Friday, February 28, 2014

currently: brownies, bible studies and besties (NOT birds, beets and battlestar galactica).

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reading: last week i finished up the memoir project by mario roach. i had never heard of it and saw it popped up on mary beth's IG feed. i am always on the hunt for a new writing book so after doing some research on it, i made a trip to a my closest barnes and nobles and bought myself a copy. i pretty much inhaled this little book of writing wisdom in one day. so really if you are a writer of any kind (blogger! book writer! dear diary type!), i highly recommend this book. i'm also in the middle of still writing by dani shapiro. not even finished with it but i am already recommending it to any creative person who love incorporating creativity as a part of their every day. so yeah, these aren't my typical fiction recommendations but it's good to be well-rounded in your reading and to branch out every so often.

eating: i know all of my healthy friends are thinking tsk! tsk! but i've been eating a lot of brownies lately. hehe. could be the time of the month about to make its appearance (TMI) but put together the craving for chocolate and something warm and comforting and ta-da! you are in need of a brownie! okay, so i haven't been eating them every single second of the day but i normally make a dessert a couple times a week to have something sweet in stock...and this week, i've made brownie desserts twice - one a regular brownie, the other with cookie dough. yum. 

loving: this new Bible i received from my friends at B&H Publishing. the cover is absolutely beautful, a sky blue with a deep red leather pattern, and i have been using it alongside my personal ESV Bible to compare Bible passages as i worked on word studies for my weekly Bible study and in preparation for Bible lessons i teach at youth group. with it being a study Bible, it def gives the reader a chance to go deeper in their study, providing outlines, extensive commentaries, word studies, character profiles and so much more. as one who personally hungers to know more of God's Word, this is def one that i plan to use for many more studies to come! 

watching: so last weekend Ryan and i had a movie marathon Saturday afternoon. and we took it to another level, making it an animated movie marathon, watching both The Lego Movie and Frozen! and we loved both of them, walking out of the theater hand in hand and singing the different songs. *everything is awesome* and *let it go* have been stuck in our heads all week, and we really are big kids at heart and i don't see us having a problem taking our kids to animated movies in the future! also Netflix finally updated their ques, so we plan to binge-watch some of our favorite tv shows this weekend. 

looking forward to: date night tonight! we are going out for hibachi, so not only looking forward to a good time with my husband but also to some of that hot, sizzling food! i can almost smell the aroma of chicken and vegetables and garlic rice. dinner time needs to be NOW! 

thinking about: friendships and how they look like in one's adult years and how i feel very grateful for the handful of women that God has brought into my life in the past year. this thought might need to be developed into a longer blog post but basically i am continually reminded how much we were created with an innate need for relationships. for a friend to laugh with until your stomach hurts because you share the same humor. for a friend to eat Mexican food with every other week. for a friend who text you weird pictures in the middle of the night so you can literally LOL when you wake up first thing in the morning. for a friend who grabs coffee with you in the most random Kroger locations and picks up on life where you last left of. for a friend who has walked further in life with you and can give you loving advice without judgment. if you have at least one of those kinds of friends, know you are so blessed. i certainly know that i am.

AND if you didn't get my Office reference above, then we can't be friends. just kidding. we can be friends but here is the clip for your reference. and it's also the clip for my fellow Office fans or straight up Jim Halper fangirls. *sigh* i still miss this show.



what are you currently up to, friend? currently posts are inspired by the amazing danielle of sometimes sweet! feel free to leave your links of your currently posts. i love reading every single one of them! happy weekend, folks! 

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}


Monday, February 24, 2014

an old lady rant.

tan06tan_collage02tan08tan_collage03tan_collage01blazer, t-shirt, and lipstick: forever 21 / jeans: american eagle / booties: c/o dsw / glasses: c/o my optic / watch: c/o feral watches 

first off, thanks for the kind words you left for me from friday's post. you guys make me smile and also make me wish i could reach right through the computer screen and give you a big ole hug. (darn, limitations of technology. somebody has got to push the envelope and fix that problem, don't you think?) it's also nice to know that people are going through the same things and that we not alone in this journey, you know? so thanks, friends. 

and second...this outfit, particularly the blazer. that blazer is one of my favorites but sadly, i forget about it. it's one of those that gets pushed to the back of the closet until i'm desperate to dig far enough to find something new that i always seem to re-discover it. i don't know why. maybe 'cause it isn't one i can really wear all year round because it not thick enough with long sleeves to wear in the winter and then it's too warm and weird of a material (not silk but not cotton - what's that called again?) to wear in the summertime. however, this good ole blazer was resurrected from the pits of my closet yesterday and was perfect for the spring temperatures. 

it also triggered this conversation between me and ryan:

ryan: you look really professional today.
me: hmmm, maybe. but you know who i really feel like today?
ryan: cate blanchett? dontcha find?! (he was quoting her as katherine hepburn in The Aviator)
me: i can see that but nope, meg ryan from when harry met sally.
ryan: oh, yeah! you do!

and i did. 

which made me think about all the movies that meg ryan were in...which made me think about all of the other 90's chick flicks that came out around that time...which then spurred a conversation between me and ryan how chick flick movies today aren't as well done as they were back in the 90's. i feel like i might need to dedicate another blog post to this topic, but seriously! what chick flick today can even come close to You've Got Mail or While You were Sleeping or My Best Friend's Wedding or Notting Hill? they are classics for a reason! 

you are smart people, so you know what's the difference, right?

it's all in the writing! the scripts were witty and thoughtful and detailed and it wasn't all about the sweaty sex scenes. and maybe because half of them included nora ephron in the movie formula. sure, they had their dosage of cheesiness like all chick flicks but i personally think, there were more depth to characters and witty dialogue.

but now a days, you got some big name actor and actress and you throw them together literally and slap the script together super duper fast and then the producers sit back and know the money will come flying in. not because it's good story but because of the big name actors. and the truth is, people will pay the big bucks not only to eat the over-priced popcorn but to also see "so and so" act with "so and so" even though they can't act and the script writers can't write.

and that's the end of my old lady rant. for now. 

excuse me while i go live in my meg ryan blazer and live in the chick flick movie-past. 

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Friday, February 21, 2014

a haircut turned into a life lesson.

Chop, chop. ✂️ #igdaily #instagood #afterlight #haircut #newdo


this is more than a haircut.

it's a symbol of liberation...of possibilities...of letting go.

blah, blah, blah. you're thinking, why do all bloggers have to turn every single thing in life into a lesson? i don't know. i don't think i have always thought this way but the older i get, the more aware i am of how much i can learn from the big and the little things in life.

the current season that Ryan and i have found ourselves in is the last place in the world we imagined. while we were engaged and even in the early months of our marriage, we envisioned to be in a certain place at a certain time. are we the only married people who do that? no, if you all are honest out there, i think not. i'm sure there were many of you (married or single) would ask the question and probably say the following:

how in the world did i get here? 
i didn't sign up for this. 
this wasn't the plan! 

psssshaw. plans go out the window every single day. you certainly can and should plan for the future. save up money. work towards goals. however, you plan with flexibility. sort of like our Peru team leader said at our last meeting: plans can be like mud. you mix it and mold it together and throw it against the wall to see if it sticks. if it sticks, it sticks. if it doesn't, you figure something else out.

i also think you make plans not only with flexibility but also with your hands palms-up and fingers stretched out wide-open. letting go.

have you ever held onto something (and i'm talking literally) so tightly that after a few minutes, your little muscle fingers start to ache? your nails might even be pressing too deeply into the palm of your hand, cutting into the circulation? whether it was a balloon at the carnival or plastic grocery bags on your walk home or the monkey bars on the playground, it's uncomfortable, awkward and maybe even painful.

i think i hold onto my life plans too tight like that...to the point that i start to hurt myself. i let worry consume me. i let fear paralyze me. i forget to look out for the good things in life. i forget that the God who loves me is the One ultimately in control. i forget that it's okay to let go because God wants me to trust Him with all of those plans so that He can take care of them for me.

so back to the haircut.

at first when i sat in the salon chair, i felt a twinge of fear and even regret. why? because i've had my long hair for fooooooooorever. i haven't rocked a short hair cut since the year after i graduated college (that's nearly 10 years ago, people!). and also every time i plan to get a haircut, i end up loving my hair the day of the appointment. but then as i put my hair into the hands of my hairstylist and she started to snip away, every lock of hair that fell onto the floor made this weighty mop feel lighter and lighter. and i almost wanted to cheer her on, keep going! go shorter, go shorter! 

and taking a shower that night and then brushing through my wet hair without having to deal with tangles and a sore scalp from a constant tug of war with my hair and brush, that is called LIBERATION. (and yes, all caps was more than necessary.)

my point? sometimes it's time to let go. whether it's your luscious locks to those plans we might be holding onto to tightly, let them go. from my past experiences, sometimes letting go means making room for better plans. sometimes letting go means strengthening our faith. sometimes letting go means to give yourself a chance to breath. so let's ride through this crazy wild ride called life with our arms raised high above our heads - and instead of fear consuming us, let's enjoy the thrill instead.

"casting all of your anxieties on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}


Thursday, February 20, 2014

one heck of a jacket.

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denim jacket: urban outfitters / t-shirt: forever21 / skirt: c/o Lulu*s / tights: c/o We Love Colors / booties: c/o Blowfish Shoes / scarf: c/o Snowdrift Designs 

so for those that follow via instagram, you obviously know these outfit pictures are pre-chopping. 

and as much as my long locks and i had a good, growing relationship (snicker, see what i did there?) for quite sometime, it was time to move on. out with the old, in the new! i always say. okay, not really but this does apply to pretty much everything in my life. 

except for my husband. he's a keeper. 

and speaking of moving on, this past sunday (when these pictures were taken) was the first sunday, i didn't go to church all bundled up. i still rocked some colored tights and one of my favorite, cozy scarves but the fact that i grabbed my denim jacket instead of my actual coat made me pretty giddy. spring is almost here!

and let me tell you: i've had this denim jacket since freshmen year of collage and it's one i might honestly keep for forever...to the point where i can tell my children, yes, child butler, this denim jacket is indeed vintage. this jacket has been on many adventures. you know celine dion's song, if walls could talk - if this denim jacket could talk, it'd have many adventure to spew. 

maybe not the same stories as celine's walls but this denim jacket has literally traveled the world...from mission trips, college classes, bike rides through the city, broadway shows, and even a handful of dates. and here i am venturing forward into my 30th year of life, this jacket will continue to be a constant companion.

so yes, i suppose, this denim jacket will be right there alongside my husband. imagine this: me and Ryan, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch of our house in 40 years and do you see it? i'm wearing my urban outfitters denim jacket. that my friend is a one heck of a jacket.

in sickness and in health.
till the decomposition of your denim fibers do us part.

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

p.s. are you Caitlin Stone?! you won the We Love Colors giveaway! shoot me an email with your mailing address and your TWO choices of We Love Colors tights (color and style) at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize! congrats to Caitlin and thank you, WLC for one awesome giveaway! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

letters: florals, netflix and pasta.

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dress: forever21 (from forever ago) / jacket: c/o Lulu*s / tights: c/o We Love Colors / scarf: c/o ecoshag / boots: c/o Blowfish Shoes 

dear spring. i think we are def ready for you. no, i know that we (and i am speaking for all of Atlanta and pretty much all of Georgia) are so ready for you to make your appearance. 

dear snow. you were fun for a little while. being snowed in had it's fun moments - like ryan working from home and being able to see his good-looking face all day or me reading and writing all day and us watching lots of the olympics. but it's time you head back up north with the rest of your snowflake friends. see you in a couple years.

dear floral dress that has been in the back of my closet. if i wear you, will you encourage spring's arrival? good, i thought so.

dear weekend. you were such a good one. think about extending to an extra day?

dear nora ephron. you continue to amaze me. i watched when harry met sally over the weekend and can't get enough of your writing and movies and books. thinking ryan and i need to plan a trip to NYC.

dear marion roach smith. only half way through your book but man, what i'd do to sit in one of your classes or to sit across from you at a coffee shop? 

dear netflix. it's time for you to bring back felicity. and finally install the last few episodes of breaking bad. the olympics are almost over, so the husband and i need to get back on our binge-watching.

dear italian pasta with a name i can't pronounce from luciano's from valentine's day dinner. with how you danced on my taste buds, i look forward to the next time we meet again.

dear hair. spring also means it's about time to lighten the load. 

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

p.s. are you Nataly Carbonell? you won the Indie Byline giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize. congrats to Nataly and thank you to the Indie Byline for one rocking giveaway! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

you might be offended by this post. you might not. either way, i truly mean well.


Valentine's Day.

the words alone can make one gag or blush.
vomit or squeal.
cry or giggle.

the holiday means so many different things to different people...or maybe it means nothing at all.

and i think just about any holiday can have the same affect on people, but the stereotypical expectation of this particular holiday brings expectations to a whole other level. just as a teenage boy goes into complete hysteria in his math class, a thirty-five year old man panics amidst his work deadlines and family responsibilites. both want to meet the expectations of their significant other but the precise thought of not meeting it...he'd rather be caught dead on the side of the road.

or not.

because then there are those couples who pretend the holiday means nothing to them, so they don't plan anything. not together, nor for the other person...yet secretly, hopefully, maybe the other person will surprise the other. just maybe.

or not.

and then there are thoooose couples who go so over the top (giant teddy bear? humongous heart box of chocolate? singing telegram of Nsync's God must have spent a little more time on you? do people even do singing telegrams anymore?) that even people who have a healthy appreciation for the holiday start tasting vomit in their mouths because it's just oh, just waaaay to much. but hey, each to their own, ya know?

and then the single people.

some of you could give a rat's butt about the holiday. you are liberated. you can go out with your girlfriends - or maybe guy friends - without feeling any stress on whether or not a bouquet of red roses will be delivered to your office. or if he made reservations at your favorite italian restaurant before they ran out, or maybe you'll just go home, surrounded by your cats and curl up in a cozy blanket, pour yourself a cup of tea and disappear into your most recent book.

but what about those of you single people that do care? those who has a romantic side and can't help but imagine a knight in shining hour, rescuing you in this utter day of despair? who sweeps you off of your feet, the very second that you were about to pull your hair out as your rival co-worker goes on and on again about what her boyfriend has planned for her that evening?

oh, friend. you are the one i actually think of on this holiday.

the other couples, the liberated singles, they can take care of themselves just fine. but you, i want to hug you and i want to tell you that it's going to be okay. you will be okay. valentine's day is just another holiday. the calendar days will continue onto the 15th, then the 16th and then the 17th and the world will continue to spin on it's axis.

and so if valentine's day is about love then focus on those relationships that you do have. appreciate those people. show them love and celebrate them. let them love you. and stop feeling sorry for yourself. life is way too short for that. plus no one likes somebody who throws their own pity-party.

and know this: the pressure is off for you.

no having to wonder if valentine day's plans will be perfect.
or the stress of picking out the perfect outfit.
or eating way too much chocolate.
or worrying which dish you'll order 'cause you might bloat.
or ordering the pesto pasta and getting annoying pieces of green in between your teeth.

get dressed up in heart printed tights because you want to.
buy yourself flowers and a box of chocolate - who says you can't?
rent Valentine's Day and laugh your socks off at the highs and joys of cheesy love.
eat pesto pasta without having someone pick out that you annoying pieces of green in between your teeth.

and why do i say all this? because there may have been one or two valentine's day where i felt this way in my younger years and it would have been nice to hear this. so maybe you needed to hear this. maybe you didn't. but really...

it's all going to be okay. 

so while the rest of the world is trying to figure out #Valentinesdayproblems, you do not. so do me a favor. sit back and relax. we will do all the stressing out - including picking out all the green pieces from our teeth.

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

it will happen when you least expect it: a love story.

earlier this week, my sweet friend Danielle featured mine and Ryan's story in her Love Story blog story series. in the spirit of Valentine's Day and in case some of you didn't get the chance to read it, here is the full on story for you, good people. plus this is a story i have been wanting to write out for a long time now, so it's finally been written out, smack dab on this here little ole blog. 

thanks for letting me share, friends! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! XOXO

***

It will happen when you least expect it. 

That's what they told me. You know those people who had found love and seemed to have forgotten what life was like when they were single. Sometimes I couldn't help but taste vomit in the back of my throat when their eyes glazed over and their cheeks looked like they had been pinched too hard.

And sure, I'd force a smile and nod politely. What I expected was that the man I would fall in love with would be my best friend, someone I had a friendship before a romantic relationship. I had always thought that would be the case - with my personality and my type of ideal relationship. My heart had been disappointed, and it was a season where God reminded me to wait on Him for what (and who) He had in store for my life.

Little did I realize how true the above statement was for me.

But that's getting ahead of the story...

It was my first year out of college. I had graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in May 2006 and decided to stay in the city. Four other girlfriends and I rent an apartment together and had dreams of finding jobs and living out the Christian girl version of Friends.

One of the unlikely turns to my story is landing a job at the very college I had graduated from. Now Moody is a fabulous college but like many college students, once you've graduated, you plan to never return to your alma mater until maybe your 25 year reunion, maybe 10 years if you're pushing it.

~ engagement picture of where we met ~ 

But it was a good job (assistant to one of the Associate Deans) that I couldn't turn down. And the rent and utility bills were adding up and you need money for that. Playing house and pretending you live a life of a celebrity (all play and no work) can only last for so long.

So I was just in my second month of the job, busy learning the ropes and familiarizing myself with new job, when the most good looking man I had ever seen knocked on my office door.

Now know this about me: I have a type. I didn't always date my type in the past but I had a type. Tall. Dark hair and dark eyes. Baby face. No facial hair. (If he had facial hair, it eventually would have to go.) Amazing smile and teeth. Being the daughter of a man in the dental field, my man would hafta have good teeth. Duh.

And this hunk of a man fit my type exactly. To the T, people.

You might as well have blown a blast of wind through his hair and insert a sparkle on his smile and heart shaped cartoon drawings around my head.

Maybe not really but you could have 'cause I couldn't stop thinking, How cute are you?

But being the professional that I was, I asked him if there was anything I could help him with?

"Hello, yes! Do you know how I can connect to the wifi up here?" My office was directly across from the campus coffee shop. I went ahead and helped him out of course but even after he left the office, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I totally did the whole pep-talk of trying to get myself to stop thinking about him. I recently got out of a relationship and the last thing I needed was more boy-drama in my life.

And believe it or not, the pep-talk worked.

Though I didn't think much about him after that, when he did come into the conversation for some random reason, my sister and I called him "the cute grad student." We didn't know his name and neither of us saw him around on campus much. If we did cross paths, it was a mere exchange of hellos. I knew from our first meeting that he lived off campus, which explains why he wasn't around as often as the other students.


The next time we crossed paths was at my birthday party. It was a joint birthday party with my friend, Josh, and "the cute grad student" happened to be among Josh's invited friends. We all sat around a long table that fit about 30 or so people - and "the cute grad student" happened to be sitting right next to me.

I did find out that his name was Ryan and that he was extremely talkative. He asked me a lot of questions about me but with the atmosphere of the party and so many people talking to me and each other all at once didn't make it the most conducive place to have a get-to-know you conversation.

After the party, a smaller group of friends wanted to make a McDonald's run and then hang out at my apartment. I asked Ryan if he wanted to join us but he said he had an early morning so he needed to head home to bed. I couldn't help but feel disappointed - first because I was worried that he thought I was ignoring him at the party and second, I was hoping to have another chance to talk to him more in a smaller group setting.

Fast forward to three months later, January. By this point, I didn't see anything happening between me and Ryan. Our paths weren't crossing at all, plus life was busy and I found myself more involved with work, friends and city life.

However, somebody asked me if I was interested in anybody and I told her that there was nobody but surprised myself when Ryan's face came to mind.

Saturday mornings in Chicago were my favorite. They were the only times during the week where I could escape to a nearby Starbucks (one on nearly every block of the city) and spend some time alone. It was how I recharged. One morning on my walk back to the apartment, I passed by yet another Starbucks at the exact moment that Ryan stepped out of it.

We were both surprised, exchanging nervous laughs and light conversation. What were you up to? Or just studying, you know. It's a beautiful morning. Isn't it? I love Chicago in the morning.

And then he said, "Well, I was about to grab some lunch. Would you like to join me?"

Dry mouth. Flustered speech. Ears burning. Squelching a squeal. With all that I managed a super cool, "Yeah, sounds great."

We made our way towards Chipotle (which in my nervousness, I walked in the completely opposite direction for about 10 minutes and then had to do a 180),  finally being able to have a full on conversation without interruptions.

Sort of.

Again in my nervousness and excitement, I forgot I was supposed to meet a couple friends. My cell phone was vibrating like crazy in my coat pocket. I finally picked up the call and told my friends that I would be there in 5 minutes (everything is in walking distance to a Chicagoan).

And wait for it (I AM THE WORST) I left Ryan at Chipotle. He said he totally understood. I told him that I'd love to do this again sometime. I took my half full burrito bowl in a to-go bag, thanked him and....I'M THE WORST...left. WHY?! Who knows? I should have just told my friends to go on without me but it was one of those moments where I didn't know what to do. Slap me on the forehead.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Yes, I was ranting that to myself the whole way back.

The weekend went by and I was still feeling like a complete idiot. He probably thought I was too cheap to buy my own lunch so I went out with him for a paid Chipotle lunch. He probably thought I wasn't interested. But I was! I was interested and I just blew the whole thing up in my face because I could not think clearly and rationally.

But thank God for second chances.

As I was typing away on my computer on the following Monday afternoon, I heard a knock at my office door and yes, you can say this was a wind-through-my-hair-moment. And through his hair because it was Ryan! It was the end of the day and he was on his way home but he wanted to stop by to say hi.

Hi.

And then the moment that proved I wasn't a complete idiot - the moment where I guess he did see something in this flustered mess of a girl: he asked for my number and if he could take me out to dinner that weekend.

Um, heck yes.

And you know me and my trying to be smooth. Except for a brain-fart moment where I stared at his phone for a nano-second too long and couldn't remember my own phone number and said something like, Ha! I never call myself so who remembers their own phone numbers!, I told him that I looked forward to it.

That Friday night, Ryan took me to The Melting Pot where we ended up talking over three courses of mouth-watering fondue for literally hours to the point where the waiters started clapping when we stood up to go. The same thing happened in the second, third, fourth and the many other dates that followed. Time evaporated when we were together, talking and laughing and eating.

~ at his Christmas graduate school banquet. look at his hair (oh lalala!). look at my hair (meh). ~ 

~ supporting out GA bulldawgs even in the midwest!~ 


~ we like to dress up sometimes ~ 

~ taste of chicago 2010. experiencing Chicago together is one of our all time favorite memory!~ 


~ look at those baby faces ~ 

And through of that, I knew there was something about Ryan. We were so similar in so many ways, yet so different. He made me more nervous, more crazy and more liberated. He made me yearn to know Christ and His word more. We shared a mutual interest in movies and football and food. And deep down, what scared me the most was that I knew that I was going to marry this man.

Four years of dating brought it's ups and downs, lots of learning and growing for both of us. It might have even included a month long break-up but it was the time apart we needed to realize that we really did need each other after all.

 ~ evening before our engagement ~ 

Close to the end of the four years of dating, a particular Friday evening at the Lake Michigan stands out to me. The sun was just about to set below the lake's horizon, hints of orange and purple tinting the evening sky. We sat at the beach, curling our bare feet in the sand as the water lazily lapped the city shore, talking about the future. Sure, this was not an uncommon conversation - but this was probably one of the first conversations about the future that didn't involve talking about marriage or careers. It was a conversation that confirmed in my heart that I did in fact love this man and that whatever the future held for us was in God's sovereign hand.

And little did I know that around the same time the following day, Ryan would be on his knee with the most beautiful engagement ring, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him (you can read our engagement story HERE).


A two year engagement followed. Ryan moved back home to Georgia, and me to South Carolina, to be with our families. It was not how we had planned it but some unforeseen circumstances left us from being able to move forward. Again, it was yet another season of stretching and earnestly praying for each other - and as difficult as it was to be apart, I would not change any part of it. It was through that waiting season that God ironically drew us closer together in our relationship despite the long distance. We savored the times we visited each other and learned to communicate over the phone or skype or email (you know how hard it is to communicate in person with your significant other? try it without facial expressions and tones. possible but not easiest.)

~ lots of traveling back and forth from GA to SC or meeting up in the middle at McDonald's and Panda Expresses on I-95~ 

And the other perk of having a long engagement is you really get to figure out what sort of wedding you want. I mean with all that time, you really have all the time in the world compared to most brides. And what I figured out is that the traditional wedding was not for me - and when I presented the possibility of a destination wedding or eloping, Ryan felt the exact same way. The only condition was that we talk to our immediate families first and if they were supportive, we would move forward with the idea.


As you can probably tell by the picture above, we definitely got their support! Ryan and I had the dream wedding we wanted - on a beach in Maui at sunset, just the two of us on December 17, 2012. And to be honest, our time in Hawaii was more than I even expected and felt like the entire time was an absolute dream come true. (click HERE and HERE for more pictures and details about our elopement!) We also celebrated with our family and close friends at a reception in August 2013 which was a complete party and half!


As of December 2013, we celebrated our first year of marriage. I look back at our story and through the most joyous and the most difficult of times of our relationship, I can only see the faithfulness of our God. Ryan and I are stronger and closer in our friendship and in our marriage because of God's sovereign hand, orchestrating every single step of the way.

And though Ryan coming into my life happened when I least expected it, it didn't matter whether or not I expected it to happen. What mattered is that through the goodness of God, falling in love with Ryan did happen. And because of that, we plan to grow old and fat together, talking and laughing and eating for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

sponsor love + WINNER'S CHOICE giveaway with We Love Colors!


oh, colored tights.

i cannot ever stop loving you. we had a season apart, went a bit emo and always reached for my black pairs; however, i feel the winds of change reverting back to my original love for color. i think with knowing that spring is just around the corner, the brighter colors are calling my name again.

and what better way to add a pop of color and expression to any outfit than my favorite We Love Colors tights! i got a super fun package from them last week and fell head over heels again with all of the colors. and like i've always said about We Love Colors, they have the best quality of tights ever. they rock the perfect amount of thickness where they don't feel super fragile, yet thin enough where they scream comfort! and there is no other place that i know that has literally every color of the rainbow in stock! it's a complete dream come true for a color-freak like me!


{giveaway:}

and get super excited, friends! i am excited so you should be, too. *wink* today We Love Colors is giving one of you lucky Much Love, illy readers a chance to win TWO pairs of We Love Colors tights of their choice! yup, that means you can pick ANY TWO pairs from the site. the possibilities are seriously endless. my personal favorites are the solid color tights especially in scout green, royal blue, red and black! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to U.S. Much Love, illy readers thru 2/19. Winner will be announced on 2/20.
May the odds be ever in your favor!

{don't wanna wait?}
take advantage on this Valentine's Day special starting NOW through Feb. 20, 2014: all We Love Colors fishnet tights are 25% off with coupon code welovevalentines

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

Monday, February 10, 2014

a dream realized.

magenta07magenta_collage01magenta06magenta_collage02
world's best grey sweatershirt: forever21 / pants: borrowed them from little sister (sorry! if you just realized they were missing, ash!) / boots: c/o dsw / headscarf: c/o ecoshag / backpack: c/o Lulus / lipstick: radiant cosmetics (no longer in biz - sad face) 

so the olympics has pretty much taken over our lives in the butler household. 

forget our netflix binges. we've been watching it night and day. i have always loved the olympics. it was a big deal in our house growing up and it makes me happy that ryan is just as passionate obsessed about the games as i am. 

and i think the olympics might have even taken over my future dreams. i never realized that i had such a passion for snowboarding - but until this weekend, it literally hit me in the face as i held my breath and screamed when they nailed a landing or when they face planted the icy snow, while watching the men and women's slopestyle events.

and the women with their long pretty curls coming out of their helmets. 
i meeeean, you can be cute and kick butt in a sport. gah, i love it so much.

bring it.

in other news, that sweater is the world's greatest grey sweatshirt in the world. it's one of those sweaters, i try not to wear every day but if i do (which has happened), i throw it in the laundry and speed up my laundry schedule just so that i can wear it. 

and you all know my obsession with headscarves especially ones from my dear friend at ecoshag. oh mama-mia. this magenta one kills me. the color and the softness of this material makes it my absolute fave plus it matches my favorite purple shade of lipstick. so BAM! everybody wins! 

wish the olympics were like that.

JUST KIDDING. i really don't. i'm such a fierce competitor. it's what makes sports so much fun. team USA all the way!!!!!! 

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

a love story.

oh, the holiday of love.

whether or not you are single or looking or dating or married, i believe that Valentine's Day is more than a holiday to celebrate your significant other. you always have somebody that you love (mother, brother, best friend, co-worker, etc.), so what better holiday to celebrate them than the holiday of love.

okay, for those gagging in front of their laptops, i have a point here.

since we do have the love holiday coming up just around the corner, my sweet friend, Danielle of Take Heart asked me to guest post in her annual Love Story series which take place throughout the month of February. i was honored and actually super glad to be asked because how Ryan and i met is a story that i have been meaning to write on the blog for fooooorever now.
~ didn't even have camera smart phones back then and this camera's pictures came out super grainy~ 

so *ruuuuuuunnnnn* over to Danielle's blog and check out our mushy-gushy tale of romance HERE. and no, i'm not sorry about the mush. it's a story that i look back and can't deny that God's sovereign hand orchestrated every single step of the way. and for that i am oh so thankful.

even with all the mush.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Friday, February 7, 2014

on writing outside my comfort zone + introducing you to my new friend named Grammarly.


one of my goals for 2014 was to take writing to a whole other level, pushing myself out of my comfort zone - in other words, going beyond my blog with writing. it's funny because for a long time my blog was something out of my comfort zone. i used to freak out over the thought of people reading about my personal life and thoughts - and i also thought who would even want to read about my life?

and sure there are def days when blogging can still be uncomfortable - when i go beyond the outfit and currently and the random ramblings and strip down to my bare feelings and emotions...that can sometimes still be a little scary.

however, there are some writing projects on my bucket list that are left to be tackled. and this is where my new friend, Grammarly comes in. Grammarly is an online proof-reading site that goes beyond your typical Word spell-check. not only does check your spelling but it proof-reads full on paragraphs and sentences. it offers you suggestions and even allows you to refer your grammar questions to a community board. Grammarly (get this!) even detects plagiarism - talk about a whole other level!

i used Grammarly to proof-reading my support letter which is going out to a number of friends and family, asking for their support for an upcoming missions trip to Peru. i also used Grammarly for several writing projects that need a second pair of eyes. it's been the perfect tool! i am especially one of those writers who writes like she talks so i'm constantly in need of extra proof-reading.

and for the record, i always think of my college professor, Ms. Hecht when it comes to proof-reading of any kind. i took her editing class during my junior year - and not only were my papers red from my proof-reading marks, my proof-reading was proof-read with more red! all that to say editing was not my strong suit. so I use Grammarly for online proofreading because in a way it's my online version of my college professor, Ms. Hecht! (and if you are reading this, you know i love you, Ms. Hecht!) 

in all seriousness, i highly recommend checking out Grammarly for yourself. if you don't believe me, be sure to check out the reviews by the Today Show, Forbes and About.com who give stellar reviews on it!

happy writing, friends! 

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

Monday, February 3, 2014

sponsor love + $50 Forever 21 Giftcard GIVEAWAY with The Indie Byline.


Hola beautiful people! My name is Sheriden Garrett and I am a writer and a lover of all things creative. I find inspiration in beautiful things, in love, while walking to the mailbox, on the busy train during my morning commute. I am 22 years young and feel that there is so much life to be lived, such wonder to be grateful for, and a lot of boys who still need to be blessed with the knowledge of my existence ;) The Indie Byline is my platform where I journal about my life, love, write my thoughts, document aspects of my new healthy lifestyle, outfits, and eating adventures. Come on over and enjoy the ride. We’re little pieces in this big journey called life. Such a beautiful cliché, don’t you think?
***

is she not the cutest thing ever? sheridan's smile is uber contagious! i also appreciate her positive outlook on life! she has such a passion for fashion, writing and living out life to the fullest, one cannot help but be drawn to her joyous spirit! i have personally enjoyed reading her blog and keeping up with her adventures in the new year! and for the record, can i have that houndstooth cape?! okay, good. 

and today i am super giddy to share with you what sheridan is giving away to one of you SUPER lucky Much Love, illy readers. wait for it. mmmkay, hold onto your couch or your work seat or mattress (wherever you might be reading this!) 'cause sheridan is giving away a $50 Forever21 Gift Card! um, hello. half of my wardrobe i shamelessly care to admit is from Forever21 because you see folks, i apparently am forever 21. (see what i did there?) and i'm sure many of you would die to update your spring wardrobe with this gift card! you know that momma is always right. *wink*
so whatcha waiting for, people!?!

Giveaway is open to US Much Love, illy readers thru Feb. 11th. 
Winner will be announced on Feb. 12th. May the odds be ever in your favor! 

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

non-traumatic things that have made me cry.

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mustard_collage03oversized sweater: c/o choies / jeans: american eagle / booties: c/o dsw / camera bag: c/o jototes / lipstick: nars heatwave

cutting up onions. 

even when i do all the tricks your typical happy homemaker magazine or book tells you to do, they DO NOT work. i'm still crying my eyes out and have to walk out the kitchen before i man up (woman up?) to finish cutting up the rest of the onion. as much as i love onions, with how bad i tear up, sometimes i don't know if it's worth it.

enchanted song "so close" by jon maclaughlin.

i do not know what it is about this song. i bawled my eyes out when i first heard it. i cry whenever i hear it. period. and i can't even say its the actual song, but possibly events tied to it that makes me subconsciously start crying. who knows? it might just one of those songs that hits every emotional nerve in my body. and no, patrick dempsey dancing with amy adams in that scene as nothing to do with it. nothing.

titanic line: i'll never let go of you, jack! 

yup, i was one of those sobbing teenagers when rose let go of jack's hand. i would have been screaming, but you ARE, rose! you're letting him go and sink to the bottom of some icy grave! GAH! at the big screen; however, it would have sounded like one loud blubbering mess because i had lost it at that point. 

commercials.

which was pretty much half of the super bowl commercials from last nights. soldiers coming home. puppy and horse friendships. hand me a box of kleenex by the nachos, please! 

finishing up a really good book or tv series.

anytime i finish up a book series, i have a tug of war in my heart. gah! that was so good. and gah! it's over. what am i supposed to do with my life now?! and same with tv series that ryan and i will binge watch on netflix. we end up looking at each other and say, so what we talk about now? okay, okay. totally joking but it's like those characters were a part of our every day lives and were our bffs, so it's always depressing when we don't get to talk about our hang out with them as much. tear.

***

thanks to the clever, witty and inspiring mindy kaling for the inspiration behind this post! her chapter from her book on her "non-traumatic" list is far more hilarious and def worth the read - so you do want to check it out. pinky promise.

and what about you? what's your list of non-traumatic things that make you cry? do share in the comments below or in your blog post!

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}