Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan to celebrate with some shopping, relaxing and a milkshake. Tim’s birthday was last month and we spent it at the Powerscourt Ritz Carleton outside of Dublin enjoying a five star meal at Gordan Ramsey but for my birthday Tim’s taking me to Cook-Out Burgers. Don’t worry– I’m not mad. It was my idea after I saw a sign on the side of their building that says they offer 40 milkshakes. I’m already a little nervous about having to choose just one flavor!
Anyway, when my birthday comes around I always like to take some time to reflect on the past 365 days. (Here’s last year’s for instance.) Here are some of the highlights of 32:
- I enjoyed seeing my byline in more magazines than ever before including about half a dozen times in REDBOOK.
- I opened the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 2011 to see huge color photos of my friends and I along with a write-up about our Traveling Journal.
- In early July I spent several days in Atlanta promoting authors at the International Christian Retail Show. I also got to visit CNN and see fellow Iowa State alum Jacqui Jeras.
- On July 18 I found myself sitting on the set of The Today Show with my best friends talking about the Traveling Journal.
- I spent the first two weeks of August in Liberia, Africa helping to drill wells in remote villages and share Christ with Muslims.
- I spent the last two weeks of August enjoying time with visiting relatives from Northern Ireland. We had a fun trip to Atlanta where we bumped into Whitney Eve Port from The City.
- My sister came to visit and we had an amazing time which included a trip to the Old Edward’s Spa– amazing!
- I helped plan and organize the Reality Check event, benefiting Water of Life. We raised a couple of thousand dollars to help drill wells in Third World countries.
- We spent Thanksgiving in Florida with Tim’s parents and got to see some of my friends.
- For Christmas we headed to Seattle for an extended visit. Tim and I went skiing, shopping and site seeing.
- In January we found out we were expecting!
- Tim and I did several weekend getaways for a magazine including a resort in the Georgia mountains, The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and the Opryland in Nashville. All of them were so fun and full of special memories. We also got a behind-the-scenes tour of Dave Ramsey’s headquarters which was a highlight.
- In April we went to Northern Ireland for a 10 day trip that included amazing sites and some of the best food we’ve ever had. Plus we got to spend time with our family.
- We found out that our baby is a boy and we named him Sam!
When I see it all written out like that it’s hard to believe that I will ever have a year quite as unique and memorable,
With Kathie Lee and Hoda on The Today Show
but then again, I am about to have my first child so that will be full of its own adventures and memories.
The older I get the more I realize that every year is special in its own way. There really doesn’t have to be a time designated as “the best years of your life” because each year has the potential to hold something remarkable. You just have to be willing to welcome new opportunities and often that means spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone. So here’s to 33– I’ll be toasting it with a milkshake!
This was THE weekend for good deals! On Sunday I saved over $100 on my grocery bill at Publix. That was a record for me as far as amount saved. It equaled out to about a 63% discount because I got about $160 worth of groceries for $59. My receipt is about three feet long! Saturday we spent pretty much all day shopping in Charlotte. After months of searching, we found two things we had been looking for. First of all, we got two new chairs for our front porch at the Pottery Barn Outlet in Gaffney. They sell West Elm furniture and we got two of these cute wood-slat chairs, with a cushion for just $60 each!
Our Cushions are Gray, Matching our Front Door
You can still get the chairs on the West Elm website for $169, plus another $24 for the cushion. The other exciting deal we found were curtain rods for our dining room and living room. For the past year we have been living in a fish bowl with just a sheer blind from Ikea shielding us from the world. I bought fabric to make curtains back in April, but haven’t been able to find decent, affordable curtain rods. I need six of them, so I was dreading how expensive it might be. Thankfully I found these cute little guys at Crate and Barrel.
The Long-Awaited Curtain Rod
They are regularly $49 but we picked them up for $14 a piece, which made the entire purchase less than $100. That’s about what you would spend on curtain rods at Wal-mart or Target, and I’m sure these are better quality. Plus they are different which was important to me. That means we spent $276 on items that would have cost us $840! That’s an overall savings of 68%! Can you tell I get excited by a good deal?
I’m so excited! We booked a studio apartment in the heart of Charleston for Labor Day weekend. It’s to celebrate our two year anniversary. We spent our one year anniversary in airports coming back from a wedding in Iowa. Our house was in the beginning stages of being renovated so it was a stressful time. This year will be much different! Check out the place we are staying:
The Studio Apartment in Downtown Charleston
It's Above an Art Gallery
It even has a little deck. I think it looks so clean and peaceful! I’m really looking forward to our romantic getaway and to celebrating two happy, fun, crazy years.
Don’t you just love weddings? I recently returned from a great one. One of my very best friends in the whole world got married last weekend. The wedding was in Okoboji, Iowa, about 90 minutes from where we grew up. Okoboji is to Iowans what the beach is to South Carolinians. It’s the summer destination for sun and sand.
Jet Skiing on Lake Okoboji
We stayed three nights at an Inn on the lake. I went for jogs along the shore and ended my workouts stretching on the end of a dock. The weather was absolutely beautiful and got me anxious for fall. I was a bridesmaid and my husband was the best man. I got to spend lots of time with some of my favorite people. We laughed until our stomachs hurt and made lots of great memories.
The Bride and Her Bridesmaids
The bride and her new hubby are now celebrating in Hawaii. I imagine them relaxing on a tropical beach, zip lining like they are starring in an episode of the Bachelorette and hiking up volcanoes. While I’m a little jealous I can’t be learning how to hula dance, I’m glad I was a part of her special weekend. Now all of my close friends (except for one!) is experiencing the joys of marriage. Congrats Tonya and Ryan!!
All the Married Friends Showing off Our Bling
Relaxing on the beach at Lake Lure
We had such a jam-packed weekend. Friday night we celebrated a friend’s birthday and on Saturday we got up super early to have a yard sale. Three other couples joined in and all together we made about $700. We then spent some of our earnings on a yummy lunch at Firehouse Subs. After that Tim and I went shopping. We decided to go to Garden Ridge to see if they had any cute modern looking pots for our backyard and we ended up buying a patio set, umbrella and two pots! I’ll post pictures of our backyard makeover soon. On Sunday we went to church and stayed for a covered dish lunch after. Then we drove up to Lake Lure to relax on a little beach by the water. We finished our day trip off with some Mexican food and an evening of watching The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency. What a lovely weekend!
Even though I grew up in Iowa and my first real job was detasseling corn, I think I was destined for the big city. I love everything about it, except maybe when someone hits in the head with their cello on the subway which happened to me twice. We rented this super cute apartment in the Upper West Side, three blocks from Central Park and one block from these little yummies at Magnolia Bakery.
I tried their muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake and bars. Yum, yum, yum and yum!
There were so many fun moments. Laughing our butts off at Robin Wiliams during our Letterman taping, tap dancing down Central Park West on the eve of my 30th, eating desserts that look like sculptures and running all the way from the Upper West Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. A cab driver told us that was 15 miles which is amazing since we did it in less than an hour. We thought it was more like five miles.
This Gorgeous Bride was Dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge When We Got There
My actual 30th birthday was spent partly on a rowboat in Central Park, partly at a fancy restaurant on Park Avenue, partly on a water taxi in the Harlem River, partly in a circus tent and completely in love.
Looks like I got a hair cut in this shot but I didn't
I admit I even cried a little when we had to leave. There’s just something about the big city that has my heart. But as for my 30th birthday? It rocked.
How Many Other 30-year-olds Have This Picture?