Archive of ‘marriage’ category

happy third anniversary

Third Anniversary

Three years ago, on a sunny Father’s Day, Will and I got married. We were high school sweethearts getting married right out of college so, needless to say, we have gone through a lot of change since that day. We moved into our first apartment together in Chapel Hill, Will started medical school, I started a new job, I switched jobs, our tiny 500 square foot apartment almost flooded, we moved to a new (larger) apartment outside of the floodplain (praise!), we traveled overseas and domestically, Will moved from the classroom to the clinic and hospital and we experience terrible med school schedules and difficult rotations. We have gone through life changes of our own, but have also witnessed life changes in our families and our friends’ lives. We have experienced the death of relatives, and the marriage of family members and close friends. We have learned more about what we like and don’t like, and what we are passionate about in our lives.

Third Anniversary

Hope and Will Wedding-1

Third Anniversary

Going through all of these changes together, as a team, has been the best part of it all. While changes and difficult situations can strain marriages, I also think there is such potential for those to strengthen marriages as well. There are so many times in the past three years when we have needed to lean on each other, support each other, or celebrate with each other, and our marriage is stronger because of how we have been able to help each other and act as a team in those situations. Marriage requires effort and selflessness, but the wonderful thing is that you are on the receiving and giving ends of that. You get to receive the love and support and you get to give that love and support when your spouse needs it.

Third Anniversary

Third Anniversary

Third Anniversary

We are in the midst of wedding season in our lives, with friends getting married every few weeks. It is wonderful to see far-away family or college friends at all of these weddings, but it is also refreshing be reminded in each ceremony of the commitment we made to each other on that day three years ago, of God’s love for us, which is deeper than our own, and of our love for each other. So, as we celebrate this third anniversary, we remember all of those things and look forward to many more years together. Happy anniversary, Will! :)

Third Anniversary

All photos by the talented Graham Terhune, now part of Anagram Photo!

a january snow day

A month ago temperatures were in the single digits and snow and ice covered the ground. Today it is a balmy and humid 72 degrees. Winter swooped in and showed itself right out.

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

Snow only comes to North Carolina about once a year, twice if we’re lucky, but usually not until late January or February, so it was a shock to see meteorologists talking about snow in the first week of the new year. I honestly didn’t put much weight into the meteorologists’ predictions for snow when they first started talking about it early on in that week. I couldn’t believe that we would get snow so early! As it got closer and closer to the weekend, they started increasing their predictions for how many inches of the fluffy stuff we would get. They started with 4 inches, then upped it to 6, then they started predicting 8 inches of snow for our area and 12 in nearby cities and towns! Grocery stores were completely out of eggs, milk and bread in a matter of hours the day before “the big snow” (we don’t know how to handle snow very well here).

Friday night came and precipitation began to fall. Sleet came first, then snow started late and continued to fall through Saturday afternoon, piling up little by little.

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

I have found that the older I get, the more snow is a source of nuisance rather than source of fun, but having already figured out backup plans for work events the next week, and having the snow come down on Friday night and Saturday made this snow day so exciting! Will and I took advantage of our location and the empty roads and walked to our downtown shops to see what was open, catching falling snowflakes along the way.

Since we live in such a walkable area with a quaint and quirky downtown and lots of neighborhoods nearby, some of the shop owners and other residents had the same idea. On a whim, we popped into a local coffee shop and stayed warm with a cup of coffee, a press pot of tea and a slice of delicious galette de roi from a local bakery (fitting for the first weekend of January :) ). This impromptu coffee shop visit was one of the best parts of the snow day – it was so unexpected, cozy and fun and we felt like true community members! We watched out the large front windows of the shop as the snow fell and winds twirled the snowflakes around people walking boot-clad dogs.

There are a lot of temporary residents in our town (including us), transplanted from all over the country and the world to attend college, graduate or other professional schools here. This made for great people watching on a snowy day, as we could easily pick out people who had previously lived in colder areas (hint: puffer coats that came past their knees, full snowsuits, snow boots and face masks to block the wind; extra points if their dog had a full snowsuit too).

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

January Snow Day | www.passthecookies.com

While these 70 degree days are beautiful, I’m not sure I’m ready for them to stay. I wasn’t expecting winter to leave so soon and it doesn’t feel like February without the cold weather. Maybe these pictures will bring us a few more weeks of cold? Just a few.

pumpkin picking

Halloween is less than two weeks away, and while I haven’t even thought about a costume, I have all the pumpkins I could need.

Pumpkin Picking-1

Pumpkin Picking-3

A few weeks ago Will and I crossed one item off our fall bucket list when we went to a pumpkin patch where we were able to pick the pumpkins we wanted right off the vine! We’re not just talking the regular orange spherical pumpkins either; this field had Cinderella pumpkins, fairytale pumpkins, and pumpkins of all colors, shapes, sizes and textures. We weren’t expecting such a broad selection, which made searching for our perfect pumpkins even more exciting.

Pumpkin Picking-4

The pumpkin patch we visited was kind of geared toward children (but then again, aren’t most pumpkin patches?) and had lots of perks for parents with small kids. They had a miniature hay maze, slides, tractor rides, and lots of other cute activities. One great offering was a hayride that would take you out into the parts of the patch that were farther away, and pick you up if your pumpkin was too heavy to carry back to the entrance. We grossly underestimated how far the entrance was when we picked Will’s massive pumpkin and carried both of our pumpkins all the way back to the grassy parking field. I hadn’t felt so old until the next day when my neck and back were sore from carrying such a heavy gourd.

Pumpkin Picking-6

Pumpkin Picking-7

Most pumpkin patches charge you by the weight of your pumpkin. The patch we went to charges a flat rate to get in, but you can pick whatever size pumpkin you want. Will took this as a challenge to find the largest pumpkin in the patch, and that we did. I ended up getting a large green fairytale pumpkin, which was dense and heavy, but Will’s pumpkin was massive! I wish we had measured it on the scale, but it is at least 50 pounds!

Pumpkin Picking-8

Pumpkin Picking-9

Our pumpkin picking excursion was a success and such a fun date, and our home feels fall ready because of it!

Outfit details | Shirt: J.Crew, skirt: J.Crew Factory (similar here, here, here), Vest: J.Crew Factory (similar here, less expensive here), Boots: Hunter

happy 2nd anniversary!

Two years ago today we exchanged vows and said, “I do” to a life together forever, for better or worse. I would do it again 1000 times!

2nd wedding anniversary

2nd wedding anniversaryThe past two years have flown by and it definitely doesn’t seem like it has been two years since our wedding day, but at the same time we have created so many memories since that day. One of my favorite parts of our ceremony was something I had never seen before – the blessing of the hands. At some point in our wedding planning process, my mom mentioned that a nice component of a wedding she had recently attended, performed by our pastor, was this portion called the “Blessing of the Hands.” She encouraged us to look at it and potentially include it in our ceremony. Now that I look back at the blessing after two years of marriage, I get teary eyed realizing that we have already witnessed so many of the items on this list.

Blessing of the Hands

via

In times of joy, sorrow, struggle and triumph, we reach out our hands in love. In times of sickness and health, we aid each other in love. In crazy busy times and in relaxing moments, we relish any time we can be together, side by side with our best friend. It takes love, commitment, dedication and work, but it is all worth it. So today, two years after receiving this blessing, I once again reach out my hands to the wonderful husband beside me, and remember what these hands have done and will do today, tomorrow, and forever.

Happy anniversary, Will!

2nd wedding anniversary

on the move

I’m sorry for the radio silence over here.  With the busiest season at work and our move last week, I have neglected this space in efforts to keep myself afloat and functioning well in a few other areas of life.  My schedule last week went something like this:  work, work, work, work, pack, pack, sleep, repeat.  No time for cooking/baking, exercise or much sleeping. This week looks like it will be pretty similar with unpacking replacing packing and hopefully a slight bit more balance (hooray for balance!).  I have a recipe I hope to share soon, but until I get to it and get a bit more settled into our new place and dig through a few more boxes, please forgive me for the lack of a posting schedule.

moving

^This little place was our first apartment after we got married, where this little blog started, and where we have both good and bad memories.  It was good for the season of life we were in, but it’s time to move along now.  On to bigger and better homes (and thank goodness for getting out of the floodplain – more on that later)!

Moving is a beast.  We moved from a tiny 550 square foot one apartment with minimal storage space to a two bedroom condo almost double the size, and somehow, I still feel like we have too much stuff for the space.  How did we fit all of that stuff in our little 550 square foot box?  I packed most of it and still have no idea where it all came from.  I think it multiplied in the boxes.  It must have.  I also didn’t realize how much more difficult a move from apartments is than a move from a dorm room.  When we moved into our previous apartment (the tiny box), Will and I had both just graduated college, and didn’t have a lot of stuff to begin with.  We had help moving some of the large items in, but we also moved our previous belongings and our wonderful wedding gifts in gradually after we got married, so we never really had a huge moving day.  At the time I didn’t have a job yet and Will had a month or so until school started, so we had nothing but time.  Now that I am working and Will is in the clinic, it is harder to find time to pack everything, move and now unpack everything, especially with one moving day.

Unpacking has turned out to be easier than packing, but there are still items that don’t have the perfect place to settle yet.  While we have already unpacked a lot of boxes in the time between Friday and Sunday, it still sometimes feels like we are traipsing through a maze of cardboard boxes, trying to find socks, or tupperwares, or light bulbs.  I don’t seem to know where it came from, and I certainly don’t know where all of it is now.  While life in front of the camera usually looks put together and beautiful, real life is looking busy and hectic.  I do try to stay put together in life behind the camera, while still running on minimal sleep and lots of caffeine – we’ll see how that looks by the end of the week ;)  I’m excited to get back to this blogosphere, but might need some slack along the way.  I hope to post some photos of our new place once we get more settled and decorated.  Right now, let’s just focus on finding everything. :)

wedding planning: what to do first

Will and I currently have a fridge full of save the dates and wedding invitations and have lots of friends who have recently gotten engaged.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Getting married a month after college graduation, we were one of the first couples out of our friends to tie the knot. Because we have already gone through the wedding planning process, a lot of our friends come to us with questions and we always love to help and share the things that worked well for us. Since I have gotten so many questions about it lately, I thought a little series on wedding planning might be a good way to share our wedding planning process and hopefully answer questions and help brides and couples along the way.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Woodhouse wedding planning

When Will and I look back on our wedding, we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We loved the details of our special day and are glad all the preparation and thought that went into it paid off. I don’t claim to be a wedding planner, but there are a lot of things I learned and can share from experience that might help a bride-to-be. First, I will guide any bride-to-be to a planner.  I used the Southern Living Wedding Planner, which was really helpful, but since my wedding Southern Weddings has come out with a planner that has also gotten good reviews.  Aside from getting a tangible planner, we found these 5 things most important to complete before moving on to anything else in our wedding planning. The order is important here.

1. Budget
2. Guest List
3. Dreams and Inspiration
4. Venue
5. Priority Vendors (photographer)

This list is in order for a reason. Your budget may affect the size of your guest list; the number of people you invite may determine which venues you can use; and the date you reserve the venue will determine what date you give the rest of your vendors to check their availability. Dreams and inspiration come into play before the all-important venue selection because you don’t want to sign a contract for a venue that may not fit your dream wedding. This is where you should think about your style, setting, size and spending.

Weddings are expensive. It took us a while to get over the “sticker shock” of how much everything costs, and how much there is to pay for. While your budget and the size of your guest list may have the largest impact on your venue options, you should also think about how the venue fits into your ideas for the rest of your wedding. This is not where your little detailed ideas come in yet, just big picture. If you are having the ceremony and reception in different locations, this is also where you will want to think about your ideal reception and the ease of traveling from the ceremony to the reception site. If you have always dreamed of a reception under a big tent on a large field, a ceremony at a venue in a city might not be your best option. This isn’t to say you can’t do both, but think about your overall vision before booking your venue.

Woodhouse wedding planning

After scrambling to do all of that, I found it really helpful to list out the for the rest of my wedding planning process to list out the items that were important to us to include, and creating a coherent feel for the wedding. Will and I came up with our top priorities and 10 buzzwords that included details, emotions and the overall vision we wanted to have for our wedding day. Priorities will change from couple to couple, but we knew that we wanted a great photographer. We will keep our wedding photos forever, and we wanted to be able to have beautiful pictures to look back on for the rest of our lives. For some people, priorities may be having a great band, serving delicious food, or making sure your wedding is very cultural. Once you have set your priorities, list your 10 buzzwords that will guide the look and feel of your wedding. By using these priorities and buzzwords to guide your wedding planning, your smaller details will come together coherently.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Woodhouse wedding planning

Weddings take a lot of time to plan, are easiest with good organization and often must be an “all-hands-on-deck” process when you get closer to the date. While your fiancé may not care at all about the types of flowers used in the ceremony and the font used in the program, there are plenty of things they can do and ways they can help. The same goes for lots of members of your family who want to help. In order to coordinate all these tasks, it is important to write down all of the tasks that need to get done and delegate. I’m planning on sharing more tips on organization, registries, how to make sure all of the planning and execution goes well, staying on budget and more in later posts. I’m excited about this new topic – I hope it is fun and helpful!

You can see more of our wedding on Graham Terhune’s blog and in The Knot North Carolina

Woodhouse wedding planningAll photos by the talented couple at Graham Terhune Photography

charleston, south carolina

A few weeks ago Will had his big STEP 1 exam, had three days off then started with clinical orientation and rotations last week. We knew that it could be typical in some rotations for medical students to work six days a week, and those three days off might be our last shot at a trip together in a while, so we seized the opportunity and semi-spontaneously road tripped to Charleston, South Carolina. I have been to Charleston a few times before, but had only seen a few parts of the city, and Will was a Charleston newbie. I did a little research beforehand, just to make sure we hit all of the major sites, and we picked up recommendations from a few locals throughout the trip.

Charleston 2016

Getting recommendations from locals is the best way to go – they always know the best spots, especially for food. We do this on lots of our trips, asking bankers, waitresses, people in the shops, and we have had really great experiences because of it. I’m not at all a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, and I always make a list of places to go, things to do and see and places to eat, if not a full trip itinerary (call me type A), but it is nice to leave room for a few things that the locals love too.

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

We walked and walked and walked all around Charleston and saw Rainbow Row, King Street, the Battery, College of Charleston, the Citadel, the French Quarter, the pineapple fountain and waterfront park, Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge, the pretty pink Mills House, historic Broad Street and lots of beautiful pastel homes and window boxes overflowing with flowers in between. We had dinner one night at Hominy Grill, which was so Southern and so good. It is definitely worth a visit if you are heading to Charleston soon!

One of the recommendations we got from a local was Poogan’s Porch for the best brunch. Brunch is the best meal of the day, so naturally we stopped in on Saturday morning to put our name on the list. The wait was supposed to be at least an hour (it actually ended up being shorter), but we walked around with Will’s cousin, a College of Charleston freshman, and stopped in a small coffee shop for some pre-brunch coffee and tea. It was nice to be able to see the streets of Charleston and pop into a cute local coffee shop while still having concrete plans for brunch. Poogan’s Porch was definitely worth the wait – sooooo good. I think I can safely say that all three of us would highly recommend it and would go back again.

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Our hotel was near the Citadel, which neither of us had ever seen. The neighborhoods surrounding the campus are full of beautiful live oak trees with Spanish moss hanging everywhere. All of the buildings on campus look like white sand castles that you make with those pre-shaped buckets. It was pristine and pretty, in a very different way from the rest of Charleston. Live oaks were scattered around campus and the soft Spanish moss drooping off the branches provided a stark contrast to the white washed buildings. While it wasn’t on our list of things to do, we were both really glad we made it over to the Citadel.  I didn’t bring my camera when we went to the Citadel, so only have a few phone pictures of the campus, but I’ll try to get those up soon.

Later in the afternoon, we also walked around College of Charleston. I can absolutely see why people want to go there after they visit. Will’s cousin directed us to the Cistern, where we were both immediately amazed. The buildings were beautiful and the common theme of oak trees and Spanish moss created arches above many of the brick walkways. Some of the departments were housed in beautiful pastel houses with double decker porches, like those in the rest of historic Charleston.

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

Charleston 2016

We did a lot in a short period of time in the Holy City, but we were able to relax and enjoy the long weekend together, without any studying in sight. I’m so glad we were able to take this trip as a time to decompress before things get too crazy. I have linked a few of the places we ate below, in case you need any recommendations for future Charleston visits!

Dinner:
Hominy Grill
FIG (we didn’t get a chance to go here, but lots of locals recommended it)

Brunch:
Poogan’s Porch
Butcher & Bee

Coffee shops:
Kudu
Black Tap Coffee
The Daily

love over rivalry: unc vs duke

Happy rivalry day! (or UNC vs. Duke basketball game day!)

With a Duke grad and a UNC grad under one roof, Will and I very much have a house divided.  Until last year, our first spring of marriage, we had never watched a Duke-UNC basketball game together.  Neither of us likes losing to the rival team (who does?), and we definitely have to make a conscious effort to be calm and nice to the other team throughout the game, but that doesn’t necessarily come easy.  Two days a year we sit together, in our respective university colors, cheering on opposite teams, and today is one of those days. May love win over rivalry in this Woodhouse divided ;)

14167964703_072a28442d_o

Will and I both grew up watching ACC basketball, and both regularly watched and attended games throughout college (though Will was a bit more passionate and rowdy than I).  Last year around this time we were featured in an article about Duke-UNC couples and the rivalry we endure together.  Since then we have experienced 4 rivalry football games, 2 rivalry basketball games and a Duke basketball national championship and lived to tell the tale.  I choose not to tell the tale of either of those 2015 basketball games.

To say Will was a very involved Cameron Crazy would be the understatement of the year.  If I am his first love, Duke basketball is his second.  He camped out for months to get into the UNC game, painted up, and wore a Duke blue suit to most games.  He was always shown on ESPN during Duke games, appeared in a few newspapers and even in a spread in Sports Illustrated.  Passionate? Yes.  Crazy? Yes.  But, they don’t call them Cameron Crazies for nothing.  Below are some of the photos from Will’s time in Cameron, can you spot him? (Hint: left corner; behind the player with face paint; center; left corner)

Will bball 7

Will bball 4

Will bball 1And a true depiction of love over rivalry – I made a Duke needlepoint belt for Will for his birthday while we were in college.  The belt spells out the Duke fight song and his initials in the classic gothic Duke lettering.  It was certainly a labor of love.  I worked on a little bit each night and a lot on car trips.  The only time I didn’t work on it in front of the TV?  During the Duke-UNC basketball game. ;)

Will bball 6My basketball experience at UNC wasn’t quite as crazy and full as Will’s experience at Duke.  At a bigger school, it could sometimes be hard to get into games, but my friends and I went to the games we could and cheered on the team from our dorm when we couldn’t.  While I was not nearly as TV famous as Will, I still made a point to paint up, stand in the bleachers and rush Franklin Street after a UNC victory over Duke.  Basketball games were such fun moments in both of our college careers and we will always tune in for this rivalry game above all others.  All we can do now is cheer and remember that love is stronger than rivalry.  Right?  We hope so.  Go Heels! :)

Rushing Franklin Street after a win over Duke!

Hope bball 5 Hope bball 4 Hope bball 3

All of these photos are from social media – thanks to all of the photographers!

 

date ideas on a budget

After 8+ years of dating, Will and I have some go-to dates, but we always love new adventures and ideas. With Will’s clinicals beginning soon, we have been thinking of dates ideas we can use for the short amount of free time he will have after the Step exam and before clinicals start.  I have rounded up a few of our favorite date ideas, as well as some we would like to try!

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  We love a good picnic (or indoor picnic)!

1.  Go on a picnic or have an indoor picnic.  This is one of our staple dates and one we have always loved.  We went on tons of picnics in high school and college, and have continued the tradition during our marriage.  In the spring, summer and fall we love finding a garden or field, but in the winter months, we are just as happy spreading out a blanket on the floor of our living room, placing a vase of flowers and some tasty bites on top and spending time chatting and eating.  It is a fun way to have a casual meal that is nearby and on a budget.

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  Coffee shop dates are the best kinds of dates.

2.  Have a coffee date at a local coffee shop.  I love small coffee shops.  I love the atmosphere, the delicious drinks and baked goods, and the buzz of quiet chit chat.  Now that I am working and don’t often have the breaks I did in college, it always feels like a treat to actually sit down and have a drink at a coffee shop.  This winter, Will and I started a new tradition of having one morning coffee date before work after the university had let out for winter break.  We were the only two people in the shop at 7am, and it was wonderful to be able to share some quiet coffee time before the day got going.

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  Taking a walk or hiking is one of our favorites.

3.  Go on a walk or hike.  Greenways, trails, parks, lakes, and pretty neighborhoods are all great places that are probably nearby.  Take advantage of them and go on a walk together.  We like to take in our surroundings, commenting on houses we like if we are in the neighborhoods, or magnificent nature sights on the trails and greenways.  We find that it is a great way to talk about anything and everything, trivial to daunting, while being active and enjoying our surroundings.

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  Hang out in a bookstore and plan a dream (or real) vacation with the travel books. Our trip to Scotland wouldn't have been complete without a hike up beautiful Arthur's Seat

4.  Go to a bookstore, pick out a few travel books and plan a dream (or real) vacation. In high school, Will and I usually made it to Barnes and Noble by the end of our dates.  Before we could drive (such babies), we would often have our parents drop us off at a local shopping center and go to a movie or to dinner.  Barnes and Noble stayed open until 11pm, later than all of the other stores, so in order to extend our dates, we inevitably ended up there.  We often grabbed a few travel books and sat in the coffee shop while we looked at the amazing photos together.  We both love traveling and would sometimes create dream trips based on the pictures and recommendations in the travel books.  It is always fun and hopefully someday we can take those trips!

5.  Practice your skills in the kitchen and cook a meal together. Will and I cook dinner together most nights, depending on our schedules. While we often try new recipes, we tend to make meals that are quick and/or easy. On special occasions or weekends when we have more time, it is sometimes fun to choose a more difficult, time-consuming recipe, turn on some music and work together to make a delicious dinner. It is cheaper than going out to eat all the time, we are usually impressed with the results and we have so much fun while making the meal.

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  Take a day trip for some new scenery and activities.

6.  Take a day trip. Hop in the car on a Saturday morning, head to a new town and explore!  We love doing this day-long date!  It is great to have time in the car for great conversations, then to explore and have fun in a new place when we arrive.  We have most of the day to spend in our town of choice, and can still spend the night in our own beds.

These brown butter blondie dark chocolate brownie candy swirled bars are rich, delicious and melty.  They are the perfect way to use up your leftover Halloween candy and welcome November!

7.  Make your own popcorn and snacks and watch your favorite tv series or a movie on your couch. I know you love Netflix as much as we do. We don’t watch tv very often so we end up starting a series after it has already been out for at least a season.  This works out great (or maybe not so great for productivity) because we can watch episode after episode after episode when we get hooked since they are already out (read: House of Cards binge).  Watching a movie or a tv series with delicious treats from the comfort of our own home is a great date, especially since we can stay in pajamas the whole time :)  Some great treats for a movie night in are brown butter blondies, pretzel crusted caramel cookie barsblondie-dark chocolate brownie swirl bars, brown butter chocolate chip sea salt cookies, double chocolate espresso cookies, and chocolate pound cake.

8.  Go on a behind-the-scenes tour.  Find a brewery, vineyard, restaurant, or other factory in your area that gives behind-the-scenes tours and learn something new together.  We have gone on a few of these and always have a great time!

9.  Have an at-home tasting.  Whether wine, beer, chocolate, cheese, cookies, pizza, whatever you like, grab a few types, bring them home and have fun comparing them together.  Pretend like you are critics and make notes about each one.  Do this a few times and you will eventually be able to find the best of each category, the ones each of you like the most.

The Christmas Parade always makes me excited and happy about the season to come :)

10.  Be a tourist in your own town.  Sometimes we get caught up with our everyday routines and miss things that are going on all around us.  It can be fun to play tourist in your own town, or in the surrounding cities, for a day, trying new eateries, drink spots, shops and sites.  Google your town and see what tourists would see if they were to plan a visit to your area, check out your local community calendars to learn about local events, or just take a walk on the downtown streets to see what you’ve missed.  Don’t forget to take the camera or snap photos like a tourist on your phone (selfie sticks get extra points)!  (The photo above is from our local tourist moment at the Christmas parade!)

We are always looking for fun date ideas!  Bouncing around local coffee shops, breweries, bakeries and eateries are some of our favorite dates.

11.  Try out local bakeries, coffee shops, breweries and eateries in your area.  Try out the local places and find your favorite!  We love trying all of the local shops and creating a list of our favorites for when out-of-town friends and family come to visit.  It is nice to have local places we know we love and can go to on a whim.

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

12.  Practice your barista or bartender skills and make drinks for each other at home.  Making drinks at home is a fun way to get to know each other better and taste some delicious cocktails or coffee drinks for a cheaper bill than going out.  Choose a theme, gather inspiration from menus and online lists, and impress your date with your mixing skills and latte art.  Blanking on ideas? The pumpkin spice latte is a good place to start!

These are a few of our favorite date ideas, and some we can’t wait to try, but we’re always looking for more!  I’d love to hear your date ideas!

2015 in review

Happy 2016!!! I can’t believe it is here already! This year was full of new adventures and travels! Sometimes I forget how many places we went and how much we experienced until I look back on it. Here is a look at our 2015 in review.

View More: http://grahamterhune.pass.us/hopeandwill

Hope and Will-Post Ceremony Bride and Groom-0008

In January, I started this little blog! Can you believe it was almost a year ago? We were so excited to have our wedding featured in the Spring/Summer issue of The Knot North Carolina with the beautiful photos by amazing photographer, Graham Terhune. We spent the long MLK weekend in the mountains and even saw some snow while we were there!

snow day!

BR post 6

BR post 2

February brought lots of snow and ice to us (complete with a few days off!). Some of my college friends came to town for a reception and benefit auction and Will and I finished our West Wing marathon just in time to get hooked on the third season of House of Cards.

DM 3

In March we experienced loss, love and gratitude. We celebrated Will’s birthday, were civil to each other at the Duke-UNC game, spent time with family, and my college friends made another return trip to the area to see this year’s Dance Marathon.

Easter 2

Duke Gardens 11

We visited my family in Virginia for Easter and returned to find our entire town covered in a coating of pollen. I baked the most exciting cake I have ever made for my birthday and spent time with good friends amidst the beautiful flowers.

Fun at the Freedom Hot Air Balloon Festival

Fun at the Freedom Hot Air Balloon Festival

In May I did some strawberry picking and went to a hot air balloon festival! It was so cool! We had a delicious Memorial Day brunch with my family where every dish failed in the most delicious way ;)

OBX-15

A beautiful weekend roaming DC with friends

A beautiful weekend roaming DC with friends

Will and I celebrated our one year anniversary in June by visiting the Outer Banks and soaking up some sun. We also sat in the front rows of the Train concert – a band special to us because of our first date at our high school “Drops of Jupiter”-themed homecoming dance. Pat Monahan took a selfie with us while he was singing and I didn’t regret the late concert at all when I was exhausted at work the next day.  I spent a weekend with many of my college roommates in DC, acting like a local and casually walking 10 miles a day in the dead of summer. It was so wonderful and I can’t wait for our next reunion.

A fun 4th of July weekend with family! Scotland-9Scotland-6Scotland-1Our trip to Scotland wouldn't have been complete without a hike up beautiful Arthur's SeatThe beautiful Highlands and Edinburgh, ScotlandWe loved exploring all of the nooks and crannies of London, England, especially the lions in Trafalgar Square

We traveled a lot in July. We took our annual trip to Georgia for the 4th of July and had tons of fun with Will’s family playing corn hole, cooking ribs, and watching the fireworks.  A few weeks later we headed off to an adventure across the pond in England and Scotland with my family and family friends. We spent two weeks in the UK and loved every minute of it. I look back at all of our pictures and just want to take another trip!

Brooks

The decadent Paris Brest pastry celebrates great randonneuring traditions and tastes absolutely delicious.

August was the month of big steps. I started in a new job and Will started his second year of medical school. We became immersed in French cycling knowledge as we virtually followed Will’s family in France and at the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race. We got to indulge in a bit of French culture ourselves with our own version of the Paris-Brest pastry.

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

September brought all things apple and Will and I soaked it in as we went apple picking with apple cider slushies in hand. But of course, after apple comes pumpkin, which I subsequently added to everything.

NYC 2015-16
NYC 2015-21

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!In October, we attended the International Bluegrass Festival, celebrated our engagement-iversary, and I ran a half marathon with my friends in New York (can we go back there too?). We took a trip to Smith Mountain Lake and Blacksburg to visit my sister for Virginia Tech’s homecoming game against Duke. Blacksburg knew it was fall and the colors were out in full force. The next weekend we took a trip to the State Farmers’ Market and celebrated the engagement of one of my good friends. Halloween brought zero trick-or-treaters to our home this year, so I was forced to make candy-filled blondie-brownies with the leftover chocolate ;)

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

Will and I celebrated eight years together in November! Eight! It certainly doesn’t seem like it has been that long since we started dating; it really does fly. Daylight savings time hit us again and the wonderful long days became so short. I had a lot going on at work in November and felt like we jumped straight into Thanksgiving (and Christmas!). We spent Thanksgiving in Virginia with family then wholeheartedly embraced the Christmas season!

The Christmas Parade always makes me excited and happy about the season to come :)

Pulling out a fancy Christmas outfit for festivities this year.  www.passthecookies.com

December was wonderful and busy and there wasn’t much sleep to go around. But here we are, finished with the month and the year. We ate delicious treats, hosted and attended many Christmas parties, baked up a storm, decorated our little tree and our little apartment, and watched the downtown Christmas parade. Will finished the main classroom portion of medical school and we went to Med School Prom to start off the Christmas break. We spent lots of time with all of our family and soaked in the meaning of Christmas and all of our blessings.

Reflecting on the year, I realize how lucky we are. We were able to travel together, see lots of friends and family, make new memories, celebrate accomplishments and have a great support system for the sad times. Here’s to the great year that 2015 was and the year we have ahead of us in 2016. Happy New Year! Happy 2016!

1 2