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At Home Spa Day: The Boots Come Off

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I envy those who get to see their best friends on a regular basis. Probably more than any other tinge of jealousy I struggle with, that is the worst. But that’s just a part of growing up, right? Not living around the corner from your friends. Or, in my case, if you do live near your friends, it’s nearly impossible to find a moment when you are both available anyway.

So when Stephanie comes home every once in awhile, we try our hardest to find at least a few hours in our schedules to catch up. This time I was particularly lucky because I stole some happy hours from her on Friday night as well as our big spa day on Saturday.

At Home Spa Day. Such a wonderful idea.

After a rather strong orange crush at Miss Shirley’s Cafe and a enormously perfect crab cake eggs benedict, we had ourselves a fabulous day at Ariel’s house. Facial steams. Foot baths and mud masks. Tarot cards. You know. Middle school slumber party style. Except this time with midday mimosas. I highly recommend the mimosa.

Ahhh. It’s so wonderful to spend some time with girls when you live with a boy.

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annnndddd outtakes….

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Of Ships & Sails & Sealing Wax

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(the best ships are friendships…)

I’m a rotten friend. I don’t call, I forget birthdays, I never suggest play dates and instead I sit at home wondering how my friends are doing. I’ve given up on a lot of friendships because of this. Not because a friend and I get in a fight, but because I drop connections with them. To be completely honest, I know this about myself and so I may or may not expand my social circle as much as I could. I don’t want to hurt a new friend’s feelings.

On the flipside, I keep some pretty awesome people around me (well, as much as Tina, the rotten friend, can). They probably can’t stand how pitiful of a friend I am in return, but for whatever reason, they stick around. Year after year. No fair-weathered friends for this girl. I’m too fickle myself to waste time with the sunny skies type.

Certified-Best-Friend-Since-the-Ripe-Old-Age-of-4 came home from working 2 years in Amman, Jordan a few weeks ago. Hi, Katie :) And it got me thinkin’…. That gigantic multi-clique circle of friends I tried to balance from grade school was absolutely ridiculous. Quality, people. Quality. I’m the proud owner of best friends from every turn of my life and they are a gazillion-bazillion times better than having a gazillion-bazillion friends. That’s to say, if I’m nice to you (because that can be hard for me sometimes), you fall into that category. And I’m proud to call you mine.

So, in honor of my family, friends, acquaintances, blog-buddies and everything in between:

Hi, it’s me, your friend. You probably don’t know that I appreciate our measly, sad excuse for a friendship.

But, I do.

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….. & there’s picture of some super, duper friendships.

(Wedding photo courtesy of Jodi Miller Photography)

*Filed under Social Life*

Cinco de Derby

For the past few months, Saturday mornings have mostly consisted of waking up early and either driving into DC to select or staggering through the county to a PD opportunity of some sort. In other words, I’ve been making extra money. It’s taxing, as it minimizes my weekend to that of the Japanese- 1 day. We’ve been trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, but so far we’ve been anything but successful. Over our dead bodies were we going to let our tired, overworked minds convince us to stay home this Saturday.

We are lucky to have great neighbors that make the type of friends that can pick up where we left off, regardless of if it’s been one day or one month. Seeing as Saturday was not only Cinco de Mayo but the Kentucky Derby, it seemed appropriate to have a proper reunion, complete with enchiladas in front of Churchill Downs, margaritas and mint juleps, and, of course, croquet (just because). It was one of those go to bed with a glass of water and ibuprofen fêtes. It was the stuff from which weekends should be made.

I’ll have another… no pun intended.

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Fresh margaritas and homemade enchiladas, The Kentucky Derby… and croquet.

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The best way to wind down from a crazy day (or week) is around the kitchen table with best friends, sharing stories and laughs until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer.

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And if you let life slow down, you can see the most beautiful, ordinary, tiny pockets of this earth….

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*Filed under Social Life*

Priceless Gifts

By far the most sacred and meaningful way to spend a special anniversary in your marriage is to attend the wedding of your close friends. Now, I’m not saying 6th months is a gigantic anniversary. However, it’s the biggest milestone in our life together as husband and wife thus far. Interesting fact: for the four years Alex and I dated, we never really knew when to call it our “anniversary” and we ultimately chose to celebrate “somewhere in between the end of April and 4th of July”. It worked for me. I never was the biggest romantic, anyway.
 
In a complete paradoxical shift, we’ve made it a point to remember every 21st of the month since October. Our 1 month anniversary landed on our honeymoon in Costa Rica. They definitely made sure we were treated like gold that day. Our 2 month landed right before Christmas, on a day we ironically were back visiting Veritas to pick up some unclaimed, forgotten items from the wedding party. And so on and so on. Taking us to Saturday- Bobby and Christine’s wedding day.
 
The priest’s homily during the ceremony was related to wedding gifts. It could have been the heat of the church, but the sermon really hit home. You get a ton of gifts when you get married. Somewhere in between my grandmother’s silver and the knives (how many? I lost track), the greatest gift of all is marriage itself. I don’t mean to sound preachy. I am aware that marriage means different things to different people. Therefore, people have different marriages and no marriage is the same as the next. Alex and I are in it for love, for support, for family, for the long haul, for friendship and most importantly, as a testament that we are now a single unit, we are one.  It sure is the one gift that we use daily, every moment of our lives.  As the priest told Bobby and Christine, it’s priceless and it’s free.
 
So, instead of boring you with any more gushy details of how special it was to celebrate our six month anniversary at our friends’ wedding, I’ll round this out by making one last remark- gosh, wedding’s are a TON of fun!  Enjoy the pictures!
 
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They used the same DJ that we did for our wedding and it was great to see Nathan again. Just like on our wedding night, he kept us on the dance floor the entire night. 
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Before we knew it, the night got later……. MUCH later.  It was such a good time!
 
We’re so very happy for Bobby and Christine.  With big congrats to the lucky groom and a lifetime of best wishes to the bride, we couldn’t be any more blessed with great friends to share this world.  Happy one week anniversary!

*Filed under Married Life, Social Life*

The heat of the season

I sit here, mildly intoxicated off jokes and happy exchanges with friends and neighbors, sewn together by the frozen margaritas necessary to get through an 88 degree Monday in mid April, thankful for my little patch of grass, azaleas and backyard bliss in the middle of this crazy, anxious metro DC area we’ve decided to call home.

Today marks the beginning of my least favorite season- mosquito season.  It also marks the beginning of the “it’s official, I hate the humid, hot summers [and springs] and I refuse to live here the rest of my life" bitch-fest that I call my belief system.  Kept awake by a choppy six hours of sleep in solely my underwear beneath the ever spinning swirl of the ceiling fan, atop the thin white sheet and soft, over washed quilt on the bed, I woke to Monday morning’s songbirds with little more than angst, complaints and sweat from a night in the heat.  At least the bed was still made from the day before.

Yet, I have much to be thankful for on this horrible, humid, I can’t believe it’s only April and it’s too God-awful hot day.  I am thankful for our home, despite it’s inability to cool a second story, it is a good home filled with good things and good cats and I love it.  I am thankful for my husband, who knows how to turn any day into a positive day, even when his Monday made my Monday look like a cake walk (and trust me, today was not a cake walk).  I am thankful for neighbors who provide more than a cup of flour when I run out mid- cookie recipe.  Our neighbors are rich with smiles and limitless in company.  I am thankful for my best friends, whom I see rarely, but I can pick up with as if no time has passed and who can carry a text message conversation as if it we were side by side.

While I dread the still, thick months to come, I can’t forget that even today, weeks without any sign of rain, there was a breeze rushing through the windows, violently pushing the curtains horizontal, over the furniture and through the house.  Misha and Baci sit in the guest bedroom windows, crying out to us in the back yard as we play ladderball.  It’s getting dark and the heat is beginning to break, just barely.  Conversation has turned into that impossible to follow, sporadic, worthless talk that skips from one discussion to the next, filled with more excitement than ever thought possible.  I might hate the the heat, but I’ve learned how to handle it, and I’ve taken from it what truly burns in its’ presence- friendship.

*Filed under Social Life*

Warmth: Progressive Dinner 2.11.12

Because some things are just too wonderful to wait for, we decided to have our first ever Valentine’s Day progressive dinner this past weekend.  The entire weekend was magical.  Winter decided to show up Friday evening, blowing in snow, wind and chilly temperatures.  I’ve missed winter so much.  The cold, cozy weather may be the only fail proof way to get me to loosen up and relax.  Plus, I made homemade lasagna, from complete scratch, and it turned out pretty damn good.  Spending Saturday evening wandering from home to home in the crisp snowy air, eating warm food and drinking good wine with our neighbors was perfect. 

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We know we are fortunate.  When we forfeited our downtown, apartment life in the middle of post-college Peter Pan syndrome for a new life in a suburban, blue-ribbon school, bedroom community, we weren’t expecting to have many friends nearby.  In fact, when we bought our little home two and half years ago, we figured we were saying goodbye to a part of our social lives.  However, our little street is not lonely.  We are not alone on our little street where you can find other outsiders like ourselves who are too young to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.  In fact, when you go to the gym, or you pick up groceries, or you jog the parkway, you see plenty of our type.  Yet, I do believe we’ve stumbled upon the best group in town. 

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Coming together for our progressive dinners, we become a family.  We cook soul food, the kind that warms the soul and demands to be shared with loved ones.  We let red wine that otherwise would go unopened breathe and we empty our glasses a bit quicker in one another’s company.  Admittedly, we spend a portion of the night in two corners- the taxes, electronics and home repairs corner with the guys and the wedding, book club and fashion corner with the girls.  After all, this is what letting go of anxiety is about.  We get entirely too drunk off of wine, we laugh a bit too loud, we scream at each other over who killed Mr. Boddy in the conservatory with a lead pipe, and we eat a gluttonous amount of food.  Yes, this is family and this is love.  This is what holidays are about, after all.

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I’m not one for Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I prefer to let it go by rather unnoticed and I stear towards the Grinch in my views on February 14th.  The moments I love more are those random surges of tender love and support I receive throughout the year from my loved ones.  Alex and I have our own, tiny Valentine’s Day tradition that created itself.  It is nothing pretentious- just a nice dinner of sushi and some good wine.  In fact, the warmth of Saturday night, fueled by our love for our husbands and wives, our pets and, of course, our neighbors will keep my heart full for the rest of the year.  My heart grew a few sizes this weekend, and I think I’ve found the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.

*Filed under Social Life*

A Lens with a View

We took a leap of faith on our wedding day and entrusted one of the groomsmen with a video recorder.  The only thing we told him?  “Talk to people.”  My uncle (and father of our ring bearer and flower girl) was already generously documenting our wedding in real motion.  Our thought in giving Stephen a camcorder was basically to instill laughter into our guests.  Stephen’s sense of humor is fantastic.  Meg, I don’t know how you handle it, but I give you mad props for putting up with it.

Friday night we had some of our closest friends over.  Once we were properly fueled with Fat Tire and red wine, we curled up in our living room.  By the light of the Christmas tree, we sat and watched the home video unfold.  Raw, uncut and absolutely candid.  While my girls and I were upstairs in the white light of the bridal suite, the boys were in the cellar, cracking jokes and practicing speeches.  Stephen filmed it all.  It was so fun and hilarious to see what they were up to before the wedding.  My sister came in, delivering my wedding day note to Alex.  To watch his smile as he read it (despite Stephen’s obtrusive remarks on camera over Alex’s shoulder) was so special. 

Stephen walked around the tasting room during our cocktail hour asking people if they had anything to say to us.  There were plenty of Congrats and We love you!  To see our friends and family, their happy faces immediately after our ceremony is something I cannot begin to explain.  As the reception unfolded, Stephen still had the camera.  His commentary is perfect.  As we watched this ridiculous, terrible quality video, we couldn’t stop laughing.

Later in the night, Alex brought me down to the cellar where our best friends were all waiting to take a round of Gentleman’s Jack (our traditional celebratory medicine of choice, be whatever reason).  Alex and I were so happy.  Our friends were so happy. 

We have this memory forever now.  We have this secret, special memory that was only shared with a few people in the depths of the vineyard, nestled in between the wine barrels and warmed with love.

We never budgeted for a videographer.  We haven’t seen the footage from my uncle and I’m sure it’s unbelievable and we’ll cherish it year after year.  We never meant for Stephen to capture what he captured.  Prior to the wedding, I would’ve told him “Don’t you dare waste your time with a camcorder all night long.”  Boy, I’m glad he did.  Stephen, you’re fantastic and we love you.  This video is so perfect.  It’s timeless and it’s real and it’s messy.  We love it.

*Filed under Married Life*

Traditions: Progressive Dinner 12.17.11

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A nod to my family and friends, Saturday was about tradition.  With trepidation, I lined up the recipes and loaded the counter with ingredients.  I’ve never done this alone.  But, because we have another tradition- our holiday progressive dinners- I’m spending the afternoon baking Christmas cookies.  Somewhere in between stirring the toffee (not too fast, hot but not too hot) and sifting the flour for the fifth time, it became real.  This is me, a granddaughter, neice and a daughter, bringing our family into a new generation.  I better get these cookies right.

After an extra strong glass of sangria, a family recipe of cheesy potatoes to die for and plenty of laughs (not necessarily appropriate to repeat), I shared with them my first attempt to carry on my family cookies.  We drank Baileys and hot cocoa out of holiday mugs and we carried on the jokes at our table.  And after we ate cookies, we sat in front of the television for what has become another tradition:  YouTubing Holdman Christmas lights.

Traditions come in so many varieties.  There are the classic, beautiful, Christmas card perfect traditions.  The kitchen covered in powdered sugar and cocoa, the family baking to Burt Ives and Bing Crosby.  Then, there are the raw, unexpected traditions.  Drunk on friends, food, and love, we curl up and curse about how annoying it is to type into the YouTube search on the TV.  We rank the Christmas light shows with the same seriousness we give to picking a President.  And we laugh.  These are my Christmas traditions.

*Filed under Social Life*