Engagement Pictures

It’s been just over a week since Adam and I met with the fabulous Karen Segrave McCall, owner of KES Weddings, to shoot our engagement pictures. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about how the shoot would go down, because I really wanted the pictures to reflect our personalities without looking posed or fake.

Can I just tell you how lucky we got? Not only was Karen able to capture our personalities flawlessly in the pictures, but she also made sure that we had input on shots every step of the way! It was such fun traipsing about Little Rock with her for two and a half hours to find settings that “fit” with us.

The biggest surprise came to us Sunday morning, less than 24 hours later, when I checked my email and saw that she had already made our proofs available to look through. I immediately opened them up and started swooning. They were full of emotion, laughter, love and joy and we couldn’t be happier!

Karen has been so sweet to allow me to share some of my favorites with you. So, without further ado, I present our engagement pictures.

I can’t recommend Karen highly enough if you are in the market for a wedding photographer. I’m so excited to see what she captures for my bridal portraits and at our wedding!

all images via Karen Segrave McCall|KES Weddings

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Our House

Lately I’ve found myself driving around town and making up stories about the inhabitants of random houses.

That craftsman house I pass almost daily: I bet the owners are close to retirement age. They have grown children and are soon expecting their first grandchild. Their home is cheerful, filled to the brim with memories of the life they’ve led. They host bridge once a week, playing around the same table where they helped their children with homework.

That small wood-frame home with a carport: A widow lives there. The same home she built with her husband while raising their children in the 60s. She spends most of her time in 1 room: the kitchen, because that’s where most of her memories took place. She remembers her son’s burnt batch of brownies and the crowded Thanksgiving dinners. She finds herself staring at the same refrigerator where her children’s grades were proudly displayed.

That friendly 2-story brick house in a sub-division I discovered on a random jaunt about town: I’m positive it’s home to a young family with 2 elementary aged children. The interior is modern yet inviting, the refrigerator covered in art projects and A+ homework assignments. The backyard filled with toys.

What I’ve realized in these daydreams is that every family I make up in my head is happy, loving, and supportive. They are warm and welcoming and exude Southern hospitality. Their homes are well-decorated, each piece of furniture placed lovingly in position and each photo on the wall capturing a moment in time that they treasure.

Maybe it’s because I’m newly engaged that I think about these things. Maybe it’s what happens when a bride-to-be starts to dream about her own house and new family. Whatever the reason, it’s given me focus.

Focus to create a home that is welcoming, warm and full of love. A home that is a reflection of the personalities which inhabit it. A family that cherishes memories, laughs together and plays games together.

A family who makes memories in the kitchen.

image via Orange Blossom Society

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Earthquakes have been kind of the “thing” to talk about around these here parts, because over the past week Arkansas has experienced 54 of them. People have clogged up my Twitter and Facebook feeds with statuses asking who else felt the most recent one, how big the last one was, and if anyone knew the cause of the sudden surge we’ve experienced. I’ve yet to get worked up about the quakes since I haven’t felt one, but that all changed last night…

After spending all afternoon watching the Oscars, I got ready for bed as I normally do – washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on my PJs and turned on my newly installed bedroom ceiling fan – thank you apartment upgrades! Then I went to weigh myself, because I had forgotten to do so earlier in the day [I knew I’d be setting myself up for disappointment weighing at night, but I did it anyway].

And that’s when the earth shook.

Let me tell you, there is NOTHING more disconcerting than stepping on a scale at the exact same moment you are experiencing your first earthquake.

Someone has a cruel sense of humor.

**********

There are reports that we will continue to feel aftershocks over the next week, which got me to thinking…

Who’s to say Arkansas doesn’t have this to look forward to over the next few weeks?

The ABCs of Meggie

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers, Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers, posted the ABCs of PBF and it inspired me to write my own ABC post. I love learning about other blogger’s quirks and thought you probably do too! Otherwise, why would you waste your time reading my senseless southern ramblings? 🙂

  • A.   Age: 26
  • B.   Bed size: Queen
  • C.   Chore you hate: Cleaning every inch of the bathroom.
  • D.   Dogs: LOVE! I grew up with the best Cocker Spaniel ever, Sugar. Over the years my family’s dogs have also included Isabelle (a Basset) and Lucky and Mischief (Heinz 57s).
  • E.  Essential start to your day: iPod alarm clock. Even if I do snooze for a good 15 minutes after it first goes off. 🙂
  • F.  Favorite color: Razorback Red, duh!
  • G.  Gold or silver: Silver.
  • H.  Height: 6’2″ (and no, I didn’t play college basketball)
  • I.   Instruments you play: None anymore, but I can pound out some Christmas music on the piano once a year. I used to play Bb Clarinet and pit percussion in my school band.
  • J.   Job title: Training and Development Specialist.
  • K.  Kids: None right now, though I hope for a couple in the distant future.
  • L.  Live: Arkansas.
  • M. Mom’s name: Karen.
  • N.  Nicknames: Meg Tay, Meggie, Meg, Megs.
  • O.  Overnight hospital stays: ICU after a supposed outpatient jaw surgery in high school. Good times.
  • P.  Pet peeve: Misusing “me” and “I”. People who wear socks with sandals.
  • Q.  Quote from a movie:

The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.

[Brownie Points if you can name the movie]

  • R.  Righty or Lefty: Righty.
  • S.   Siblings: One younger sister, Madeline.
  • T.   Time you wake up: Between 6:45 and 7.
  • U.   Underwear: Full coverage.
  • V.    Vegetables you dislike: Mainly just one – Mushrooms.
  • W.   What makes you run late: I’m usually early, but every once in a while Twitter might be to blame.
  • X.    X-rays you’ve had: More than I care to count on my jaw.
  • Y.    Yummy food you make: Cookies! Muffins!  Shrimp! Pasta! Cupcakes!
  • Z.     Zoo animal favorite: Baby elephants. (How’s that for specific?)

A Kitchen Experiment

If you know me in real life, or are a regular reader of my blog, chances are you’ve either read about my mother’s famous Dishpan Cookies (aka Crack Cookies) or tried them for yourself and agreed.

Cookies

Well, kids. Hold on to your seats, because you’re in for a treat! Tonight? I created Dishpan Muffins. Yep, you read right. Muffins!

Last week I ran across a recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins on the blog How Sweet It Is. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had a solid foundation from which to create my version: Dishpan Muffins.

I mixed and measured. Poured and baked. Cooled and ate. And upon trying my first bite I referred to myself as a culinary genius.

Obviously, I don’t have self-esteem problems.

These muffins are moist, sweet, and have a lovely hint of spice to them. Promise me you’ll make them immediately, okay?

Promise?

Good.

Dishpan Muffins
inspired by How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk (any kind will do)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/3 cup cornflakes + a little extra for sprinkling on top
  • Raw turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Add oats to a bowl and add milk. Let soak for 5-10 minutes, while you prepare the first few steps of the muffins.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg and brown sugar and whisk until smooth and caramel in color.
  4. Add in vanilla and butter, whisking well. Try to smooth the batter as much as possible – there still may be some small butter chunks.
  5. Add flour, oat mixture, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix until smooth.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and cornflakes .
  7. Line a muffin tin with liners and pour about 1/4 cup batter into each line.
  8. Sprinkle the tops with raw turbinado sugar and slightly crushed cornflakes
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through.

Yield: 15 muffins

English as a Third Language (ETL)

For the last few months, I’ve volunteered my time as a literacy tutor at the local library. The students vary from native English speakers to immigrants – all of whom need to learn how to communicate and read for their job and day to day life. It’s been a rewarding experience for me and something I look forward to every week. I work with my student on sight words during each session, then switch into reading short stories from the provided literature.

Usually, I’ll go through the cabinets before my tutoring session begins to find a story for my student to read. Something that is on his level but also still challenges him. Two weeks ago I just happened to glance at the ESL (English as a Second Language) shelf and noticed a book titled A Field Guide to Southern Speech – A twelve-gauge lexicon for the duck blind, the deer stand, the skeet shoot, the bass boot, and the backyard bar-b que.

I kid you not.

I was flabbergasted. Not only because it was in the ESL shelf, but because it was stacked with the legitimate textbooks, not in the nonexistent joke and riddle book stack. Looking past the blantant misspelling of Arkansas (and every other southern state) on the cover, I discreetly placed the book in my purse to protect the innocent and examine further at home.

Now I wished I never had.

I know, as Southerners, many of us have a sort of slang that we use to communicate with our close friends and family. My slang has been known to be riddled with “fixin’ to” and “y’all”, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to teach an ESL student those words right off the bat. I also wish the worst word/phrase in this book was “ain’t”, but it’s not.

I weep for the students that possibly could have been taught English with this book and here’s some examples why:

chill wrens: young humans.

poultry: rhythmic, often rhyming verse

cain’t: contraction of can and ain’t.

toe up: extremely upset, overwrought.

hottern: a measure of relative warmth.

sea gulls: observe women.

yearn: not mine.

hyar: not thar.

narrow: ammunition for a bonarrow.

warsh: clean with soap and water.

dade: deceased.

yawl: second person plural pronoun. There is no singular.

Forget English.

Southern: It’s your second language.

Sunday Shares: Video Edition

This week it seems like every click I make takes me to an awesome video. I honestly can’t remember a week where I’ve found more videos worth sharing in a week. So today, because it’s Sunday and this is my blog, I bring you yet another installment of Sunday Shares.

I’m positive this will become Adam’s theme song. He can thank me later.

The first time I visited Adam after he moved to Austin over a year and a half ago, he took my to Top Notch. I had no idea the significance of it at the time, because I hadn’t seen the movie Dazed and Confused. Immediately after eating, we go home and he forces me to we watch it. I’ll say that I enjoyed it, but I haven’t watched it again. This is the 120 second version of it, because you know kids are too ADD to sit through the entire thing. Kids these days, sigh.

“I Gotta Feeling” by The Black-Eyed Peas is one of my favorite Jazzercise warm-ups and even though I may not be a fan of country music, I am a bluegrass fan on occasion. So Black-Eyed Peas + Bluegrass = WIN on my blog.

The year is 1994 and the co-hosts of the Today Show on NBC had no idea what the Internent was.

And finally, as a newly engaged gal who likes have fun and dance to 80’s Whitney Houston, I can only hope that when Adam and I reach this couple’s age we are still as cheesy as we are today.

Music Therapy

This weekend was an odd one in my neck of the woods – weather-wise. I was happily traipsing around wearing a sleeveless shirt on Saturday, but by Sunday evening I was back to wearing a jacket. With the onset of what many are calling the Storm of the Century across one-third of the US I thought I’d share with you my source of escape from the winter blahs, because even a scarf-loving girl like myself can suffer from them.

Music is my escape – its ability to change my mood is incredible. Just last week, I mentioned that Jazzercise nurtures my soul; however, there are times when my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend Jazzercise. When that happens, I turn to one of two places: My iTunes library or Songza. When I’m at work, nine times out of ten you can find me with headphones in, listening to Songza and bopping my head. When I’m at home, you’ll typically find me listening to iTunes while catching up on my iPad, occasionally taking solo dance breaks to my awesome tunes. Today I thought I’d share a few of my random musical escape routes with you. Enjoy!

Playlists via Songza

Oscar Winning Songs

90s One Hit Wonders

80s One Hit Wonders

Love Actually

Florence and the Machine Inspired

Promises, Promises

Earlier this week, Adam asked me to make a promise about our impending future together. A promise that spawned from a fear of his.

His fear? That I would turn into a Real Housewife once we were married.

My promise? I won’t become a Real Housewife.

Let me tell you, his fear was very real and written all over his face. Meanwhile, I’m trying to stifle my laughter because he actually believes I might turn into one.

As you probably know, I cannot tear myself away from the Real Housewives franchise. I follow every season, can discuss the episodes ad nauseum with anyone that will listen and have references pop into my head at random times throughout my day-to-day life. Maybe this explains Adam’s fear for the future – our future.

Thankfully, after talking through it with him and getting to a point where he truly believes I won’t become one, we’re now able to joke about it. As further proof that I have no desire to become a Real Housewife, I thought I’d post my Top 10 Reasons here – should Adam ever need to be reminded in the future 🙂

10. I have no desire to have cameras shoved in my face, or my family’s face, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nor do I have any desire to have my phone tapped, my innermost thoughts broadcast to the world, or my “confessions” spliced, edited, and taken out of context. I prefer my spoken thoughts, as stupid as they may sometimes be, to be unedited and taken at face value.

9. Sure I like pets who wear clothes, gosh they can be so cute! But it doesn’t mean I’m going to drop thousands of dollars on a pure-bred purse dog just because I can. I’ll take shelter dog instead, they’ll be just as cute and loving.

8. I can think of about 1,000 other ways I’d spend 3.5 million dollars instead of on a child’s third birthday party. 2nd home in South Carolina, anyone?

7. I drive a Nissan. Not a Jaguar, not a Mercedes, not a BMW or Hummer. I drive your typical run of the mill 4 door sedan and the most fascinating place it takes me to during the week is work. Plus, I hear working for anyone but yourself or in a family business pretty much disqualifies you from being a Real Housewife.

6. I will never feel comfortable spending $3,000 in a single shopping trip on a pair of jeans, a sweater, and a t-shirt dress for a child who is still growing! That’s why Target was founded.

5. Reunions with my girlfriends won’t involve Andy Cohen asking us to relive the drama and tell him how we feel. Instead they’ll involve drama-free drinks at Happy Hour or the occasional trip to NYC.

Just making sure you’re paying attention.

4. I have no previous connections with the mafia. I have never been a drug dealer – or tried drugs for that matter. I also have no “Big Poppa” relationship.

3. I will never understand why women want frozen, expressionless faces. Plus, facial expressions can be important when effectively conveying sarcasm, which I plan to do a lot of for the rest of my life.

2. I have no desire to become a one-hit wonder singing about parties for which I cannot arrive on time, class for which money cannot buy, or closets from which freaks emerge. The only time I will try to be a recording star is when it required of me on whatever wii game I am playing at the moment.

1. I live in Arkansas. Rarely, if ever, do gay men prance around in high heels and hot pants then come to my house to fix my non-existent wig for a night on the town in the dry county I call home.

What Jazzercise is not…

I’ve mentioned a few times that I am a Jazzercise-aholic. It fuels my spirit, my muscles, and my mind. After seeing this video posted on the lovely blog of Kirsten Blowers I laughed hysterically, replayed it, then laughed some more.

Then I shared the video on Twitter and Facebook, calling it a hilariously inaccurate portrayal of modern Jazzercise classes. In short it is – I’ve never seen one leotard at my Jazzercise classes or, for that matter, dancing elephants. Today’s Jazzercise classes are addicting, not only because of the results you’ll get, but also because of the music, the choreography, and, of course, the AWESOME instructors. As soon as the music of a new class starts, I smile and start singing along to the tracks. I’m in the zone!

The Music

Jazzercise music today consists of some of the newest tracks from the hottest artists. Think Ne-Yo, Beyonce, Rihanna, KT Tunstall, Ingrid Michaelson, and the cast of Glee! In any given class you could go from country, to jazz, to hip-hop, to rock in the course of an hour. If your iTunes library is as schizophrenic as mine, this means you’ll feel like you’re working out to your own iPod and you won’t tire of one genre every time you go. This also means if you hate a song that’s playing (which I’ve never had happen) in 4 minutes or less a new one will start and chances are it’s a song you love.

The Choreography

Jazzercise consists of both cardio and strength training with a bit of stretching/flexibility mixed in. As an ex-dancer I find the choreography easy to follow and challenging, but don’t let a lack of dance experience deter you. I’ll venture to say the majority of members don’t have a dance background and they are still picking up the choreography as well as I am, sometimes better. The most important part is that you keep moving and have fun.

The Instructors

I’d be lying if I said that the instructors didn’t play a huge part in my Jazzerdiction. They greet me with a smile, make me laugh, keep me motivated, and encourage me when I need it. They take time to teach modifications to routines that still challenge you when needed and share healthy tips without shoving the information down your throat. They visibly LOVE teaching Jazzercise and their energy is infectious.

What are you waiting for? Go try out a Jazzercise class today, I promise you won’t regret it!

The Pressure…of a Playlist

In today’s Internet world, it’s customary for the engaged couple to create a wedding website for their guests and being the music lovers that Adam and I are, we’ve decided to include a playlist on ours. A playlist of songs that sets the tone for our wedding and gives our guests a peek into our personalities.

This has proven more difficult than I imagined, mainly due to the fact that I’m known for my playlists. I have friends that ask me to create playlists for them from my eclectic mix of music and summing our wedding up in a single playlist puts some pressure on me. This pressure has caused me to ask Adam for his suggestions, since I want both of our musical preferences to be represented.

Unfortunately for me, his suggestions have been less than helpful. His first recommendation was 99 Problems by Jay-Z, which really? Not so romantic OR appropriate for our guests. Then he scrolled through his music library and made the observation that the majority of his songs are sad ones. Given that his favorite song is Loser by Beck, I wasn’t shocked, but this also didn’t bode well for our playlist. He continued through his library making recommendations of songs by Pearl Jam and Reel Big Fish. Again, no.

Our playlist made it nowhere. Fast. Which is why I turned to WeddingWire’s recommended song list.

If you’ve never thought to look at recommended wedding songs before, I highly recommend you peruse this site. I have never laughed so much in my life. Here are just a few of my favorites – that did not make the cut.

(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You – *NSYNC

Clair de LuneIf only this song didn’t remind me of the PixyLand website it would be a contender. But alas the guy in Florida who thinks he’s really Peter Pan is the last thing I want people thinking of when learning about our wedding.

Forever – John Stamos and the Beach Boys. Apparently Full House is a popular wedding soundtrack.

Kiss the Girl – Little Mermaid. 9 times out of 10, if you choose to walk down the aisle to a Disney song, you’re too young to get married. See also? Heart-shaped diamond rings.

And in case you were wondering, our website playlist still only has one song. So much for productivity.

Wintertainment

See what I did there? Winter + Entertainment = Wintertainment. I’m a genius. Or bored.

Either way, the cold of winter is officially here and with it comes stretches of gray days, snow and/or ice and temperatures that are dangerously close to sub-zero. Yes, it gives me an excuse to wear scarves from my huge collection with my favorite pea coat, but it also causes me to start my days cursing as I open the door and head to work every morning.

Being a southerner, we take snow much more  cautiously than most – meaning schools cancel as soon as the first flake falls from the sky, drivers go no faster than 5 mph on clear roads, and 2 days prior to the frightful forecasted snow grocery stores are sold out of milk, eggs, and bread. You’d think we were preparing for the end of the world. Or something.

These snow days leave many paralyzed in their homes playing games with their family – until that gets old after a couple of hours – then catching up on DVRed shows or watching movies while snacking on popcorn (and cheese dip). Because of the snow days we’ve experienced in my neck of the woods over the last 2 weeks I thought it would be helpful to give you a list of movies that cure my stir crazy winter blues.

 

1. The Sound of Music – If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know this movie holds a special place in my heart, but it’s also the most perfect movie ever made – in my opinion – and one that I never tire of watching. Oh, who am I kidding? I quote and sing-a-long with it alone in my apartment. 🙂

2. Tortilla Soup – My favorite movie you’ve probably never heard of. Like Mexican food? Like romantic comedies? Like romantic comedies revolving around Mexican Food starring Hector Elizondo and also featuring Raquel Welch? Then you must  run out and find this movie. Just don’t watch it on an empty stomach, because you will watch it, you will get hungry, and you will wish you had smell-a-vision.

3. The Social Network – Yes, it JUST was released on DVD, but it’s easily become one of favorite all-time movies. Not only does it tell the incredible story of Facebook’s origins, but it also has an impeccable score. Plus, Jesse Eisenberg reminds me of Adam during the coding scenes throughout the movie. And, upon seeing in the theater, Adam jumped up and clicked his heels in glee walking back to the car.

He’s also going to kill me for posting that.

4. Father of the Bride – Perhaps it’s the fact that right now? My life currently mimics this movie. But if I’m being honest, I’ve always seen parts of Adam and me in the movie throughout our relationship and now it’s just magnified because I’m actually planning a wedding, making the guest list, finding a caterer, finding locations, and finding my Frank.

5. Chocolat – If you haven’t seen this before we can’t be friends. No, seriously. We can’t. That said, this is my go to movie when I’m tired of everything else in my collection. It’s like you take a vacation to France without leaving your couch. Must be the chocolate…or maybe the Johnny Depp factor 😉

What movies are your go-to favorites for curing the winter blues?