The Two Sentences We Put on Each Reception Menu

We gave each of our wedding guests a reading assignment. Basically. It was two sentences on top of each dinner menu at their place setting. And nah, it wasn’t a description of the butter and rolls and salad to kick off the course.

We didn’t even have butter and rolls. Oh YES to salad – field greens and berries with a bit of goat cheese. If it was my way, it would’ve been double goat cheese but my mom and sisters despise goat cheese. My mom forced me to instruct the caterer to not use a heavy hand. That email broke my heart a little.

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Anyways, the top of the menu is what I’m here to chat about. I’m fairly certain I typed up those sentences subconsciously on my Google doc to send off to our graphic designer/Evan’s cousin/rockstar because it’s something I continue to remind myself before diving into any meal. This meal was no different. I wanted to set up dinner in a sincere way before our guests trotted on up to the buffet line.

Was I the only one who trotted? Probably.

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The food on the menu was gooood. So trot-worthy. We heard from at least 18 people that it was the best they’ve ever had at a wedding. I’m not bragging because I clearly didn’t step in the kitchen. That’s ALL the outstanding Shelly! But the food wasn’t better than each of our loved ones.

Each person we invited was there for a specific purpose. Even if I didn’t know them or only knew their first name and no fun facts about their life, we chose for them to have a seat at the dinner table. Each soul that filled the reception supported our relationship, celebrated it and loved us enough to show up and drink champagne to that!

Or do they just like champagne and the open bar that followed?? Don’t blame ya.

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The two sentences were:

Our favorite part about food is how it brings people together. Enjoy the meal, but mostly the people around you!

Did anyone read it? I can’t say with certainty that even one person did before moving their eyes down to what they’d be served because nobody reported back. Still waiting on that one so feel free to report away!

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But I don’t really care if great aunt Margaret grabbed her reading glasses to read it. That only meant she was so focused on the company at her table that she didn’t need to. Regardless, I typed that into my Google doc and didn’t delete it because I feel so passionate about those two sentences. I wanted each detail of our wedding to be us and that is us.

Well, it’s us as works in progress. I’m a foodie through and through AND through (who woulda thought for a girl with a food-focused blog?!) and sometimes I fixate on it more than my company. Sometimes I take more bites than questions I ask and I don’t like that about myself. Yes to all the bites but yes with a thousand ‘s’ and an exclamation point to all the curious questions that provoke conversation.

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Wanna know something? We actually fired our first caterer because after we paid the deposit and went to the tasting, I was disappointed. Like actually went to the bathroom mid-meal and cried to collect myself and get back to eating a not so great chicken paprikash. Yes, that was entirely because I had a rough work week and was feeling worn down on this Friday night but that protein option didn’t raise my mood.

So I like food enough to search out the best caterer we knew to celebrate exchanging vows with some friggggin good eats rounded out by peanut butter cake. But food doesn’t have a soul. You have a soul. You are incredibly more important and worthy of undivided attention than a piece of salmon with cucumber dill sauce.

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Stunning charcuterie boards are not as beautiful as you. Buffalo chicken lollipops create brief joy when dipped in ranch but you are from a perfect source that promises eternal joy. The local beer we had on tap didn’t make it out of that venue but we continue to see our friends and fam who have lasting impact on our lives and were perfectly placed there on June 8 AND on this planet by our shared Creator.

Jesus loved weddings too but I have a feeling he would agree with what was on top of our menu. To focus on our loved ones and strangers more than our own needs. It’s tough but I believe that Evan and I and you were made to chase after tough things.

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Let’s dance to that!! Feat. my super cute groom who gets told on the regular that he dances like a dad. Mostly by me 🙂

Feat. x2 these guests that we paused their Lizzo singalong to capture their very important presence on this day. Evan and I are immensely appreciative for each of these folks (and many more) who gathered together for us!

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So much so that when people came up to me during the reception and asked how I was feeling, I kept on saying “Oh my goodness, I’m so honored that people showed up!!” Every person I said this to replied “Well duh, Ker. Of course we are going to show up! We love you!”

To all our guests who showed up, feasted, drank and danced their hearts out:

  1. Thank ya the mostest!!
  2. We hope you enjoyed the meal, but mostly the people around you!
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Saturday Satisfaction #12

Lauren Conrad’s Friday Favorites blog posts were the reason I started these Saturday Satisfaction posts back in 2015. Does she do them anymore?! The answer is nope but here we are with my 12th edition. Still finding allll the satisfaction in my Saturday’s.

I’d say this lineup is the most simplistic yet. Literally frozen water, which also goes by the name of ice, is #3. That is the cause for my smile while I’m pre-breakfasting (actual breakfast = the more substantial egg bake pictured below with sprouted sourdough and lots of grass-fed butter) on a almond butter zucchini bar. Alexis, you knocked this recipe outtttathepark.

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That recipe is 1a on this list. I don’t subscribe to a gluten-free or paleo diet that this recipe markets to nor label my eating any certain way. Uneaten zucchini was in my fridge because I bought one too many at my work’s farmers market (BEST EMPLOYEE PERK) so zucchini bread that is balanced with lots of fat and protein from the almond butter resulted!!

Onto my other faves that have been delighting my life. Let’s kick it!

Not in the aggressive way but in the Vanilla Ice way. Ya know?

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1b) The library. Yes, I’m a 47 year old suburban mom soul stuck in a 24 year old’s body. I LOVE the library. It’s a hidden treasure chest to me except it’s not hidden at all. Overlooked?? Maybe a better description. When I think about books too long, I get down a deep rabbit hole of thoughts that ends in “People are literally taking their very best knowledge and handing it out for free!! Why wouldn’t I soak it up, implement their success tactics and swipe my library card more rapidly than my debit card?!” I just finished some biz books from my local library and am picking up Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist today. Have you read?!

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2) Bedhead mornings with my little Oaks. Formal and still unregistered name: Oakley. Evan and I were going to get a puppy this month or next to allow enough training time before Ohio becomes a blizzardy snow globe. So my dude sent me puppy screenshots all day long for weeks until I finally said yes to her a week and a half ago. Evan brought her home 12 hours later haha. I have morning duty with our 3 month old pup so after playing, I talk to Jesus and then read away while she chills at my feet annnd sometimes tries to play tug-o-war with my blanket.

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3) Crushed ice in my coffee. This is the frozen water I was referring to above lol. I’ve been a daily iced coffee girl since college and have always done cubed. Why? Couldn’t tell you. A few weeks back, I was feeling crushed in my mug. And it’s been the most simple, fun treat to sip my iced coffee that almost resembles a slushee. Speedway can’t compete!

4) Dinners on our patio. I’ve been living in this house with my husband for two months and the patio is my very favorite spot of the house. What’s funny is that before this move, I’ve never been a huge patio fan. Well, things changed and I’m soaking up the shifts! We eat dinner out here almost every single night and I swear the serenity and cool air makes the food taste better. I didn’t think I could love slow dinners with the people I love around the table more!! P.S. also soaking this up because it’s most likely our first and last summer with this patio. We planned out a handful of life goals a few nights ago over frozen pizza and selling this home is coming up next spring. 

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5) This quote. By St Teresa Benedicta aka Edith Stein. These landed in my ears on a run while listening to The Catholic Feminist podcast. It’s one of those messages where you’re like “Uggghh, I really wish I hadn’t heard that because that’s exactly what I needed to hear but I don’t feel ready to act on it.” Welp, God calls us to action, not thinking without application aka remaining silent. I’ve been praying with it because you betcha our Father hasn’t allowed me to forget about them. Thankful for that!!


Happy Saturday, friends! Agenda for the day: finish wedding thank you notes, my sister and brother in law are coming over to play with Oakley, pick up knowledge aka a book at the library, bike ride on a new to me trail, Mass and wind down with the Brené Brown documentary on Netflix, glass of Merlot and home manicure. Yahoo!!

I Didn’t Expect this Adjustment at the Chiropractor

A few months back, I paid my chiropractor a visit. It had been quite some time since I’d last seen him with a high school tennis injury. This time around, I hurt my knee when training for a half marathon.

Yo girl ramped up the miles too fast too soon because I felt amazing on the trail. Bad idea. I got my refund for the race (PTL!) and took a six month break from running. When I put my running shoes back on at the beginning of the summer, the knee pain came right on back.

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My chiropractor and I got to talking about what was really going on and he shared one sentence that I’ve been thinking about nonstop for weeks.

Kerigan, you’re just like a racehorse.

Excuse me, what does that even mean, Marty?! <—- What was going through my head in his office.

He went on to explain the different types of horses and how their build affects their function and health. Marty shared how some types of horses are outside grazing all day and others pull heavy machinery but racehorses are put to the test while training and competing to go all out in short spurts. Consequently, they get injured easily because they don’t recover well and need ample rest. He shared how my body size and injury fall right into the racehorse category. Then, he highly recommended that I never go over 2-3 miles at once ever again.

While he is probably the smartest man I know, I didn’t want to believe that running long distance isn’t for me. Running is one of my favorite hobbies because I get to put in a podcast and cruise my way through a few episodes. I get my daily dosage of vitamin D, have the opportunity to appreciate God’s creation and the endorphins that come a few miles in are the best treat. Dude, I don’t want to be a racehorse that can’t race!!

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That conversation occurred three months ago and I unhappily accepted it. I’ve been loving cycling and weights since until I’ve recently settled into my house with my husband. We have sidewalks GALORE all around us and a neighborhood big enough to get lost in. I was the lost soul last Tuesday morn that had to use Google Maps to return home. Ooops!

While I picked up the pace on a neighborhood walk one evening, my knee was telling me to stop. Marty’s words came back but this time, my own self reflection accompanied it.

Girl, you are a racehorse. You gave it your all but hit a bump and now have the experience to pivot properly. You know who you are and what you can do best so let’s move on to things that will help you thrive. Stop limping around and trying to make something work that just isn’t meant to happen.

That morning’s pain-inducing run wasn’t a “Uggghh, I should have listened to the doctor” moment. Nah. Instead, I was happy that Marty gave me the mind adjustment to pair with my experience. To take my faulty current state and form a individualized plan that works well for me to keep moving forward.

So that’s what I’m doing in regards to exercise. And I realized I’ve been doing it in all along in other areas of my life.

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I’d rather be the racehorse that got injured over one that didn’t try to physically test myself.

I’d rather have failed trying to become a dietitian over regretting that untapped career path.

I’d rather be married to my favorite person that I met through an app over not even attempting to put my single self out there. And that’s after many first dates that weren’t my favorite way to spend my free Saturday nights.

I’d rather uncomfortably share this blog in my network over wasting time pushing out content that only my mom will read.

I’d rather have this best (bride!!) friend of mine because I plopped down next to her and chatted away on a four hour bus ride over not talking to the stranger next to me.

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My very best gift to myself is showing up and trying. It’s being willing to be crappy at it the first go-around instead of overthinking to the point where I wish I had taken action three years ago. It’s being obsessively self-aware, living up to my personal high standards and not letting one of my God-given gifts go to waste.

My worst nightmare (thanks to Ed Mylett): at the end of my life, God sharing how those unapplied thoughts I had were from Him and I was put on this earth to pursue those instead of the safe ones I chose. P.S. I’d watch this video from Ed if you’re looking for my favorite pump up talk to EVER exist.

So the racehorse I’ve been told I am is going to keep on moving in a new way. All thanks to the chiropractor who adjusted my knee. AND my mind.

My Health Story as Told by Ice Cream

I recently updated my ‘About Me!’ page after four years. You can only imagine it was a bit outdated — ooops at me! The photo was a solo shot of me smiling in front of a ferris wheel that my sister took at a festival. Yeeeeah, I don’t like riding ferris wheels and it didn’t align with the content on this space.

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I looked through our wedding photos that were taken last month for a more recent shot. I got to the ones we took in front of the ice cream truck and an epiphany occurred as I was writing the copy to relate back to the picture.

After a journey of severe weight loss, health in the gutter and restoring myself one ice cream cone at a time, my perspective on food and wellness has dramatically shifted. So that’s what I write about, friends!

Ice cream cones have been the common thread from the very beginning of my health story. I know that sounds superficial. But from the time I got sick as a senior in high school (seven years ago) to now as a wife who loves to host friends for meals that end in shared pints, ice cream has been a go-to. Let’s explain in as few words as possible because this could easily become a book. 🙂

I was born with a blood disease that impacts the shape of my red blood cells and therefore, its function. My RBCs have a shorter life span than yours (unless you have Hereditary Spherocytosis too hehe) so I was always sleepy as a kiddo but nobody knew why. This disease doesn’t run in my family so I was never screened for it. That’s until my heart was failing on my 8th birthday party because my body couldn’t keep up with the production of my RBCs anymore. Thankfully, my mom got me to the hospital in time for a few blood transfusions and I survived that crazay period.

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While I’ve been functioning well since then, the diagnosis came with some lasting implications. I was anemic, got gallstones at the age of nine, had my gallbladder removed and then was told I would probably have spleen issues around puberty. The pain they spoke of arrived at age 17 in the fall-spring of my senior year. And I completely lost my appetite. I wasn’t eating much because pain in my abdomen didn’t make me want to, I was tired beyond belief and I was constantly cold because all my insulation was gone. I still remember having a hard time falling asleep because my bones were sticking out of my hips and back so I couldn’t get comfortable laying down.

Around Easter as a HS senior, I got a partial splenectomy in attempts that they could alleviate the issues while saving the function of my spleen. That recovery was BAD. I left the hospital totally emaciated, weak and in ample pain. After a few weeks at home, I could only attend half days of my final weeks of high school. If you went to my high school, you know those stairs are a WORKOUT so the nurse gave me an elevator pass for the remainder of the year.

I knew I needed to gain weight before starting college in the fall and I wanted to. But I also wanted to choose options that I actually enjoyed rather than shoving meal replacement shakes down my throat that I despised. This scenario proved to be prettay difficult because I prefer to eat whole foods and my favorite food group is vegetables. So putting on the weight for optimal health was sloooow. I prepared AND loved peanut butter oat pancakes, veggie & hummus snack plates and quinoa stir fry. The number on the scale didn’t increase much with those food choices.

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When I would attend my post-op checkups, the doctors would bring up their concerns about my size. They would keep on giving my mom coupons for Ensure while I explained how I was eating meals and snacks that I thoroughly enjoyed and I wasn’t skimping on portion sizes. They continued to challenge me to eat more so I thought, “what’s one thing I can do each day to keep this process rolling while not feeling like I am uncomfortably stuffing my face for the sake of pleasing others?” Ice cream cones. I LOVE ice cream and specifically when it’s out of a cone in the summer.

I began adding in one ice cream cone a day for the entire summer going into my freshman year of college. With that and my summer job at a pool’s snack bar (hello to an access of french fries all day long), the number on the scale slowly increased. However, I was still below where I had been before my spleen problems so my mom gave me a number I needed to hit in order to go to college.

Those ice cream cones got bigger and I still had a small amount to gain the week leading up to my dorm move-in date. I polished off a full pint the night before we packed up the car with all my belongings. Ice cream DID.THE.TRICK. I kept the cone party going at the dining hall. The days they had cinnamon in the freezer?? You could find me scooping that up.

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Entering college, I found nutrition to be semi-confusing with so many conflicting viewpoints. This was when “wellness” was on the rise and influencers had begun monetizing their blogs that talked about every superfood under the sun. Luckily, I was reading blogs by intuitive eating dietitians in my free time because my interest in nutrition persisted. I looked up to these credible sources to learn ways to take care of my body better. They wrote about being in tune to what your body is asking for while having the knowledge to give it what it needs regardless of appetite. After a year of eating on a schedule to keep the weight restorative food flowing in, this was new to me.

Unfortunately, the spleen pain paid me another visit near the middle of my freshman year. Over Thanksgiving break, I went under again to have it totally removed. I felt pretty lost with my fluctuating health status and the way I was supposed to take care of my body. I was playing college tennis at the time, filled up on nutrient-dense foods and drifted away from my daily commitment to ice cream because it didn’t always sound appealing. Welp, I became weaker and the athletic department had me meet with a dietitian. She had me incorporate the ice cream cones again and add in a balanced snack before bed. Shore thang!

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Around this time, I fell in love with Jesus and laid my messy health at his feet. I also found like-minded gal pals and quit tennis to slow my schedule down/allocate my time elsewhere. I started an infatuation with Trader Joe’s because I moved into an apartment and FINALLY began to cook for myself year-round. That was one exciting day because being creative in the kitchen is my fave hobby. 🙂 Physical signs of health were making an appearance, I created this blog, my social life was buzzing as I became the girl on campus that everyone knew and my commitment to academics brought neat travel opportunities my way (hello there, cast of Modern Family!).

My favorite part to look back on? I can clearly see how God connected the dots in my food-focused story. Junior year, I interned at a nationally-recognized eating disorder treatment center on the marketing side. This opportunity basically fell into my lap when I had applied for a nonprofit fellowship program and this placement was the only one of the ten that my degree aligned with. There, I got to see the life-changing work dietitians and clinicians were doing to help people’s relationship with food. I also gained a deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s to take care of myself better when it comes to balanced meals. I promise you that I haven’t eaten the same since I became an employee there! On my last day, we celebrated with ice cream. 🙂

Next up, I was introduced to the Community Manager of Yelp in my city and he was looking for a marketing intern that my skills were a fit for. I submitted one unique cover letter and boom – I became his sidekick that got to celebrate the amazing foodie businesses in Columbus. Annnd I got to bring my friends along for the ride where I formed a new definition of health. Was ice cream a part of our Yelp adventures? You betcha. During this year, I also volunteered at a food education nonprofit where I helped with cooking classes for low-income individuals.

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Oh and during that mix, I had set myself up to become a dietitian. The plan was to graduate with my PR degree, take pre-reqs for grad school while living at home and then get a master’s in dietetics at a school that had already verbally accepted me when they saw my transcript and learned about my professional and volunteer experiences. However, that path didn’t continue on because God let me know LOUD AND CLEAR that I am not a chemistry girl. Knocking out those pre-reqs became a nightmare and a half. I accepted that this long haul wasn’t for me, got back up and got my first full-time job….

at a PR firm that specializes in restaurants, food and beverages. Can we talk about how this foodie life kept following me in the best way ever?! I stayed there for 1.5 years until transitioning into a role with my family a few months ago. BUT, that wasn’t before we started working with a leader in the ice cream industry. Sampling a never before tasted flavor two seats down from the woman who built this empire was like, “God, you are bringing EVERYTHING full circle.”

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In my personal life, I brought pints of black raspberry chip over to my current husband’s house when I met his parents. I put an ice cream subscription box on our wedding registry because talka ’bout a perfect gift that keeps on giving! I asked a vintage ice cream truck to be at the cocktail hour of our wedding and they told me no. That’s until my mom called and made it possible (bless her!!). Evan and I had a few cones on our honeymoon. And I text friends on a weekly basis to come on over so we can eat a meal together that ends in a cone or scoop on top of peach crisp. This peach crisp recipe got raving reviews from our friends by the way hahah.

And here we are seven years of ice cream later. I am passionate about gathering around the kitchen table to take care of my body the way my Creator intended AND develop deeper relationships with those he calls me to love better. I’ve never been healthier or stronger physically, spiritually or mentally and I owe that to all the peaks and valleys I have experienced since being cooped up in the hospital on Easter at the beginning of my health journey.

As I say in my updated About Me!’ page:

We all gotta eat so let’s do it in a manner that allows us to become who God is calling us to be!

The Weight We Didn’t Gain at an All-Inclusive

The abundance of food at all-inclusives – it’s a known fact and one that resorts highlight in their marketing. It’s also a topic that was consistently brought up when women would ask me where we were going on our honeymoon. Particularly, the weight they felt they gained from their post-wedding vacay.

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It would always be a small remark like how the jeans they wore on the flight there were snug on the way home. Or a comment about how they reversed their pre-wedding diet progress from the non-stop snacking and dessert every night in the country they fled to as a Mrs. Girl, I have an
entirely different mindset than you.

I wasn’t concerned in the slightest about the food I would come across in my first week of marriage. Placing my concerns there when I should be celebrating this new milestone in my life would be devastating. I don’t think those ladies understand how much I love meal times with Evan because it brings us around a table without distractions and allows us to gather the physical needs (energy) but also emotional needs (our conversation) to fill on up, push our chair in and get back to our day.

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Yes, the food was impeccable. Best salmon, pad thai (on a private island btw) and sushi we’ve ever had. This right here was our meal after a waterfall hike: my jerk chicken, blue cheese & pineapple pizza and Evan’s octopus, scallops, calamari rings and tomato one. Both were deeevine.

While I’m missing the Jamaican rum (shoutout to our favorite bartender O’Shane!), fresh tropical fruit at the breakfast buffet and jerk chicken on every menu, we appreciated the local cuisine but truly didn’t over-indulge. This honeymoon week of no work schedule and access to all the food and drinks we could ever desire allowed us to eat intuitively and at the same table for a week straight. Those are both luxuries to take care of our bodies prettttay dang well.

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Evan and I are a rather frugal couple who hardly ever eat out so the restaurant options for every meal was fun but foreign. We didn’t overcomplicate it though. We got apps when they sounded amaze, drinks when we were craving blended sweetness and dessert when it was my birthday on the first night. We each listened to our bodies so sometimes that meant I was drinking alone or Evan was ordering a late night snack while I sat there to give him company.

When Evan wasn’t yet full from the sushi we enjoyed, he ordered another round without a second thought. When I wanted ice cream before dinner because it sounded grand on a 95 degree day even though my appetite wasn’t asking for it, I served myself. When we didn’t open any of the complimentary wine in our room, we considered packing it in our suitcase to go. But didn’t because of the nervousness around breaking glass hahah. 🙂

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Us gym-goers never went to the resort’s gym but we kayaked, hiked, played shuffleboard like the old souls we are, swam and took walks by the ocean after dinner. We had mimosas for breakfast every day and also took afternoon naps every day when the champagne and sunshine had us crashing. I never felt any sort of digestive discomfort and I owe that all to zero stress and being in tune with my body’s needs.

I’d say that’s how God meant it to be. He designed our bodies to require good rest and get hungry multiple times a day. We can implement certain strategies to elongate our blood sugar curve but ultimately we eat about three times from sunrise to sunset (duh.). That’s 1,095 opportunities a year to take care of ourselves among the company of other people. That’s not even including snacks!! God didn’t need to make our bodies operate that way but He did.

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Furthermore, God designed us to know how to listen to our hunger and
fullness cues. He sure knew what He was doing when He made us always have room for dessert but simultaneously, He gave us self-awareness to put the fork down when it would only bog us down and limit our ability to live life to the fullest. We were born with this gift and it never leaves us unless we mistreat ourselves.

It’s obvious to me that our Creator made our bodies resilient to change with a weight set point that is truly difficult to get out of when we respect our body’s needs for nutrition and movement. You gotta really reeeaally try hard to make the scale fluctuate far one way or the other. Praise Him for that because I haven’t had to buy new clothes since high school.

And can we talk about how food from other areas of His fine world should be explored and celebrated?! If I went to Jamaica and was too nervous to try the fresh caught fish or ackee (the poisonous fruit that would kill you unless it was opened by nature…okay, I was terrified to touch that), that would be the opposite of living. That’s staying in my boring comfortable bubble without exposure to gems that He put here for our joy.

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Adjusting back to “reality” after a week in Montego Bay was only tricky because I missed that togetherness with my guy. I wanted Evan to be my lunch date M-F and I wished for papaya to be on my breakfast plate in our Ohio home. Ohhh well. That’s what makes vacation special!

At the end of our trip, my body looked the exact same except that I had a mild tan (YAY!). The first thing I ate in the U.S. was a chocolate chip cookie that my mom baked for us as a welcome home treat. We followed that up with takeout salads in my parents’ and little sister’s company. When Evan and I got back to our house, we found a kitchen full of fruits and veggies but also Doritos and Chardonnay complimentary of my mother-in-law. Yum to it all!!

I returned to the gym after a week of moving in with my husband and using those mornings/evenings to unpack my belongings and our wedding gifts. It took two or three days to get back to what I was lifting pre-wedding but no worries. We’re back to sweaty workouts whenever I want them and rest days whenever I want those too.

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My husband and I choose meals together most nights because he knows it’s my very favorite activity to do together. The patio is MY PLACE. Cooking a colorful dinner, praying before we dig in and the conversation is what I’m here for. All-inclusive or not!

I wish all women had this mindset and didn’t instantly think back to their vacation regrets. Thankfully, most of us are down here for a while and have many destinations ahead of us. Let’s make those trips ones of adventure – both with excursions and our taste buds.