Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am Thankful

Tomorrow I will be busy feasting on turkey and enjoying my time with family and friends. So today, I wanted to take the time to express some of what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for Layne. I know at some time in my life I must have done things without him, but I swear I can't remember how. I am thankful for his continuous support, patience, and love, and I am grateful that I have found someone who loves me for me. I am thankful for all the ways he challenges me to grow and become a better person and the hundreds of times each day he makes me laugh.

I am thankful for my job. This new job has given me heightened confidence in my abilities and a renewed vigor. I love going to work each day at a place I love and feeling as though I am making a true contribution to the overall mission of the organization. I love being a part of a team.

I am thankful for my home. It may be a tiny 600 sq ft apartment from the mid-century with no A/C, and I can hear my neighbors talk and smell the weird foods they cook, but it's mine. It is safe and it is clean and it is exactly where I want to be when I want to go home.

And I am thankful for my friends and family. The people I talk to and laugh with and enjoy when I need a moment of respite from the rest of the world. Thank you for confiding in me and loving me.

That is my life. It's small and simple, but there's room for everything I need and love. I am thankful for all that I have, and for my happiness.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bedroom Mood Board

I shared the mood board for my family room last week. While my family room was a matter of switching out some throw pillows, a few frames, and the curtains, the bedroom was a little more detailed. I mean... My dressers were turquoise. And we had three of them. So...

Here's a look at the mood board for my new bedroom! I didn't post the dressers because I have a surprise ready with them.

I'm actually really excited for these changes. It's kind of an Old Hollywood feel, don't you think? I just wish I could paint my apartment... I would paint the walls that ice blue and it would be the perfect final touch. Instead, they are blah oatmeal and will be until the end of time. Boo!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Favorite Friday: Ahh...Thanksgiving

I seriously do love Thanksgiving. Even more so since marrying Layne, since it is his all time favorite holiday. In light of the pending feast, I wanted to talk about my favorite thing about Thanksgiving.

My favorite thing has definitely evolved through the years. When I was a little girl, flipping through catalogs and circling toys I wanted for Christmas topped my list as the best part of the day. I never ended up getting any of those presents, but it never dampened my enthusiasm for turning through each magazine, page by page. I would lay on my stomach for hours as my sister Jenny and I would pass back and forth every Black Friday ad we could find.

As I got a little older, I liked helping to set the table. My mom would make place cards, and Jen and I would bicker over who should sit where as if it were just as important as the meal itself. Those fights got heated at times, but despite the fighting, we always placed our names next to each other in the end.

Now that I'm older, I have realized how much I enjoy being a part of the cooking on Thanksgiving. Something about everyone in the family piling into the kitchen with a specific task to help make the meal a success brings such a warmth to the day. It really kicks off the holiday season. And being a part of all those smells coming together makes the meal itself that much better!

I can't wait for Thanksgiving this next week! What do you love most about the day?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Room Mood Board

I've been wanting to share my family room mood board for a while now. When Layne broke my heart and told me that he did not absolutely love the home I had slaved to put together for him, I had to re-think everything. This is what I came up with.

It's a lot of the basic elements that I already had, just minus the navy and pink and green. Now it's black and white and silvers and golds. I learned that Layne prefers neutrals and elegant, so hopefully I can build in that direction!

I've begun work on the room and some things have already changed from this plan, but these were my initial thoughts when I started this whole mad journey. I have to admit, I already like it so much more!

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Best Advice

Back in September, Layne and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I honestly can't believe that it has been three years already! I feel like every day I'm just hanging out with my best friend and the weeks, months, and years are just flying by in waves of laughter and really good food.

I guess three years is enough time for people to assume we have the hang of this thing. It's true that I have been sad to see some of my friend's marriages fall away in less time, and while we certainly haven't always had smooth sailing and wedded bliss, we've managed to pull through even the darkest hours. And honestly, we're happier than ever because of it. We're more open with each other and truly understand each other. We take care of each other, and we can do so because we know what the other person needs.

The other day, a newlywed asked me for my best marriage advice. It was the first time someone had deliberately asked me for general advice on a happy marriage, and it took a while for me to articulate my thoughts. I definitely feel that every couple is different and everyone learns something unique to them at different times.

That being said, the biggest lesson Layne and I have learned over our time together is to throw away the expectations for a white picket fence. Accept the other person for who they are right now, today. Not who they have the potential to be someday, or who you want them to be for you. The most you can expect from your significant other is that they continually try their best to love you and you do the same in return. You're a team, and you're both trying your best. Life can be really hard sometimes. Dreaming of a better tomorrow will only get you so far. You have to learn to be happy with your present, and you have to work as a team. Isn't it better to have a shoulder to lean on than to just have someone to point the finger of blame at?

Not to trivialize it, but Layne's first instinct will most likely never be to put his dish in the dishwasher right away. Love him to death, but it's just not his priority. It's mine, because I have major OCD that necessitates a clean house. And Layne knows that, and so he'll try to put his dishes away or at least bring them to the sink from the table.  And it's my job in turn to not flip my lid as I clear dirty dishes from the table day in and day out, potentially year in and year out. I have to trust that he's working on it, and he deserves to trust that I will give him that benefit of the doubt.

This has taught us both so much patience, so much acceptance, and heightened our abilities to forgive. It has allowed us to discuss the things we need to work on without feeling judged or getting defensive, which only leads to fights. Every day I get to focus on the progress we have made as a couple. I feel supported and cared for. And if (when) I mess up and I'm careless and I hurt him, I know that tomorrow we'll start over and he will already have forgiven me and let me try again.

So now I'm curious - how long have you been married, and what's your best advice from what you've learned in that time? If you're not married, what have your past relationships taught you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Apple Festival

As I mentioned here, we went up to Philly for Layne's Birthday Week. We've been up to visit Thorn and JoAnna before, but this time we were able to squeeze in a few hours with our friend Joe as well, who is usually way too cool for us because he's in med school or some such nonsense.

When we got to Thorn and JoAnna's, we decided to get out of the city itself for the day and enjoy the Pennsylvania countryside at an Apple Festival. We drove to the middle of nowhere, got a little lost, made JoAnna car sick, and then suddenly ran into this massive crowd of apparent apple lovers. It was the sweetest little town, and this Apple Festival was no small potatoes farmer's market.

There was apple tasting, apple butter, apple syrup, apple sauce, apple cider. There was also an apple pie eating contest. We entered Layne and Thorn, but it was a lottery and only Thorn was selected. He really tucked in and received a very honorable Honorable Mention.

We finished up the day by meeting up with Joe. We all went out to dinner at a hibachi restaurant right on the water. All in all, it was a fantastic way to end Birthday Week!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

That's right. This weekend, we rocked a monastery. We went because Andrew heard about it on the radio and it had catacombs and how cool does that sound?

Way, way, way cooler than it actually was.

The monk who gave us the tour droned on. And on. And... oooooooon. The tour was supposed to be 45 min. It was an hour and half! And it ended up being of the church as well as the catacombs, so the first hour was just spent going through this Catholic church as he described every detail about every single stained glass window, wood carving, and bas relief. And then he would throw in a few Biblical stories that he felt might somehow be slightly related to the story that was actually being depicted. It probably would have been a little more interesting if I was Catholic...

When we finally got to the catacombs, our excitement was at an all time high. Those hopes were quickly dashed. Little did we know, they were just a modern replica of the catacombs in Rome, made entirely of plaster and cement. It was another half an hour of slowly walking through rooms with no dead bodies, skulls, bones - nothing!

The afternoon was only salvaged because while we were waiting for the tour to begin we spent some time in the gardens and they were beautiful, so that's the part I'm sharing with you.

Absolutely amazing fall colors.

They had this really pretty dome thing - not sure what it was about.

And some arches by a rose garden. It had rained earlier, so they were still dripping.

They had this tomb down in the lower gardens, and a really cool statue of a saint up on a wall.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Favorite Friday: Thing About Fall

My favorite thing about fall is a total toss up, so I'm just going to list two. It's my game, so I can make and break the rules as I want - right?

1 - The leaves. Am I right here, people? I loved watching the leaves change on the mountainside in Utah, but Virginia takes fall to a whole new level. If you've never been out here, you may not realize that the famous D.C. humidity makes everything lush and green. The highways are lined with forests - not trees, but overgrown, tangled, walls of forest. And when fall comes, those forests separate into sudden, bright, individual trees of sunny yellow, burning orange, and brilliant red. There are trees throughout the whole city, and because the city is so old (the street I live on has been around since at least 1860) all the trees are mature and solid and they each drop millions of leaves. It's paradise.

2 - The clothes. This is by no means a fashion blog, but I have to admit that I love switching over my closet for the seasons. I tuck away the polos and pull out my sweaters, snuggling into their warm softness and rejoicing! Scarves, gloves, coats, cardigans - I can wear them all again! I miss certain outfits when they're in storage, and for the first little bit of fall I get to enjoy my wardrobe anew.

What's you favorite thing about the season's change?

P.S. Don't miss my other post about what we love about fall! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Baby Sister as a Blushing Bride

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for... Mrs. Jenny Free!

I am by no means a pro photographer, but I tagged along for the bridal session and managed to get in some okay shots between fluffing the dress and teasing strands of hair to fall just so. It helped that the scenery was GORGEOUS. Welcome to American Fork Canyon, people. I miss those mountains so dang much. Too bad we otherwise aren't fans of Utah!

Jenny's dress definitely pulls on my heartstrings. Our great grandma made it in 1952 for our grandma's wedding in 1953. Then our mom wore it when she married our dad. Jen pulled it out of storage, gave it a few quick updates, and made it her own. Three generations of brides in one beautiful, handmade, heirloom dress.

Keeping with the heirloom theme, Jen wore this Navy locket from our great-grandpa, and Trevor wore a tie clip from our grandpa, the husband of the dress's original owner. Jen's custom ring really completed the look with its vintage design.

 But seriously... these mountains...

Cute candid - ooohhhh! They love each other!

Here's to a happily ever after for my baby sister and the wonderful man she married.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall with the Fletcher's

I thought I better share my favorite bits of fall before the winter weather truly sets in. While I hate to put away my sundresses, there is a large part of me that shivers with excitement at the idea of pumpkin treats and spice cake, Thanksgiving turkey and tying a scarf around my neck. I know I'll be kicking myself come February for ever enjoying the dropping temperatures, but I can't help but enjoy the falling leaves.

As it grows colder, the Fletcher's become even bigger couch potatoes. We love to curl up and sip hot chocolate with white, pillowy, mountains of whipped cream. And then a little bit more whipped cream. Just to top it off. We're all about scary movies and popcorn and lots and lots of blankets.

When we go out, we try to soak up the last little bit of decent weather. I never fail to feel a smile steal across my face as I watch the falling gold and orange leaves dance through the air to the ground. And the sound of them crunching underneath my boots is potentially the most satisfying noise in the world.

A few weeks ago, I dragged Layne to a combo pumpkin patch/apple orchard in the countryside. As you can see, the rolling hills of Virginia were gorgeous.

Amy, Andrew, and Emma came with us and we attempted a little photo shoot, but Emma was not having it after about two seconds.

What an adorable brat, right?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Favorite (um?) Friday: Book

Ok... blogger fail. I do recognize that it is now Tuesday, but I couldn't not put this up just because I missed Friday last week somehow!

I wanted to tell you about my favorite book. Well, one of them at least. I LOVE reading, and pretty much fall in love with any book that I'm reading at the moment. I can't help it! I get sucked in and even as I close the book, my mind remains cocooned in the pages of some far off, fictional place and I imagine what the characters are doing and thinking and saying between point A and point B. When I was younger, I used to walk around with a book in one hand and my nose shoved into the pages, breathing in the smell of ink and glue that always sang of possibility and hope to me. Reading can transport you anywhere in the world and you can experience things beyond your own imagination. You can crawl into other people's minds and explore times and places that would otherwise remain mysteries. But I don't mean to wax romantic about reading...

One of the last books, that I really, really, REALLY loved was The Book Thief. And, yes, I read it like five years ago, and, yes, you have probably read it by now because everyone and their mother has had it recommended to them, but if there is any chance that you have not read it yet then GO. NOW. The movie just came out, and I think we can all agree that you must read the book before you see the movie because the book is always better.

The Book Thief follows the story of an orphan girl during WWII and it is narrated by Death. It is fantastically written with the most beautiful and poetic descriptions and even though He tells you what is going to happen from the beginning you don't realize it until it is too late and then you're sobbing for your friends on these pages and begging for things to be different. But they can't be, because that was life and fate and even when it's terrible and tragic, it is incredibly exquisite. Plus, I have a thing for WWII books. The characters are always fantastically strong and I think it is because the people of that time were truly strong people.

I'll leave you with the preview to the movie, just in case I haven't convinced you yet. But seriously. Do yourself a favor and just read it.

Monday, November 4, 2013


We do birthdays big around here.

(Well, Layne's birthday anyway. I have always hated my birthday because it's smack dab in the middle of December and everyone is always so busy with the holidays, and then in school we always had finals, and my mom just had me celebrate it a month later in January with my little sister's birthday so I have no real connection with the day itself.)

But back to... Layne's Birthday Week. If you think 28 is too old to still be making a fuss out of your birthday, you are kidding yourself. I ADORE Birthday Week! I've been in charge of it since we've been married and at the beginning of October I begin badgering Layne with gift ideas and to make a  list of restaurants for us to try, etc. We even bought a Birthday Menorah (one candle for every day of the week, and one to grow on!) We partied hard all last week, so here is one giant recap for you!

Saturday - Coffee cake and bacon for breakfast. Mini shopping spree at the Leesburg Outlets and through Georgetown. We went to a French restaurant for dinner called Bistrot du Coin where the bartender spilled beer on us and we both sent back our entrees because they were totally gross. The appetizers were ok, but we stopped at Wendy's on the way home and ended up having foie gras and chicken nuggets for dinner. #FoodieFail

Sunday - FOOTBALL was the theme of the day. We did our usual Sunday Steak Night and watched the heartbreaking game and tried a new brie and took it pretty easy. I made lemon bars from scratch to redeem myself from some recent kitchen blunders and Layne loved them. So even though the Skins lost, I consider the day a "W."

Monday - Got rescheduled for this week. 

Tuesday - Our Halloween celebrations always squeeze their way into Birthday Week, and this time was no different! We went to our ward Halloween party as the Ratatouille cast. The ward mission was hosting and we're ward missionaries, so we spent the whole party helping kids pop balloons and pin the face on the pumpkin. Afterward, we got peking duck, which had been on the list for a while and did not disappoint!

Wednesday - BIRTHDAY DAY!!! This is usually the day Layne gets his biggest gift, but we're still waiting on it this year. I got him a new iPad. We repeated at The Palm again for Birthday Dinner, but it was so good last year, how could we not?

Thursday - As scary movie lovers, we finally watched the original Halloween together for the first time. We also gorged ourselves on candy. I <3 candy like a small child.

Friday - Layne hit the town with his friends to watch the Wizards home opener. Sadly, they blew it in the fourth and Layne was let down by another Washington team, but the company and wings were good enough to save the night.

Saturday - A trip up to Philly! I'll recap that in a separate post.

Now Birthday Week is over and I'm so sad! I really love making every day into something special.

What are your birthday traditions?
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