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Fall Books

October 9, 2014
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My sister flew to California this week, and as a parting text, she asked for book recommendations. And lately, in the experience of the vaguely familiar sense of “free-time”, I had a book to point her to.

And then I realized, in the past two months, I have read 9 books! What a wonderful realization! My subway times have not been wasted away listening to shitty music and people watching (although both probably have occurred). But I have somehow been making my way through books, long and short, bad and good.

Plus, I joined a book club. If that doesn’t force someone to sit down and read, nothing will. It’s like homework and even if I do not particularly like the book assigned, there is a affirmation that comes with finishing that book.

And conversations are centered around books (I think I spoke to someone for 20 minutes last weekend swapping lists, adding and listening to anecdotes). I love the feeling of being so immersed in a book you want to stay up all night reading, or that while you are working, it’s all you can think about.

Below are some books that have made me feel that way… and some books I can’t wait to read. Read any good ones lately? (You can see what I think of the below on Goodreads, my go-to site for book lists.)

The Goldfinch: currently reading

The GoldfinchUnbroken: read

Unbroken

All the Light We Cannot See: read

All The Light We Cannot See

This Is Where I Leave You: read

This is Where I Leave You

Gone Girl: read

Gone Girl

Let the Great World Spin: to-read

Let the Great World Spin

The Rosie Project: to-read

The Rosie Project

Love Does: to-read

Love Does

The Language of Flowers: to-read

The Language of Flowers

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought!

xoxo

PS: Lena Dunham’s book shelf.

Swing

October 8, 2014

This past weekend, Josh and I were walking through the East Village to meet some friends for dinner. As we headed north on Avenue A, passing Thompson Square Park, I noticed a girl swinging at the playground. She was alone, and I could hear the familiar sound of creaking as she kicked forward and fell back, forward and back. She seemed so peaceful, methodical. I blurted that I wanted to swing… not to Josh, exactly, just to anyone, but completely interrupting whatever conversation we were having.

At recess, ever so long ago, swinging was “my thing” (unless, of course, red rover was being played). Swinging felt like almost flying while still being safe; your stomach could drop slightly, adrenaline could build, you could kick the sky. If you closed your eyes, you could completely loose track of where you were. I’ve tried to swing on our old swing set at home, but my legs kick the ground now and nephews would rather be pushed.

Waterfall Swing

But this swing set may be my size. And while I’m late in experiencing it (Savannah and Matt took a ride last year), I do hope the Waterfall Swing makes it’s way back to New York so I can take a spin. Otherwise, I’ll settle for Thompson Square Park this weekend.

26.

October 7, 2014
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I’m a week late on this. That tends to be happening — being late, neglecting this space. And I’ve been noticing and missing and needing to create and be here. But life has had other plans, busy plans, work plans, trying to catch up on sleep plans. So I did just that, worked hard and caught up on sleep after the craziest and best year of my life.

birthday

25.

25 brought so much joy — the entirety of our wedding planning, the growth of careers, the changing of lives, the constant good moods, the art New York offers…and then…

Our wedding. And our reception. And our honeymoon (pictures to come). And less writing here because of those three crazy big things that consumed this summer. Those crazy wonderful things that made us husband and wife.

So as I dive into 26, I can’t help but reflect on what I set out to do in my 25th year and what I can do to better myself in my 26th. Last year, I planned to be intentional, something that, if I were to measure and could measure, I may have failed at. This is something that it not intuitive to me and I wish in every decision I made, it was intentional instead of a whim. But I do think by planning a big day and taking part in so many “big days”, I am learning to be more intentional; it continues to be something I will work on.

Being kind allows you to see the kindness in the world around you. And it makes you love the world around you. When you are angry or annoyed (which comes to us often), kill your offender with kindness, and your worries will go away. I also vowed to be confident, keep sweating and keep learning. Three things I will take with me into 26, along with the following…

-Be decisive and strong. I’m not a decisive person and not because I don’t care or I don’t know — because I want to make people happy and perhaps what’s best for me is not what they want (example: choosing a restaurant). So this year I’m going to work on deciding on the small things in life.

-Live healthy. This has become a priority to me in the past two years: eating healthier, focusing on being happy in my skin, using healthy products in my day to day life. But it’s an ongoing process and I’m excited to continue to grow!

-Prioritize with clarity. Sometimes I take on too much, sometimes I take on too little. I need to learn to prioritize in all aspects in life — what is most important to me and be intentional in saying no to those that I’m not finding the time to do.

-Stop complaining. I’ve been struggling with this immensely lately. Everything coming out of my mouth sounds like a complaint. I’m not quite sure how to turn this around yet, but I’ll study and get back to you.

-Christ-filled. This adventure to focus on the purpose here is ever changing and growing. And I hope that it continue to mold me into the Christ-filled person I strive to be.

Here is to another amazing year, full of love kindness and friends. 25 will be hard to beat but I’m up to the challenge.

xoxo

Our Reception!

September 25, 2014

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Weddings are a funny thing — I feel like, as a bride, we constantly dwell on new ideas and decisions that need to be made swiftly. When we made the decision to have our ceremony in Big Sur surrounded by our closest family, there was a shared need for a massive party to celebrate with both of our (very large) extended families and friends. We wanted something unique, something that would truly capture who we are and allow us to have just the best time of our lives.

I immediately knew that I didn’t want to have this party at a venue; I didn’t want the hassle of lights turning on and last calls and strict rules. I wanted complete freedom to create whatever we wanted. So we discussed and discussed and then threw out this random cornfield idea — you know, like in the middle of the cornfield, with a long path leading in and long, wood tables, and big lights and cornhole. When we rose the idea to Josh’s family, expecting a very large “no”, they were surprisingly supportive, and the term “we can do that…” started. That phrase lasted throughout the entire process.

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We (the collective of so many hands and hearts) built this venue from scratch; planted the seed, watered the grass, rented the toilets, painted the cornhole boards, built the dance floor, set the tables, placed the straw (bailed the straw, for that matter), prayed for rain for things to grow, prayed for the rain to stop on the 26th…

It was everything we could have wanted. Plus so much more…here are some (a lot) of pictures if you’d like to see…alex_josh_reception_001 alex_josh_reception_006 alex_josh_reception_011

Because we were already married, we decided that we would get ready together for the party. We were both incredibly exhausted from all of the set up (as I’m sure everyone who helped was) so as much as we wanted a nap, we suited up for the party.alex_josh_reception_015 alex_josh_reception_016 alex_josh_reception_027

Josh’s family has a million acres of land (you know what I mean), so last August, we wandered around to different fields to pick “the right one” knowing that none of them would look the same with 5 feet of corn on them. The field we eventually choose was right next to their house. And then we prayed for rain so the corn would grow — and it did! The corn was almost 6 1/2 feet by the end of July!alex_josh_reception_040

The day of the reception, my now sister-in-law found two perfect bottles of Coke — “Alex” and “Josh” — for us to sip. I was desperate for some after these pictures were taken (caffeine!) but the bottle decided to explode on my dress. Club soda to the rescue (and plenty of laughs)!alex_josh_reception_045 alex_josh_reception_054 alex_josh_reception_070alex_josh_reception_074 alex_josh_reception_078 alex_josh_reception_079 alex_josh_reception_081

A dear friend showed me this beautiful entrance to a wedding when we first got engaged, and I had my heart was set on it. So my dad built it. (He does that sometimes.) And then my wonderful cousin, Dani, painted the beautiful arch with a poem from ee Cummings… that poem was also used on our invitations. alex_josh_reception_096 alex_josh_reception_101

Did I mention that Josh’s family owns pigs? Tons of them… alex_josh_reception_128 alex_josh_reception_129

As I’ve mention, my engagement ring was made by Anna Sheffield and I am still absolutely smitten when I look at it! Our bands are the simplest gold bands from Tiffany. alex_josh_reception_131 alex_josh_reception_133

“you are the light by which my spirit’s born. you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” Our invitations were done by the beautiful Patricia of 1440. She took our vision and perfected it. (1440 also custom made a calligraphy sign with our vows that is now hanging in our kitchen!)alex_josh_reception_137 alex_josh_reception_141 alex_josh_reception_143 alex_josh_reception_145 alex_josh_reception_150 alex_josh_reception_154 alex_josh_reception_156 alex_josh_reception_160 alex_josh_reception_161 alex_josh_reception_165 alex_josh_reception_170 alex_josh_reception_172 alex_josh_reception_173 alex_josh_reception_174alex_josh_reception_198alex_josh_reception_208

 

Decor was so much fun! We ordered long, wood farm tables and used 15 different fabrics to adorn them. The fabrics were all cut by hand (we have the best family) and used as napkins. We also hung some above the dance floor. Some friends and I made brown paper bags with stamped “alex + josh” all over them and we placed the most beautiful array of flowers in them. We also stamped clothespins to hold everything together (we made 500!). The favors were thank you notes on wild flower seed paper so our guests could plant the paper and add to their gardens. On the long tables, Floral Pursuit used ivy and fern and all things green (and vegetables!) to finish the perfect tablescape.

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One of my favorite moments of the wedding was watching our ceremony video. We had waited to watch until our whole family was together so the anticipation was mounting. We may have shed a few tears — totally worth it! The video looped all night so guests could watch as they please. (Or take naps, as Finny did.)alex_josh_reception_210 alex_josh_reception_211 alex_josh_reception_213

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For dinner, we served bacon wrapped dates, crostinis, fruit and cheese to start, followed by family style summer salad (with strawberries!) and rolls. We then had butternut squash ravioli, green beans and peach-glazed pork loin for dinner.alex_josh_reception_219 alex_josh_reception_243 alex_josh_reception_253

I loved our receiving line — we were able to greet each guest as they arrived and give enormous hugs. I was nervous we weren’t going to be able to talk to everyone (which would have been true) so this was the perfect way to alleviate that headache. Sorry to anyone we didn’t get to spend time with beyond this line. We do love you!alex_josh_reception_275

My brother devised the most awesome beer garden. Our guests could fill their own cups with three craft beers from around the area (and Chicago). We went through them fast, but had great people go pick up more kegs. This was one of those, “we can do that…” moments from all of my brothers. alex_josh_reception_283 alex_josh_reception_292

…and cornhole!alex_josh_reception_310 alex_josh_reception_318 alex_josh_reception_329 alex_josh_reception_341 alex_josh_reception_349

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And then we prayed, visited, ate, took selfies, played games…alex_josh_reception_396 alex_josh_reception_414 alex_josh_reception_422 alex_josh_reception_427 alex_josh_reception_430

Speeches were full of fun stories of our childhoods, told by the best people ever. alex_josh_reception_443 alex_josh_reception_447 alex_josh_reception_457 alex_josh_reception_458

Josh and I danced to Yellow by Coldplay, my dad and I danced to Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N’ Roses and Josh and his mom danced to Life That’s Good by Lennon and Maisy. Our band was The 1’s and the 2’s — and they were so awesome. They kept people on that dance floor until way past bedtime (and then later).alex_josh_reception_461 alex_josh_reception_462 alex_josh_reception_467 alex_josh_reception_470 alex_josh_reception_474 alex_josh_reception_475

See… everyone dancing!alex_josh_reception_477 alex_josh_reception_482 alex_josh_reception_483 alex_josh_reception_486 alex_josh_reception_488 alex_josh_reception_489 alex_josh_reception_495 alex_josh_reception_500 alex_josh_reception_504

And then PIE and ice cream. All different types for all different people. And we ate them for days. alex_josh_reception_505 alex_josh_reception_516 alex_josh_reception_521 alex_josh_reception_527

…still dancing…alex_josh_reception_547 alex_josh_reception_549 alex_josh_reception_551 alex_josh_reception_552 alex_josh_reception_554 alex_josh_reception_568 alex_josh_reception_573 alex_josh_reception_574 alex_josh_reception_586

We have a lot of Buckeye friends, so the band played Carmen Ohio and Hang on Sloopy for us… make for a sweaty, lovely mess. Very sweaty. Shin sweat sweaty. alex_josh_reception_591The lights didn’t come on until morning… and it was the absolute best “bash” anyone could have every asked for.

We owe so much to our friends and families that helped out and came! And our wonderful vendors. This would NOT have been what it was without you. Josh and I had a vision and it came perfectly together. And here we are two months later still thinking about this party…

Thanks for taking a look with me!

xoxo

{Photos by Julia Robbs and Jacquelyn Pierson of Our Labor of Love}

 

St. Marks and First

September 9, 2014

Smell is everything, isn’t it? It triggers memories instantaneously, bringing you back to a vacation, an event, a person like you never left, for whatever brief moment in time. Smell can remind you of a vague memory and allow you grasp it once again.

If you could bottle up your childhood home, what would it smell like? Or your neighborhood? Or your city? My childhood yard, in the fall, would smell of ripened pears and drying leaves, with a hint of the pumpkins that grow down the road.

New York smells a little different, sometimes not the best, but in the fall, everything changes. I noticed it this week, the harvest moon made the winds change on cue and in came the soft smells of hot lattes, nutmeg and subtle flowers.

Oak Candles

Since we know smell can so intimately trigger our noses, Oak created beautiful minimalist candles based on areas of New York to transport you to that corner for a moment in time. They have delightful details as well, like St. Marks + First (East Village) is meant to evoke “metallic, trash and vaudeville, incense, sweat, concrete booze, and vintage clothing stores” while Mckibben + Bogart (Bushwick) sends scents of “wood, oil, paint thinner, incense, booze, dust, ICR vs. Deth Killers of Bushwick, and artists lofts.”

Oak Bushwick Oak

Don’t they sound scrumptious? (Also available: Bleecker + MacDougal, Christopher + West 76th, Prince + Mercer)

Visit Oak’s website to get a smell of New York. And take a moment to smell this amazing season change! {Photo’s all via Oak.}

xoxo

 

 

 

 

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