Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011, the Year in Review

There are so many things to look forward to in 2012 and I am certainly getting excited about many of them. But 2011 was the absolute best year I can it will be difficult to top!
It was hard to narrow down (and I admittedly cheated) but here are my top 11 moments of 2011:

1. Buying and settling in to our first home!

2. January weekend in Charleston, celebrating engagements (and all of the other engagement parties and showers that would follow!)

3. Ellen's 22nd birthday -- and our first (but certainly not last) dinner party at 1327

4. Easter weekend with White and Frazier grandparents

5. Ellen's college graduation weekend -- in particular, favorite moment was her Seussical rendition of the class' history

6. seeing New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys in concert. yep. that's right.

7. Bachelorette weekend with my favorite girls at Sullivans Island

8. sneaky wedding portrait -- to and from Spartanburg in a day with the whole family!

9. picking out our first Christmas tree and cutting it down ourselves, during Thanksgiving week (and thanks to Carl Frazier for the saw which we will use for years to come to cut the bottom of the tree to save!)

10. I'm going to cheat and combo moments -- witnessing the marriage of Meredith and Tyler, Hadley and Hollis, Chris and Anna, Meg and Garrison, and most recently, Ben and Kat (and celebrating many other happy couples from a distance!)

11. and of course...committing all that I am and all that I have to THIS guy

Thankful for 2011 and looking forward to what 2012 will hold (spoiler alert: a honeymoon to Ireland, some graduations, a big birthday or two and at least one wedding are already on the books!)


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas With Love

Our first married Christmas was incredible - we started some new traditions, continued participating in some family ones and overall had a ball seeing family, eating and exchanging gifts. But -- my favorite part of Christmas is always GIVING gifts -- so here are some of my favorites I got to give this year.

As should have been expected...we made good use of the incredible photos from Meredith Daniels Photography for our Christmas gifts. Check out a few of the DIY (do-it-yourself) gifts that family members received:

Mom looking through the wedding photo book we gave to all of the parents and grandparents; these were a HUGE hit! These were of course only sort of DIY, we put them together on Snapfish.

Jason received this framed photo of our first dance, with lyrics to the song we danced to "You are the Best Thing" by Ray Lamontagne.

Dad got one too, with the lyrics for Dylan's Forever Young -- which he also used for our toast during the reception! (Jason's mom Kim got one of her and Jason dancing as well and yes -- I learned that from Pinterest!)

Tried out making fresh salsa for the first time. Will keep working on perfecting that...and then maybe you'll get some next year!

Ellen received this shadow box with little pieces of her Meredith College graduation weekend that I had hung on to since May in hopes of surprising her.

and a FAVORITE gift to give to the parents -- an ornament with our wedding invitation inside!

I hope your Christmas was filled with love and joy -- and plenty of great gift giving.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Because It's There"

Tonight, thanks to Ellen, Jason and I got to have a fun little date night in downtown Raleigh. Ellen passed on some gifted tickets to Martinis to the Max at the Marbles museum in downtown Raleigh.

On the 2nd Thursday of each month, the IMAX theater at Marbles hosts a cocktail hour followed by a documentary film showing. This month, the film was "The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest." Jason was thrilled about seeing snow IMAX style and watching this film on a subject he loved. I was just excited about the marbletinis.

So we dressed up a bit and headed to downtown. The marbletinis were alright -- but the film: it told a riveting story. There were actually two intertwined stories: the story of George Mallory, the man who could have been the first person to summit Everest and Conrad Anker who found his body in tact 75 years later and then went on to retrace his steps.

The original story is an incredible tale, that somehow I hadn't ever heard.

One of the most fascinating segments was the retelling of an interview Mallory did when preparing for one of his three expeditions to Everest. When asked by a New York Times reporter why he would want to climb Mount Everest, Mallory is said to have replied "Because it's there."

This baffled me. It inspired me. If I'm honest: it made me feel a little inadequate. I have set about making boundaries for my work and personal life, for my faith and friends. I have certainly come up with multitudes of reasons why I could not physically push myself: the workout is too long, it's too cold out, there is more work to be done, etc. But not Mallory. With no creature comforts, no end in sight and at whatever cost - he was going to climb that mountain. And not because no one else had or because everyone else had or because someone told him to or not to...simply because it was there.

I am baffled. inspired. feeling a little inadequate. What can I accomplish...? where will I go...?What will I feel compelled to because it's there?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Blur

So, it is probably unnecessary to name the busyness that has kept me from blogging these past few months. Instead of apologizing from my absence from the blogosphere, I'll just name that I was hard at work on putting the finishing touches on our wedding, which took place last weekend and move on.

It seems that time was marked with "before the wedding" and "after the wedding." The month before the wedding was a flurry of finishing up DIY projects (which would not have been possible without Ellen, my DIY partner-in-crime). The week before the wedding I fit in a special date with Mom, Pop, Ellen and Jason. A few days before the wedding the Frazier Fab Four made our way west and soaked up time together while running errands.

Then last Saturday, with the most beautiful weather in the most beautiful spot in Black Mountain we said our vows and exchanged rings.

We served communion to our family and dear friends.

We danced and celebrated til our feet hurt.

And then Jason and I spent three days post-wedding relaxing in an incredible house just outside of Black Mountain with this view:

It was every bit of the blur that I had been warned about. And I'll try to recount the details now that we are in the "after the wedding" part. Already some of it will come flooding back as we pour over the photos and open gifts as we settle in to this new, not-so-strange married life -- and in the midst of all of that, I know that the moment I certainly won't forget is the moment that inspired this blog to begin with. The moment not caught up in the rest of the blur; the moment when we spoke aloud the vows that were long ago written on our hearts: with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor and cherish you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

the truth shall make you odd

It's surprising how little we had in common when we first started dating. Jason was a biology major. I was a religion major. He was a freshman. I was a senior. He was from South Carolina and I from North Carolina. By the end of the first month of us dating, he had switched his major (to religion...which I take full credit for, thank you) but I was no longer at Wofford - the one thing that at the time had tied us together.

If you know me, you won't believe that in fact, during those first few weeks, I was the skeptic. Jason is the realist amongst us and I the romantic but at the time, he was the one who gave our relationship a shot.

Fast forward to summer of 2011 and as we prepare to merge 2 sets of furniture, dishes and hobby paraphenelia (mostly Jason's of course), an interesting merger has been our libraries. And I intentionally use the term library. We each come with 4 years of religion major books from Wofford and now a graduate collection as well. And I also have some additions from the library of Carl Frazier. As I unloaded Jason's books in to our office the other day, I started to see some similarities and upon a brief investigation, found this:

Those are two and sometimes three copies of the same books...all of them books on aspects of religion. We also each have copies of Catcher in the Rye and other literary classics And, perhaps my favorite, we each have our own copy of the Collected Works of Flannery O'Connor. This may start to sound like some academic snobbery and some of you might now roll your eyes but noticing this collection of the same books got me to thinking about the conversations that Jason and I have that give such energy to the day-to-day grind convos. I am so grateful that we have similar interests in academia but am even more grateful that we come and go from those conversations with enough open mindedness that we can disagree. Religion can be an incredibly personal topic and debates over truth and Truth can wedge a divide between people. Perhaps it is odd that we talk about these things but one more thing I have learned from Jason: to embrace the label "odd."

Flannery once said that "you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd." I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Recipe for A Perfect Marriage

One of my resolutions for 2011 was to try 52 new recipes -- I think at last count, I was at about I have some work to do in the second half of the year. As Jason and I have worked at that resolution we have tried some new favorites...and some duds. This past weekend, these Wofford girls helped me out with finding some new favorites by hosting a kitchen shower for me in Chapel Hill. We did a little basic math while together and realized that we have now been friends with one another for almost ten years!

Meg, Hadley, me, Meredith, Virginia and Katie

The weather was perfect, the food was delicious and so thoughtfully all of my favorites (including a cheese ball, of course) and the company was the best part. This year is spoiling me on seeing these girls - we'll only go six days between festivities this time as we will reconvene in Charleston this weekend for the wedding of Chris and Anna!

Sidenote: one of the best parts about wedding planning for me has been figuring out host/hostess gifts for parties. This one was my favorite thus far!

Olive oil from Italy (fitting for this crew) and painted measuring spoons

Back to the shower: in addition to some of my dishes and serving ware, I also received recipes for soon-to-be favorite dishes. The most important (and cheesiest) recipe was for the Perfect Marriage:

3 cups of love

4 spoonfuls of hope

2 cups of warmth

2 spoonfuls of tenderness

1 cup of forgiveness (*with instructions to add more as necessary)

1 pint of faith

1 cup of friendship

1 barrel of laughter

Mix together evenly and enjoy!

We had a chuckle over the how cheesy this was...but if you come to visit sometime soon, you will probably find this recipe framed and hanging in my kitchen so that I have a nice reminder (and maybe Jason will take a glance at it every now and then too).

cherish...oh and, mazel tov.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

As for Me and My House...

This little townhouse was busting at the seams this weekend...filled with friends and family as our engagement was celebrated (thanks to some fabulous bridesmaids!) and I loved every minute of it. Even the minutes that involved the hot water going, the 10 p.m. dinner (a little later than I had planned) and the 3rd dishwasher run in the same day.

But it got me thinking, that I haven't shared with the blog world the photos of this house I am so proud of! This house has quickly become a haven and I have loved inviting friends in, showing hospitality, sharing a meal and making it feel more like home. I really enjoy the work of finding just the right thing for the corners that need it. So -- at the risk of too much showmanship....I thought I would share photos of our little place in the world.

One view of the Living Room

A favorite feature: the built-in bookshelves

Music Corner

Our Dining Room

View of Breakfast Nook and Bakers Rack

Breakfast Nook, complete with re-covered chairs!

Jason calls this Dec-organizing


Guest Room Guest-Ready

Master Bath

Two views of the Master Bedroom

So me and my house...we will continue to welcome any who want to visit and share in the hospitality and a meal. Even if you have to wait until 10 p.m.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Dos and I Wills

They are such small words "I do," "I will." Certainly not the kind of words that get you big points in scrabble - but the kinds of words that promises are made with.

Today I heard those words spoken by about fifty students that were part of the Confirmation Class of 2011 that I helped lead. They said "I do" to putting their whole trust in Christ's grace-amongst other things- and "I will" to being loyal to the United Methodist church. Their convinction was strong. As strong as a 12-year old could muster. And their parents were proud and their friends were excited for them.

Witnessing that commitment of those confirmands has come in the midst of a beautiful time in my life when I get to hear "I dos" and "I wills" very regularly. It seems like once a month there is a wedding to attend...and though each one has its own uniquities and quirks, the words of promise, small though they may be, are always there. And I believe that as my friends make those promises, and say those words, their conviction is strong. As strong as they can muster. And their parents are proud and their friends are excited for them.

And I hope that for all these making promises, the convinction never fails. I feel confident (and hope) that my sweet, idealistic confirmands will question and consider new dynamics to their faith as they become adults. But that is not the failure we sometimes make it out to be; I hope that if I have taught them nothing else, they have learned that questioning and considering is just fine. Its their effort that should not falter. And for my friends who say I do and I will to cherish and love in sickness and in health, there will be questions and new dynamics to their relationship. But that is not a failure and I hope that we all remind one another of that.

The most poignant part of the vows that we make to join the church or to marry or to be baptized - is that we do not stop with I do. We do not make only a commitment for that moment in time. We also say "I will," cementing our future commitment to another person, to the church, to our faith.

I forgot to mention that I also joined the church this morning; this is the 5th church I have joined as a professing member of the United Methodist Church. And though it felt familiar, it was a new commitment of my prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. I can't say that every day since I joined the church in 1996, I have lived out my promise of prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. But I can renew my commitment to that, renew my promise to making an effort; and just as I said those "I dos" and "I wills" this morning, I prepare my heart now to say those small, simple words alongside Jason come September....I do and I will.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

graduation. and beyond.

My little sister, Ellen, graduated from college today. I am still in a bit of shock from the idea that my sister...5 years younger than I, could possibly be done with her college career. After all, I just finished my college years, right?

As I celebrated with Ellen, shared in her accomplishments and even listened to her turn a phrase as she presented her class' history at the Meredith Class Day, I got wrapped up in all the tradition of that special place. Much like a wedding (you knew I would tie it in somehow), there were certain players assigned specific lines, particular moments that had been dreamt of and hope for. For these alumnae of Meredith those moments are connected to corn, odds vs. evens, crooks (as in belonging to shepherd's not thieves), daisies, charms and especially that precious onyx. And while Meredith had its own flavor of traditions, I noticed a few that were reminiscent of my dear ol' Wofford: the turning of the class ring, the presentation of a Bible at graduation and even photos by a fountain. The pomp and circumstance of these moments is all tied end to the ending of such a rich time of life. But, the news is good...the grass is not greener; it is just different on the other side.

Your friendships change--in your day-to-day relationships but certainly not in their value, your goals become clarified, your sense of self is defined. And at the end of the next five years, you'll look back in bewilderment at where five more years have led you.

I imagine that is what a 5-, 10-, 25-year wedding anniversary is like: fondness over the memories of years past as well as a sense of bewilderment about how exactly you got to where you are. As you prepare for your next steps, my dear sister...I hope you'll remember these words from our family's favorite poet:

you have brains in your head

you have feet in your shoes* (when you wear shoes)

you can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

on and on you will hike.

and I know you'll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.

you're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

your mountain is waiting.

So...get on your way!

hold on to the joy, good and tight --- and know that I'm dark days or light!

Happy Graduation and Beyond, Ellen Frances!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cuatro de Mayo

5 Years. That's 1825 days. So about 1825 phone calls. Countless obscure Scrubs quotes. Dozens of papers exchanged for edits and remarks. Three graduations (2 for me, 1 for far), lots of family celebrations, debates of space theology and other dynamics of religion and politics, thousands of miles driven, 1 puppy dog loved exponentially and of course the two break ups that bring us to where we now are.

When Jason and I first started dating, May 4, 2006, there were doubts. Our friends had doubts, we had doubts, I'm sure that our family had doubts. It was, afterall, 10 days before my graduation and 10 days before the end of Jason's freshman year. And in those moments of doubt, one stands out: the moment I sat with one of my dear friends, Bess and told her that in spite of those doubts, I felt a complete assurance about the man Jason would become and that I wanted to be alongside him for that journey. Sure, I acknowledged that he was not that guy yet, but I wasn't the woman I wanted to be as an adult yet either. About a year ago, I sat with Bess again - and I told her with great joy - that Jason had in fact become that man, the one I had known in 2006 he could be.

Waiting for that meant some of those 1825 days were very dark - growing pains, tears shed, harsh words spoken. But in that growing up, we have had the chance to share with one another the most vulnerable, tender and faithful interchange: forgiveness. And it seems that forgiveness is a cyclical thing -- we are each daily forgiving one another for past transgressions and for the current mess ups. It seems that the future debts/trespasses are less daunting with that as our reality.

As a person of faith, I can't help but make the jump to the daily forgiveness from God for our past transgressions, for our current mess ups and even for our future sins. And I know that God looks at us, His children, with the same assurance I had about Jason circa 2006. God knew then that he would someday be Jason circa 2011...and that I would someday be Elizabeth circa 2011. And God knows now the people we can and will become. What a fulfilling love it is to know you love a constantly growing and transforming person.

With all of that in our past 1825 days - I can't help but think of what will come in the next 1825. And even the next 20,075. I would say that there's a good chance there will be a few more obscure Scrubs quotes...and our fair share of forgiveness.

Happy Cuatro de Mayo!