Anchors Aweigh: Party Edition

The countdown till Husband’s graduation has officially begun, and I’m determined to stay busy and think positively (rather than cry and eat donuts). So let’s talk party planning!

I’m super excited that Jordan chose The Navy. Of all the branches, I’m pretty sure Navy colors and anchor themes are the best! So planning husband’s Anchors Aweigh party was super easy and a lot of fun – I had a lot of room for creativity. Of course, I could not have done it without the help of Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Pinterest, where I found/got inspiration for most of my decorations.

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Globe: Marshall’s, basket: Target, table cloth/rug: Hobby Lobby, galvanized tier: Pottery Barn (wedding gift), anchor decor: Hobby Lobby

Unfortunately when searching on Pinterest for ideas, I discovered most “Anchors Aweigh” party ideas are for baby showers. And while there are some adorable ideas out there, my husband is a grown man and I definitely did not want a “baby shower” vibe at our going away party!

I spent a lot of time at Hobby Lobby and bought a lot of anchors. I decided to do a vintage nautical/travel theme and incorporate navy and white (with a little bit of red thrown in for patriotism).

Nautical rope: Michael's, blue glass stones: Michael's, candles: Walmart, glass bottle: milk bottle from the co-op, flag: Family Dollar

Nautical rope: Michael’s, blue glass stones: Michael’s, candles: Walmart, glass bottle: milk bottle from the co-op, flag: Family Dollar

DIY craft using miscellaneous glass bottles, twine, rope and hot glue.

DIY craft using miscellaneous glass bottles, twine, rope and hot glue.

Flag bunting: Pottery Barn (my mother in law's), old radio: yard sale, globe: my mom's, old crates: antique finds

Flag bunting: Pottery Barn (my mother in law’s), old radio: yard sale, globe: my mom’s, old crates: antique finds

I also bought about 20 mason jars at Hobby Lobby, because I just prefer drinking out of real glasses rather than plastic cups! We wrapped them with with twine, added candy life savers and topped them off with these awesome navy and white paper straws from Etsy.

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To continue with our vintage theme, I bought a bunch of glass bottle sodas. I don’t even drink soda, but I just love how cool glass bottle drinks look!

Galvanized drink tub: TJ Maxx, Coca-Cola crate: vintage find, flippers: real Navy Seal combat flippers (gift from a friend)

Galvanized drink tub: TJ Maxx, Coca-Cola crate: vintage find, flippers: real Navy Seal combat flippers (gift from a friend)

And just to make everything even better, my wonderful mother-in-law had this gorgeous Anchors Aweigh cake made for Jordan. It was perfect!

Cake by the amazing Holly Sharpe!... Chalkboard: Salvage Sisters (in Burlington), anchor candle: Hobby Lobby (gift)

Cake by the amazing Holly Sharpe!… Chalkboard: Salvage Sisters (in Burlington), anchor candle: Hobby Lobby (gift)

And of course, what’s a party with out lots of food? One thing I learned is simple is best! Pigs in a blanket are super easy and can feed a lot of people. We had both regular and spicy jalapeño & cream cheese (recipe here).

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Appetizers included: pigs in a blanket, mini taco cups, ranch bacon pinwheels, strawberries & blueberries, vegetable tray, goldfish and chips ahoy (haha)

Appetizers included: pigs in a blanket, mini taco cups, ranch bacon pinwheels, strawberries & blueberries, vegetable tray, goldfish and chips ahoy (haha)

It was a fabulous party. We had corn hole, Navy music playing in the background, string lights and good fellowship. So glad we were able to celebrate my sailor before he shipped off!

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Anchors Aweigh!

Today was the day. My first real test as a Navy wife. The day where I put my words into action, kissed my soon-to-be-sailor farewell, and attempted not to cry too much.

We’ve had a busy week leading up to Husband’s ship out date. We finished packing up our things, cleaning the house, transferring our belongings to four (yes, four) different homes, moving temporarily into my parent’s home, taking a quick one night trip to Durham, saying so many goodbyes, and finally driving out to Raleigh today to drop off my handsome Navy man.

What an emotional day it has been.

I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea just how much my heart would break. But you know, it’s a good thing. We’re bound by more than just a mere physical relationship. Our marriage is a covenant, a binding agreement that merged our individual lives into one. Separation is not natural. The heartache is acute – it cuts to the core.

Today, we had the opportunity to spend an unscheduled day together. And we both realized something. This time leading up to our inevitable parting has only brought us closer. I can honestly say I cherish, honor and respect my husband more at this moment than I did even on our wedding day.

My husband is eager and ready for this. And I am so proud. When I look at him, I see a United States sailor. He’s a man of integrity and true character. He loves his country. He values our freedom. And he believes he’s been called to leave the comforts of home and venture into the “great unknown.” We prayed and prepared for nearly two years and the day is finally here. I’ve been tempted to question our decision, but I’ve been comforted by the wise words of Elisabeth Elliot, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” 

Husband continues to remind me “we can stand our heads for two months.” One day at a time, one challenge at a time. Eventually, we’ll adapt to this new Navy life and the periods of separation won’t be so hard. Right now it’s a little lonely, and we’re a little weepy. But we’ll persevere. God is good. And He goes before. There is so much comfort in the promise that He is with us wherever we go!

Source: She Reads Truth

Source: She Reads Truth

Packing up & moving out

Well, I’ve been a terrible blogger this summer. Somehow I got swamped with packing, working and everything else and neglected to write.

So much has happened. And I just want to say God is so good. Back in June we finally put our house on the market. We were a little crunched for time with less than two months to get it sold before Jordan’s boot camp. Within two weeks, we had five showings and received an offer (we got the call on July 4th from our realtor). Since then, we’ve been steadily packing up and attempting to clean, crossing things off our to-do list little by little.

Packing up the last remaining boxes and furniture.

Packing up the last remaining boxes and furniture.

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We’ve spent this week working diligently on the house. And even with the yard sale, three car loads to Goodwill, and multiple trash bags, we still had SO much to pack. We won’t be stationed anywhere until next year, so we’ve had to divide our things between Jordan’s parents and grandparents temporarily. We also have a separate, minimalist pile set aside for Pensacola. Since Jordan’s “A” School is only for four months, we’re just taking the bare essentials (whatever will fit into our Prius, including a dog and two humans).

This list includes: bedding, a few fall and Christmas decorations (important), a French press, a few pots & pans, a Kitchen Aid, a crock pot, a blender and food processor, a few dishes, towels, napkins, several books, a dog bed, one lamp, craft supplies, two laptops, and some miscellaneous kitchen ware. It’s a lot to pack into a Prius and we were a little concerned but we did a test run and everything fit perfectly – I was pretty proud of our packing abilities!

Surprisingly, a lot can fit into a Prius! (not pictured: one dog and two adults)

Surprisingly, a lot can fit into a Prius! (not pictured: one dog and two adults)

Lord willing, our house will close this week! And just in the nick of time too – Jordan leaves for Illinois on Monday.

Yesterday, we were able to pack up the remaining boxes and clean the rest of the house. Finally, the house is empty. We are officially moved out, which is a little bittersweet. I’m kind of a sentimental person, and even the house was nowhere near perfect, it was still special to us and we’re going to miss it. But we’re moving on to other things. And that is exciting!

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Planning, preparing & trusting (for life before & after bootcamp)

We are well passed the 100 day mark. My husband, my rock, the man I’ve never been separated from is leaving in 62 days. And there is still SO much to do. Me, the non-list maker, is becoming an avid list-maker – I can’t say that’s a bad thing.

Our house is officially on the market with Hill Barbour Realty. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the right buyer to come along (the sooner the better).

Meanwhile, we are endeavoring to keep the house spotless. I know that’s easy for some people – but for us, it’s a battle of wills. We’re still in the midst of de-cluttering and in the beginning stages of packing. Our next step is figuring out a place to stay in between selling the house and moving to Pensacola.

I’m sure there are a lot of women out there with helpful advice for a newbie like me. I feel like I’m gearing up to jump off a cliff into the murkiest water imaginable with no idea what to expect. In many ways it’s incredibly thrilling, and I’m eager to go ahead and take the leap. The more rational side of me is a little gun shy. I’m a little anxious about moving to a new state all alone, finding an apartment, making ends meet, having enough freelance projects to help keep us afloat, finding a church, and making friends in a completely new and foreign city.

But baby steps, right? I’m working on focusing on the now, rather than fretting about the future. If anything, it’s helped me become more organized and efficient. Though I’ve never been to Pensacola, I feel like I know a lot about it. My research has led to some amazing coffee shop and restaurant discoveries. And it doesn’t hurt that white sands and Caribbean-blue waters will be just around the corner from wherever we end up staying.

I’ve begun compiling a list of *affordable* apartments near the Navy base that allow dogs. My list has drastically narrowed due to the overwhelming amount of apartments that are not dog friendly OR don’t allow dogs over 20 pounds. So basically I’m disqualified unless I own a Chihuahua (and that’s never going to happen).

My growing list of available apartments in Pensacola.

My growing list of available apartments in Pensacola.

The apartment must also be in close proximity to base. I’ve never lived in an apartment and this process has been a little daunting. On top of monthly rent, there’s application fees, pet fees, deposits and utilities. Our monthly mortgage is cheaper than a tiny, one bedroom apartment! BUT, I have discovered (thanks to the help of the internet and web forums) that there are some perks to military life. For instance, a lot of apartments offer military discounts. And Pensacola apartment complexes are required by law to honor military clauses, meaning we cannot be punished for breaking a lease due to military orders. So that’s a blessing!

A lot of people have asked about Navy life and what that means for us. To be honest, I still have so much to learn.

Here’s what we do know: Jordan will depart for bootcamp in August. Lord willing, we’ll be able to attend his graduation Great Lakes, Illinois, sometime in October. Shortly after, he’ll head straight to Pensacola, Florida, for “A” School – which could be anywhere from four to six months. During “A” School, Jordan will be subject to three phases of liberty. In Phase 1, he will not be allowed to leave base. In Phase 11, he can only leave base with a buddy or chaperone. And in Phase 111, he can finally stay out overnight. Depending on how well he does, he may have the option to attend “C” School (still learning what all these schools are). And after that, he will receive his first orders and will be stationed at a base. This could be anywhere – some prospects are more exciting than others. But regardless of where we end up, we’re looking forward to adventuring together.

This is what I have to keep in mind – the adventure part. It’s tempting to get caught up in my list making and fret about whether or not we’ll find an apartment in Pensacola that’s in our budget, near base and allows dogs. But this is a crazy, wonderful adventure. It’s nerve-wracking but exciting, and I’m thankful Jordan is the man I get to “go through time with.” Even if plans fall through, even if we struggle to find an apartment, I have no doubt the Lord has brought us thus far and will continue to lead us.

We definitely covet the prayers of our family, and brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re not looking at the Navy as a career path so much as a ministry opportunity. We’re praying even now for the people we will encounter, hopeful we can be blessings wherever we are.

My top 13 summertime activities to do in the Triad

I was reflecting this weekend on last summer. And though husband and I didn’t venture outside of the Triad often, our summer was packed with lots of local activity. We found some great hiking spots, took lots of walks, had picnics and enjoyed some local food and entertainment. I’m going to miss a lot of these hangouts I’ve grown to love. Though I’m also looking forward to new adventures and discoveries in our next short-term home: Pensacola.

I thought I’d put together a list of some of our favorite things to do here in the Triad. Hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!

1. Glencoe Mill Village

southernpress-glencoe-ncIf you’re a fan of historical architecture, lush nature, rivers and trails, I highly recommend Glencoe. Jordan actually worked with his dad in high school to build a bridge for part of the trail, so he took me there on one of our first dates. We had a little Chick-fil-a picnic on a boulder, skipped rocks, and meandered down the trails. Since being married, we’ve continued to visit this glorious place. And if you’re super extreme, it’s perfect for running (which husband has done on several occasions).

2. Saxapahaw

southernpress-saxapahaw-ncWe LOVE this little town. We visited frequently before we were married, and now we go as often as time allows (usually with our puppy in tow). Saxapahaw is a revitalized river mill town. It’s only 20 minutes from our house, but possesses the feel of a mountain village. Located along the Haw River, the businesses are housed in the original architectural structures of an old mill (similar to Glencoe). But in Saxapahaw (in addition to hiking trails), you’ll find an amazing General Store (with Fair Trade coffee & phenomenal breakfast), a coffee shop (Cup 22), a local butchery (Left Bank Butchery), a school (The Hawbridge School), gorgeous loft apartments, a brewery (Haw River Farmhouse Ales), and a fabulous sit-down restaurant (The Eddy). There’s also a kayak rental business and a beautiful ballroom (Hall River Ballroom) where they bring in some amazing musicians and artists throughout the year. Saxapahaw is the place to be AND on Saturdays, they have a farmer’s market and live music outdoors.

3. Eno River State Park

southernpress-enoriver-ncLocated in Durham, this park is 4,200 acres of woods and trails, nine miles of the Eno River, and a few historic buildings. Parts of the trail have steep inclines, which provides a fantastic workout. The river is perfect for wading and even swimming in some parts (watch out for snakes), and there’s a beautiful suspension bridge (my personal favorite).

4. Dicky-Do’s BBQ

This small BBQ joint is literally just a hop, skip, and a jump from our current home. I put off visiting because I thought it was a trashy dive, which goes to show you should never judge a restaurant by its outward appearance! Their barbecue is delicious (and smoked right there on the property). Plus it’s a local Haw River establishment (trust me, there aren’t very many).

5. The Durham Bulls

Durham Bulls games are a blast – even if you’re not a fan of baseball! Located in the Tobacco District, the stadium is surrounded by gorgeous, remodeled brick architecture. The food is fantastic – there are a lot of local options (including southern pulled pork barbecue). And if nothing else, the fireworks show at the end is worth sitting through a long baseball game. We try to go as a family at least once a summer!

6. Downtown Hillsborough

Yes, I’m listing an entire town as a destination. Honestly, Hillsborough is not too terribly far from Burlington and the entire town is bursting with activity, events and incredibly tasty food. Personally, I love Radius for light and unique pizza and wraps, and craft beer. I’ve also heard The Wooden Nickel Pub has some of the best food in town (it’s on my list of restaurants to check out this summer)! Cupajoe, the local coffee shop, has delicious coffee and locally-made pastries (also, my best friend works there so of course it’s amazing). There are several boutiques, a bookstore, and a delectable chocolate shop! Also, just off the highway is a new hole-in-the-wale taco joint (in the tiniest log cabin in the world), Colorado Burrito. Trust me when I say they have the best burritos in town!

7. Gather

southernpress-gather-cary-ncThis is a relatively new discovery, but I’m currently obsessed with this business and hope to spend more time there this summer. Located in Cary, N.C., Gather is a small boutique and coffee shop combined. Additionally, Gather offers co-working spaces for artists and crafters, along with classes and community dinners. I love this idea and if I were to ever start a business, it would certainly mirror this idea. It may not appeal to all demographics, but it’s definitely a fun place to check out, sip some coffee, shop around and enjoy the overall experience.

8. Elmo’s Diner

In case you can’t tell, I’m a huge lover of renovated old spaces that blend original (especially industrial) architecture and materials with modern elements. That’s one of the many reasons I’m so attracted to Saxapahaw, downtown Durham, and Glencoe. Elmo’s Diner (in Carrboro), also resides in an updated space. It makes for a pleasant experience, and the breakfast is worth the 30-minute drive! Oftentimes, my husband and I will visit Elmo’s for breakfast (I highly recommend their biscuits) and head to the Tobacco Trail for a nice long hike.

9. The Tobacco Trail

Husband and I have trained for several races on this trail because it’s long, wide and scenic. You can walk, bike, stroll, or job. It intersects with parts of Durham, a few backyards, parks and plenty of woods.

10. The Graham Cinema

graham-cinema-ncI grew up going to this theater – back then tickets were only $2! But even at the doubled price they now charge, it’s still a bargain. When looking for summer activities, The Graham Cinema is a good option with super cheap popcorn and free refills.

11. Smitty’s

Last summer, we’d sometimes venture out to downtown Graham (just down the street from the theater) for local ice cream. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make summer special.

12. The North Carolina Zoo in Ashboro

This is a bit of a drive, but makes for a fun day trip. I’ve been several times, and hope to go again this summer. The zoo is spread out, so a workout is inevitable! There’s tons of amazing animals and wildlife. Plus, the cost is relatively low: $15 for adults and $11 for children. And if you bring a picnic lunch, you won’t have to worry about outrageously priced sodas and hotdogs!

13. Hanging Rock State Park

southernpress-hangingrock-ncHow could I not mention Hanging Rock? My family has spent the last 14 or so years hiking and sometimes camping at Hanging Rock. From trails, to waterfalls, to climbing up the chimney, this park holds a lot of memories for us. It’s not too far for a day trip and if you’re into camping, it’s only $10/night.

 

 

A house for sale & a yard sale

With the bootcamp date drawing nearer, we’ve thought long and hard about our little abode – our very first home.

In the end, we have decided to move forward and put the house up for sale. So for the past two months, we’ve been in the process of attempting to organize, paint, de-clutter, and get the house in ship-shape condition in hopes that it’ll sell quickly. Thanks to the tireless helping hands of my husband, our families and even some selfless friends who have devoted their evenings to house projects, we’ve managed to paint our entire home and do some serious deep cleaning (after a fireplace fiasco last winter that covered the house in soot).

home-projects

The house was in chaos during all the painting!

Now our house looks so good I’m not sure I want to sell it!

This decision to sell has been more bittersweet than I had anticipated. It’s just a thing: a combination of cement, siding, tile and glass. But it’s home and it’s been the only home we’ve known since we married.

We’ve made so many memories here. It may not be perfect – our view from the back porch is an AT&T warehouse and the neighbor’s chickens are constantly in and out of our back yard. There’s no dishwasher, and the bathroom is basically a closet. But we have been so blessed to have lived here. We’ve gotten much better at dishwashing and we’ve learned to share a small bathroom sink. And you know what? The view of the warehouse isn’t the worst thing in the world (it could be a garbage dump after all).

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Our little home in winter.

My little vegetable garden.

I know more memories will be had elsewhere. Our next home will be important to us even if it’s a crappy little apartment because we’ll be there together. But I’ll certainly always think back fondly on our first home; our small, but cozy little home.

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In other news, we threw our first yard sale this weekend and made a killing. And by killing, I really mean $100. We had so much stuff left over, it took three cars to cart it all over to Goodwill. And still, we have junk (so if anyone wants some junk, you know who to contact)…

Early morning yard saling.

We got a little bored...

We got a little bored…

It’s been a while since I’ve ventured out early on a Saturday morning , so I’d forgotten how hard core yard salers are. No matter how decent our deals were, they were never cheap enough. It got to the point where we were giving things away towards the end. And even then, people weren’t interested. It’s hard not to be a little offended by that…

Regardless, our burden is much lighter now (thank you Goodwill). Our paint jobs are finally finished. Our home (for now) is clean. And the realtor paid a visit yesterday.

We’re making progress and that feels good.

 

New York State of Mind

“The city is like poetry; it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.” E.B. White

newyork-skyline

So, New York.

It’s nothing like little old Burlington – that’s for sure. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the towering skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle, the seemingly rude customer service (at least when compared to southern hospitality), the wafting combination of delicious and rank smells, and the lack of wide open spaces…

newyork-buildings

But I loved it! Well, aside from the rank smells…

It was amazing, glorious, surreal.

It’s like New York makes you forget how much of a chore walking can be. You know you’ve entered a magical kingdom when you’ve covered 16 miles in a day and are NOT in need of a serious massage and muscle relief. No big deal.

I’m not exaggerating by even one mile when I tell you that in the span of four days in New York and one day in Washington D.C., we managed to walk 65 miles.

Only in New York can you binge on pizza and bagels and actually lose weight!

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Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn – the best, most authentically Italian pizza I’ve ever had!

We have been planning this trip since last fall and decided to pack as much into the extended weekend as we possibly could. Not knowing when we’d be back, we wanted to see all the stereotypical New York tourist attractions (and I desperately wanted to experience the coffee and food).

I’m not sure if there’s anything we didn’t do or see! It’s a very good feeling to wrap up a sightseeing trip completely satisfied with the accomplishments. It was not a vacation for the faint of heart – 65 miles is no joke. And every time we went to purchase a meal, we were already long past the famished point. But it was so worth it. And I’m thankful I married into a family of walkers (who, by the way, never seem to get tired).

We wondered if visiting the city on a holiday weekend was a good idea. Everywhere we went appeared chaotic – Times Square was packed human-to-human. We waited two hours in line for the Empire State Building and then decided to walk the remaining six flights (after having already walked 16 miles that day). The view was spectacular and every bit worth the wait and the calories burned. We realized Tuesday morning, once everyone had returned to work, that the city is much louder when there’s not a holiday. So we enjoyed three days of relative peace and “quiet” due to Memorial Day – totally worth it.

central-parkSurrounded by concrete for miles and miles, I was literally struck dumb when we finally stepped foot in Central Park. Nothing can quite compare with the beauty that encompasses this small space. And despite the noise of a holiday weekend; the (literally) thousands of walkers, bikers, sunbathers, runners, and venders occupying park space, I still felt a serenity I’d missed since arriving in the city.

I wanted to cry.

Apparently I’m more of a country girl than I realized – even with the astounding and historical architecture, the gravity defying towers and structures, I still found the truest joy and the most striking beauty in New York’s glorious parks.

newyork-centralpark

Bryant Park is a thumbnail compared to Central – but give me a spot of sunshine, a cup of coffee and a good book and I could have easily spent hours there.

bryant-park

It’s crazy that in a city so jam packed with people, I would have felt lost and alone without my family there. I’m accustomed to walking down the streets of our little downtown and knowing the names – at least recognizing the faces – of passersby, like the barista, librarian, shop owners, the police officers, the bar tender down the street, even some of the farmers in my community.

The art of community is not impossible in a big city by any means, and I know that there are little communities throughout Manhattan just like everywhere else. But in the streets, the subways, the coffee shops, the eateries, there’s no distinguishing one person from the other. It seems we’re all a jumble of faces with no individual identity to set us apart. Every cafe and bagel shop I walked into was so slammed with customers, there was no time to even say good morning.

I missed that.

I missed community.

brooklyn-bridge

I say that as a critique but I also stand by my statement that New York City is awe striking, and while the city scape is 100% manmade, it is beautiful in its own way.

And truly, I’ve never had better pizza outside of Brooklyn.

map-manhattanIn our 65 miles, we walked from Lower Manhattan to the middle of Central Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, zigzagging back and forth to see as much of the city as we could. And to think, there are still parts of the city we have yet to see!

Aside from the glorious parks, the one thing I desperately wanted to do was visit Cafe Lalo. Of course I love a good cup of coffee. But also, this coffee shop was made famous in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”

We walked an extra three miles – through the edge of Central Park – to the most adorable little European cafe. They have the tastiest cakes, delicious coffee and amazing waffles (I’m a sucker for waffles).

cafe-lalo

When we arrived back home, I realized I had missed the green of summer, the smells of honeysuckle, the quiet of a Friday evening on the back porch. And yet, there’s a part of me that misses the city. I think I’ll always enjoy visiting. There is still so much city coffee to sip and New York bagels to taste, and so many more miles to walk.

But given the option – city life versus our country life – I have to say I’d pick the country 100 times over. Nothing, no matter how hard humanity tries – can compare to God’s country.

“So one morning when the sun was warm, I rambled out of New York town, Pulled my cap down over my eyes , And headed out for the western skies, So long New York…” ~Bob Dylan

statue-liberty