Sparrow in the Tree Top
Find your song and sing it
November 20, 2014

piggy

I’m not sure how to just start blogging again after being away for so long. Today when I saw a shiny glimmer in my eye while waiting for the blank computer screen to kick-in, I knew that maybe I was interested again – in what precisely I’m not sure, but I thought to myself that I could write something and that maybe alas, Sparrow in the Treetop was coming back from the dead.

At first I cautioned myself that I should really sit down and think about this… you know, make it good and well thought out, something beautifully written and proof-read… poignant and to the point (which generally I compare myself to other well-written blogs and I think… “Why don’t I come across more polished like they do?”) But after some deliberation and note writing while sitting jammed against a foggy window on the bus, I decided that there’s nothing deep about this. Blogging just hasn’t “been” me for a little while now. I wasn’t feeling the benefit or the inspiration. Might I just say for the record that I absolutely hate writing this sort of post? I know there’s a pattern of it buried deep in the recesses of these pages; diligent planning and plotting and blog-world networking and then, without warning, I lose interest. This generally followed by the “But I promise, I’ll Change. I’ll be world’s number one blogger!” (To whom I’m making this promise other then myself, I’m not sure, but trust me, it’s out there.) It drives me crazy that I’m not a “Follow-Through” person. That I don’t have a sponsored network, that I’m just spinning my wheels on the internet. If I get too “Bloggy” (ie. DIY, Cook this! Read That! Wear this!) I’m self-conscious that I’m not writing enough “Real” content… and if I write “Real” content (quotations marks because let’s be honest, what content on the internet is “real” anyway?) I feel like an over-sharer and totally vulnerable. Anyway, the blogging medium is intense. And I haven’t felt intense lately… pretty much the opposite (more on that if I decide to write “On Why I Stopped Blogging Part 2″!) and hence the radio silence. But I do miss it. And I miss just using this space to think through things and catalogue some of the moments. So that’s my foray into this blog thing again. I think I’m growing up and I’m looking into this space and I’m wondering if it still fits me as a person. I’d like it to grow with me… I just have to figure out how to go about translating that into HTML :)

Anyway. If you’re the people I’ve gotten to know over the past few years… what is NEW? What has been happening? And what have I missed!?

ps. Gratuitous micro pig because…. LOOK AT THAT SNOUT. And also there are no pictures that capture… “blog absence.”

October 10, 2014

fall collage

Staying at home feels so good in the Fall. All of a sudden my house is cozy again. In the summer I’m like, “Let’s do stuff! Let’s go to every concert and eat random take-out food on the curb.” In the Fall I’m like, I want grilled cheese with ketchup, a blanket over my legs, and I’m just going to sit here on this couch and read a book I’ve already read at least 10 times.”

To me that’s comfort. And there’s something about the Fall that makes me not afraid to just seize the opportunity to bask in it.

It’s Thanks-giving weekend!! And you know what that means. I’ll be dragging my extra-stretchy yoga pants out of winter storage and I anticipate putting them on at 5:30 pm this evening – I anticipate someone will probably have to pry them off me on Tuesday morning so I don’t end up wearing them to work.

What are some of your favourite comfort things around your home? I’m in love with cooking in our new cheery yellow pots – an amazing wedding present! Also apples, which are my hometown symbol (actually), cooking with the iPod blasting in our kitchen. And of course Cliff. Anything that reminds me of him like that cute note pad from Hatley I got at Indigo earlier this week.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Weekending!

October 8, 2014

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Something miraculous happened today, I sat down to look at real estate listings and suddenly I could see the positives in them again. Let me explain, just yesterday, nearly every single house I looked at made me think “There are no nice houses left in the world.” Today, the word “potential” has somehow crept back into my vocabulary. “That kitchen has potential.” I actually said that. Progress!

So in keeping-on rolling with the flow of positivity, I decided to make a wish list of things I’d like to see in our new place. I was surprised how much it helped. I think when you’re looking at real estate, you obviously have to go into it with budget limitations and a general location, but beyond that, you need to be able to squint your eyes a little, and imagine the way your own personality could put a stamp on it.

Oh funny story! One time when visiting at a friend’s house, we were introduced to a couple. We mentioned we’d just bought a house (this was a few years ago). “Where in the city is it?” they asked us. We told them. To which the woman replied. “Oh. I didn’t know there were any new builds in that area.”

“There aren’t,” I told her.

“Oh.” she said. “It’s a re-sale?

She made it sound dirty. Like an old cardboard box. The house was built in 2004 for crying out loud!

Anyway, the lesson here is, not everything has to be new. There are SO many new developments in our city. And they’re gorgeous to look through. But generally they’re over-priced (for our budget), they have a back-yard the size of a postage stamp, and you can speak to your neighbours through the window while your on the toilet. It’s just not my bag. And I think I lost sight of this in all the jumbled disappointment on missing out on that house we wanted because it was newer (read: not brand-new) but it still felt shiny and “upgraded.” Obviously there are perks to buying a new home in a brand-new neighbourhood, and if I was in a different place in life, I can’t say we wouldn’t jump at a chance to own and design our own brand new place. But for now, the reality is we’d like to keep a tight budget in mind, so looking at real-estate listings means we also have to keep an open mind. As in: P-o-t-e-n-t-i-a-l. Are the nuts and bolts and structure of the house sound? Are the windows new? Furnace? Once you’ve weighed on the bigger ticket items, the rest is gravy. And quite honestly, the fun stuff. Hard work, yes. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of tinkering around and making it our own.

When I squint my eyes, here are some of the things I’d like to see if we can work into the renovation plans for our new place:

Built-in bookshelves:
built in bookshelves

Source: This Old House

We’ve been through a lot of listings of older homes that have similar long style family-rooms on the main floor with a centre-piece fireplace. Built in book-shelves have always been my dream. So generally speaking when I’m looking at a room, I’m trying to picture how I can fit built-in’s into the design.

Basement Plans

basement

Source: Homestories

barndoor

Source: Etsy

You know what the good thing about a “re-sale” is? A lot of the time, basements have been finished. They’re the projects owners left until they’d owned the house for 10 years or more, or because they needed extra space for their growing family. I love this because the guy who appraised our house when we bought it a few years ago told us that actually, a finished basement costs a lot to install (especially one with a bathroom) but in the end, it doesn’t raise your property value that much. Plus insurers don’t like finished basements because generally, that’s the room you have to pay out on due to flooding. I love these two ideas above because they’re just about a bit of muscle, but not a lot of savings, especially if the basement already has most of the work taken care of.

Staircase:

staircase

Source: Country House and Garden

This is a perfect example of what you can un-earth in an old house. I’ve seen this beautiful stair-case in it’s ugly formation, at least in 20 different houses throughout my searching. Maybe they wouldn’t all have that gorgeous window, but you can imagine how far a little paint and a sandpaper can go when you’re imagining re-finishing the stairs in your house. I love this one because it blends the white with the grey/dark tones. It fits in with the feel and age of the house.

Window-Seat:

window seat

Source: Decoist

I think you already know how I feel about built-ins. Combine it with some natural light and a cozy nook? I could get lost for hours. I think a window-seat is a forgotten element of houses. I actually love watching out windows and it’s a great use of space that’s around your window. Not every house would have a landing like this, but again, you’d be surprised when you start looking how many homes would have the potential for a perfect little seat like this one.

If you’re looking for a new-to-you place, I hope this has been helpful. If you’re looking to love the home you’re in, I hope you are inspired! I know just looking through ideas has got me all excited for upcoming projects. Which is a good thing because a few days ago I was (already) ready to throw the towel in on our house search!!

This is Day 8 of Write 31 Days! Look at me go!!

October 7, 2014

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Did I mention this before? We made it to the Muir Woods National Monument when we were in San Francisco. So beautiful. So, So beautiful. I’ve never seen trees so tall (and I’d love to go back to California someday and take another tour because apparently there are even taller, wider trees? It seems incomprehensible. It must just blow your mind away.)

So yes. Muir Woods was absolutely breathtaking. Breathtaking and crawling with tourists who, like me, thought the same thing. Fair enough – I guess we’ve all got a right to be there. We tried our hardest to find the least chosen path, and managed to close our eyes and pretend like we were the only ones around. It worked. Being in a forest is magical. There’s this cushioning of sound. Things are softer. And it smelled perfect. I love trees. (Have I mentioned the time when I was 10 and I tore a piece out of the Hydro company who had been assigned the job of pruning the maples on my parents front yard? I did. I was an angry 65 year-old woman in a 10 year-old’s body.)

It made me happy to be there in those woods. I remember thinking “Wow. I’m really content right now.” And it wasn’t just because we were on our honeymoon. It’s something about those ancient trees that don’t give a damn. You could throw fire at them and they’re like “We’ve got this.” (true story, they’re fire retardant, naturally. Nature; Amazing.) They just go with the flow and come out on the other side of a blazing inferno, standing tall and proud and completely alive. And I put it all together the other day when I read this article on a recent study proving that hiking makes you happier and reduces stress. Trees are your friend, they just want to help out.

So I decided I needed to take a “burl” home from the gift shop . A burl is a knot of wood from one of the sequoia trees, and if you place it in a bit of water it starts to grow saplings! Clearly I just had to have it. But then I had a little freak-out when we were packing to come back home and I remembered that my burl was “organic” material, and wanting to avoid any customs issues, I left it in my hotel room. It was such a sad day. But I like to think someone found my burl and they’re enjoying it in my place.

California, I’ll be back for you and next time I’m not returning without a burl!

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This makes Day 6 for my 31 Days Blogging Challenge. I’m wholly aware that these trees are neither about house nor home. I’m a rebel and breaking all the rules!

October 6, 2014

Since we put our house on the market, things have been a lot more tidy around here. I mean, it’s not like we’re terribly messy people… we’re just a …. cluttered and busy sort of couple. Both of us seem to accumulate a large assortment of papers and knick-nacks throughout the course of the week – you know the ones that tend to pile up on the edge of the kitchen counter and you’re never quite sure what to do with them? And so while I’ve been super bummed since last week when we found out someone else bought the house we wanted, Monday mornings have been increasingly more coorindated since we’ve been having an Open House on Sundays. Yay for forced house clean-up!!

openhouseCollage

Did I mention we’re selling the house ourselves? As in no real estate agent? Yes that’s what happened. We just bit the bullet and listed it privately so we find ourselves DIYing in Real Estate this month! Kind of exciting and thrilling and nerve wracking all at the same time. We even put together our own listing for the internets! Finally bloggy pictures coming in handy outside the blog world!! :)

Last weekend I didn’t take part in the open house – Mike did it on his own. This weekend however I showed up a bit early, just as about three last minute couples were making their way through our place so I got to play real estate agent too. It’s funny, when you start to “sell” your house to other people, you start to remember all the good things about it that you fell in love with in the first place. We really love our location, the natural light, and the open airy feeling in our house. And now, since we’re keeping it more or less “staged” for people to look through, I’m particularly smitten with it again. It’s just too bad… I never thought I’d have to go to the extreme of selling the house to keep it in such ship shape ;)

I think I mentioned it once or twice last week – we had really set our sights on a particular place, and I’m afraid we’re having a hard time diving back onto the “house dating scene.” (That’s what we’ve been calling it – we feel like we were dumped by a house, and nothing seems to add up. We keep telling each other there are “lots of other fish in the sea”, but nothing seems to compare.) I think we have to give ourselves some healing time before we’re on the scene full throttle again – but we are feeling a bit frantic because we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where our place sells and we haven’t found “the one.” So we’ve been spending a lot of spare time scanning the new real estate listings, hoping, praying, that special somewhere will pop up before anything happens on our end and we’re forced to move! Please cross all your fingers and toes that the “right one” comes along.

Today I’m linking up with Oak and Oats so if you’re here for the first time, welcome! I’m so happy you’re here. It’s perfect timing since I just cleaned house yesterday and the week is getting off to a tidy start. I found Elizabeth’s blog sometime last spring and I’ve totally been smitten’ with this girl’s positive attitude & style. She hosts this awesome link-up everything week – a great place to meet new friends! And let me tell you – when you’re going through life changes, ups and downs (and back again) that’s when you realize how great it is to meet and connect with people throughout the blog world!  So I hope you’ll join us!
RULES!!!!!

1. Link up ANY POST from last week!2. Make sure it is a POST and not your BLOG URL. We love your blog but we want you to share a post.

3. Click on one, two, three, or more posts and LEAVE ENCOURAGING COMMENTS. The whole point of this is to find new blogs, make new friends, and all that good stuff! You MUST read the post right before yours and comment.

4. Follow Oak + Oats and Sparrow in the Tree Top

   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   
October 3, 2014

I’m still not quite over the loss of what I’ve annoyingly been referring to as our “dream house.” And it’s in times like these when cliches like “Home is where the Heart is” really tend to grate on my nerves. I’ve been trying to give myself pep-talks of the sort but the only answer I have coming from the little devilish real-estate agent on my shoulder is: Home is NOT where the heart is. Home is the covered-porch-and-blue-shake-cedar-siding that you are no longer getting.

Except I know that’s not true and I’m just being a spoiled brat. There will certainly be other houses. And home absolutely is where the heart is. It’s also where your jogging pants are, and where your tooth brush is. And maybe there are magazines of your preference next to the toilet. That’s home.

It’s also the furriest face that is always excited to see us when we get in the door after work.

And again I’m humbled by the way Cliff reminds me that it’s really just as simple as being all together in a pile.

Happy Weekend-ing! I hope your’s involves a similar sort of hybrid pile :)

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This is the third day of the 31 Day Blog Challenge I’m taking part in.

October 2, 2014

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It’s the last thing I want to think about let alone write about today. But I’m nothing if not stubborn and I refuse to avoid a subject on the second day I’m supposed to be blogging about it. And so, without further ado, I bring you the 31 Day Blog Challenge: Day two: The Trials and Tribulations of House Hunting.

I’ll bring you up to speed on life lately. Last week Mike and I found a house and fell in love with it. The ensuing 72 hours were spent listing our own house and putting in an offer on the one we had our hearts set on, an offer that was, as of yesterday, declined. Another buyer rushed in at the last minute and out-bid us. There wasn’t much we could do considering we had just listed our own place. And isn’t that the way it often goes? The cold hard truth of real estate? Timing is everything.

And as I was falling in love with the house that would never be ours, planning a life between four walls that wasn’t mine to plan, it occurred to me that it was terribly foolish to fall in love at first sight. Because it’s hard when it doesn’t work out. Tomorrow it will be less hard, but since it happened yesterday, it’s still smites a little bit.

I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that buying a home is a great big game that doesn’t go easy on the day dream believers amongst us. If you are looking for a new home, maybe you’re in a similar position:  you might not always get what you want (which not coincidently has been the tune I’ve been humming since yesterday at 4:30 pm). So I know the first rule of real estate to be this: keep an open mind because it’s more then likely you’ll have to change it once or twice.

 Pictured above: After we got the keys to our first home together. 

 

 

October 1, 2014

home

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Mostly because life has been busy, and also because my charger for my computer was broken and finally kicked the can for good a few weeks ago. I miss writing. I miss it because usually when I’m writing regularly it means I’ve got some semblance of a routine in my life. I looked back at what I’ve had time to process and write about these past few months and it’s not surprisingly been very surface level.  Obviously we’ve had some big life changes and I’m aware that life can’t always be the predictable 9-5, weekends at home, etc. etc. (I’m aware that might sound boring). But to be honest, right now to me that sounds glorious.

“When it rains it pours” I believe is the saying they use when you find yourself in life season where it’s one thing after another. Do you like these situations? Are you the kind of person who embraces chaos? Or are you like me and you just want to watch Harry Potter and avoid all the change going on around you?

Amongst the laundry list, Mike and I decided we’d like to move! Yay! Except, wait, really? Why, when in the midst of a whirling dervish of life events, did we decide to further uproot ourselves? I can’t explain it, I don’t have the answer, and yes sometimes we’ve be known to make impulsive decisions (that’s why we work well together :)) but even for us this hits on the extreme end of things. I mean… we’ve been married for just over a month? (Wow that really just hit home as I typed it..)

But I do know it just felt right. It felt right that now would be the time to start looking for a new house. Sometimes decisions are hard. Sometimes you belabour them forever and ask a million people for their opinion on what you should do. And then other times, you just feel that current picking you up and moving you in a direction you already knew you were headed.

So? What am I getting at? Separately from all of this house business and other stuff, I heard about 31 days, a month long topical blogging challenge initiated by The Nester. It felt like a fire I needed to start writing my life again. Within the 31 day challenge, there are a bunch of different topics to choose from, but since October is starting as the month of all things House and Home, it seemed an absolutely perfect theme to pursue. Real estate is a roller coaster; I hate the limbo it puts you in. To be honest, I’m not sure where I’m even supposed to take this. But for some reason Home is on my heart a lot lately so that’s what I’m going to write about.

 

September 29, 2014

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(this was much harder to adhere to then you would assume ^^^)

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Fanciest I’ve ever felt in my life walking through this lobby. ^^sanfranciscohoneymoonWe did *not* proceed to jump on the bed after this ^^

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I err on the side of safety.

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These are some of the things I want to remember about our honeymoon:

We arrived in San Francisco without my luggage. We’d traveled through Phoenix and I had thought it important to ask the United Airlines hostess at the boarding gate to check and see our luggage had made it from our smaller flight in the short window of time we’d had since arriving in the Sunny city with a very air-conditioned airport.

“Why wouldn’t it have made it?” She asked me with that special rhetorical tone that makes you want to just reply with overly sarcastically sweetness.

But I didn’t. Because bag lady has bag power.  I just handed over my bag tag and waited for her to tell me that it was “with the other bags on the runway, waiting to be loaded.”

For the record, It didn’t make it. We were on the biggest airplane I’d ever been on. It probably had over 200 passengers. And for the record my bag was the only bag that did not make it onto the plane in Phoenix. Mike’s did. Mine didn’t.  We came from the same place.

I don’t want to be the first one to point out that I think I was sabotaged, but the odds are against me in this situation.  Lesson number one: Don’t tick United Airlines employees off.

Now. Here’s the part that I want to remember.

The honey-ness of the moon isn’t contingent upon the baggage. Life lessons from a newlywed. I whined for approximately 35 minutes, Decided I’d just go shopping and told the lady at the check in desk at Hotel Omni on California drive in downtown San Francisco that “don’t you know, we’re on our honeymoon and United Airlines is out to get me. However they’ve promised to drop it off, even if it arrives in the middle of the night. Would you be so kind as to send it up to the hotel room of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly.”

Because when do you let a chance slide to mention that you’re newlywed? And of course I slipped the Mr. and Mrs. in for good measure.

When we got back from dinner there was a chilled bottle of champagne on the TV stand!

And Mike for the first time in his life claims

“I’m actually impressed with the service in a hotel.”

It wasn’t the last time he said it during the trip in which every single thing went perfectly… above and beyond so. Because that’s how God balances it out if you’re willing to make the best of a situation wherein you have no clean underwear.

That night, fully bubbly from champagne and ceviche (we went to this restaurant here where the freshness was actually to die for) I woke up at 3 am because the bed was shaking.

Too much room for too many honeymoon jokes…. the comedic crassnes of the situation did not escape me.

Alas, it was just me awake as I came to realize we were in the middle of an earthquake. That’s right, Mike slept through the Bay area’s largest earthquake since the 1980’s. And me. I just chose to pretend it wasn’t happening on the basis of “This probably happens all the time in California.”

So our time in that beautiful foggy-morning city started with an earthquake. From there we ended up at the Fairmont San Fransico where we were blown away with the beauty and history of the building and we were honeymoon-upgraded to the fanciest suite I’ve ever been in, in my life. A corner room with more champagne, this time accompanied by strawberries and room-service.

And did you know, in the basement of this amazing hotel, is the most real-life-like James Bond bar you’ll ever step foot in? It’s true. Like a secret club, the guy who built the bar around the hotel’s original swimming pool worked for movie sets. You step into the place and you feel like you’ve gone back in time and you’re part of an elite club. It had better atmosphere then the snooty speak-easy we managed to finagle ourselves into in NYC. The band floated on the pool! There was a “rain shower” (with real water) at one point! You don’t make this stuff up people. It was magical.

And I mentioned this already but we were on the Kiss Cam at the Giants game. So yea. It was a pretty memorable trip.

PS. San Francisco is harder to spell then I imagined.

 

September 12, 2014

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We were at dinner tonight and someone made reference to an event that happened at the beginning of August. “Oh yea. That was before we got married,” I said.

“There was a time before we were married?” Mike said back.

It was meant as a joke of course. It hasn’t even been a month yet. But it’s just been such a whirlwind time in our lives. I’m in love with this time in our lives.

So. I just have to say for the the record. We planned our own entire wedding this summer – and much of the spring before that. And when I say we planned it I mean, every single detail, I mulled over. I don’t mean “it was all me,” I just mean: wow. We planned a wedding. And that’s something I’m never gonna downplay because as it turns out – it’s kinda a big deal to pull it off. Major event planning isn’t just something you do. I mean, I thought about the big stuff – the small details, the food details. All the details. I laboured over colours and baskets and vases and supplies from craft stores. I made about 100 trips to Michaels and 50 more to Dollarama. It was a bit *much* at times. I mean I’ll just come clean and fully admit to the complete meltdown I suffered in Ikea the wednesday before we got married. A vendor (who shall remain nameless because they are like Voldemort to me) completely left me high and dry. I’d fallen in love with these mercury glass candle holders and finally in May after months of searching, I found them for rent from a wedding decor supplier in the city. Obviously they fell through at the final hour, hence Mike standing there watching helplessly as I’m trying to lay out a mock-table set up in the candle and votive section of Ikea. Clearly nothing (at that moment) would be as good as the mercury glass I’d had my heart set on… which is why I was convinced that nothing in my life had ever gone right – and it all culminated in that moment in which I was being “forced” to purchase – gasp – Ikea votives that as I explained to Mike through tears “Everyone has.”

He was just looking at me like I might break – or worse, smash the votive I was holding in that candle corner all over the concrete basement Ikea floor. It took about 45 minutes before I came around. But that’s the one good thing about me. Once I make my mind up to get on with it, I do just that.

So we left that giant yellow and blue box, and I was smiling and I felt like basically there was nothing in the world that could wreck our wedding day. I was fairly certain it was going to be the best day of my life, mercury glass or no mercury glass. And that was my melt down moment in the time before we were married. I know it existed. It’s just slipping further and further into my memory at this point. The good stuff that’s left behind looks a bit like this:

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Just two crazy kids about to say: this is us, forever, amen.wedding1

I posted a lot of my DIY project on my Instagram throughout the summer. I would normally say I have no crafty thumb, but I was genuinely happy with how things came together!DSC_0142 DSC_0148 DSC_0155 DSC_0145

My family and all the work they did. My daddy strung and lit up my sister’s back-yard. It was the prettiest sight. DSC_0164

This picture kills me every time I look at it. “What do you mean stressed? No. I’m not stressed. I’m fine.”

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Note the blue Ikea votives – the source of my pre-wedding melt-down. ^^DSC_0169

These girls. Florists when you want them to be. Best of friends. And family :)

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And then before we knew it, it was the day of:weddingfamily treewedding7wedding3

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^^ This was the morning of the wedding. Mike wrote me a “tiny binder” of big promises. It was pretty amazing.wedding6 wedding9 wedding10 wedding11 wedding14 wedding12 wedding15 wedding18 wedding16 wedding17 wedding30 wedding31 wedding34 wedding35 wedding36

I love, love, love looking at these pictures. They remind me of how excited I was. About how crazy beautiful this summer was. We were just so lucky to be supported by so many people. We couldn’t have even come close to this day without their love and support. It was such an amazing, amazing day. More to follow!!wedding50

And this was a picture of the yard the weekend before the wedding ^^ That perfect summer lighting that just said in so many ways: you guys can be crazy and young and in love forever. xoxo

 

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