What’s in My Travel Bag

As I was editing and fixing my archives last week I realized I never did a “what’s in my bag” post. To be honest I’m not always a fan of those posts unless there’s something in the blogger’s bag that I want to buy. But I’ve decided to give it a shot myself and in honor of being in Austin this week I decided to make it a “what’s in my travel bag” post. Way to spice it up, right? Without further ado, check out my bag:

What's in My Travel Bag

What's in My Travel Bag

Let’s start with my bag: I wish you were here so you could touch the buttery softness of this leather. Also to appreciate the fact that this bag is still standing despite the abuse I’ve put it through. My mom got this bag for me when I was starting my graduate program about 3 years ago and I’ve definitely put it through the ringer. There are a few stains here in there and there are few stray threads around the seams but otherwise this bag has held up amazingly well. It is also deep enough to stash a ton of stuff without ever feeling too heavy and it has this handy dandy clasp that will pull the sides in and make it smaller in case I don’t want to put a million things in there (which honestly never happens).

Now for my travel bag essentials:

1. A cute wallet. Obviously I am shopping a lot right now in Austin so I have to bring a wallet. I used to have a much smaller one but this one is great for carrying all my cash, cards, quarters for parking meters in cities, and for collecting little travel mementos here and there. When I get home from a trip I love to open it up and find pretty business cards from shops we visited or ticket stubs from things we did.

2. Magazines. I’m a big book reader but I must have a magazine for a trip. There are lots of little moments of downtime when travelling and rather than open up a book and get immersed in a story, magazines are great for reading easy-to-digest, quick articles and for pretty pictures.

3. Cell phone. How can we go anywhere and not Instagram? Instagram is fast becoming my favorite social networking site (I know, late to the party as always) and I try to post a picture or two a day that way I can remember what I’ve been up to by scrolling through my profile. Curious as to what I’m up to in Austin right now? Find out!

4. Lip balm. One time when I was travelling to the Dominican Republic their security tried to take away my lip balm. I argued with them, me in English, them in Spanish, until they finally got tired and let me go through to my gate with my lip balm. Planes are drying and so are most climates in the summer so lip balm is a travel essential.

5. My Nook. Until I got my Nook I used to save half of my suitcase for books and packing my clothes was a nightmare. Now that I have my Nook I can easily bring along half a dozen books and take up less space than my favorite printed paperback. Downloaded and ready on my Nook are Where She Went (since I breezed through If I Stay and need to know what happens), All the Summer Girls, and Insurgent.

6. Hairties. While I usually wear my hair down, after a rough day of travel and getting up early I absolutely must put my hair up. I love these soft stretchy elastics because they don’t leave a hair bump and they are such cute colors.

7. Notebook and pen. There’s something I love about writing while travelling. I get so much inspiration from being in a new place, seeing new sights and sounds and I need to write it all down, not record it on my phone.

8. Travel guide. Of course most of my inspiration and recommendations for this trip came from Austin blogs and recommendations I found online. That being said I always find it really helpful to have a travel guide. If there’s a moment of downtime and we need something to do, I can always reference a guide to see something we might have missed. I guess I’m just a paper kind of girl.

9. Phone charger. Well, of course.

10. Sunglasses. On any given day I have at least two pairs of sunglasses in my bag and travelling is no different. Cute sunglasses should be a requirement for life.

*Also to be included but not picture is my DSLR. I can’t wait to take pictures!

 

What do you include in your bag, when you travel or every day?

Advertisements

Time for Some New Brews in Philly

I’m officially on summer break (again)! I just spent the last five weeks working summer school and I am definitely looking forward to a little rest before going back to set up my classroom. Do NOT tell me that teachers do nothing all summer long. Being back on summer break means I want to squeeze all the fun out of these days that I can and I convinced Nick that meant beer. It’s long been established that one hobby Nick and I cultivated together is a love of craft beers. I feel like there’s no better place than Philadelphia for bars and breweries but after several years of hanging out on bar stools all over the city, it can sometimes feel like we’ve seen it all.

That’s why it felt like Christmas morning when I discovered there was not one but TWO new breweries in the Philly area that Nick and I had yet to try. On Sunday we got into Nick’s new Honda Fit and headed out first to Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, PA and then to Conshohocken Brewing in Conshohocken, PA. Both towns are close suburbs of Philadelphia and can be accessed by trains from center city.

I’d heard word of Tired Hands Brewing Company when it first started about two years ago because it was right down the road from where my brother was in college at Villanova University. I’m not sure why Nick and I never ventured out there but I wish we had sooner. I also can’t say that deciding to go to Tired Hands was completely random: it is right on the same block as the store where I purchased my wedding dress! See, it was all meant to be.

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

I loved Tired Hands. It’s part brewery with great experimental brews, part pub with delicious locally sourced foods, and part community meeting space with a “hang out, we’re all friends here” vibe. In short it’s what is so great about loving craft beer. People who brew beer love what they’re doing and it shows. After reading more about the brewery on its website, I found that Tired Hands was truly a labor of love and the founder even renovated the building himself. The bar serves up their brews in 16, 8 and sample size 4 oz. glasses. Nick and I decided to stick to drinking from the 4 oz glasses and were able to try them all . The beers were fresh, balanced and super drinkable. I know even the non-beer drinker would be happy at Tired Hands because after buying my wedding dress Mom (a wine enthusiast) and I grabbed a celebratory drink there and she loved their Just Like Honey IPA. In short if you ever find yourself in Philly and need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, hop a train, grab a car, and head out to Ardmore.

Our second stop of the day was Conshohocken Brewing in Conshohocken which is about 20 minutes from Tired Hands. I love the drive between the two because it took us right through the stately neighborhoods of the Main Line. If you’re not familiar with it, the Main Line is basically a very old, ritzy area right outside of Philadelphia with big gorgeous mansions. I asked Nick if we could live there some day and he said maybe. I love how he lets me pretend.

Conshohocken Brewing was started quite recently and the whole operation is housed in an industrial building. The best selling point for this brewery is that its back door opens right out onto a bike path and they seem to have made it their mission to be the most bike-friendly brewery by putting out bike racks and keeping their back door wide open.

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

More Breweries in Philly

The brewery had a different feel from Tired Hands. Where Tired Hands was more experimental with their flavors and cozier with their dark wood bar and homemade bread and butter, Conshohocken had a sleek industrial feel with solid, straightforward beers. Each beer style was distinctive and I felt like those judges at a dog show who look for the best in breed. Here I was saying, this, this is exactly how an IPA should taste. Also I need to give them props for having some solid bar eats like a big soft pretzel and both vegetarian and beef chili. The best part of Conshohocken Brewing had to be their back patio where we could take our beer outside for a little bit of sunshine. It’s totally a bike-friendly brewery and a steady stream of bikers were grabbing seats at the bar to get a beer before heading on their way.

I’m so glad that more craft breweries are being opened up in and around Philadelphia. We had so much fun seeing the magic these brewers are making with simple ingredients at both Tired Hands and Conshohocken. It felt so local, so Philly, to enjoy beers in these microbreweries. If you’re ever in or around Philadelphia and want a great craft beer experience, check out either Tired Hands or Conshohocken Brewing!

My Favorite Philly Brunch Spots

If you talked to me just a few years ago I would have told you that I absolutely hated brunch. You must be thinking I was crazy but the problem was I just didn’t like breakfast foods. The only time I ate anything more than a toasted English muffin plain with no butter and no nothing, was when my family traveled overseas. I just couldn’t get enough of that thick cut bacon in London! But back on American soil I was a strictly roll-out-of-bed and grab something quick and easy. I’m still like that on most days unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Those days are reserved for my growing brunch obsession.

There are some great places to go for brunch around my hometown (anybody ever wait in line for an hour or more at PJ’s?!) but if I really want to do brunch right, I head into the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I’ve probably profiled a half dozen or more favorite places to eat in Philly by now but I wanted to dedicate a post entirely to my favorite brunch spots. Every time Nick and I hop in the car and head across the river for some delicious breakfast and lunch food, I feel like I’m going on vacation. If I could, I’d make it brunch-in-Philly day every day.

1. Standard Tap. Oh I love Standard Tap. Once you get past it’s sometimes pretentious hipster vibe, you’ll love it too. Located in the heart of Northern Liberties, it has a distinctly local feel cultivated by the farm-to-table food and local brews on draft. They make some killer brunch cocktails too but I’ve only heard that as you know I prefer my beer. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and they’ll be serving up some delicious pork chops or have an amazing omelette. While they do have some recurring items on the menu, Standard Tap’s commitment to using locally grown ingredients means that everything is fresh and new and so, so good. Also you have to check out their small side patio off the upstairs bar. It is perfect for all times of the day but especially for brunch drinks.

strangeloves menu

2. Strangelove’s. The thing that makes Strangelove’s perfect for brunch is that it feels sophisticated without being stuffy. It just feels right to head in there and plop yourself down at a table or at the bar for delicious huevos rancheros or, my favorite, shrimp and grits. It’s owned by the same person who owns Memphis Taproom, Resurrection Ale House, and Local 44 so it always has great beers on tap. Seriously though, the shrimp and grits. Also the artwork. And the beers. Okay, everything about Strangelove’s is amazing.

Brunch Places in Philadelphia

3. Parc. Want to have brunch in Paris? No need to head to the Philly airport, Parc has you covered. I’ve had every meal at Parc and it never disappoints. It’s situated right on Rittenhouse Square with a gorgeous view of the park and all the sophisticated (and not-so-sophisticated) Philadelphia residents walking their dogs and reading their Sunday papers. Parc makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a cozy bistro in Paris with marble topped tables and wicker chairs and delicious French food. It can get pretty loud inside and so far I’ve found it impossible to get one of those outdoor cafe tables but I adore Parc in spite of it. It’s the cheapest trip to Paris you’ll ever take.

Best Brunch Places in Philly

4. Jerry’s Bar. If you want to feel like you’re just a Philly native hanging out in a bar with a classy and delicious twist, head to Northern Liberties and Jerry’s Bar. It’s fairly new to the neighborhood but you wouldn’t know it by how comfortable it feels on its little street corner. It’s got a gorgeous marble-topped bar, our preferred seat for brunch, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Also they have a little sit patio area that is my other favorite place to sit. I have never ordered anything I don’t like at Jerry’s except that time I ordered an omelette as big as my face and couldn’t finish it. But I still loved it. My only demand for when you go there: order the walnut sticky bun. And then find out what day they’ll be serving it for dessert toasted with a side of vanilla ice cream. You’ll thank me.

5. North 3rd. Hipster brunch more your style? You came to Philly for the hipsters right? Well, head on over to North 3rd on, where else, North 3rd street in Northern Liberties. It looks like a dark creepy bar inside and well, it is, but it has some great food and great drinks too. Brunch is my favorite because I love their mimosas and also their crispy chicken sandwich is to die for if you don’t like the typical brunch foods. Last time we went my friend ordered blueberry pancakes and almost converted me over to being a pancake eater. It can also be highly amusing and/or awkward to eat at North 3rd if they choose to seat you in what Nick and I call “the Boobie bar.” Let’s just say the back bar has a lot of topless paintings which can make for an awkward brunch with your mom. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Kraftwork Philadelphia

6. Kraftwork. I think Kraftwork might have been the restaurant that converted me into a brunch lover. The menu is simple but the food is fantastic. I’m salivating over here thinking about my favorite mushroom grinder. Oh, mushrooms, spinach, and red peppers! Also the french fries! Do you still believe that I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle? No, well me neither. The thing that makes Kraftwork so much fun for me for brunch is the 21 or so beers on tap. You’ll always find something you like and if for some reason you don’t then just sip on a mimosa. Also if you’re looking for an industrial chic bar with no frills, this is your place.

Best Brunch Places in Philadelphia

7. Johnny Brenda’s. Johnny Brenda’s is such a mixture of places: a fantastic restaurant with outdoor seating, a corner bar with red vinyl bar stools and a pool table, and a music venue. I’ve never been to a concert there (concerts are held in a room upstairs) and I’ve spent a few late nights hanging out in the bar area but my favorite time at Johnny Brenda’s is always the brunch. When the weather is nice they open up their huge windows and you can watch the Fishtown people go about their business on Girard Avenue. The outdoor seats are also great for when you want to stretch brunch out into a day of drinking in the sun.

 

After looking over my list I realized I’m featuring a lot of bars in the Northern Liberties/Fishtown section of the city. I can’t lie that this is usually the part of the city that Nick and I frequent because there’s a bunch of bars in a small area, there’s plenty of free parking if you know where to look (and how to parallel park) and the food is never fussy and always good. Other runners-up for great brunch places in the city would have to be Good Dog Bar (center city), Smokin’ Betty’s (center city), Jack’s Firehouse (Fairmount), and Cantina Los Cabillitos (East Passyunk). Hope to see you this weekend in Philly!

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We GoAfter we left the urban oasis that is the NYC High Line, we dropped right onto Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. I love this area because it reminds of an older New York when things were being shipped right off the docks on the Hudson to ports unknown and immigrants were bobbing past the Statue of Liberty en route to Ellis Island. There are still some cobblestone streets and huge brick warehouses. These warehouses have since been converted into some of the trendiest boutiques (think Gucci, DVF, La Perla) and some really unique restaurants. If you know anything about me, you know that the Meatpacking District is my kind of place.

Instead of choosing a restaurant right away, Nick let me drag him up and down a few streets to just take the city in. I popped into a few shops but I seriously felt like a total suburbanite. I got really excited by the Paige Denim store and the Levi’s location where you can “make” your own jeans. Oh well, it’s fun not to be jaded.

To The West Side We Go

Usually on a trip like this I over-plan everything with the thought that who knows when we’ll get there next. But this time I didn’t and it actually worked out okay. As we were leaving the High Line Nick spotted a restaurant right across the way. In the window it said “pit-smoked barbecue” and we were sold. Turns out the restaurant was Bubby’s High Line, an off-shoot of the famous Bubby’s in Tribeca. Bubby’s is by no means a bbq restaurant but a good spot for some American Eats. Besides having the most delicious pulled pork sandwich with spicy sauteed broccoli (that I’m working on replicating at home), they have all local NY brews. Keeping it local is definitely the way to my heart. That and the adorable attached ice cream parlor and outside sno-ball stand didn’t hurt either.

To The West Side We Go

bubby's high line

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

After we refueled we did two very awesome things: visited the Chelsea Market and got drinks at a beer garden. Let’s start with Chelsea Market: I have wanted to go here since I’ve been in high school and started watching the Food Network. In case you didn’t know the Food Network films many of their shows in studio above the Chelsea Market and I have watched countless segments they filmed there. Besides that Chelsea Market is just a food lover’s dream. From seafood to a crepe bar, I could have spent all day there. Even though I was full from lunch I forced myself to make a little room for hot sugar donuts from the Doughnuttery. No one can resist hot donuts!

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We Go

I would have loved to spend forever in the Chelsea Market but it was such a gorgeous day in NYC that we couldn’t spend all day inside. While we wandered up and down the streets, even stumbling through what I believe was a movie set, we happened on the Standard Hotel. This super trendy hotel sits kind of inside the High Line. They have a restaurant that is directly under the walkway and the hotel pushes up through part of the High Line. I’m saving my pennies to stay there one day.

Besides having a gorgeous restaurant that sits below the High Line (think French bistro/Sex and the City brunch hot spot) they also have a beer garden. I know, I know. I spend enough time at beer gardens in Philly. But I just couldn’t resist. We were directly below the High Line and it was an enchanting set up. They tried to make it look as much like a German beer hall as possible. The bars are a beautiful cream color with mirrors and sconces and striped awnings. I love attention to detail like that. All the beer was authentically German and they even had the big Bavarian pretzels hanging on a pretzel rack. I only wish it hadn’t been so dark so I could take better pictures!

To The West Side We Go

To The West Side We GoAfter a few beers and a trip to the bathroom which resulted in an expensive but totally worth it photo strip, we decided to make our way back to midtown and Penn Station. Rather than grab a cab we decided it was just so nice out that we could walk the twenty or so blocks back. That was a great experience in and of itself; Nick and I got to chat and window shop and feel a part of the city. I can’t say enough about getting to feel like a local in a big city. Of course that all ended when we got swept up in the chaos of midtown Manhattan but it was one wonderful and magical day in the city.

 

 

High Above the City Streets

High Above the City

High Above the City

On the last Friday of July I convinced Nick to play hooky from work and join me on an adventure into New York City. We’d been wanting to take a trip into the city for awhile now. Over the winter holidays we pushed our way through the throngs of city goers with Nick’s family. The only benefit from that aggravation, besides spending time with our family, was they didn’t punch tickets on the train so we had round trip tickets to use any time we wanted. We said spring then maybe June but finally I said, let’s just do this.

Now Manhattan may be fairly small but there are a lot of places to chose from for an adventure. I settled on the High Line, a large “park” built on old train tracks that were elevated over the city streets. Some developers in Philly are thinking of doing the same thing with some old elevated railroad tracks so I wanted to see what it would look like. Plus I had heard tons of things about this amazing open space in New York.

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

I have a strange love for green spaces in city spaces. I love the juxtaposition of fresh and worn, gritty and clean. I was blown away by the beauty of the High Line. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. There were so many people strolling over the High Line boards but it felt calm, peaceful, and relaxing. The sounds of the city floated up and mixed with sounds of the wind through the trees and the buzz of insects. The gardeners of the High Line have done a wonderful job of making the park seem wild and untamed, just like the city itself. Wildflowers pop up among huge puffs of high grasses and trees straight out of The Jungle Book stretch up towards the skyscrapers.

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

If the wild life isn’t for you, maybe a little culture? Interspersed with the greens were some amazing art installations. From sculpture to murals, the art was a perfect compliment to the nature. The High Line was like the botanical gardens and modern art museum all wrapped up into one.

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

Nick and I decided to walk the entire length of the High Line from West 30th street to Gansevoort Street down in the Meatpacking District. I think the greatest part of the day was that we had no agenda. Part of this feeling was attributed to not paying for those tickets and part of it was that sunshine. While I love to spend any sunny day in the summer down the Shore, it was fun to experience the city in summer. We usually find time to make it into the city when it’s cold and let me tell you that wind around the city blocks is no joke. So while summer in NYC can smell a little (or a lot) like hot trash and feel about the same, there’s something to be said about experiencing the city without a coat.

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

At a certain point on the High Line it runs under a building and its been designated as a sort of “food court.” That’s a terrible way to describe the delectable little food stands but seriously, it’s food all in one place and since I grew up NJ that’s what it will be to me. Like I mentioned before there were a lot of people walking along and they all seemed to congregate around the food. While I wanted to try some Delancey’s BBQ or tacos or Terroir which had wine and beer, there were just too many people and no seats. I settled for some pictures anyway (of course).

High Above the City

High Above the City

High Above the City

On my little blog here I’m always writing about my adventures in Philly. Philly has become “my” city since Nick introduced me to it. But the best part of where I live is that I’m between two cities. While Philly may be the city of my heart (hello, I got engaged there!) New York City has a special place too. I will probably always be more comfortable with Philly since I’ve spent so much time there in the last couple of years but there’s something magical about NYC. The buzz and energy are tangible and Nick and I have talked about spending more time there in the future, after we save a little bit more!

Just in case you were wondering, I loved the High Line. Our little NYC vacation/adventure didn’t stop at the High Line. Nope, the High Line was just the beginning. But I’ll write another post since this one has gotten a bit long and picture-heavy. Stay tuned for more NYC adventures coming soon!

High Above the City

Cupcakes and Beer Gardens

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a photo update of what I’ve been up to. But to be honest there would be two photos: one of the beach and one of my classroom. July hasn’t been much more than hitting the beach when I have a chance and teaching summer school four days a week. Not bad but a little low on the adventure. I decided we needed to remedy that and dragged Nick to Philly for some “wedding research”. And by wedding research I mean finding the Milk and Sugar Cupcakes truck so I could dream about having a dessert table. Besides devouring some delicious treats, the weather was too good not to hit up the newest crop of outdoor beer gardens.

Like I said, the main mission was to scout out Milk and Sugar Cupcakes and sample a goody or two. They were camped out at the Franklin Flea which was perfect since I could eat some sweets and shop for some vintage. I adore the Franklin Flea which used to be in the old Strawbridge and Clothier location and now seems to be floating around the city. Float away, Franklin Flea, because this time you had me take a stroll with my love through the beautiful tree-lined streets of Society Hill. Yes, we also scoped out where we might have our engagement photo session. I try to pretend like it’s not wedding all the time around here but that would be a lie. It’s only for a year guys.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

So excited to see my first mobile store in the cutest trailer!

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

My biggest regret about the Flea was seeing a pair of beautiful industrial-style side tables and not springing on them. We went to get a lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster’s set-up so I had a lobster roll instead of great side tables sitting in my living room right now. Oh well. I found brass hotel numbers in our wedding date to use somehow and tried to find a pair of antlers for our living room wall since I’ve convinced Nick that it may just work but didn’t find anything good. Then I got up the courage to pick just one thing from Milk and Sugar which happened to be my new favorite dessert: coconut pound cake. It was so light and airy that I’m going to special request that for my wedding.

Our next stop was the pop-up Independence Beer Garden which is right off Independence Mall. The only downfall to summer in Philly, the only thing that drives me to spend all my time down the Shore, are the tourists. They are everywhere and so confused. But the beer garden was a nice mix of people, if crowded. I love the design concept and also how huge it is; we just kept walking and walking and finding more things! If there had been less people and better seating we might have been tempted to stay longer but after one beer we were good.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

The most anticipated outdoor attraction for me this summer was definitely Spruce Street Harbor Park on Penn’s Landing near the Hyatt. Who wouldn’t want to check out a bar stationed on a barge? I love the concept but it turned out that we picked a day that was just too nice so there were a ton of people. The barge bar was extremely crowded but definitely something to check out. Rope hammocks hanging over the water and floating plants were amazing to see…but I could definitely get a beer somewhere more relaxing.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Now of course a perfect weather day would not be complete without a trip to Morgan’s Pier. While it can be sometimes sketchy, sometimes crowded but I just can’t give it up. I always feel relaxed watching boats come in and out of the marina while snacking on some delicious small bites with a beer in hand.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Oh, Philly, my home away from home. While I may neglect you during the summer time, it’s adventures like this that remind me how much I love you.

Wedding Brain

image by André Teixeira, Brancoprata via style me pretty

Maybe this is what they call bridal bliss but I’m not so sure about that. I have been engaged to my wonderful man for one month exactly and since he popped the question I feel like my life has turned into wedding, wedding, wedding all the time. Of course the stress is only natural when I want a summer wedding, next year, in New Jersey. Apparently I should have known it would be stressful all along and Nick should have proposed last Fall when all the other brides began booking their big day a year and a half in advance. My only consolation is that I have no desire for an October wedding which is even worse to plan. The past month has made me feel like I’ve popped into a completely different world of price per person, tulle, and table linens.

It has been stressful, particularly finding the perfect venue (and one that was available and not overpriced), but it’s also been wonderful too. I have always loved weddings and now I can finally indulged without feeling awkward about it. When I talked about weddings before being engaged, everyone assumed I wanted to be engaged even though I just loved to see how people style their big day. Now I am able to dig in deep and revel in all the beauty. I can daydream about next summer and how handsome Nick will look and the smiling faces of all my friends and family.

Something that was surprisingly wonderful was meeting with the Deacon at our church. We decided on a religious ceremony mostly because it’s important to me to start our marriage with faith and Nick has always been supportive despite our different religious backgrounds. We have several meetings before the big day but we began talking about our marriage. And even though I know that the end deal is to call Nick my husband, it suddenly became a really big thought. We are entering into something so much more than one day; it’s a lifetime. While it might have been very pretty and unique to have our ceremony at our venue, I feel like there’s so much more to having it at our church. There’s a gravity to it I never expected and it feels like my life as a wife is starting. The commitment is real and wonderful and important. I am having a wedding but I am also gaining a husband and a life partner. How amazing it is to have “wedding brain” and I apologize for any nonsense that might be written here in the next year!