Archive of ‘Firsts’ category

How We Vacation: Charleston

By Natalie

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Who’s idea was it to vacation in Charleston in this blazing heat?? Surely we weren’t thinking clearly when we pushed our trip from May to June.

Hot, muggy, beautiful Charleston,

Thanks for the tan.

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imageThis trip was actually amazing now that I’ve had a moment to think about it. We like to vacation with no particular plan in mind. No scheduled tours, no itinerary, just a handful of bookmarked Yelp found eateries, and places we might like to see.

Which works out pretty well for our personalities.

We revisited an Inn in Mt. Pleasant which perfectly sat us twelve minutes from downtown Charleston, and twelve minutes from Isle of Palms Beach in the other direction. We stayed at this inn for our 1 year anniversary and loved it so much we decided to go back, and I’d highly recommend! Three years later and this place still had an amazing breakfast, and wonderful service.

imageAlso, this cooler bag is a must.

Through my sunglasses I watched as a younger couple argued in the sand. The man stood red faced next his cooler on wheels, as the woman pointed toward the shore. “Look, right over there.” She said.

“If we just sit it on the packed wet sand, it’ll be fine.”

The man shook his head, clearly annoyed with beads of sweat rolling down his temple. “No, no no.. this thing’s gonna tip. I don’t know why we brought it.”

And yea, unless I was providing a beach lunch for a crowd, I’d have left the rolling cooler behind too.

This ↓ thermal bag is a much more practical option. To be honest I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. Thinking it’d solely get it’s use from the occasional picnic. But it’s proven to be great for the beach, (as seen previously here) and road trips too. It fits a few ice packs, and several tall drinks. Plus.. it’s personalized.

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This is my Could we pretty please stop by that cute Cafe a few blocks up? face. Cause I was getting pretty sun tired. image

I know, I know. Rainbow Row. It’s beautiful, it’s iconic. It’s a see it once, take a pano, and move along kind of place. We’re the type of people who drove across the golden gate bridge, took a few pics from inside the car, and zipped by the vistapoint. Cause.. the experience had been had. I saw the golden gate bridge for the first time. The moment was over as quickly as it came. It wasn’t going to do a backflip for me. It just was what it was. This magnificent structure that I had the privilege to see. And that was that.

Later, during that trip B and I had lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. The fog had cleared, and the top of the golden gate was just becoming visible. I peaked around Brandon to see the bridge standing ahead.

I remember the bridge pretty well.. but what’s much more vivid in my memory is that moment spent with Brandon. That moment where we sat together discussing all the new sights we were seeing.

I had the same experience when I went to Europe with my sister. We sat at a table outside a cafe in the middle of Athens. And just to the left of Nem’s head sat the Parthenon. It was such a surreal moment. We saw it up close. We toured it, and then there it sat in all it’s ruin, while Nem and I sipped our iced coffees. The parthenon was pretty fantastic, but so was the time we spent together. Attempting to thank our waiter in Greek.

We saw the trevi fountain together, and I remember it being crowded. Everyone scrambling to toss their coin in, and get a picture. I remember that we hung back, stepped into a gelato shop instead, and devoured the creamiest italian gelato with the fountain in our peripherals.

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I like keeping it that way. Spotting landmarks, and stealing a moment to take them in, and then focus on the person I’m sharing in that moment with. That’s what it’s all about for me.

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After rainbow row, we hit up Carmella’s. The doors were wide open inviting us inside to the cooler air. The menu had italian ice listed at the top. Sold. After tasting a sampling of Coconut Cream I COULD NOT turn it down.

The woman behind the counter asked if we’d like a glass of water to which we exasperatingly replied. “Please, yes, please, thank you so much.” Because we sweat gallons this trip, and being dehydrated makes you cranky, and no one wants a cranky spouse on vacation.

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Rosy cheeks, and happy. That’s what we were going for.

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p.s. How can my husband still look so manly while eating tangerine italian ice with a baby spoon?

I love him.imageAnd that’s how our trip went. Perfectly relaxing, and restoring. With a pleasant overdose of Vitamin D.


Life Lately…

By Natalie

2015 is rolling right along, and so much has grabbed my attention, that I thought I’d give you a quick recap of Life Lately. Hang with me, we’re goin fast!

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My beautiful sister Nadir gave birth to her first born last month! I’m amazed by my sister’s strength, and overwhlemed with the beauty of a woman’s ability to go through pregnancy, and childbirth! It’s alot of work to bring life into the world! I was so excited to visit just a couple days later to share in their blessing.

imageNorah did not dissappoint. She’s pretty stinking adorable, and she’s leaving the whole family smitten with love for her. Passing down my crown of being the youngest isn’t half bad.

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School is almost out! Which means I get to see more of this cool kid ↓↓

Bring on the summertime fun!

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If you follow me on Instagram you know I found the best Farmer’s Market ever!  On Saturday I excused  myself past people to grab a giant 34 cent carrot.. Have I grown up, or have I grown up?

My first visit I stood over baskets of strawberries with giddiness in my eyes, because those strawberries were tantalizingly bright red, and gorgeous. After the man who proudly grew them noticed I was interested he said, “Go ahead and try them there strawberries.” Tickled by his accent, and guiltlessly wanting a taste I picked up a little red guy and bit just below the green. And it.. was.. the best dang strawberry I’ve ever tasted.

The next week when I asked B to tag along he insited we grab a cantaloupe. But once we got to the pile we stared at the cantaloupe, and then at eachother. How do you pick a good cantaloupe? There’s so many rules to ripeness.. how will I possibly remember them all? This one’s too green.. this one’s too hard.. this one doesn’t smell strong enough.

“I think you smell the butt.” I said to B.

To which he replied. “But they all smell so good.”

“Whenna you gonna cut it?” An older man asked, noticing we were in need of assistance.

“Umm probably today.” I said. Then he proceeded to grab at the cantaloupe, and handed us a good one, and moved on. And it was a GOOD one.

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Cherries just like the ones we’d pick off of the tree when I was little. How could I pass that up?

When I was 2 or 3 I’d galavant through the backyard with cherries in hand, and when my mom asked me what they were I’d say “Gwapes” and she’d say “They’re Cherries!”

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Plants!!! call me crazy, but I had no idea there’d be more than produce, and fresh flowers at the farmer’s market. I stared at an oversized pot full of Elephant Ears as tall as I am, for 10 minutes. Deliberating… Because, I really, really, wanted those guys in my home. But, I settled for a hanging pot of succulents to accompany the bedroom window. And really, can you go wrong with succulents?

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Speaking of plants…

I found this precious nursery not too far from where I work. imageI wasn’t expecting too much, but once I walked in I followed the sign for houseplants, and I stepped into this beautiful haven. Mhmm I’ll take one of each pretty please.


During a casual Wednesday morning trip to Jo-Ann’s with little Grant I spotted this fabric, and could not get over how it had our entire living room color scheme. After getting a couple feet cut for a bunting I grabbed some matching bias tape, and whipped out my coupons. Because Jo-Ann’s ALWAYS has coupons. Total for this DIY was five dollars! [And lots of leftover scrap fabric for other projects.]image

When I got home I popped in an old musical, and got to tracing, cutting, and sewing.

Since we’re living in a rental I’ve been using as many Command hooks as possible to avoid holes in the wall, and it hasn’t been too big a deal aside from the fact that I miss our curtains. But this bunting has been a stunning alternative!

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In case you wondered..

Bingley wanted to say hello.

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Oh! And I thought you’d like this pretty decent little drawing we spotted on our table at Mama’s Coffeehouse. image

Life’s been pretty sweet huh?

San Francisco – Our Day in Pictures

By Natalie

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Riding on the trolly with Laura. Grandparents may or may not have been left careening downward on that fast moving trolly. Don’t worry, we were sure to leave them with light saber Jesus.

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Exactly. What on earth, why was this random picture on the trolly?

we may have been terribly split up from the rest of the family but it’s alright because as Laura so perfectly described it, this experience was like a weird dream. Unexpectedly split up into several different groups, and then there was the three of us, walking around Chinatown with Dad and Natalie.

We did however take the time on our quest to regroup to see fun places like this building.

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And then it just kind of hits you all at once. Woah I’m across the country! I’m in San Francisco.

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And then you see things that remind you of your pup at home.

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But trust me Bingley is having a grand old time. I know, because we’ve been receiving pictures like these.. Playtime with his best bud Jack.

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Firsts: Last 5, Next 5

By Natalie

Today is one of those rainy days that causes me to lack inspiration. I could totally give into it today too. Allowing this downpour to symbolize all of the things that lack flow in my life. But perhaps you stopped by today expecting a pick me up, because the rain has given you unecessary cabin fever in the spring. And so, I figured that maybe today I’d keep my rainy day woes to myself, and speak on the subject of something quite contrary. Here’s a list of happier things while we sit in silent anticipation to see our bright and cheery sun again.

As you well know, firsts are my favorite. Right up there with unexpected kisses, and wet puppy paw prints. I’ve compiled a list of firsts I’ve done in the last 5 years. Some I’m pretty proud of, some I can’t believe took me so long.

1st Caramel Apple

1st Hayride (The caramel apple and hayride were done together, you can imagine how grand of a moment it was. Enjoyed with the Poe family, as they all stared at me in shock that I had never experienced either before)

1st time driving on i95 (This was after I was married! I know right? What was I so afraid of?)

1st And I Repeat LAST Time Flying Standby

That leads me to my next 1st… 1st Time Sleeping in an Airport (That little story coming soon)

1st Major League Baseball Game

1st Time Camping

1st Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia

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1st Time in a Casino

1st House

1st Dog

1st Car (Oh my VW how I loved you, and hated you)

1st Time Hiking Old Rag

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1st Time Making a Cake from Scratch (I’ll have to share that yummy recipe)

1st Time Making Homemade Bread

I’m sure there’s so many more, that I just can’t recall at the moment, but those are some big ones. I figured I’d compile another list of some firsts I wish to experience in the next 5 years… And then you can share in the joy with me when I experience them!

Ride on a Train

Travel Further West

1st Baby Poe??!! (I’ll keep you all on your toes with that one)

Visit Puerto Rico (My Homeland!)

Take an RV Trip (This is a long shot, I feel like the only young person on earth who wants to do this)

Go Snorkeling

Learn to Swim… Forward… Would be helpful if I were ever drowning and I only know how to float on my back. I could be laying there for a while…

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Oh I know there’s more for this list, but we’ll leave just the few for the 5 year mark.

I hope you enjoyed, and can share your fun stories with me as well. Happy Rainy Day Friends.

Fixing Up the House

By Natalie

It’s the end of the first beautiful weekend of spring, and we got all of our spring cleaning done! That’s right! Allergies have hit me hard this weekend but I’ve persevered for the better of our home. We decided to paint some rooms in our house this weekend, and it was inevitable that once B pulled all the furniture out I had to run around to dust, and clean. We painted our front door today to match our black shutters, and I’m so pleased with it!

Here’s the before: B was already taping, when I realized I didn’t have a before picture, so I snuck one in. We also had a storm door before. We had to remove it to fit our new fridge, and found that we preferred the look of the front door without it.

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After

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This was one of those simple projects that makes a huge difference in the look of our house. Here’s another one of those simple projects that makes a huge difference. A while ago we decided to switch out all of our old beat up gold doorknobs for nickel ones.

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unnamedAlright, the last thing I have to brag about for now is this gorgeous wrought iron hose holder we found hiding in Wally World of all places! There aren’t too many options out there for housing hoses. I quickly voiced to B that I was not a fan of the large boxes where you unravel the hose. Am I the only one who meticulously watches for spiders while unraveling? Those boxes seem to be a breeding ground for bugs! I much prefer the hose being exposed. So of course, when B spotted this beauty I was all for it!

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I hope that was a bit of an inspiration for you. Warmer weather is on the horizon! Stretch out your green thumbs people! And best of luck to you in your own spring cleaning ventures.

Why We Did a First Look

By Natalie

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There was something about me that when I met Brandon changed very quickly. I grew up thinking that some things just were the way they were. You live the same place you grew up for example… You have rice and beans with your thanksgiving dinner… You wear pjs Christmas morning… A bride never sees her groom before her wedding… You go to a beachy place for a vacation etc. “It’s what everybody does.” I’d say in frustration. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t feel the same. I was so used to the norms, never considering other circumstances. When Brandon met me I’d like to believe that he admired my whimsy, but he also knew that if somebody would have to burst my reality bubble it’d most likely have to be him. Now that sounds aweful, but trust me, it was for the best. He opened my eyes to new possibilities I’d never considered.

One day while we were wedding planning he mentioned “Why don’t we take the pictures before the wedding? My parents did it.” he said “Everything will be fresh, and then we won’t have people waiting forever to eat after the wedding.” I immediately shook my head no. I couldn’t imagine it. The bride seeing the groom before the wedding!? No way. But then one morning I was flipping through a magazine, and I saw a picture of a First Look. The idea was that you see eachother before the wedding to have an intimate moment where it’s just the two of you. Offering photographers a chance to catch every second of your reactions from every angle. Then of course, you could take all of the pictures you want before the wedding. What a great way to get all of the wedding jitters out I thought. The pictures I found were so sweet for the people brave enough to do something a little bit different.

I wanted nothing more than to share that special moment with Brandon. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want him to see me for the first time as his bride with a bunch of people staring at us. I wanted it to be just us. Whispering excitement to one another of what was to come. I can happily say that I was so pleased we did it.

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Mousecapades

By Natalie

The title of this post is compliments of my sister Nadir. I told her the night that we had discovered mice raiding our pantry and the very next day she asked “How’s the mousecapades?” Sometimes she has this way of saying things so nonchalant that make me giggle maybe too much. Then she smiles, eyebrows raised as if to say “ok, it was funny, but not that funny.”

If oh ever you go to pull out a sesame seed burger bun, that you are so looking forward to… You are so looking forward to those burgers that your husband has grilled to perfection. He puts the finished burgers on the counter. He takes a look at the bag of buns. “Ummm.” he says. “What’s this?” he points to small chewed up holes in the bag. Your stomach grumbles. It’s 7pm, a late night from work. You’re so hungry you don’t want to think about what could have happened to the buns, you just want to eat. But then you look closer. “No! those are legitimate chew marks in the buns. Could it have been Bingley? Did he somehow manage to bite the bag before I put it away?” The two of you wander toward the pantry. Bag of tortillas… holes. New loaf of bread… holes. New bag of chocolate chips… holes. New bag of confectioners sugar… holes. Your eyes wander the shelves and down to the floor of the pantry. Droppings…. “Nooooooo!!!! Nothing is safe! Trash everything that was open, wipe everything with bleach!”

That was our night. We ate our burgers bunless that night. They still hit the spot, though they were eaten later than expected. Once we finished dinner B went out to Lowe’s to put an end to those dirty rodents that ruined our food. We had discovered that there was a small hole in the molding that apparently must have led to our crawl space which is where they had journeyed in.

mouse holeIsn’t that just the coziest little mouse hole?

If you have mice that come in through a hole apparently all you need is the coarsest steel wool you can find. Shove that down the hole, and lots of it. They can’t chew through it, or they’ll ruin their teeth. Then apply a bit of caulk to plug it up. Voilá, no more mice invading your home.

The Story of Samson

By Natalie

All my life I had longed to have the companionship of a dog. Believing that dog’s were simply too much responsibility my mom always seemed to settle with cats. The cats were alright, but they just weren’t what I had always wanted. Brandon had grown up with dogs around and promised that the day we got a house we could have a dog. Disclaimer: there is a certain quality in me that I’m not necessarily proud of, but I cannot deny. When I’m given hope for something in the future I want it as soon as possible. The closer it gets the more frustrated I get, and beg to have it sooner than anticipated. B calls it ‘light at the end of the tunnel syndrome’.

When the offer was accepted on our house we began our search for our new family member. One sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to go to Petsmart where the Orange County Animal Shelter was holding adoptions. That’s were I fell in love with our Samson. I had taken a particular liking to him, and the volunteers must have noticed, as they asked us if we’d like to take him for a walk. We stepped outside and this big goof of a dog strolled about like he was the happiest dog in the world. There was no doubt in my mind that he was the dog for me. I couldn’t resist his adorable big head that I could kiss all day long.

We went home and thought about our decision to adopt him. The closer we came to closing on our house the more we felt like he was the dog for us. Immediately after signing papers to close on our house we drove to the Orange County Animal Shelter to adopt our boy. The whole time we were there I was giddy with excitement.

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Our first family photo  was taken the day we closed on our house. I couldn’t have been more delighted. He was my first dog in our first house.

Dog ownership was even better than I had envisioned. I loved having Samson around when B was out so I didn’t have to be by myself. I loved the way he had to lay behind me while I cooked and washed dishes. I loved seeing his excitement when we arrived home from a long day. I loved how cuddly he got when he was sleepy at night. I loved waking up with blurry vision and seeing him there laying beside me, not a care in the world. You could see in his eyes that he was grateful to have a new happy home.

We gave Samson a chance, which is more than most people would have done. We did our research, and we found that we were up to the task of caring for a fun loving muscular dog. That’s one of those things that I continually try to remind myself. We rescued him, and loved him with no judgement. I wouldn’t ever change that even if I was granted the opportunity. I had my sweet boy for under a month when he was taken. It’s a wonder how in under a month I was able to grow so fond of him. He had a chance to meet family and friends. He had numerous nicknames including Sammy Sosa which just kind of came out one day, and stuck. He was spoiled by my friend Chloe who saw no fault in him. He enjoyed multiple firsts with his new parents. Moments I’ll never forget like his first bath, which was more of a wrestling match between the three of us…

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Look at that smile!!

So often we read the news articles and sympathize with the victim, with good reason. The innocent deserve to be sympathized. It is rare to ever hear the other side of the story. I feel as if it’s time to tell it. Not just for me, but for all those who are on the other side. We sit in shame, and guilt, all the while accepting punches from others for fear of what they might say if we defend ourselves. Samson ripped a metal stake out of the ground right before my eyes, and bit another dog. It was a moment that will forever be stained in my memory. I understand the victim. Trust me I do. But I’m tired of pretending like I wasn’t hurt in this situation. As B put it “How must the parents feel of the children who orchestrated terrifying school shootings, and threats. Parents of the victims are angry, and grievous. but the parents of shooters… how must they feel?” Will you sit back and deny the fact that they are grievous as well? For losing their own children, and feeling responsible. What I went through was so minuscule in comparison. I don’t expect you to understand, I honestly don’t. It’s a difficult thing for people to accept the fact that those people are suffering as well. I do however urge you to take these words to heart.

We enjoyed every bit of this dog leading up to that traumatic day. My mind is full of ‘If onlys’ . It is full of regret. Not regret of adopting Samson, but regret for bruising his breed name. Regret of being in the front yard that day. Regret of not protecting Samson. Never did I ever believe I would have to go through such a difficult series of events. Until I find the strength to capture the memory of that day I will leave you with all I have left of him. My memories.

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

By Natalie

nationals 3What’s one thing that you can only ever experience once? Something that you can’t go back and change. Everything in that moment captured in time. A first. They are my very favorite. Nothing else can compare a first. Your first steps, your first words, your first kiss, your first love, your first house, your first pet, your first car. Everything in our lives had a first. They’re full of expectation, thrill, and curiosity, what’s not to love! Ok you got me, there is the occasional first that is full of dread.  Like your first… things that have to do with puberty…, public presentation, job. Blech, those were no fun! But I like talking about the thrilling kind. Those moments that are etched in our minds for good.

This is a silly kind of first to talk about because it was just a baseball game. One random Sunday the Young’s asked us if we wanted to tag along to a ball game where they could watch their beloved Braves crush our Nationals. On a whim we figured sure, why not? The tickets were very affordable, I had never been before, and we were in need of a spontaneous outing.

nationalsI had a blast! I so was not expecting much from the little trip and I was surprised at what a good time we had. When the 7th inning stretch came around I may or may not have belted out Take Me Out to the Ball Game with exuberance I didn’t even know I had. Baseball is definitely a sport to be enjoyed live. It was so perfect to sit out in the night air. Looking into that large open field, chomping on our massive bag of peanuts as we cheered. I found that there is something about eating peanuts that makes you feel entitled. Tossing aside the shells as if you are too good to worry about trash. It was all part of the experience. I mean come on, you can’t go to a baseball game and not have peanuts or cracker jacks right?

nationals 2If you have never been, GO! I’m not even a sports fan and I loved it. Open your senses! There are so many firsts out there waiting to be experienced, don’t let them pass you by!