En route to Dublin, Ireland

Our last day of adventure in the Irish countryside finally caught up with us. Much too soon for my liking, but after a quick chat with our B&B host that went something like this:

Him: Where in the US are you from?

Me: Texas. Austin actually.

Him: Oh, like JR Ewing?

Me: Close, he was from Dallas.

we left in high spirits despite the cold, rainy weather that awaited us outside.

DSC00812Because this was a driving day, the rainy weather didn’t bother us much and since we didn’t really have any sights planned to stop at we focused on making good time.

Then, about halfway to Dublin, we hit a break in the rain and took a detour to Birr Castle.

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Birr Castle is home to the 7th Earl of Rosse so we weren’t able to go inside; however, the grounds were open to the public and we took the opportunity to explore them, despite sporadic rain showers and wind.

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Once we had enough of the cold wind and rain we made the final leg of our drive to our hotel in Dublin and what would our last drive in Ireland be without a rainbow?

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After dropping our bags at the hotel and taking our car back to the airport we headed into Dublin for our first night in the city.

It was FREEZING, super windy, and rainy so we didn’t veer very far from the Temple Bar area, but we did manage to peek in and catch a glimpse of Trinity College at night, which was gorgeous.

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DSC00878By this point I was getting cranky, because I was cold and hungry and wet so we ducked in the nearest tourist trap we could find – Hard Rock Cafe – where they sat me, uh I mean us, in the Sting booth.

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If you know me, you know how big of a moment this was for me. After our very American dinner, we headed back to the hotel to chill, the next day we had to hit the ground running as it was Adam’s last day of sightseeing before the business end of this trip began.

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Cliffs of Moher & Galway, Ireland

Leaving Dingle was hard.

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I mean, who would want to leave when this is the sunrise view from the front porch of your bed & breakfast?

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But, more of Ireland was just waiting to be explored, and we had to get an early start.

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One perk of the morning was that we got to drive Conor Pass one last time.

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Let’s be honest, there was no “we” in driving – Adam was the sole driver and I just played naviga-ooh look pretty views, pull over.

Our route today was pretty straight-forward, primarily driving north, along the coast, and taking a ferry across the River Shannon.

Our first stop this day was the Blennerville Windmill which was built in 1800 an recently restored after years of neglect.

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Then we took the ferry across the River Shannon and ate lunch in Kilrush.

While eating the most amazing baked potato of my life (topped with mozzarella and bacon!) a kind older couple chatted with us and insisted we drive out to Loop Head. It was a slight detour on our route but they promised cliff views that rivaled the Cliffs of Moher.

THEY WEREN’T KIDDING.

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We absolutely lucked out on this recommendation not only were the cliffs FREE (Cliffs of Moher charged 6 euro per adult) there were no other tourists there and they remained virtually untouched. The only signs of visitors were worn trails in pastures along the cliff line.

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We walked along the cliffs for close to an hour and could have stayed longer, but knew we still had to book it to make it to the more famous cliffs before sunset.

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And then we pulled into the parking lot at the Cliffs of Moher right at the start of the “golden hour”, which led to spectacular lighting for pictures (Adam’s are amazing).

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We spent another hour or so walking along the edges and taking pictures before it got so dark that we needed to head back to the car and finish up our journey to Galway.

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While we enjoyed the Cliffs – the views from and stature of them were quite impressive, it was the first time on our trip that we were crowded by other tourists and realized just how spoiled we had been up until this point.

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Galway. Oh, Galway. The first time on our trip where our GPS led us astray, not once, but 3 times. But finally, after an hour driving around the city, we found our bed & breakfast – Marless House. Once we parked the car and took our bags to our room, we asked the host for directions to food and pubs – the most important parts of any Irish evening.

We strolled to Salthill about a half mile from the B&B and found ourselves eating in a very popular (and delicious) pizzeria, Da Roberta. After dinner, we walked a couple of doors down to O’Connor’s Pub for a drink.

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This pub was very eclectic and quite busy.

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I loved that we sat on an old church pew and our “table” was an old Singer sewing machine table.

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 After 2 drinks each, we called it a night and headed to bed, for tomorrow we were off to Dublin!

Music Monday – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Thursday.

It’s an oft over-looked holiday from the music perspective and what’s a holiday gathering without music?

Don’t you worry, I’ve curated the ultimate Thanksgiving playlist, sure to please everyone who’s helping you in the kitchen or eating at your table. It’s full of songs from The Beach Boys, Bing Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Old Crow Medicine Show, Norah Jones, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, and more.

Enjoy and take some time to reflect on all that you are thankful for this year. I promise, blessings abound.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland (Part II)

Annnnd I’m back with Part II of our day in and around Dingle…

After a late and tasty lunch in Dingle, we set our sights on driving Conor Pass. Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain pass and, as we soon found out, quite curvy and narrow. So our full attention was on not wrecking our rental car, but, the views we got while driving it were incredible.

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We also decided to video the road as we drove it so that we could show off this awesome road to family and friends.

After driving the Pass, we went back to our B&B to rest for a bit before hitting the pubs of Dingle.

We talked with our host about pubs she recommended we visit and went in search of those in addition to stopping in at others that struck our fancy as we walked through the higgledy-piggledy streets. I LOVED Dingle and the more we explored and the more people we met the love just got stronger. It’s an adorable little town full of character and friendly people who enjoy nothing more than chatting about their life with you.

Our first stop of the night was Dick Mack’s Pub.

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It opened in 1899 and is still in operation 2 generations later. It’s full of reminders of the past, from tools and nails and tea and sugar bins stamped with the family crest and motto, “As you like it,” which fill the shelves surrounding the bar.

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Of course, I had to continue my whiskey drinking ways…

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…while Adam had himself a pint.

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We had lots of fun talking to the locals who were bellied up to the bar swapping jokes (What’s the difference between a house and a home? A home is where old people go. What’s the difference between an outlaw and an in-law? Outlaws are wanted.) and stories about their day/week/life. It was so laid back and easy we could have stayed there for hours (which if we ever come back to Dingle, I plan to do).

One of the charms of Dick Mack’s were the stars placed on the sidewalk in front of the pub. The stars represent celebrities that have visited the pub. Which means that DOLLY freaking PARTON has been there, and given the limited number of seats in the pub the chances that my bottom sat where her bottom sat are quite high.

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Speaking of Dolly, Ireland is obsessed with her. She’s having a concert there next summer, but it didn’t stop the radio station from advertising it almost once each hour. In addition, just this morning as we were headed to drive the peninsula, they had a live radio interview with her. Of course I made Adam listen to it with me – Dolly’s my hero.

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After leaving Dick Mack’s, we walked down to the pier to have dinner before heading to our final pub of the night. We had planned to stop in at least 3 pubs, but time and sleepiness got the best of us.

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O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub was highly recommended to us by our B&B host because of its great live music. And boy did it not disappoint. Notice that I am in fact taller than the entrance to the pub. And that height difference? Also stayed in place around the bar, which did result in Adam ramming his head into the ceiling once when he got up to get more drinks. The locals then told us it happens all the time, while I was busy laughing. I’m so thoughtful.

We had about 45 minutes to burn before the music began and spent it talking with the locals who had already packed themselves in around the bar. More drinks for us!DSC00635

Around 8:45, kids in costume showed up to trick or treat in the pub. You guys! Did you read that? Parents take their kids trick or treating in the pubs!!! Can we get this started in the US please?

And by trick or treating, I mean singing and dancing in traditional Irish fashion for their candy. These kids were adorable.

Then the live music started and the artists, Caroline Keane and Matt Griffin, were exceptional. Now I want to learn how to play the concertina.

We had so much fun during our night out on the town in Dingle!

Driving the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

Day 3 in Ireland is hands-down the most incomparable day of my life.

We started off with a wonderful breakfast at our B&B, Lighthouse, which our host Mary prepared for us and then we got on the road. Since we were staying 2 nights in Dingle we had plenty of time to really appreciate the views, take some side trips, and soak up this beautiful area of Ireland.

Again, we asked at the B&B what to see, in addition to our plan of driving the Dingle Peninsula/Slea Head Drive, and were told by the couple next to us that we had to drive Conor Pass. Luckily, Dingle sits right in between these two drives so we did the peninsula first, came into town and ate a late lunch then headed up the Pass.

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We didn’t really have a plan once we started driving the peninsula other than to pull over whenever we saw a view or road that looked fun. This turned out to be the best way to go for us. Again, we were so glad we opted to hire a car rather than join a tour group because we could stop whenever we wanted and spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each stop.

Our first stop was the Dunbeg Fort, built in 500BC, and its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding cliffs.

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As was the norm on the coast, the wind was insane, but not selfie preventative.

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Next up, was a random roadside pull off stop to soak up more amazing views…

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…then trespassing on some poor farmer’s land because we wanted to get closer to the coast.

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We got back in our car and drove just a bit further, when saw a narrow road which looked like it led to a beach at the base of the cliffs. As any inquisitive tourist would do, we turned down the road fully ready to meet a gate or something blocking our way. Instead, we were able to drive down and park on the beach at the base of the cliffs at Coumeenoole.

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We were the only people on the beach for at least 15 minutes, then other brave souls began driving their cars down and parking next to our rental.

Adam and I LOVED this beach, and in typical photographer fashion, we were the first to arrive and last to leave.

After we drove back up the cliff, we turned left and MY DREAM CAME TRUE!

I had told everyone that the only thing I wanted to do in Ireland was drive down a road and be blocked by sheep. On this day IT HAPPENED and I was entirely too giddy about this; but, I wasn’t the only one. There were two other cars of tourists also exclaiming that it was their dream to be stopped in the road by sheep which actually caused a line of tourists freaking out and insisting on getting their picture taken with the sheep in the road.

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Of course, we had to join in.

Driving the Dingle Peninsula and getting stopped in the road by

For the rest of the day, I was annoyingly happy that my dream came true.

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After the sheep were ran into a nearby pasture by their dog and human, Adam grabbed me by the ear and threw me in the car before I took a sheep home with us and I headed off in search of our next Irish adventure, which included more stopping at pull offs on the road and trespassing on farms.

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That is, until we came upon another road that appeared to lead to the bottom of more cliffs.

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We started driving down the road but at the last minute decided to pull the car off into a makeshift parking area right before the final bend to the water.

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Thank God we did that, otherwise our car might have been lunch for the Atlantic, because  it turned out to be an abandoned pier with quite aggressive waves and no place to turn around once the car got down there.

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But this pier? Was AWESOME. Not as serene as the beach was, but exciting and invigorating. We experienced the power of the Atlantic right in front of our faces and nothing will ever compare to it again.

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Huge waves would crash onto the pier or the rocks nearby and swells would force us to run up against the cliffs a few times, but it was such a once in a lifetime experience.

Stay tuned for Part II of Day 3….

Killarney to Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland

Waking up on day two in Ireland we were greeted with rain and wind, but it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits. After a few cups of tea and coffee and bellies full of breakfast, our host at Sika Lodge apologized for the rain, wind and cold weather. We told her we didn’t mind and loaded up the car for our drive to Dingle.

We were in Ireland, for goodness sake!

Originally, our route to Dingle was driving through the Killarney National Park to see the Muckross House and Gardens and the Torc Waterfall, then drive the Ring of Kerry. During breakfast, we asked our host about our plan to see if she had any additional recommendations and she suggested that we also extend our Ring of Kerry drive to include the Skellig Ring – what a great little addition!

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We planned to take a tour of the Muckross House and walk the gardens surrounding it, but when we got there it was very windy, rainy, and cold and the next tour was not for another hour and 45 minutes. Instead, we bundled up and walked around a bit before calling it a wash (literally) and got back in the car to dry off and warm up.

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Then we drove a few more kilometers through the park to the Torc Waterfall and it was magnificent – very full thanks to the rain and the heavy woods surrounding it helped to keep the rain a bay a bit so we could enjoy the scenery.

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A few times while we were there the wind would pick up and a flurry of autumn leaves would fall around us. It was breathtaking and I could have stayed there forever had the rain not been a factor.

We got back in the car and cranked up the heat, hopeful we would dry out just as we arrived at our next location, Ladies View, which is a car park with a spectacular view of the National Park next to a coffee shop. I’m sure on a clear day it’s absolutely gorgeous, but Adam and I agreed that even in dreary weather Ireland is a stunning country.

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Next up, the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring…and also a stop at a handmade chocolate factory complete with free samples. Our favorites, which I might have to start getting shipped to Texas, were the Dark Chocolate Vanilla Ganache Truffles, White Chocolate Citrus Truffles and Marshmallow Clusters. So good!!

One thing we loved about having our own car, was getting to stop off wherever we wanted. This led to us crossing a bridge in a quaint village and me essentially yelling at Adam that we had to get out and walk around. And take pictures, of course.

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Our host back at Sika Lodge warned us that many of the little villages on the Ring of Kerry will have closed up for the winter, which couldn’t have been more evident than in Waterville. We saw hardly anyone out and about, and no shops were open.

This didn’t stop us from taking a picture of Charlie Chaplin’s bronze statue. Apparently Waterville was his favorite holiday spot.

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A bit further up the road, we came upon the Kerry Cliffs and paid the 4 euro each to walk out to the nearest point from which to view the Skellig Islands.

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We finished up our second day in Ireland on the beach in Inch at sunset.

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Perfection!

En route to Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland

Recently, we left Austin for a 2 week vacation/work trip in Ireland. Adam’s company needed him to be in Dublin the first week of November and I decided to tag along. We spent the first week driving the Southwest and West coasts of the country before our week stay in Dublin.

We planned to arrive in Ireland early in the morning and power through the day before hitting the sack for the night.

In theory this sounded like a flawless plan. In practice? Not so much. What we failed to factor into this plan was that our longest driving day would be taking place right off the bat. Also, our plane arrived about an hour early thanks to a 150 mph tailwind and we had to sit around the airport for an hour before our rental car was ready.

Once our car was ready and loaded down with luggage we took off on the left side of the road. Adam was the designated driver for our trip and I was happy to play navigator. We only had one wrong turn getting out of the airport, but all it took was a u-turn and we were back on our Irish adventure.

Before leaving the US, we decided that our plan was to not really have a plan, other than knowing where we were ending up each day. This allowed us to turn off whenever we wanted if something struck our fancy. It also allowed us to see quaint drives in the countryside like this:

Our first official stop was the Rock of Cashel at the top of a hill in little village of Cashel surrounded by farmland. It was our first true introduction to Ireland and what a greeting it gave us. This was the view at the car park:

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We made the short walk to the entrance of the site and I loved the view to the village below.

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One perk of going to Ireland during the time of year we chose was that the busy tourist season was wrapping up, so we never had lines or huge amounts of tourists at the stops; although, some places were already closed for the winter.

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After touring the Rock of Cashel we got back in the car and headed to Cork for a tour of the Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery.  This was highly recommended to us by one of Adam’s co-workers and it was a wonderful experience.

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Even if Adam was starting to fight some serious jet-lag in the few minutes we had to wait before the tour.

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After touring the distillery, we were given complimentary whiskey tastings. Adam chose a hot whiskey tasting while I went for the Jameson ginger & lime cocktail that was available – and thus began my love for Irish Whiskey.

Something neither Adam nor I saw coming, because I never stray from an Apple-tini or Sangria.

It’s also possible that this was the first time in history someone drove better after drinking whiskey, as the hot whiskey tasting did a good job of jolting Adam out of his jet lagged state 🙂

Once we were done tasting and touring and back on the road, we made the final push to our first Bed & Breakfast, Sika Lodge, in Killarney.

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It was adorable and ran by Serena and her husband, along with their adorable little baby girl. We loved our stay there and only wish we were able to do more than sleep, eat (exceptional french toast with chocolate chips) and leave for Dingle the next morning, as Killarney seemed like a fun town to explore.

House Tour: Breakfast Nook

Comfort.

Warm fuzzies.

These are the words that enter my head and cause a smile to spread across my face every time I look into our breakfast nook. This part of our home is where the memories will be made, meals will be eaten and the heart will grow over the years.

There are several meaningful parts of this room, but most essential is the table. This farmhouse table has been in Adam’s family for many many years (probably close to 100).

It has history literally etched into it.

The knife marks on the lower left corner from pigs being slaughtered for family meals and the faint indentions made by a meat grinder that was clamped to the table on bottom center of the picture above are the reminders of distant history.

In the middle of this picture, you see newer markings and scratches. Scars from a more recent history wherein this table held. up. a. house. after a tornado destroyed Adam’s childhood home. Memories, both good and bad, have surrounded this table for decades and now it’s ours.

Ours to create new memories around, as well as to share the old.

Another meaningful part of this room is the painting. I went to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and this painting (purchased at the AMAZING RiffRaff on the Fayetteville Square) contains every part of Arkansas that I love.

I look forward to many memories and good times in this nook. Game nights, cookie decorating, pumpkin carving and laughter. This will truly become the heart of our home and I can’t wait!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]

House Tour: Den

One of my favorite things about our house is the cozy second living area we call our den. This room is my baby, so to speak. I spent hours thinking about how I wanted it to look, drawing inspiration from Pinterest and shopping for just the right pieces of furniture to fill the space. I wanted a bright, welcoming space that had a little bit of vintage flare to it.

Being new homeowners means being on a budget when it comes to making the new house our home. We ended up coming in under budget on our den, which was our main spending area for the house right now.

The first thing we did when the house was officially ours was start painting the den. I wanted to get rid of the brown textured accent wall as quickly as possible and change the taupe walls to a light dove gray shade. We found the paint at Treehouse, our favorite hardware store in Austin. I love the turquoise accent wall and the slightly darker shade that we used to accent the bar area!

The media center is actually an IKEA find that I love! It gives the look, feel and storage space of built-ins but at an affordable cost. The white shelves against the turquoise wall pops and makes me so happy and gives me plenty of space to play with books and decorative items.

After weeks of furniture shopping and never finding exactly what we wanted, we happened upon the perfect couch and coffee table at a local store called Five Elements Furniture. As soon as we walked into their showroom we immediately felt at home. Their furniture was so us and exactly what I had in mind for our den. The staff is so helpful and friendly and if we ever need more furniture, it will definitely be our first stop!

Because our entire downstairs is tiled, I knew we’d need to get an area rug for the den. Enter Overstock.com. I have a very good friend from college who had used Overstock to furnish her first home and knew she had good things to say about their quality, so I called her up and asked for advice. She told me to focus on pieces 4 star rated or higher and to read the comments because they give the best insight into the actual delivered appearance of your purchases. I knew I wanted a graphic rug for our den, but didn’t like the price of the options at local stores, then I saw the Alexa Chevron on Overstock and was sold. It was the perfect addition to the space!

One of my favorite finds in the den is the faux Eames Lounger we happened upon at my favorite local vintage store, Room Service. Adam begged for a recliner but said if I could find an Eames Lounger in our budget he’d settle for that. Thank God I found one. 🙂 Bonus: It’s super comfy!

Another favorite feature in the den is the vintage “B” we scored on a trip to Fredericksburg Trade Days that Adam then wired as a lamp. Every time I look at it, I smile – it’s such a quirky  part of our house!

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how our den turned out. It’s cheery, bright, and cozy. Exactly what we wanted for the space!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]

Napa Valley Honeymoon

The morning after our wedding we hailed a cab, which had just dropped off Joe Jackson at a nearby IHOP (For real. A friend who was randomly at the same IHOP vouched that he was there) and headed to the airport. Apparently, Mr. Jackson was craving pecans and didn’t tip the cabbie.

I digress…

Our honeymoon took us to Napa Valley, where we holed up for 5 days at The Cottages of Napa Valley, eating, drinking, and generally being married.

Cottages at Napa Valley

I had a small weight gain during the trip, which I attribute to the daily pastry baskets which were discreetly delivered to our doorstep each morning. They looked something like this:

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Our first full day in the valley took us to Sonoma. I absolutely adored their quaint downtown area full of locally owned boutiques, museums and tasting bars. On this day we also had a stroke of amazing luck. We drove by a little hole in the wall restaurant called Schellville Grill and decided to stop for lunch. Turns out, Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network. I opted for a salad while Adam enjoyed a sandwich. After our meal, we paid (including a tip, don’t call us Mr. Jackson) and headed to our car. That’s when “Uncle Bob” ran over to greet us from his Prius.

Uncle Bob: Are you folks wine tasting today?

Adam: Yes sir! We’re on our honeymoon and just getting started for the day.

Uncle Bob: Congratulations! You should make a stop at Ravenswood. Take my card and tell them Uncle Bob sent you.

Adam: Thanks so much, we’ll be sure to check them out.

Me: So nice to meet you! Have a good day.

We went our separate ways and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I looked at the card and saw that it was not only Uncle Bob’s business card, but handwritten on the back was 2 free tastings courtesy of him. Typically in Napa Valley you pay anywhere from $10 – $25 per tasting, some wineries let you split tastings, but not many. Thanks to Uncle Bob we saved $30…and used our savings to buy the best Moscato either of us have ever tasted. We’d have never gone to Ravenswood if not for Uncle Bob.

Kaz Winery was also an off-the-beaten path find for us. When we passed the painted wine barrels at the entrance? Adam made a U-turn. Thank goodness for that. Kaz was an understated, no frills winery and had a metal chicken greeting guests at the front door. Though they specialized in dry wines, I was entertained by their random assortment of 80s vinyl while Adam sampled wine. He even got to cork his own bottle!

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Day 3 is better known as the day Adam tried to kill me. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it – and it was my own fault. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Adam’s an avid cyclist. Me? Notsomuch.
  • Adam wanted to rent a tandem bike in Yountville and, being the head over heels in love new wife that I was, I cautiously agreed.
  • Adam wanted us to ride a short 14 mile loop and promised we’d stop at wineries that look appealing along the way.
  • Adam and I are both 6’2″. The back seat of a tandem is not built for a 6’2″ person, so I got to ride for 14 miles with my mid-thighs on a bike seat.
  • Adam failed to mention…err, remind me…that cycling typically means you ride on highway shoulders as cars zip past you at the marked speed limit, or faster. Including large trucks.

Let’s just say I freaked. out.

And could barely walk for a day and a half after the ride.

But hey, we got some good pictures.

Winning.

Day 4 was our last day in the Valley and we made the most of it. We woke up early and headed north. It’s safe to say I drank tasted more wine that day than I have in my entire life. I was quite the cool cucumber.

We walked into a castle, but decided to save our tasting money for a winery up the road we had heard a lot about, Sterling Vineyards. We splurged at this winery, getting the full package for tasting which included an additional 3 tastings after the winery tour – for a total of 7 tastings. All were fantastic, but the highlight of this winery for me was the gondola ride from the parking lot to the winery. It was so serene and beautiful.

Chateau Montelana was also a highlight for us, as we had just watched the movie about it on Netflix in our cottage the night before. The grounds of the Chateau were absolutely breathtaking.

We ended our last day in Napa Valley with dinner at Bottega. We shared our first risotto and indulged in some amazing truffle-parmigiano fries. Adam ordered “Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs” with a whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus, while I ordered the “Forno Roasted Chicken Breast” with “Marsala” sautéed forest mushrooms, marinated grilled onions, truffle honey and sherry vinaigrette. Both dishes were exceptional and at the end of the meal our waiter convinced us to order the house chocolate “cake” that wasn’t listed on the menu. It. Was. Phenomenal.

Our final full day in California took us back to San Francisco, with a slight detour thanks to Adam. Turns out Highway 1 is Adam’s dream road. At least in the US.

My hubby is a HUGE Top Gear fan and took this opportunity to channel his inner Stig. Let’s just say I have never seen him so chipper and filled with glee than I did while he was driving on Highway 1. Meanwhile, I was busy saying “OOOHHH! Pull over, I need to get a picture” or “OMG!!! REAL SEALS!!! IN. THE. WILD!!”

Highway 1 was incredible and I think Adam summed up the scenery best when he said, “This is proof God exists.” I have to agree, as I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Mid-way down Highway 1, I mention that I’m feeling a bit hungry and since it was almost time for lunch, Adam informs me that he already scoped out a place for us to eat in Bolinas. Unbeknownst to me, Bolinas is costal community known for its reclusive residents – I’d call them full out hippies, but that might not be PC – who TEAR DOWN any sign providing directions into their unincorporated community.

Thanks to Adam, we managed to find the town just fine.

I think the status I posted to Facebook as we were entering the “downtown area” sums up my feelings perfectly:

I have officially never felt more out of place wearing J Crew than I did when Adam pulled up in front of a “think globally eat locally” cafe for lunch in a very hippie “socially acknowledged nature loving town” called Bolinas. Needless to say, he loves me so much he didn’t make me get out of the car.

And it’s true, I was so scared of what the hippies reclusive residents might do to me that I refused to get out of the car for lunch.

It was a wonderful trip and was exactly the relaxation we wanted after the hustle and bustle from our wedding festivities. Now I just have to figure out when we can go back – I miss our cottage…and the wine.

Wedding Recap: The Reception, Part II

The one thing I was adamant about throughout the planning process was a reception that reflected the type of couple Adam and I are. We like to goof off, relax, listen to good music and spend time with family and friends. That’s exactly the reception we had. Our reception was high-energy and laid-back and allowed us to be ourselves around our friends.

Our DJ allowed us to create a playlist prior to the reception with music we thought our guests would be most receptive to and, while I stressed a bit about this element of the wedding, it turned out better than I ever imagined. Our dance floor was packed the entire night! Apparently we had a good mix of oldies, line dances, and current hits. 🙂

While we twisted,

my dad shouted,

and my aunts shimmied.

Guests jumped…

and threw their hands up in the air like they just didn’t care.

There were even a few sisterly dance moments.

And then the DJ played “Single Ladies”.

Remember the whole “Operation: No More Beyonce” thing and the fact that I’m slightly addicted to Jazzercise? I worked with my coordinator to loosely stage a flash mob, after I contacted my fellow Jazzercisers mere days before the wedding.

Yep, our reception had a Jazzercise flash mob in the middle of the dance floor.

It was so much fun dancing with my instructors and other Jazzer-buddies who drove down to celebrate with us! I seriously love those women!

There’s even video evidence of our Jazzer-moment!

Then I got sick…light-headed, stomach turning, overheated.

Note to future brides: don’t go a full day on only apples and caramel sauce, get married, then expect to dance the night away in your wedding dress.

Adam got me a bottled water, then got Heather, our coordinator, to come help.

So while my guests were doing this:

and this:

and this:

I was doing this:

Yep. I missed doing the “YMCA” at my own wedding.

But I was soon back out on the dance floor just in time for the “Time Warp”. My sudden weak state was nothing several bottles of water and a plate of food couldn’t fix.

While I went back to the dance floor, Adam went to hang with his family. And by hang, I mean totally goof-off.

Then it was time to drag him back out to the dance floor for the “Cha-Cha Slide”…

…before ending the fun-filled night with a sparkler getaway and a kiss to seal the deal.

We were officially married and on our way to Napa Valley for our honeymoon!

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Reception, Part I

I’ll admit, we threw our amazing coordinator a huge curveball during the planning process when we told her the location of our reception. I wanted to create a warm, romantic, and vintage setting. In my hometown’s concrete and cinder block armory.

She accepted the challenge without hesitation and transformed the space beyond my wildest expectations.

Our reception began with a Wedding Party Entrance to The Beatles – All You Need is Love which took us right into our first dance as husband and wife to Adele’s cover of Make You Feel My Love

During our dance, we agreed that we felt very awkward dancing by ourselves in front of our family and friends. I also remember Adam goofing off during our dance, I think he was rapping along with Adele – which doesn’t really fit but, as always, made me laugh. I love that our photographer captured that moment.

Next up, was my father-daughter dance. My dad selected Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World for our big dance – which was only a mere warm up for the rest of the night.

After we showed off our fancy footwork on the dance floor it was time for Adam’s mother-son dance. Adam’s mom chose Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance for their special moment.

I absolutely love the looks of pure happiness on both our parents’ faces during these dances. Wonderfully captured by our photographer, yet again!

Once the dances were done, our coordinator whisked us away to cut the cake. In fact, we were whisked so fast that our parents missed us cutting the cake. Thankfully, we have pictures that captured the excitement and yumminess!

Our coordinator surprised us with some vintage forks I had been lusting over for months from Etsy. It was at the moment she presented the forks to us that my emotions from the day finally overcame me and I shed some very happy tears. Heather truly was the best!

After the cake cutting, Adam gave a speech thanking our guests for coming and celebrating our special day with us. We also wanted to thank our guests personally and went from table to table in an attempt to do so.

At the end of Adam’s speech, we led our Razorback loving guests in a Hog Call. It was only fitting since we intentionally picked our wedding day based on the Razorbacks’ football schedule – our wedding day was one of the only bye weekends of the season.

Throughout the rest of evening we had a few scheduled “events” for special moments. First up? A sorority sing. My Alpha Delta Pi sisters are the best and I was so honored that they made the trip to the middle of South Arkansas to celebrate with us.

Then, of course, we had to have the garter and bouquet tosses towards the end of the night…

Our reception wasn’t all structure and formality. After the cake was cut, the guests were thanked, the Hogs were called and the buffet was opened, the dance floor became a happening place…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Details

Everyone has a specific part of weddings they love. For some it’s the ceremony or the way a groom looks as his bride is walking down the aisle. For others it’s the bride’s dress or the reception.

For me, it is all about the little details. The things guests may or may not pick up on immediately, but that have importance to the couple and their families.

Immediately after I got engaged, I started stalking wedding blogs and trying to determine a vision for our big day. I’m a Southern small town, Anthropologie loving girl and knew I wanted to bring in bits of this throughout the ceremony and reception.

I emailed picture after picture to my mom of mason jars, lace, burlap, and wheat. I overwhelmed her and confused her. In my head I knew exactly how I wanted my wedding and reception to be, but telling it to someone else? Not that easy. Eventually we got on the same page – understated elegance with a romantic rustic chic feel.

I loved my bouquet and I loved that I was carrying a part of the strong women who were no longer here with me down the aisle. In memory of my grandmother Gran-Merle, we pinned one of her brooches to it, which served as my something blue, and wrapped the bouquet in a handkerchief which had a border tatted by my great-aunt Lila.

In the months leading up to the ceremony, my mom worked tirelessly on various “mom-jects”. She sewed burlap table runners, found beautiful iron work medallions at a steal to use for mason jar candelabras, created perfect burlap bunting banners to hang at various places throughout the reception, sewed pillows and cushions for our hay bale lounge, hot glued lace to french pails, cleaned antique medicine bottles and glassware, made moss letters and burlap wreaths. And just one week before the wedding? She stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to bake 72 dozen of her famous dishpan cookies as favors for our guests.

Details

She was quite busy and I’ll never be able to adequately thank her for all of the love she poured into making our wedding day absolutely everything I imagined.

Meanwhile, I was busy designing the program and other paper goods for the ceremony and reception using a few free graphics from the Wedding Chicks website which I manipulated to fit my overall vision.

The family fun didn’t stop there, though. My dad and uncle built a screen out of old doors my parents salvaged from the 110+ year old victorian home I grew up in, all of which had been kept in our shed since they remodeled the home in the late 80s and early 90s. My dad also cleaned up his old tandem bicycle that had been stored out in the shed for as many years as the doors.

Adam and his brother joined in the project fun as well, bringing wine barrels from the winery Adam worked in throughout high school and college which would serve as the “legs” for the groom’s table and my sister brought her large collection of wine corks to fill additional mason jars for the groom’s cake stand.

The effort that was put into these details by our families helped to make my wedding day all that I dreamed and more…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Ceremony

I wanted our ceremony to take place in the sanctuary where I spent every Sunday of my childhood.

The sanctuary where the kneeling pads my grandmother Ottie helped to needlepoint are placed around the altar rail.

The sanctuary where I have so many wonderful, peaceful memories.

I wanted to make a new memory in the place where so many of the memories that shaped me into the woman I am today were made.

Well, we made many memories that day. From the chills I got as soon as the organist began playing the processional music for the bridesmaids – a song I had chosen in memory of Ottie, The Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music, to how I felt right before I walked down the aisle alongside my father. The memories were only beginning.

As I walked down the aisle towards Adam, I faintly remember seeing friends and family out of the corners of my eye, ecstatic to be able to share this moment with them.

I remember looking at Adam and seeing the look of sheer happiness across his face. I couldn’t stop smiling.

It was time.

We were ready.

After my dad presented me, the preachers began our traditional Methodist ceremony. Everything was moving along perfectly until the first prayer.

That’s when my sister realized she forgot the ring.

Thankfully, our coordinator, Heather, sensed that Madeline had forgotten the ring and was already halfway down a side aisle when it was time to place it on Adam’s finger.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to save Madeline from embarrassment. When the preacher asked for the rings, Madeline had to admit her mistake – which was the first moment Adam and I knew what had happened.

Madeline hates to draw attention to herself – specifically embarrassing attention – so this moment couldn’t have been more perfect for me and I laughed heartily at the altar.

Then I exchanged a forgiving smile and a high-five with her – yes, you read that right, we high-fived at the altar – before taking the ring and placing it on Adam’s finger.

The moment we exchanged rings was surreal for me. This was actually happening. I was becoming Adam’s wife!

I remember Adam proudly and loudly repeating each line of the vows after the preacher and I remember the look of complete commitment in his eyes. It warmed my heart and showed me a new side of him that I immediately loved.

After a final prayer it was done.

The ceremony was over and we were taking our first kiss as husband and wife.

As we were exiting the sanctuary, I felt a swell of happiness greater than anything I had ever felt before. It was overwhelming and exciting and the perfect emotion to ramp me up for our fun-filled reception…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: Wedding Party

Our  wedding party was the best!

Just as I wrote of how wonderful my bridesmaids were, the same could be said for Adam’s groomsmen. They were attentive, hilarious, easy going and supportive all day long.

Made up of siblings and close friends, there was no other group I’d have wanted standing in support of the commitment Adam and I were about to make to one another than this.

They were willing to hold one of several bunting banners my mom made for our wedding day…

Willing to stand in rocky alley way terrain for a less traditional photo-op…

Willing to wear matching shoes and socks…

Willing to put up with Adam’s excitement…

And, most of all, willing to put up with our shameless displays of affection in the moments leading up to the ceremony…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings