Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Dreams and my B.H.A.G.

So I'll just come out and say it...this is a scary post to write. Even now as I'm typing this out, I keep having to tell myself this isn't as silly as it sounds and to keep writing. I've never been the type to really dream big. Like big hairy audacious goal (B.H.A.G.), big. Sure I've had hopes and dreams but I'm always careful to make sure their attainable or my favorite word, safe. But when I really check myself, the real issue is that I'm afraid to fail and for other people to see me fail...which prevents me from trying or even think about trying. For the past few weeks I've honestly for the first time considered making a dream happen. It's been in the back of my mind for about a year and I've only really talked to Ryan about it.

A few weeks ago I was sitting with one of my sweet friends, Alex, while our husbands were out at a bachelor party. We talked about life, where we see ourselves in the next two to three years and our aspirations. And that's where she told me her big dream (which I won't spoil!) and I casually, quickly mentioned mine. We talked about how crazy they sounded, we made excuses and then called them out on each other, and then we started believing that we could make them happen. We were two self-doubters who finally believed that we could do it...we just needed someone to tell us we weren't crazy! I'm so thankful for that time and for that motivation.

I was inspired by brave women who wrote some of their goals out and blogged them. My wedding photog and sweet friend Katelyn did just that and then another blog that I follow (another KJ bride), Molly wrote out her dreams as well. One of my high school friends, Kat even started her new event planning business a few short weeks ago and wrote about those same fears of failure. There is so much truth in the fact that verbalizing things makes you feel vulnerable. These women helped me see through their bravery to just put it all out there.

So the truth is, I do have a big dream, a big hairy audacious goal.

I want to start my own business one day. And not just any business, but a paperie business. I want to make invitations, prints, stationary--anything that has to do with paper. I know you might be thinking, paper is just paper, but it's totally not to me. I love finding the right combination of scripty handwritten font to go with a clean line san serif. I love gold foil techniques and beautiful textured paper. I'm obsessed with letterpress, calligraphy and clean lines. I love that a wedding invitation/save the date is the first thing your guests will see that will reflect that wedding theme you've worked so hard at creating. I love that invitations mark special points in people's lives--wedding days, baby showers, housewarmings, birthdays, etc. I love getting excited about a print that puts a finishing touch on making a house into a home. 

There it is, friends! I still have lots of fears and it still could totally flop. I have no idea what I'd name it, I need to build out a website, I need to buy a new laptop as well as the fantastically expensive Adobe suite, I need to explore the legality side of starting a business and continue to brush up on the skill side of graphic design. All I've really done so far is start a Pinterest board of inspiration/branding ideas and started an Illustrator class. But the biggest reason for putting it all out there is to start transitioning a dream into a reality. I'm no Emily Ley or Lindsay Letters or Smitten on Paper, but that's gotta start somewhere and the biggest thing is to just start.

And a little printy print I made :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Year in Review

Two weeks ago, Ryan and I celebrated our FIRST anniversary! We couldn't believe that it had already come and gone and kept saying how fast time flew by. We had a very memorable first year and accomplished way more than we had anticipated...namely buying our first home. Here is our year in review:

  • Traveled to Italy, France, Spain for our honeymoon and made a few domestic trips to NYC, Boston and Charleston. We love to travel and it's one of our favorite things to do now that we're married!
  • Helped officially launch our church plant, Harvest in Fairfax. This has been by far one of the biggest blessings from last year. We've found the best community and church that continuously challenges us. We couldn't do life without them and are always so encouraged by their support
  • Bought our first home. We were totally NOT expecting this one at all. We thought this was years away, especially given the area we live in, and seriously lucked out with the best house and buying process. 
  • Had our first (and hopefully last) attempted break-in at above first home. This was one of those memorable, crazy and scary moments we'll never forget.
  • We both got new jobs. Ryan's in a rotational program and he switched to another component of DHS...the best part is that he now commutes within Virginia! I started at a smaller CPA firm closer to our new house and that gives me more flexibility and freedom.
  • Got a dog. After going back and forth between what kind of dog and when we should get one, we finally pulled the trigger and got a miniature dachshund puppy, Piper, who has both exhausted us and given us so much joy.
Just looking back at this list lets me know just how blessed we truly are. We did a LOT and experienced a lot of change. I'm so grateful that I got to do all of those things above with my best friend and partner, Ryan. He has been the best husband and I'm constantly amazed at how the Lord built him specifically for me. He has been nothing short of selfless, servant-like and a God-fearing leader for our family.

I'm so excited for this weekend! My best friends and their husbands are coming into town and we'll be headed to the Nats game on Saturday. Ryan turns the big 2-5 this Sunday and he will be preaching at Harvest...on his birthday. Crazy man! He's been prepping for awhile now and his message is awesome. I'm so anxious to hear it "live". I'm already so proud.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New (Furry) Addition to the Shaughnessy Household

It all started when we bought a house--the puppy talks. I grew up in a family complemented by a dog for most of my life and Ryan always had cats. To say that I'm not a cat person is an understatement, so I always knew we'd get a dog was just a matter of when and what kind of dog. Ryan was in the Dachshund camp and I was holding steady in the Labrador camp. Total opposites might I add. After our near break-in when we first moved into our house, the puppy conversation resurfaced in a more serious (and practical) light. We went back and forth between adopting and finding a breeder.We started looking into adopting at first, even went to adoption events and just couldn't find the right dog. I'm not sure if it's just the case in Northern Virginia, but adopting a dog is way more complicated than it's worth. There were lots of dogs that we did like, but they had such specific need criteria (i.e. bonded pairs, needs a fence, can't be home alone, etc.) that didn't work for us. Plus, after you paid your fee, there was an interview process and a home inspection to make sure all the "requirements" were met. We decided to go the breeder route in the end.

After dog-sitting one of our friend's miniature dachshund for a week, we decided that a dachshund was the best fit for us. We found a breeder with a 3 month old miniature short-haired female dachshund that melted our hearts. And just like that we found our family puppy! I'm convinced girl dog names are harder to come up with than boy names. Ryan started reading out names of authors from our bookshelf, we were that clueless what to name her. So whether you think it's cheesy or theologically awesome, we decided to name her Piper after John Piper. We're headed out to the boonies (on our 1st anniversary weekend I might add!) of Harrisonburg to bring her home this weekend.

Meet Piper:


Monday, May 20, 2013

House Progress Update

So I've been terrible with the blog updating lately! Once we moved into our new house, our weekends and free time have been filled with home improvement projects. We are just now winding down and I'm happy to say that it's beginning to truly feel like home. After our bumpy first night in the house, it's been extra important to turn our house into a safe, comfortable and homey place for us...probably more from my perspective. Ryan would be happy with a blow-up couch and a tv. But he knows who he married :)

Being a perfectionist, I've held back on wanting to post pictures of what the house looks like right now. I'll keep pushing it off until it's "officially" finished--i.e. things are on the wall, every piece is in it's place, all the gaps are filled, etc. But part of owning a home and making it your home is that decorating in particular, is a gradual process. I can't make it look just like my Pinterest inspiration overnight and I'm not on an HGTV show that has a turnaround time of 3 days. Nor do we have the finances to do it either! Here are some peeks at some of our rooms:

The living room, so far, is my favorite room. We spend the most time in here and we just got this big fluffy couch that we love. Ryan has "claimed" the chaise part of the couch already. Obviously, something is going to go on the wall behind the couch. I think I'm pretty set on doing a gallery's just a matter of collecting everything we're going to hang and then arranging it. My dad is building a mantle for the fireplace so we can hide the cords to the tv/cable and put our sound bar in a more practical place (right now it's sitting below our gas fireplace which won't work in the winter time).

The kitchen was completely redone by the previous owners (thank goodness). The massive island has already been great for entertaining. People just naturally stand around it eating whatever is out. Apparently I'm spoiled with a double oven, although I've never actually used both at the same time. Because I'm a terrible cooker/baker, it hasn't gotten it's best use. We'd love to replace the white and older appliances with stainless sometime down the road. The guest bedroom is probably our most colorful room so far. I'm trying to break my habit of being color shy! We're going to hang a big round mirror above the bed. We still need to find a dresser of some sort and some curtains, but the room has already been functioning as a guest bed.

Luckily, we bought a house that didn't need a lot of work. A lot of what we have changed/replaced were simple, quick fixes. For example, we replaced most of the outdated, ugly, gold and shiny doorknobs, light switch plates/outlets and a light fixture. A simple change, but with an obvious impact. I felt like we shaved off years from the house because of it. Granted, we still have work to do...our bathrooms are still the ugliest rooms in the house thanks to yellow linoleum flooring and contractor-style vanities. One of these days we'll get around to completely revamping.

We also just booked our 1 year anniversary trip! We're deferring to celebrate in November, since we'll be in the OBX the week before our REAL anniversary, by going on another cruise-- this time in the Caribbean! We'll be leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico and "island hopping" in the Caribbean. We're so excited! As soon as we got married, we started saving for our next vacation. One of our favorite things to do together is to experience new countries and to travel. But when you're not making big money and have important things to pay for (um, like maybe a house?!), saving becomes even more important. We're so excited!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Myth of Safety

I've been waiting and waiting to post on our first few days in our new home because, truth be told, I'm still processing. On Thursday, March 28th we turned a page in our still newly-married Shaughnessy life and moved into our new home we had so patiently waited for and had been graciously given by the Lord. But that day will also forever be ingrained as a day that rocked us to the core when we awoke to someone aggressively attempting to break into our precious new home on our first night there.

I'll never forget the sound of our doorbell being rung repeatedly, the kicking and pounding on our front door, the echoes of our empty rooms and hallways and the sound of this terribly mistaken man demanding us to come out. I woke up to the doorbell in a panic and immediately shook Ryan awake who quickly called the police. I'll never forget the moment I thought he had broken in and was walking around downstairs and the utter feeling of helplessness as we literally had nothing to defend ourselves with. I was shaking and praying and hiding in a corner, desperately crying out for the Lord to save us. Finally after what felt like eternity, several police officers arrived and we could hear the hum of a helicopter above. They swept our house, inside and out, and concluded that he had gotten away.

Now, almost a week later, we're trying to figure out how to move to not live in fear, not think every sound our house makes is a replay of that night, reclaim our excitement and joy in our new house and yet not live in naivety. The honest to goodness truth is that nobody ever thinks that something like this will ever happen to you--until it does. We were so fortunate that this guy didn't break anything significant or expensive. Sure we have a significant dent in our door, we need to replace some window screens and a door knocker, but that's all minuscule in comparison to what could've been damaged or taken. But he did take a lot from us: our sense of peace and comfort in our new home.

If anything, the experience has caused me to think a LOT about where my security lies. In those quick moments of fear and defenselessness, we were at the will of whatever this man wanted to do. But even in those moments, we were still under the will of the Lord...and ultimately under his protection. We weren't even supposed to be staying there that night, but due to our electricity cutting out 2 days early at our condo, we packed suitcases and brought the bare minimum until we officially moved in on Saturday. For some reason, the Lord placed us there to experience it that night. His will is perfect. He has a reason for everything.

What has been the biggest help is reminding myself every second of the day the promises and the steadfast truths of our great Protector: He is with me, He is my God, He will strength and help me and He will uphold me (Isaiah 41:10). The truth is we don't know what tomorrow holds (Proverbs 27:1), safety is indeed a myth, and only the Lord truly is our Protector--not walls, not deadbolts, not guns or alarm systems. Even living in a neighborhood known to be extremely safe like we do can't protect us from the unknown. I'm still learning to rest in this reality in light of our safety being shaken. I'm still waiting for peace to fully sink in, to be able to fall asleep soundly and to feel "at home" in our new house. The Lord never said we wouldn't encounter fears, but rather that he will sustain those fears.

Cast your burden on the Lord, 
and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit 
the righteous to be moved. - Psalm 55:22

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let the Moving Begin

So today, our moving process begins! We've been living in a chaotic disorganized condo for the past week and it's been driving me crazy. We've got boxes galore and I haven't bought a good load of groceries in 2 weeks so we've been having interesting dinners to try to have less food to transport to the new house. Which also translates into we haven't been eating very well hah! For example, last night we had perogies and chips and salsa for dinner. As if being a horrible cook wasn't bad enough, I've hit a new low.

For someone who likes order and everything in it's place, there's nothing like literally having everything out of it's place to stress you out! I can't even look at that picture for too long...and that was a few days ago, it's gotten much worse! For sure, the awkward kitchen appliances are the hardest to pack. Like how do you pack a heavy stand mixer? Or the unnecessarily large chip/dip tray? Or the Keurig? I've realized that I've inherited a quality of my father's. And that is being awesome at packing. It's like a giant puzzle/rubiks cube. Which is good because, Ryan is self-admittedly NOT good at packing. He's been filling holes with spackle and packing his books. Books he can handle ;) Gotta love his effort.

My parents and brother are coming and up and are staying as our first house guests this weekend. We'll round out the weekend celebrating Easter with our Harvest family, surrendering our condo keys to our landlord and a big Shaughnessy-Hopper brunch at PJ Skidoos. Hopefully, we'll all still be sane at that point. It's definitely going to be a full weekend and without a doubt a joyful one too!

This weekend we took advantage of a furniture sale and bought ourselves a nice new sectional L-shaped couch...luckily it has to be ordered otherwise we would have no place to put it at the moment! Ryan has always wanted a couch with a chaise to prop his feet up. We also bought some gallons of paint and two ceiling lights to replace some ugly outdated ones. I have a feeling we'll be spending lots of time (and money) at our good friends Lowes and Home Depot. We're excited to get in there and finally roll our sleeves up!

Happy Easter everyone! The tomb is empty!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Official! We are Homeowners!

So guys, it's official, we own a house! Last Thursday, we signed lots of papers (I got LOTS of practice with my signature; still trips me up!), met the sellers and were handed the keys. I never in a million years thought we would own a home as early into our lifetime and marriage than now, let alone in the expensive and competitive area we currently live in. We are incredibly grateful and lucky to be homeowners at 23 and 24. I just also have to say how proud I am to be married to Ryan. He handled all of the details, made sure we were both well educated to make good decisions and let me pin things while he handled the nitty gritty details.
Can I just add how cute my husband looks??!
Now, we wait! And pack. We'll be moving in Easter weekend. I'm already finding with the little packing we've done that we have a lot of stuff. It all hides in the kitchen cabinets and drawers, people! We've had several sweet friends offer to help us move and are attempting to move sans moving truck. I have a feeling this will be the last time we do that. I'm anxious to get into the house, start painting and really making it ours. And you know, put my Pinterest board into action! The house doesn't need a ton of work, but there are some minor changes we'd like to make that I think will have big impact!
And while we're still talking about big news and change, just yesterday I put my two weeks in at my current job. For someone who doesn't like change, a lot of change is happening! The job that I almost took around this time last year held onto my name and passed it along to another smaller accounting firm who was looking for someone in marketing. They reached out to me on LinkedIn and over the past month, I've been talking and interviewing with the firm to see if it would be a good fit. After a lot of careful prayer and thought, I decided it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. The best perk is that my commute will essentially stay the same (instead of doubling). Oh and they're right down the road from a Potbelly. Just saying. I'm excited for the fresh start and what's ahead! I see many-a grilled chicken and cheddar with mushroom sandwiches in my future!

Thank you to all of the family and friends who were our prayer warriors, advice-givers and sometimes just a listening ear through the homebuying AND new job process! We feel so supported and loved and couldn't imagine going through life without the awesome support system we have. I can't say enough how blessed we truly feel and how moved we are to see the Lord orchestrating the big and small pieces in our lives.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Travel Bug

One of our favorite things to do now that we're married is traveling to places we've never been to before, just the two of us. We haven't wasted any time doing some traveling here and there in the Fall and Winter. We've been to New York City, Charleston and Boston within the past three months. But I'm still feeling the travel bug! It's bad when you've just bought a house and don't have the budget for places like Europe or St. Lucia. Sigh.

Doing what we do best: Eating
I have to say, one of my favorites and most memorable trips so far was this year's Valentines Day. Ryan pulled the best Valentine's ever and booked a hotel in DC at the Dupont Circle Hotel for the weekend. He's a keeper! Even though it's practically our backyard, we had so much fun really exploring the city we live in just outside of. As per usual, our whole itinerary revolved on where we were eating. It's proof you don't have to go very far to really "travel". We got to (finally) visit Eastern Market. I've heard so many of our friends rave about this place and now I know why! There are so many adorable vendors and eclectic things people are selling. Of course, now that we're gearing up to move, I'm always looking for fun things we can hang on the walls. We found the "Map Guy" and bought a map from the 1800s of the Amalfi Coast, one of our favorite spots from our honeymoon. I'm excited to hang it up! I already can't wait to go back during the Summer when there are even more vendors/fun things to see! If you ever come up and visit us, we will definitely be taking you to Eastern Market!

On a side-note/house update: We finally have an official move-in date! We'll be moving in at the end of March. So since today officially marks March 1st, we get to say we're moving in THIS month! We're so pumped!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Virginia is for Lovers: DIY String Art

Sometimes Pinterest seems like a sea of endless possibilities when it comes to DIY. When I was planning our wedding, I got severely overwhelmed by the amount of tiny details I could DIY. Sure, I loved the look and the level of personalization but the problem was, I didn't want to actually have to do it. It would have been too time consuming to actually make 21 table numbers in string art. Which is what I initially wanted to do for one of the many projects. I quickly scaled back a lot of things, and even completely nixing some of them. When Pinterest turns you into to a perfectionist-driven bridal breakdown mess, it's time to reevaluate what you're doing.

Now that wedding planning is behind me, I'm tackling some of the projects I didn't get to do on a smaller scale and all home decor-style. I think homemade and personal art always looks 10x better because it really defines your house. I always wanted one of those dark wood string art pictures of Virginia to hang since we met, fell in love and live in Virginia. Sure, I could've bought one off of Etsy for $35+. But really, this was so easy to do, and super therapeutic to make (not to mention did NOT cost $35 to make)! I used a combination of tutorials from different pins and decided there's no real wrong way to do it. 

-8 x 10 wood canvas (I got this one from Michaels), but really you could use any piece of wood lying around
-1 package of 11/16" linoleum nails (I did have to go Home Depot for these babies, it was worth it) You could use any nail that has a large enough head to keep the string from slipping and where the nail is short and stubby. I had about half of the nails left over.
-Wood stain (I used some leftover wedding stain)
-2+ bundles of embroidery floss in any color you like. It depends on how big your outline is, but I always ere on the side of having too much in case I underestimate.

After staining the wood canvas and letting it dry for a day, I was ready to start nailing. I Googled "outlines of Virginia", found one I liked, and printed it out. That simple. I contemplated for forever whether or not I should attempt to include the peninsulas. The nails would've been too close together and it would've looked like a mess so I decided to stick with the basic outline--aka skipping the peninsulas. I placed my outline right over top of my wood canvas and started nailing away. The tighter (closer together) you make your nails the more accurate the outline will be. This is especially important for complicated outline states (like Virginia). For states like Colorado, South Dakota, Utah, etc. I'm sure you could be a little more liberal with your spacing.

After lots of nailing, I ripped the paper outline off of the wood canvas. Then the fun part-- stringing the floss. I used the random method so that I could get the best coverage. You just simply need to knot the string to your first nail (you can cut the excess if it's too long). I went through about 1 and a half bundles of embroidery floss until it was completely covered.

And voila! I stuck a sawtooth hanger in the back so that we can eventually hang it in our new house! And now I'm wishing we lived in 5 other states so that I could create a collection. I just may do an Italy version to represent our honeymoon since we loved it so much. But that boot looks mighty intimidating!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Confessions of a Non-Cooker

I would love to be one of those women. You know, the women who think baking is therapeutic, who can stray away from exact measurements and a recipe, who were taught by their grandmother and mother to cook from scratch. Yes, that was not me. Sometimes I feel like I missed something. Like I missed the "cooking" gene that is ingrained in many women and wives. I wondered if it would just magically sprout when I got married, but alas I still dread that question "so what's for dinner?".

Ryan and I will both admit that even before we got married, we ate out a lot. And unfortunately, if we're being honest here, that habit has carried on over into our marriage. So here we are 6 months into marriage, with a significant portion of our budget going towards food...more specifically restaurants and we're about to buy a house that has some serious money-saving implications. Something's gotta give.

Several factors have prevented me from being able to whip up meals like it's nothing:

  • It seriously stresses me out. Typically, after I get back from work the last thing I want to do is spend an hour slaving over a stove for a meal we won't be able to finish. 
  • I had very little go-to recipes. I haven't been cooking long enough to have a good number of tried and true recipes.
  • My husband is the pickiest eater I know. Which makes narrowing down recipes even harder. So I may love mushrooms but choosing a meal that's got mushrooms even in the sauce isn't worth it because he won't eat it. 
  • I never have everything I need on-hand. I usually go to the grocery store once a week but if I haven't thought ahead of time what I'm making, I likely won't have everything on-hand and I end up going back to the grocery store for 2-3 items.
So all that to say, I got desperate. I asked around to a couple of friends who have used meal planning services to get their recommendations and settled on one that I thought met our needs. So yes, I'm paying for a service to send me an email every week telling me what to cook. Granted, I change out almost every suggested meal due to my picky eater, it's still been a great motivator (so far) to actually plan a week's worth of meals. Six O'Clock Scramble explains recipes in beginner language and also gives you different ways to cook the recipes. We love slow cooking so for some of the recipes, we opt for the slow cooking option. It also tells you the things you can chop/cook/portion ahead of time. Now, I haven't been using this for that long at all, so I can't say that I've found my love for cooking. But for those who need the kick in the pants, meal planning is a great option. There's a Groupon for the Scramble too, which I definitely used! 

So here's to a week of NO eating out! This is a big deal to us! And to honing in on my inner cook...I'm still not convinced it exists. Tonight, I'm slowcooking beef and broccoli teriyaki! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saying Hello to Homeownership

So we've (kind of) kept our house hunting on the downlow. Mostly because we weren't sure if we would come out with anything when we first started. It even took me a few weeks into the process to realize we were getting serious. We've been actively searching for a home for about 2 months now. It alllll started with a casual unintended peak at Trulia and finding what I thought was our dream home in our price range. We quickly found a realtor, applied and qualified for a loan and went to look at the house that weekend. We quickly came down from our cloud and realized through our realtor what a terrible decision it would've been to have bought that "flipped" house. There were visible cut corners and even externally we could tell they were hiding some major issues.

Nonetheless, we had opened the pandora's box that was house hunting. We quickly realized how un-fun the house hunting process was when you're limited to a lower budget for the area, increasing demand/competition and a shrinking inventory. The housing market in NOVA has quickly become a seller's market rather than a buyer's market. Houses get scooped up in days, we saw it time and time again. And we were having no luck finding a place that met all of our major needs.

After again, coming out of my cloud, we realized we had to move our house search further outside of Fairfax. We had a few criteria must-haves while we were looking:
  • It had to be close to our church: We want our house to be used for ministry purposes and to be an option for hosting church functions, small groups, Christmas parties, etc at our house. Currently, our church has few options where more than 10 people can show up and not have parking issues. We want our home to be open and used for Kingdom work.
  • It had to be close to move-in ready. Obviously, this eliminated a lot of the properties we saw that were closer in--like almost all of them. The comparison to what our money could buy closer in was simply not worth it once we saw what we could get 15 minutes (without traffic) out. Granted we'll have a slightly longer commute, but that was really the only con. 
  • It had to be detached. I personally was on the fence with this one...I would've moved into a townhouse if it meant we could be closer in and it didn't look like 1970s had thrown up all over it. But Ryan on the otherhand, would not settle for a townhouse or condo. He wanted a yard. I could've cared less about a yard. I think it's because deep down he sees a dog in our future. I eventually came around and besides, who really wants to share walls with people and have to constantly worry about your sound system having too much bass? Right, Ryan?? ;)
I was also picky about a lot of random things that I originally didn't think were a big deal. For example, I hated any house with those old rectangular 70s small windows, I automatically loved any room that had recessed lighting, I actually wanted a fireplace, and if the bathrooms were horrendous it was a no go. All of that to say that last Sunday, we randomly decided to attend an open house advertised on Zillow out in Centreville. We went and fell in love with it. It met every single one of our needs. So we went home, signed all the necessary documents and put in our offer on a house that had been on the market for 3 days. Ryan made me wait until we went through inspection before I could announce anything, but I can now say that on our 6 month anniversary our offer was accepted and we are officially BUYING A HOUSE and will be homeowners! We are thrilled and excited and we are praising the Lord for his sweet provision!

So without further ado, say hello to the new Shaughnessy household:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Recap

Is it just me or did the past few weeks FLY by! It's always when you're off work, does the week just seem to go so much faster. We had a busy first married Christmas! It was the perfect balance of rest, family, adventure and busyness for us. I felt well rested and almost ready to go back to work (I mean who ever feels fully ready to go back to work?)

We started off our week by heading to Charleston, SC for a mini weekend getaway at a place we've always wanted to explore. We left Saturday morning in the thick of Christmas traffic and after about 8.5 hours we finally made it! Now, I planned this trip as a Christmas present for Ryan. I booked the hotel. I figured out what we would do. I researched where we could eat. I booked the Inn at Middleton Place which was a sprawling southern plantation and not to mention totally out of my normal scope of hotels. I always say that I'm not an inn or B&B type person, but after reading some mixed reviews and looking at pictures I just decided to go for it. We got there late at night, got lost because the place was so big, checked in and set our bags down. As soon as Ryan opened the door I thought to myself, "Oh dear, what have I done." It was nothing like the pictures, but I decided to stick it out because Ryan loved it. Let's just say that after that one night and even into the morning there were so many things that I didn't like about this place that I couldn't imagine staying another night. So I did what I hate doing...I pulled my high maintenance card. The Inn was literally sucking my joy out of the trip. And this is how great Ryan is. He didn't care that he loved the place, or that this was as close to camping as I'll ever get, he just wanted to do whatever it took to make me happy. And that included checking into a tried-and-true Marriott.

We loved Charleston! It was everything we expected it to be--southern, classy yet still had a hometown feel. We just explored the city, ate at some amazing places, did a little shopping at some stores and the Old City Market and ended our day with a carriage tour of the old city. One day, we would still love to find ourselves there. We even made the mistake of pulling up our Zillow app and seeing how "cheap" the houses were. I'm in love with the double porch and ceiling fans! We drove by a couple that we'd scoop up in a heartbeat...if we were down there. Someday!

We headed by to good 'ole Virginia and kicked off Christmas at my parent's house. We spent Christmas morning there, drove up to Northern VA and had Christmas at Ryan's parent's house, headed into DC for Christmas dinner at Carmines, went to see Ryan's brother and sister-in-law for Christmas dessert and THEN went home. It was the longest day ever, but we were so glad to see all our family all in one day. We didn't have a chance to do Christmas just the two of us until about 11:00 p.m. that night. Next year, that will be different! We put lots of miles on our poor CRV traveling all over the East Coast, but we loved it and it was memorable.

We ended our break by watching Melissa and Joe get hitched. I had to give my first (and hopefully last) ever MOH speech, but I'm thankful I had to do it with Rachel. Now, I didn't really cry at my own wedding. I think so much was going on and I was so worried about the clouds opening up. We got to watch their first look and I bawled my eyes out. Didn't even see it coming. And when she was coming down the aisle? There went the tears again! It was such a joy to watch one of my best friends finally find the guy, her soulmate, her husband. It was a whirlwind of a day for sure, but I'm so glad they're finally married!!
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