitement and energy and had to turn away until it was complete.  once ready i opened my eyes and hey, what do you know!  they look perfect!

a big hug and quick kiss later, i shooed phillip out of the bathroom, eager to give these shelves the finishing touch.  after shuffling things around quite a bit and then shuffling them around some more, i finally ushered him back in so that we could stand back and admire our work.  i’ll say, there’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment, even for something as “small” as new shelves and a spruced up shower stall, so i’ll take that joy any day.  what’s next, you wonder?  well, it’s your turn to get out there and go all hgtv – we know you can do it!

june’s ohio adventure

for those of you who know me well, you’re probably wondering to yourself, “who is this june?  is she a long-lost high school friend?  is she a college acquaintance she’s reconnected with nowadays?  is she a new coworker she’s kindly befriend?”  well, i hate that this isn’t more exciting, but june is what i named my lovely rental car for the week!  ladies and gentlemen, i introduce to you june, the 2016 grey chrysler pacifica!  isn’t she a beaut?!

the name hit me like a ton of bricks as i was weaving around winding suburb roads and channeling my inner mom, specifically my inner barbara billingsley.  i mean, it really is quite empowering, navigating this sturdy, speedy, and functional vehicle around town.  i felt like i could rule the world!  anyway, june and i became besties last week in ohio while i was up there for work and some personal traveling.  and, in an effort to spice things up on my solo trip, i decided to blog about all our adventures.  our first stop?  dayton.

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