Tuesday, January 31, 2012

oh my Carolina...

I went to the SC Military Museum last year with my mom and Nanny as part of a DAR meeting. I wasn’t super excited to be going but I wanted to support my mom and Nanny so I went.

It was actually really awesome and our tour guide, Buddy, was fantastic. Buddy is the curator and those little old ladies held on to every word he said! I learned so many new things and had a few facts set straight. For example- our state flag…
Did you know that the crescent moon in the SC state flag was not originally meant to be a moon??? (I know hold your shock in! I will explain!) It actually originated from a piece of armor known as a gorget. British officers wore the gorget as a ceremonial ornament and it was placed over the heart area. The crescent symbol is also found on the front of the hats of SC troops in the Revolutionary War. Gorgets were eventually discontinued but the design of the crescent was still used as a unit symbol and inspired the design of the first unit flags.

Col. Moultrie was asked to designed the first flag in 1775. Here's what they got:

The palmetto wasn't added till 1861! The palmetto tree was added to symbolize Col. Moultrie’s heroic defense with the palmetto-log fort against the British.

I didn’t know that!!! Wasn't in my SC History class in school! I just assumed, with many others, that it was the moon (the Carolina moon shining down… type thing, ya know?).
There is also a Medal of Honor display inside the museum, showcasing MoH recipients from South Carolina. Photographs of the recipients, along with a brief biography, line the wall. I cannot tell you how humbling it was to stand there and be able to acknowledge these brave South Carolinians.
The museum has uniforms from different eras as well as a huge assortment of firearms and military vehicles. They have a section dedicated to Melvin Purvis and  Captain Peter Mason (sorry, it's a Wiki link. There isn't much on the internet about top-secret, covert, highly skilled assassins ya know?!).

Purvis, a SC Native and USC grad, was an FBI agent and was with the team that took down the infamous bank robber John Dillinger.

Mason was an assassin that literally had a license to kill issued to him by the British government. His life, experience, and knowledge were used as the inspiration for the 007 movies. They have some of his spy gear, including a spy camera (I have one that is similar!!), umbrella with a cap laced with a poisonous needle, and “trick” guns (a cigarette lighter that’s really a gun).

I'm telling you- it was super cool. You should check it out! It’s free (BUT leave a donation if you can! We need to preserve our history!) and if you are a South Carolinian you will enjoy the history lesson! It's on Bluff Road (kinda near the stadium).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

curly hair

If you know me you know I have super curly hair. Not sure where it came from but it’s there and it’s a mess some days (well most days)!
I wasn’t born with curly hair. It was sort of wavy but when I hit puberty it decided to have a mind of its own (which resulted in me wearing my hair in a pony tail most of 6th and 7th grade). It’s not super thick or anything just super curly.
Just so you can see (and because I love, love, love photos) here are some “examples” of my ringlets. The one on the right is me right before I cut off 4 inches. I would have ROCKED and been the envy of all in the 80s!!

I mean don’t get me wrong, most days I love my hair but there are some days where I want to rip my hair out. Every day is different. My hair never dries the same way twice even if I do the SAME EXACT routine. It’s really annoying.
My BIGGEST pet peeve about curly hair is this: If you google curly hair or search for hairstyles 95% of the time the images are of girls who don’t have NATURALLY curly hair. OR when you see those shampoo commercials that rave about how great their product is for curly hair and the model doesn’t have NATURALLY curly hair. To me, it is false advertising and it makes me sad because I know my hair won’t yield the same result.
Apparently, I am not alone! I found a group (thanks to Pinterest) called Curly Hair Problems. I found myself going, “oh my gosh!!!! So true” to just about every post.
Another thing I found, thanks to Pinterest, was the Curly Girl Method (here's the book). Basically, it’s eliminating shampoo from your showering routine. I was a little reluctant because I have literally had the SAME shower routine for 10+ years. Plus I don’t trust a lot of people or “things” with my curls. I have been doing it for about 3 weeks now and it’s not so bad! I think my hair is still in shock from getting a hair cut (first professional one in 3+ years) but I also think it’s liking it (yes. I referred to my hair as an it… don’t judge me! :) Hopefully it will also save me money on products!
Most people don’t understand curly hair. It’s ok, like I said, I didn’t either for a long time. For those that would like to know here are my “tips” or suggestions.
1.       Don’t touch someone’s curls without asking. I mean that’s common curiosity and I think it’s just weird when people start petting me but you would be amazed at how many people touch or ask to touch my hair. It’s cool if you want to pull a ringlet but ask.
2.       Don’t ever “rake” your fingers through curls. OH MY GOSH- biggest no-no. If someone rakes their fingers though curls it becomes this evil ball of frizz and puff. I have to put my hair in a pony tail if someone does it. Curls are so different then wavy or straight hair and you have no idea how annoying it is to style those suckers.
3.       Don’t assume that it will be a gigantic task to straighten. True- it is a pain and probably takes me and hour or so to straighten it (1. Because I’m a perfectionist, and 2. I have to take breaks because it gets hot or my arm starts hurting) but it isn’t impossible.  
4.       True, all I have to do is shower, throw in some mousse, and I am on my way – BUT my curls only last one day. I can’t sleep on them because when I wake up it won’t be pretty (God bless my husband ;).
5.       My hair is SUPER soft and healthy, it just doesn’t look that way because the mouse makes it look crunchy and the fly-aways make it look frizzy. Just because it looks like a big ole mess doesn’t mean it is.
6.  Please don’t remind me how lucky I am, or how much you wish you had curls, or how I’ll appreciate it when I’m older…. I get it. I love that my hair isn’t the “norm” but it’s still a pain. You complain about having no body and not hold curls, I complain about frizz and no control. Always want what you can’t hair. I know I am lucky :)

Now to my curly-haired ladies out there: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I, too, use a heap of conditioner, spend a ton of money on products, and pray that when it dries it looks presentable. It’s ok, just own it. We have way more options in terms of styling and hey, with the way things work, the 80s styles might make a comeback!

Monday, January 23, 2012

thank goodness for mommies and step-daddies!

Today, I noticed my business debit card, personal debit card, credit card, and Drivers License were not in my wallet. Yikes! I rarely use my DL because I rely on my military ID 95% of the time (a. because of discounts and b. because I look prettier in it) I was actually heading home for lunch when I noticed. I don’t know if they were stolen or lost but my military ID and other debit card were still in my wallet so I don’t know.

You are probably wondering why I have so many cards. Well here’s the breakdown:I have a business debit card – it’s for me and my business only- but I have a personal account attached to my business account for Vincent to access too. We have a joint checking and savings and that’s where the 3rd debit card comes in. We have one credit card. That is paid off… but we still have it.

Anyway- back to the point. I have had to freeze a credit card before but I didn’t know what to do if an ID was stolen. Mom and Doug to the rescue!!!!!! While I angrily sat at home trying to cancel/freeze my cards, contact every place I went this weekend, and tell my work what was going on, Mom and Doug were heading over to pick me up and take me to the DMV. Yes- I could have driven myself but I am very unlucky and I didn’t want to risk anything (and I had a headlight out! UGH) AND my mommy taught me better. ;)

Now the DMV on Shop Road isn’t my favorite place. I mean I doubt any government office is someone’s favorite place but I really don’t like the DMV on Shop Road. It was also 48 degrees and foggy out so that soured my mood. And go figure- I had to wait. I didn’t shower this morning so my hair is in a bun and all I can think about is the fact that I need a new ID photo and don’t have time to shower. Yea- real priorities right here!

Again, ANYWAY- I don’t know what I would do without my mom and Doug. I really don’t. They literally will drop everything to come to my rescue and ask for little in return. They are amazing (while I was at the DMV they went and replaced my headlight! I know amazing right?!)

I think my dad, knowing how hard his death was on my sister, mom, and me, sent Doug to fill a void that I never thought was fill-able. They are both sound voices of reason in my life and they are awesome together. Seriously- I think they could run this country if they wanted too (a lot better than the ones up there – not trying to start a riot in politics – I just think they could). Doug is opinionated (in a good way), funny as hell, super handy with his handy-man stuff, and without a shadow of doubt the friendliest person I have ever met. My mom is a little off-beat (“hey girls we are flying to Greece at the end of the month, I found a good deal!”), gives to no end, can talk to anyone and make them feel important, and never says no to a great pair of shoes. Again, they are amazing. (looky! You can see the amazing-ness in this photo!)
So today, amidst the chaotic events, I realized that even in the crazy times God finds a way for us to see the silver lining. Thank you for giving me an amazing mom and for giving me another dad :)

Oh and here is my new ID. Not too shabby for a chick with curly, unshowered hair in the rain ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

apple tarts

For the first year and a half of our marriage, Vincent cooked every meal. He would go to work at 5AM come home and cook us dinner. I wasn’t working. Now, it wasn’t because I can’t cook or read a recipe, it was just a rhythm we fell into and quite frankly he enjoyed cooking and was better at it. My mom and my nanny are phenomenal cooks so you think I would have picked up a few things along the way? Nope.

It wasn’t until 2009, when I was 19 years old, that I cleaned and cooked a piece of chicken. GROSS. To this day it still grosses me out.

Well after Vincent got hurt it was either go broke from eating out, get fat from eating frozen meals every day, or I suck it up and learn how to make some meals. Option C it was.

Now, I’m pretty good. I am no Rachel Ray or Emeril to say the least but considering where I started and where I am today, I’d say I’m pretty good. When I prepare a new dish, I typically coax my brother-in-law and sister over to be my guinea pigs. Typically they tell me it was good – not sure if it’s because they mean it, don’t want to hurt my feelings, or were just happy not to cook.

My repertoire of meals is growing every month and my ability to whip stuff up from nothing is pretty cool!

For example: The other night we had sweet potato mash, baked mozzarella zucchini bites on wheat crackers, and a tuna crostini (which is an Italian appetizer consisting of small slices of grilled or toasted bread and toppings). Why the weird combo? Well the sweet potatoes and zucchini were about to go bad and we needed to eat some kind of meat and tuna was easiest! I’m so crafty ;) Two years ago, I would have had Vincent pick up Chinese.

Last night I made apple tart/pie/cake bite thingys. I have no idea what to call them. It was a mixture between a crumb cake and apple pie. They were SO yummy. I got two thumbs up from my sister, bro-in-law, step-dad, mom, and husband so I figure I wasn’t the only person that enjoyed these little things.

I made 2 variations (one I used a pre-made graham cracker pie crust) but here is the one that was made completely from scratch (meaning it didn’t have the crumb topping that I bought at the store or the pre-made pie crust ;) Oh did I mention the dough was from scratch and I made it up as I went?! Whoot whoot! It’s super easy. I mean I made this up in like 5 minutes so it’s obviously pretty simple and based on what the average person has in the kitchen.

I wish I would have taken step by step photos but too late.

Apple Pie Tarts1 large apple (and I mean large. If you need to get 2 medium ones that’s cool too ;)1 – 1.5 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
(I used granulated because we were out of brown, totally trying brown sugar next time!)1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon of olive oil
Dash of baking powder
Cinnamon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Thinly slice the apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and set aside
3. Mix together flour, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, baking powder, and olive oil. If the dough it too sticky add more flour, if it’s too dry add more of one of the liquids (I added more oil to mine).
4. Take a golf ball size amount of dough and roll it out into a pretty little circle
(I actually used a Tupperware lid to smash mine down :)5. Flower/oil a cupcake tray. Place the circles into the tray (the same way you would place dough for a pie).6. Fill with apples, sprinkle more cinnamon sugar if desired, and a little bit of butter on top (add brown sugar too! I think that would be yummmmy!)7. Stick in the oven for 25-30 minutes
8. ENJOY! :)

This recipe yielded 6 tarts. Let me know if you try it and liked it too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

good for you

I want to tell you guys about a phone call I got last night. It was right about 5:30, I was just getting of work when my step-dad called. He said someone wanted to speak to me- which instantly made me nervous. The voice that came on the other line was that of my oh-so-awesome Nanny. You could tell by her tone she was excited and she asked me “Guess what I did today!?” My first reaction was to say, “I don’t know… you went sky diving?” (which for the record she totally understand my humor and would have gotten the joke). She then proceeded to ask me what was something she really needed? Again, me and my sarcastic butt thinks – Nanny you are 83 years-old what on earth do you need??

Then it hit me.

She bought herself a brand new, hot off the lot, Jeep Compass. And she was over the moon with excitement. And I was equally as excited for her. Who cares if buying a brand new car “isn’t a wise investment” or that is “looses value the minute you drive it off the lot?!” She is 83 years old and she wanted a new car. GOOD FOR HER. My grandma is finally living life without any worries. If she wants it she buys it. If she wants to do it she does.

You see, my Nanny has lived through the Great Depression, six wars (don’t quote me – I suck at math and history ;), a not-so-super marriage to a soldier with severe PTSD, and raised four kids (6 if you include my sister and me). She’s seen a lot. She’s been through struggles and gone without. And she is also the most selfless person I have ever met. She’s had a hard life.

When I say she is selfless I mean that in all its meaning. She will give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She took care of my grandfather full time up until last year (the only reason she put him in a nursing home was because she was having a hard time picking him up if he fell. She’s 83!!!! I have a hard time picking him up and I’m 60 years younger). She gives of her time and money and expects nothing in return. She is always there for me when I need to rant (God bless her for that) and she is always willing to hang out with me :)

She is interesting, confusing, and impressive all at once.

But the most remarkable thing about her is her faith. Through all the trials she has remained a avid believer. She has always told me to “get the devil off my shoulder” when I’m in a grouchy mood and she has always told me to “get on my knees and pray.” As a person that has struggled with their faith, it is beyond fascinating how faithful she is.

She has always told me that Psalms 121 was her favorite passage and it totally fits everything she believes.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

She is the most beautiful person I have ever met and I almost feel guilty for having such an amazing woman in my life. As if I don't deserve her or something but at the same time I know God put her in my life for a very specific reason and I am forever grateful. (BTW: Everyone should have someone like her in their lives and if they don’t they are sorely missing out.)

Anyway. She is picking me up tomorrow, in her new Jeep, and we are going to lunch. I’m excited to see her in her new car and I just might have to help her pick out a cute steering wheel cover or sticker to put on the back.

Monday, January 16, 2012

thank you Lord

Today, I am not going to complain about the weather or how tired I am. I am not going to go on a rant about how irritated I am with my body, house, or life in general. I am not going to make a to-do list or wish list. I am not going to wish my “situation” was different or want more than what I have. I am not going to cry, whine, or pout about anything in the past or in my present. I am not going to beg for change or crave more. I am not going to pray for more or less. I'm not going to ask for better health or more money. I am not going to ask for anything.

Today, I am and going to simply thank God for all I have. I am going to be grateful for the roof over my head and the clothes on my back. I am going to thank God for my amazing husband that puts up with all my lunacy. I am going to thank Him for the happiness and love my dogs give me. I am going to be thankful for the health of my loved ones. I am going to be appreciative of my situation and I am going to be understanding of the good and the bad in my life. I am going to praise God for the beautiful, chaotic, and sometimes stressful (but never any less blessed) life He has given me. Today I am saying thank you Lord for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Philippians 4:6

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I am SO ready for change it's not even funny. I want to re-do my house (much to Vincent's dismay). We have the most awkward layout EVER in this rental home and I want to pull my hair out! We have no seating for guest either! It's just so weird. Here is my wonderful photoshop attempt at showing you the awkwardness. The layout is just so weird. Thankfully it's a rental so I don't have to suffer for the rest of my life (yes, my OCD is so bad that I consider this torture).

The first plane is what we have now and the second is the one I want. We have a leather couch that I think needs to move to Vincent's office and I want to snab the awesome red couch that is in his office and put it in the den. I don't care where the two chairs and table go. Under these awesome plans is the couch I want.

NOW! Who wants to get my oh-so-lovely husband on board?! ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Who doesn’t love vintage jewelry?! I mean it’s timeless (no pun intended!) My nanny found some of my great-grandmother’s old jewelry and called me right up to tell me. You see, I have always has a mild obsession with the 20s, 30s, and 40s all my life but it’s manifested in a different light lately. I blame my totally awesome 83 year-old Nanny. It was fun looking at all these old pieces - clip-on earrings the size of your left hand, necklaces with globs and globs of pearls, and bracelets that weigh 2 pounds! I love it! Don’t care too much for that old, metal smell but for the name of fashion and all things awesome I will force myself to look (or smell!) past it!

Actually she gave me the three pieces pictured below! The fourth one was my mom's first diamond ring. I have literally been wearing it non-stop for 2 years. I love it!
Anyway- I have always loved, loved, loved necklaces (mostly because my ears are sensitive to almost all earrings) but I love them. I love chunky, dainty, old, new, bright, crazy, sparkly, and so on. I own an onyx, amethyst, pearl, camera, owl, sunglasses, and robot necklace (yup you read right, robot) – just to name a few.But lately I have been loving me some brooches. Yes- those big ole pins you where on your blouse. They are so fun! I will admit my collection is small but, much to Vincent’s dismay, it will be growing. So if you love vintage go get one! Help me bring these beauties back to life! And if you see one that is absolutely to die for- text me a picture and I will pay you for it!

Oh and speaking of vintage- don't you loveeeeee my new Oxfords?! I have been looking for a pair that was comfortable and affordable for over a year. These were $13. Sweet!

Monday, January 9, 2012

happy birthday, dad

I got a little sad today. Today would have been my dad’s 58th birthday. The last birthday I spent with him was 12 years ago and sadly I don’t remember anything about it.

It was probably low-key. Went to dinner with his parents and he probably let my sister or myself pick the place. Probably gave him a gift from “all of us” that my sister and I didn’t really help pick out. He would eat his steak (medium-well!) give his famous smirk when wished ‘happy birthday,’ and then head home to get ready for another Monday.

I’d like to think that he is in heaven having a kick a$$ birthday party. I know God wouldn’t skimp out on him- he can have his filet mignon instead of sirloin and God would actually pick out a gift for him instead of relying on someone else. I bet he has had 11 amazing birthdays in heaven and I doubt this one will be any different.

So instead of bawling my eyes out some more (which yes I have done), I’ve decided to make a list of things I would have gotten him for his birthday. I’ve picked out 12 things- one for each birthday he has celebrated in heaven. My “budget” obviously would have differed year to year but still, this is what I would want to get him if money (or means!) wasn’t an issue. It was bittersweet putting together this list but I hope you enjoy it dad.

1. iPhone 4S. If you knew my dad you knew he LOVED technology. Loved it! I know where I get it from and God bless Vincent for putting up with it. My dad always had the latest, coolest gizmo so it would only be fitting that he’d have an iPhone. If you knew my dad you also know he didn’t own a Mac- but I’m sure if he was still alive I would have converted him already ;) This is the case I would get for it:
2. His own private tour of Williams-Brice. My dad LOVED his Gamecocks! I think he would have loved to have had a chance to stand on the field. My brother-in-law and I had the opportunity in November to walk the field and it was awesome. I’d like to think he was right there with us enjoying it.

3. Private time in the Colonial Life Arena. He loved the Coliseum but I think he would love time to shoot hoops on the court. I'd invite his best friend, Tim, to come and would enjoy watching them soak up every second.

4. Nikon D5100. He loved taking photos. I would get him a D5100 because I obviously couldn’t let him one-up me ;) (and truthfully he could use my D700 anytime he wanted). He loved his manual 35mm Olympus but he was also a penny pincher and would see the value in having all things digital.

5. Dave Ramsey’s book Financial Peace. For the record- my dad was great with money, tight but great. He loved talking money. Even though he probably wouldn’t need any advice or help from Mr. Ramsey, I still think he would enjoy this book.

6. Dinner at Ruth Chris. He loved his steak. Just about every Sunday, after church, we would go to Ryan’s and he would get the SAME thing every time- sirloin, medium-well (yuck!) & sweet tea. I would love to take him out for a nice, yummy steak. Filet mignon on a 500 degree plate? Yes please! But please- cook it rare! ;)

7. A nice watch. Oh pricey, pricey! My dad had the same watch for as long as I can remember. It had 2 time zones on it for when he traveled so he would know what time it was in Columbia at all times. Time to upgrade! (Since this is hypothetical, it’s ok that I picked out the $1,500 one!).

8. Shag lessons. He had a bad knee but my mom has always said she’s like to learn and I think they would both enjoy it very much.

9. MacBook Air. He traveled a lot for business so having something small would probably be awesome. This is the case I would get him:

10. Cross stitch pattern. Man had some patience, let me tell you! He could sit there for hours and hours doing cross stitch! I think he would have enjoyed this pattern:

11. A father-daughter dance. For me and my sister. We never had one and I would love this very much.

12. A getaway for just him and my mom. Just to two of them, all inclusive resort type thing. I think they would have loved that :) Again, since this is what I would like to get him not what I can or can afford, I would go all out… can someone say Bora Bora!?

Happy Birthday Dad! Can’t wait to see you again.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I wasn’t much of a crier until this guy, who I call my husband, entered my life. He made me all girly and emotional! :( I wasn’t much of a crier because when my dad died a MAJOR wall was put up and Vincent was the one to tear it down. So when I cry because Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial comes on it’s his fault ;)

Many of you know that my husband was in a motorcycle accident in 2009. He is part of the statistic that reads “more service members are injured stateside each year than overseas.” What many of you don’t know is how unbelievably lucky he was. More like blessed…

Vincent and I watched Taken on New Year’s Eve. We saw the movie when it was in theatre but wanted to watch it again (Blue Ray babbbby!). If you have seen it (if not, you should) you’ll know that Liam Neeson plays the main character. Liam’s wife, Natasha Richardson, died of an “epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head” while on a sky trip in 2009. She hit her head but refused medical attention because she said she felt fine and was lucid. She died two days later. (She played the mother in the Lindsey Lohan version of the Parent Trap).

What you might not know is that Vincent sustained the same injury in his accident. Sure the nerve injury has been terrible but his traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been the most over-looked and misunderstood injury. After we found out about the bleeding, I kid you not, a nurse looked my dead in the eye and said, “Do you understand his injury?” – Uh. NO – “Well he is very lucky because 95% of people that come in here with that kind of injury leave here in a hurst.” Then he walked away. YOUR doctors discharged him yesterday and now you find out that it’s a much more severe injury and you have the audacity to tell me that he should have died?! As if it was my fault! I was stunned. He hit his head going 50 mph and you didn’t think closer monitoring was necessary?

Needless to say, I still get very heated when I talk about the care he received. I don't think that the doctors saved his life because truthfully they didn’t do anything but give him pain medication and monitor him. That isn’t me being ruthless… it’s true. He walked out of Navel with a sling. When he left Pitt he had a neck brace, sling, and cane. I think there was a much, much, much higher power responsible for his safety and healing.

OK! I’m done ranting.

Vincent is amazing. Truly. He has learned to manage his injury beautifully (as beautifully as one can). He has more motivation than ever before and his ambition sometimes is nauseating! You can’t tell he is hurt just looking at him. He has relentless, sharp pain (24/7!) in his left arm and his brain did take a beating. He forgets things (but that’s a man for ya ;), gets angry quickly over small things, and has a hard time forming new habits.

We both downplay what happened to him. I think it’s because he is doing so well that we forget that the odds were against him and he probably shouldn’t be here today. After watching Taken and being reminded of Natasha Richardson’s untimely death, I said a quick “thank you” prayer.

Thank you God for sending Vincent a guardian angel…

Picture time!
1. 3 weeks after his accident was Christmas. This was the first one for us as a married couple. It was wonderful.
2. The day his got discharged. He could finally open his eyes without getting a major headache.
3. I bought him that dog in the gift shop. It looked like Rocky and I knew Vincent was missing his baby. Best $10 I have ever spent.

For those who don’t know the ordeal here is a quick timeline (I love those timelines):

December 1, 2009-Vincent left for work and around 7:30 texted me telling me he was leaving Camp Lejeune and heading to Camp Johnson (about a 10 minute drive) for a class. Oh- did I mention it was a motorcycle safety class?? Yea- ironic.
-Ten till 8, I got a call. I ignored said call because it was EIGHT IN THE MORNING. Caller called back and I answered. What I heard next was like a movie- “Ma’am, I’m with Onslow County EMT. Your husband was in an accident. We are on route to the Naval Hospital.” I (stupidly) asked if the man was serious. He said that Vincent was conscious and asked if I wanted to speak to him. When I heard Vincent say “hey baby” my world crashed.
- I get to the Naval hospital around 8:20 AM. They really don’t know what the status of his injury is. I cannot tell you how unhelpful (and rude!) the staff was. I understand you have a high stress job but telling a spouse that you would prefer that a patient have a broken shoulder over a nerve injury – because a nerve injury is SO inconvenient for you – is not nice. Vincent’s Gunny was a God send. Gunny Page stayed with me for several hours while Vincent was in testing. He bought me lunch and kept my mind occupied. I am forever grateful to that man.
-He was transferred to ICU that night for observation because of his TBI.
December 2-3, 2009Vincent was transferred from ICU to the Multi-Service Ward. He was discharged because (I kid you not) he ate a BITE of chicken.December 4, 20099 AM - I took Vincent back to the ER. Two hours after we get back there a nurse finally sees him. MRI confirms he has bleeding in his brain and they transfer him to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, NC. That whole day was a blur.December 5-8, 2009He was under the wonderful care of people at Pitt.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Vincent and I have been married for 3.5 years. While it’s not 35 years it’s still pretty impressive given the “expectation.”

This post isn’t about marriage advice. It’s just our story.

Let me break it down for you:

- I “met” Vincent at a birthday party over the summer and we had an algebra class together Fall 2005. He was dating my best friends sister at the time so I figured by association we could be friends :). This picture was take in 2005. We didn't match on purpose- we were talking about the fact that we both had Superman shirts and about a month later we happen to wear them on the same day. Ironic.

-His girlfriend broke up in April 2006 and after he spent hours convincing me I wasn’t a rebound we started dating in May. Here we are ice skating in Florida over Thanksgiving. Yes- you read right- Florida.

- He enlisted in September 2006 (nope, I wasn’t happy but stuck with him) and in June 2007 he left for Parris Island. Here we are at his graduation. Longest 3 months ever...

-Vincent and I got engaged in September 2007. I was a senior in high school he was a Private in the Marine Corps. We got engaged unbeknownst to our families. Yea- not pretty. Don't recommend!

-In 2008, four days after I graduated high school we said “I do.” We were 18 and broke. Go figure.

-Six weeks after we got married, Vincent deployed to Iraq for 7 months.

- When he returned in February of 2009 everything was fine and dandy. We had some money saved up, were meeting new friends, and Vincent was doing well in school and with his unit. He picked up Corporal that summer.

-In December 2009 he was in a motorcycle accident that totally threw our lives out of whack. He couldn’t move his left shoulder and elbow and his career was over. This is a picture from our first Christmas as a married couple together (he was deployed the first one).
- In April 2010, I asked Vincent to marry me again and gave him a beautiful new ring (his old one was the cheapest I could buy- again I was in high school working at Outback…) He said yes (whew!) and his grandfather did the vow renewal.

-In September 2011 he was medically retired from the Marine Corps and we moved back to South Carolina.

Of the hundreds of couples we “met” while in the military, I would safely say, over 60% of them are already divorced. We had a lot working against us and we still do but we are making it work. We went through a deployment, death of a parent, major life-changing accident, and being relatively broke in the first 2 years of marriage alone.

We don’t have kids- which to this day shocks people. I think a lot of people thought I was pregnant in high school and that is why we got married so quick but it simply was not true. I was not and have not been pregnant. “Y’all have been married how long? No kids? Why?” – Well easy. We like to sleep and just aren’t ready. We are comfortable financially but not to the point where I think we should have kids. Plus, let’s face it, kids are kinda gross.

As cheese-mac-cheesy as it sounds, I still look at him and my heart flutters. When I see lovey-dovey scenes in movies, I always smile and think of how lucky I am to have him. Don’t get me wrong- a lot of days I feel like ringing his neck (and I usually do!) but at the end of the day I can say that as stupid, reckless, and irresponsible at it may have been to get married at 18, I still love the man I said “I do” too. We are happy, relatively debt-free, and live comfortably- not a lot of couples can say that.

So, when Vincent’s snoring wakes me in the middle of the night, I try to remember that I’m blessed to have him alive and healthy sleeping in the bed with me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

52 date nights

Vincent and I have a lot of things we want to accomplish in 2012 and one of them is have a date night at least once a week.

52 dates.


No excuses!

We both agreed that the date nights need to be free or semi-affordable. Here is the list I came up with and will be adding more to as I go. I borrowed some and made some up- either way I hope it inspires you to keep the romance alive in 2012!

Check out my post for date night ideas by price!

Date Nights
1. Sketch out a blueprint of your dream house
2. Make of list of must-haves in your dream home (
laundry chute, three car garage, spiral staircase, etc.)
3. Paint each other’s portrait
4. Deliver cupcakes, cookies, etc to friends, family, or nursing home
5. Plan our 5 year anniversary vacation
6. Make a map of places you have been and want to go. Make a list or places and sites to see.
7. Teach Vincent about photography and have him teach me something he likes
8. Build a fort and watch a movie
9. Watch home videos
10. Attend a festival
11. Go see a local band
12. Spa night!
13. Cookie bake-off!
14. Build out bucket list
(as a couple and as individuals)
15. Make a work of art for the house
16. Walk the River Walk
17. Visit the State Museum
(First Sunday of every month $1 admission. 1-5pm)
18. Paint your own coffee cup at a pottery place
19. Go to a Flea Market
20. Go bowling
21. Make a time capsule
22. Go to Carowinds
(outside budget but that’s ok!)
23. Go to a bar to watch a game
24. Volunteer at the local shelter
(homeless or animal! Everyone needs to help)
25. Have a water balloon fight with friends
26. Play board games
27. See a movie at the dollar theatre
28. Go to a wine tasting
29. Make a very specific list of things you love about each other
(i.e. I love when Vincent is talking to someone across the room and doesn’t know I am watching him. I think he is so gosh darn sexy!)
30. Grab the pups and go on a picnic
31. Go to a Goodwill or Thrift store and pick out one crazy item for the other person. $10 budget.
32. Get up early and go eat brunch somewhere nice
33. Historic walking tour
34. Watch stand-up comedy all night
35. Make a list of potential baby names
(for way in the future! It will be fun to see how much we change our minds).
36. Take our moms out for dinner (okay, I know this is over budget and includes others in our date night but I think it’s a great idea)
37. Make a 5, 10, 15 year “basic” plan (I say basic because life doesn’t always go as planned but it could be fun to dream it out!)
38. Take the dogs for a long walk
39. Make a gift for someone else. Just because.
40. Try a new work out!
41. Cook an exotic meal or cook something we have always wanted to try.
42. Have a picnic at the lake
43. Go through that junk drawer! Ew! I know! No fun- but it can be if you do it together!
44. Rearrange a room. Just for a change.
45. Play video games all night – Vincent will love this one! Especially with the new MLB game coming out.
46. Pajama party! Pop some popcorn, make a pallet, and watch a cheesy show or movie.
47. Go to a bar (during happy hour to save money!) and flirt mercilessly with your man! It’s sure to spark something ;)
48. Make a mix CD of songs that remind you of your time together. Not going to lie, one of the songs will be Eye of the Tiger because Vincent and I watched all the Rocky movies in the first few months of dating. Every time I hear it I smile.
49. Go for a long drive to nowhere.
50. Watch each other’s favorite movies from childhood. Vincent loves Angels in the Outfield and I have never seen it!
51. Have a rapping contest ;)
52. Do nothing but enjoy being together.

53. Mute your favorite TV show or movie and make up your own dialogue. :)
54. Go to a driving range. For about $6-10 you can buy a bucket of golf balls and borrow a driver. It's actually pretty fun!
55. Go to a shooting range. I don't know how much renting a gun cost and ammo but Vincent and I went the other day for under $20.
56. Go to an outdoor concert. During the summer, there are a lot of places that offer free music. Grab the pups, some drinks, a blanket, and enjoy the show!
57. Take a cooking class (may be outside the budget but could still be fun!)
58. Start a new exercise routine. Vincent and I started the Couch to 5K thing and have enjoyed doing it together. 
59. Go window shopping downtown (or in an area that has some fun unique shops!)
60. Head to a local park and catch a game! We have a baseball field 1/2 a mile from our house :)
61. Karaoke... need I say more?
62.  Break out some old board games - think Guess Who, Life, Candy Land, Connect Four, Mancala, Jenga, or Battleship
63. Who said date night had to be at night?! Get up and cook a big breakfast together, then climb back into bed to eat it!
64. Play 20 questions, or something like it. This blogger has a great list of questions! Or check out this one!
65. YouTube Date night - spend time watching funny vidoes! This couple even put together a list!
66. Break off the top of an egg, dump the insides, fill with paint, and take turns throwing at a canvas! Sound nuts? Check out this blog for more "info" ;)
67. Hire a photographer to take photos of the two of you! 

Reader submitted:

68. "Let's go fly a kite..." - grab your honey and head to the park to fly a kite :)
69. Release your inner child and break out a slip-n-slide!
70. Nerf gun war anyone?
71. Or how about a marshmallow war!?
72. Pinterest craft night! Sit down, find a craft you both would like to do and have at it!
73. Star gazing. Oh so romantic! Grab the wine too!!
74. People watch at the mall (or other location). Make up a back story for them - but be nice!
75. Take a dance class - swing, salsa, ballroom - just get up and get moving! 
76. Go Geocashing!
77. Go get a haircut together.
78. Go for a walk in the rain, sans the umbrella ;)
79. Head to the Farmer's Market and pick out your dinner. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

So many options how to do you pick!? Especially when you are as indecisive as Vincent and I are!

Guys! Here is a list from fellow blogger, Elliot, for you to plan dates! Check him out!

Check out Jennifer at Life in the Green House’s  Date Night Jar! She color coordinated the dates based on price, planning time, and stay-in-stay-out factors.

Also,  Ana from Ana’s Area had a great idea – write them all down and throw them in a jar and pull one out!

Don't forget to follow me!
And please "like" me ;)

I decided to add a newer “image” for easy pinning since the list keeps growing. :)

Photo credit Kathleen Amelia (www.kathleenamelia.com)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

why "ML"

Why “ML?” Well the short answer is that I have a double first name and sometimes get lazy so I shorten Mary Louise to ML sometimes. I also have a 12 letter last name that 98% of people can’t pronounce. So ML is just easier.

I tried to come up with a witty title. I sat there and thought, “if I wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?” I actually came up with a great list. Wanna hear?

- Life as Mrs. D (didn’t want to label myself as just a wife, I am more than that!)
- Enough
(in association with always feeling like I’m not good enough, funny enough, pretty enough- trying to remind myself that I am enough…)
- Through the Lens
(again. I love photography but I am more than a photographer. Also very cliché)
- Curly Hair Diary
(just to play on my sometimes obnoxious curly hair)
- Let’s Face it, I’m Awesome
(I’m also super sarcastic and thought that may be lost if I just went with that for a title ;)
- Married at 18
(I would NEVER use this but it seems to fascinate people that we got married at 18 and don’t have kids)
- Onyx in a Diamond World (ah how poetic of me! ;)

Ok. I’m done. But no really- the reason I went with ML is because it’s me. All my life I have been someone’s someone (Donna’s daughter, Claire’s sister, Vincent’s wife). I have never really gotten to reinvent myself. There are days where I wish I could just grab my husband, dogs, and stuff and move to a different country just to have a fresh start. Realistically I never will. I love my family way too much to “run away” like that but I’m just saying it would be nice for people to know the 22 year-old me and not revert to the 6 year-old me. I have nothing in my past to hide but it does get redundant after a while when you hear, “my you have grown up! Last time I saw you, you were **lowers hands to signal that I was the size of a small garden gnome** this tall!”

So to you, readers, that don’t know me- if you keep reading, you will. To those that do- I’m still the small girl who spoke too incredibly loud with gawky braces- I’m just a little older and with better things to say ;)

Right now this blog is ML. We will see how long it takes for me to get bored of that...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

let's review, shall we?

Welp here is 2012. Like most people I started thinking about all that happened in the last year and to be real it wasn't a mind-blowing year. Don't get me wrong- amazing things happened to us and I am grateful for where we are but I can't say that 2011 was mind-blowing.

So, in review, the major:
Celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary!

Moved from our first home in Jacksonville back to Columbia. Vincent was medically retired.

Said goodbye to two of my closest girlfriends when their husband's time in the Corps ended

Went to Branson, MO & Eureka Springs for my bestie's wedding

Got my grandpa to church!

Took Nanny to Williamsburg, VA

Welcomed James home from Afghanistan. Was a few minutes late because two days before Osama was killed (yay!) so base security was crazy.Vincent went to see the Braves at Spring Training

Sat in the first row at a Braves game!
I know that God has some amazing plans for us in 2012 and I can't wait! Vincent is going back to FL for Spring Training and I get to go to Iowa and Missouri to see my besties in May. Rocky and Maddi will be turning 4 and we will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. We are in SC and get to see our families more. I have been enjoying my business but am taking some time off to re-define my style and rekindle my love for the art. We are looking for a home church and praying for guidance in this crazy thing called life.

I hope y'all had a great 2011 and that 2012 will bring more blessings!