Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Moments from 2011

I know it's cliche, but y'all...where did this year go? It sort of feels like I was just summing up 2010, and now here we are and it's time to do it for 2011. Instead of breaking it down month by month, I think I'm going to do just a "favorites" of 2011.  These are some memories that stick out from the past year. Some are big, some are little. But they're all special!

Let's start with the biggest moment...moving to Charlotte!

I think it is safe to say that we both love our new city. It's been a big change, and hard at sometimes, but this move was definitely a good change for us. We are both happy at our new jobs, we love all that the city has to offer, plus lots of new friends...I'd say we're doing pretty well!

To go along with that first one, starting a new job!

I am loving my new school. I definitely miss people and things about my Virginia school, but I also realize that I couldn't have found a better public school to work at in Charlotte.

Adding 4 more paws into our home...

This bottom photo is Rosie and I on her second day with us. It's so funny how she has become a very natural part of our family. Getting a second dog was a big choice to make, but I am so glad we did it. She has become a very special part of our family. I love this wolf dog.

Visiting Family

We had a lot of chances to see and spend time with extended family this year, and we're so thankful for that.

My Dyson

Call me crazy, but I have been lusting over this vacuum for a few years now (basically since August 14, 2007...the day after I got Layla the sheddiest dog of all time). It has lived up to all of my expectations!

Lots of time with friends, but still not enough

Purchasing a grill...

This thing made our summer so much more fun!

Going back to Virginia and meeting my sweet friend's baby girl on her birthday...

Some stellar pumpkin carving for our new front steps

And of course, lots of fun adventures together...

Virginia Beer Festival

Wedding in New Hampshire

Wedding in Richmond

Trip to Asheville to see The Biltmore

Not quite an adventure, but man, I just love our Christmas card pictures!

What a year. I cannot wait to see what 2012 brings us. Hopefully as much fun as we had in 2011. 
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011 Highlights

Christmas has come and gone, and if you ask me, it sort of flew by. I am not really sure how it's already  December 30. The past week has been a whirlwind.

I am going to attempt to not make this the longest post ever. Here's the basic "highlight reel" of our holiday week in Virginia...

My mom's ornament exchange...

I spent my first evening back in Virginia with old friends at my mom's ornament exchange. It was nice seeing some of my old friends that I grew up with, and seeing a lot of the women that are my mom's friends.'s a picture of my mom's kitchen table. Every year at Christmas she puts out this table cloth and has people sign it with red and green fine point Sharpies. It's neat looking back at all the signatures. I think the oldest on there is from 1995. 

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we have a tradition of going to the movies.  I think this started back in 1991 with Beauty and the Beast. This year's movie was The Muppet Movie.  Over the summer, when I first saw previews for this movie, I emailed my whole family and told them that this would be our Christmas movie. Glad they all agreed! It ended up being really cute.  A wonderful family movie that provided us all with laughs. That evening, we went to church with my family (minus my sister and her boyfriend). After the service, we stopped by two parties to visit with friends.  

Here we are at party #1...

And then party #2 where we got to see my sweet friend Kelly, her husband, and their adorable baby boy! It was so nice to see them and catch up!

And finally, we all came home and enjoyed some hot chocolate that I had left in the crock pot.  Faith made this for my ornament exchange, and it was delicious! It was the perfect treat to come home to! Here is the recipe I used!

Christmas Day!

We spent Christmas morning with my family.  We opened presents and ate a delicious breakfast thanks to my mom.  I did a bad job taking photos on Christmas morning, but I did snap this one later in the day. Here I am wearing my new, purple, snuggie from my brother. I love it and now wonder how I ever lived without it!  You can see my mom next to me here playing with her new Nook Tablet.  We all made out pretty well!


After Christmas breakfast, J and I got ready to head up to Fredericksburg, VA to see my grandparents and more family. My parents and brother didn't come with us because my sister was coming in to town, but only for a few hours.  

Here we are before hitting the road, and we're both modeling new scarves, and I have on my new coat from Santa!

It was so nice to see some family that we hadn't seen in almost a year. This is me and my "little" cousins (who are wearing their new USMC sweatshirts thanks to my retired Marine grandfather).

J and I with my grandparents

We made it back to Richmond on Christmas evening with enough time to see my sister and her boyfriend for about half an hour before they had to drive back home. My sister is working for Bloomingdale's in NYC, and she had to work on the 26th which meant a very quick trip to Virginia for Christmas. It was quick, but definitely nice to see them. She gave J an electric wine opener that's pretty darn awesome. If you have a lot of wine bottles to open, come see us!

Poor Duffy (my parents' miniature schnauzer) was exhausted from all the holiday fun.

And finally...December 26 with J's family

We headed out to J's parents' house on the morning of the 26th to see his family and celebrate Christmas with them. I did a bad job taking photos among all the fun, but you can see from the few that I did snap that it was a present filled event!

My three nieces were in present heaven. When all the presents were passed out, they assembled a present tower around themselves. 

J got a lot of great stuff for Christmas, but I think this remote controlled helicopter from his sister was his favorite present. He has been acting like a an eight year old with this thing for the past four days. And Rosie thinks it's her job to catch it. It was the perfect gift!

And finally, here I am showing off my new Danskos from my in-laws. I have so many teacher friend who rave about these shoes, so when it came time to make my Christmas list, I thought I'd ask for these.  They are super comfy, and (I can't believe I'm saying this) I am kind of excited to go back to school so I can wear them and try them out for a full day.  I am an official nerd.

So that concludes the Christmas 2011 adventures of J and Rachel! It was a whirlwind, and there's so much that I left out...a long game of Spades, a water bottle fox, six packs of fancy soda, and four loco to name a few. Only 360 days until next Christmas!

Now we're ready to ring in the new year tomorrow at The Avett Brothers concert in South Carolina. I cannot wait! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Break Catch Up

We're back in Charlotte, and I have so much to share about holiday. We had a really fun week back in Virginia seeing our family and friends, but it certainly feels nice to be back home. I go back to school on Monday (which is way too early if you ask me!), so I am trying to enjoy my last few days of break. Over the next few days I'm hoping to get some chores done around the house, and maybe a trip to the mall and the movies by myself. In the words of Donna and Tom..."Treat Yo'self"

Last week, before we left for Virginia, I took some pretty pictures of my Layla in front of our tree. I tried my best to get Rosie to join in the fun, but she had no interest in it.  

I love this sweet face...even if she did eat an ornament off of the tree this morning.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

4 years ago...

4 years ago today...

My (now) husband took me to Washington DC to see My Fair Lady at The Kennedy Center.  After the show, we went and stood by the Potomac and he gave me this...

Was that really 4 years ago? I am having a hard time believing that it's been that long.

So much has happened since December 27, 2007. We planned a wedding, we survived a wedding, we made it through the "newlywed" phase, we have moved, we have been on some amazing adventures, we've started new jobs...the list goes on and on. 

My favorite part of our engagement day was riding to Washington DC and back to Richmond on a train. I had never traveled by train before, and I guess J thought I needed to try it. I loved that after he proposed, we traveled back home on the train and talked about "our" future together the whole way, in a very serious way that we hadn't done before. We had two long hours to be together before seeing friends and family to just laughed each time we said "fiance" to one another. Those two hours are to of my happiest!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

...and the soul felt its worth

What beautiful words for such a beautiful day. 
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Outtakes...

Last week I mentioned that when Faith took our Christmas card photos, she got some pretty hilarious shots of me trying to wrangle the dogs into place. These photos are ridiculous, but I love that she was snapping away while all this was going on!

No one ever said it was easy to get two big dogs ready for a photo!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas time is here!

While living in Virginia Beach/Norfolk, I met some fantastic women who blogged there. They were some of my good friends there, and I miss them very much! One of those girls, Whitney, threw an ornament exchange last December for all of us, and I now cherish my ornament I got from that exchange!

When I moved to Charlotte, I was very lucky to already have a few friends here, all who I only knew through blogging and twitter.  These girls have been wonderful when it comes to helping me figure out the ins and outs of this city, and they have become some very special friends.  

Since I couldn't be in Virginia Beach for their ornament swap, I thought I should start a blogger ornament swap in Charlotte.  I am so glad I did, because last night I had a great time with all of these girls!

Front row from L to R: MichelleKatie, Ashley (private blog), April
Back row from L to R: ME!, FaithAnnieLauren, MelissaHeidi

I am so glad that they could all make it. We had so much fun and we all walked away with a gorgeous ornament!

I also took the time to clean up my home (that doesn't happen as often as it should), so I thought I'd take a few pics to share some of our holiday decor. 

Here's our collection of Christmas cards from the past 3 years. Our first Christmas (2008) we didn't do a photo card, so there's not frame for that one. This tradition started in 2009.

We like to call this our "Gandalf" Santa

Do you see the resemblance?

I know, I know...he's way tacky and hideous. But a student gave me Gandalf Santa one year, and he just makes us laugh.  I can't get rid of him.

Here's the Christmas card wreath, it has really filled up since the last time it was on the blog!

And here's the stockings and mantle. I had some extra green clothespins from the wreath project, so I am using them to attach extra Christmas cards to the ribbon and garland on there. Such an easy project.

Here's my chandelier in the dinning room. I am so happy with how it turned out. Holiday decorating isn't really my thing. I love other people's homes, but I don't want to spend a lot of money or put a lot of time into it.  This little project was very cheap (everything came from Wal-Mart and was under $10) and I love how it livens up our dining/kitchen area.

And a finally, a quick pic of the table.  I bought these bottle brush trees at World Market. I was inspired by Paige and her beautiful home. I love her bottle brush tree collection.

Only 5 more days 'til Christmas!