Wherever You Are, Be All There

Confession: it’s been quite some time since I’ve been back on the blogging train. I have quite a few things to catch up on over here, as even though the stories have been told, they have yet to be written. From an engagement to buying a new car (not by choice), planning a wedding and welcoming a new kitten into the family…we’ve had quite the busy end of 2013/beginning of 2014.

In the mantra of starting fresh, I felt it was best to dive back in through Lent. The Lenten season has always held a special place in my heart, not only does it bring with it the return of Peeps, but with it also a sense of community and renewal – in both the spiritual and physical definitions.

Each year, I try my best to give up at least one thing I could do without for forty days and add one thing that I could use more of beyond that. As I’ve had some pretty big life changes in the last six months (i.e. saying goodbye to living with one of my best friends and moving in with a boy) it feels like a more appropriate time than ever to adopt a phrase I’ve grown to love over the last year or so.

whereveryouarebeallthere

I’m not quite sure where I first heard that one, but it’s stuck in my mind for quite some time. I’m definitely guilty of Pinteresting while watching a movie, answering emails while in a meeting or scrolling through an Instagram feed while waiting on the elevator. While some of those distractions also double as enjoyment (who doesn’t love a great wedding Pinterest board) they can also very easily take away from the most precious moments of our days.

Living with a significant other, I’ve certainly become much more aware of my habits – one of those being making sure the time we get to spend together on the week nights is as meaningful as possible. With packed personal schedules, even sitting at a quiet dinner table or watching Modern Family together sans distraction is the “be all there” moment that I can put within reach.

The little moments can quickly become big moments, if only we take the time to pause and enjoy them. With little reminders each day, I hope this is a Lenten practice that will carry on far beyond the last marshmallow Peep.

Sewing a baby blanket 101

When I found out a good friend of mine from work was expecting her first little one, I’m fairly certain one of the first conversations centered around planning her in-office surprise baby shower. It’s become quite the tradition at Engauge with three little ones in the last year and Lindsay and I were more than happy to get to planning again.

For little Logan I knew I wanted to do something special. I’ve always tried to bring a little something homemade, whether that be the decorations or nursery wall art, but when I stumbled upon a photo of a quilt on Pinterest, a lightbulb went off.

So here’s the deal: I’m no seamstress. I’ve had a sewing machine since age ten or so (back during my “I’m going to be a fashion designer” phase), but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I even figured out how to set it up – and then, that was to sew two little pillows and back in the closet it went.

So baby blanket. Whole new ballgame. I was inspired to take the same look of a banner (a favorite DIY party decoration) and turn that into a quilt. Easy right? Can’t be harder than pillows. The good news is, minus a few hiccups, it really wasn’t.fabric squares

I asked everyone from the office to share a 6″x6″ square of fabric, that way the blanket could be a gift from each of us. Once I had all of my various fabric pieces, I cut a piece of cardboard to make a stencil and ironed each square into a triangle flag shape. To make sure each one held its shape, I sewed each together using a zig-zag stitch (I’m sure there is a more technical term for this, but who knows, it was cute).penant

Following a similar pattern as sewing a pillow, I sewed two solid fabrics together, leaving the fourth edge open to insert the batting. I decided on a honeycomb patterned white fabric for the front and light blue for the backing, that way it wouldn’t feel too overly girly. I’d love for Kelly to have something she can use if another little guy comes along some day.

Once I had that step complete, I looked like a total idiot as a had my whole head on the inside of a blanket trying to place batting evenly. I’m certain there’s an easier way to do this. I didn’t discover it.penant2

Next was measuring and pinning all of the flags in place. I used a measuring tape and straight pins to mark off a line where each flag would fall, keeping everything at alternating angles. To make sure it was even, I measured the distance from top to bottom of the first and last flags and repeated the process on the other three lines until everything was spaced evenly.baby pennant flag blanket

Sewing each of the flags was a painstaking process – essentially following the lines I made earlier when I sewed each of the flags individually and shifting a massive blanket back and forth across the machine. At least there were plenty of breaks for wine and Hocus Pocus (watched that one multiple times) along the way.

From there, it was just cleaning up edges, corners and bits of thread, and voila! A blanket! A real life, baby sized blanket.pennant flag blanket

A Southern Tri-State Adventure

A downside of this whole adulthood deal has to be moving away from the friends you also had the chance to have a three year long spend the night party with.

So this summer, when my we found out that Jack Johnson would be coming to town during the same week as our best friend was getting married, Elizabeth and I immediately began scheming for how to work out a bit of a road trip to accompany it all.

While Jack would be coming to Atlanta to play at the Fox Theatre (one of the coolest things about his From Here to Now tour is that he is only playing in small and intimate venues), we actually decided to risk our cards and vie for tickets (the tickets are running on a lottery system) to his show in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

So here’s what our weekend looked like:  Atlanta – to Chattanooga (where Elizabeth lives) – to Nashville – to Atlanta – to Hiram (bridal brunch) – to Piedmont, AL (wedding location) – to Atlanta. In three days.

For illustrative purposes only, clearly, we took a much more direct route.

For illustrative purposes only, clearly, we took a much more direct route.

I hadn’t been to Nashville since high school, so it was quite the treat to see it in a whole new light. We were welcomed to town in rather appropriate fashion, as a Big and Rich music video was filming just as we walked up after checking into our hotel.Big and Rich

Per suggestions of multiple friends, we grabbed dinner at Merchant’s. The restaurant is separated into a dressier upstairs and slightly more casual downstairs, but rest assured, all delicious. Another perk of vacationing with your BFF? Splitting meals to try a little of everything on the menu.Merchants

From there, the Ryman and Jack certainly didn’t under deliver. Stunning. I cannot say I have EVER heard acoustics so lovely in my life. We danced, we swooned, it was definitely better together.Jack Johnson Ryman

We made a few stops the following morning, like a run through Vandy’s campus and Hatch Print Shop, before making a slight trek north to the Southern Living Idea House. I visited last year’s house in Senoia, Georgia, and we couldn’t come all this way and not stop to dream swing for a little on this front porch.Front Porch Swing - Southern Living Idea House

From Nashville, we made a quick stop in my hometown for bridal activities and from there it was onward to Alabama. The best part of a road trip is always the roadside attractions and in our book that means cheesy state line photo shoots and an antique warehouse of course.Antique Store

I nabbed quite a few goodies, including two yards of designer home fabric and three bud vases, along with a few other odds and ends for a grand total of $7.00. Don’t let anyone tell you the middle of no where isn’t any fun.

State Line

Wedding day arrived, it was beautiful and we got to stand by the side of one of our best friends as she said I Do on the shores of Terrapin Creek. We made the most of every moment of the weekend, even spending time wading in the creek on wedding morning. Just like a front porch swing, we could have stayed on a rock, with our toes in the water, chatting all day long. We may have even squeezed in a mid-day Coke float to match. I’m not sure it gets more perfectly southern than that.Jessica and Ryan

After three days, three states and nearly 14 hours in the car together, we headed back to our separate homes. While I’m certainly a fan of trips far and away, it’s nice to find a set of adventures close to home.Terrapin Creek