Friday, December 23

ohh la la.

My wonderful & charming husband recently surprised me with a romantic 3-day getaway to Ashville, North Carolina. He planned the whole getaway a couple months ago and had me block the dates out in my schedule. When we were going was all I knew. The rest was a surprise! (I absolutely love surprises---i have a great man.)
We stayed at the Doubletree Biltmore Hotel right in downtown Ashville, in a luxurious room. When we arrived at the hotel the lobby was decorated with beautiful festive Christmas decorations, two huge Christmas trees and a warm, cozy, crackling firplace. It was so wonderful & welcoming. I thought for sure this was my surprise but unbeknown to me, it was only part of my surprise. There was much more to it!

Ben planned lunch, a wine tasting and a candlelight tour  for us at the Blitmore Estate. We got to spend the whole afternoon at the gorgeous Estate (8,000 acres) and the weather couldn't of been any more perfect than it was that day. We toured the winery, the gardens, the farm and all the land on the estate. And then we had our candlelit tour of the Blitmore home that evening. The entire house was decked out with beautiful & eleborate Christmas trees and Christmas decorations and there were performers all throughtout the home singing Christmas Carols and playing instruments. It was so beautiful. Ben and I had a blast there!
The next day was a planned surprise, too!! Ben and I slept in late then got ready and went downtown for lunch. We went to a quaint, little French restaurant called Creperie Bouchon. The resturant is famous for their delicious crapes. It was yummy! At the restaurant Ben told me what my surprise for that evening was--- tickets for The Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker!! I was so excited. I had never seen The Nutcracker Ballet and had been wanting to see it for years. And even better, It was The Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker with a full Russian cast that was on tour in the United States. It was such a wonderful night!
I am so thankful for my wondeful husband for planning such a fun & romantic getaway filled with incredible memories of our first Christmas together!
the winery at the Biltmore

in the gardens

our hotel lobby 

our hotel lobby 

driving to The Nutcracker Ballet

Tuesday, December 6

catching up..

It's been a while since my last post. I've found it very difficult to upload photos & blog regularly while being out of town. I will work on that!

recap of last month includes...
1.) girls shopping weekend in pigeon forge 

2.) thanksgiving break in florida
turkey fry!

3.) tay(my baby brother) & kelly are engaged !!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16

home sweet home in f l o r i d a!!

We're here!!
Ben & I began our road trip home to my parents house from Knoxville yesterday afternoon and finally made it to Orlando just shy of midnight. Once you've moved away from home, "coming home" is always soo soo wonderfully sweet! We will spend Thanksgiving here, plus 11 other days here! Vacation hasn't sounded this sweet in a while. 

Tuesday, November 8

ohhhhhh, happy day.

happy birthday to you. 
happy birthday to you.
happy birthday DEAR HOT HUSBAND. 
happy birthday to you. 

this post is for my man. today he is a big boy at the full age of t w e n t y - f o u r.  ahh! (i got him by a little over two months!) we're spending his birthday in seattle, which is appropriate since the next several of his birthdays will most likely be spent here. 

in celebration of the birthday boy, here are some fun photos! enjoy!

..he's irresistible! 

Sunday, November 6

seattle's sunshine

We are visiting Seattle for a couple weeks so Ben can get some work/training done for his new job and so we can look for housing. So often we're told that Seattle (well, the whole state of Washington) is, "So horrible during the winter because it rains every single day", but we have yet to witness that. I'm sure it will come, though! At least, some rain!
I didn't bring my camera cord so I can't yet upload photos from this trip but here are some from our September trip out here, to the beautiful state of Washington! 
Mt Rainer from our plane window
the farmers market

street performers

the original Starbucks at Pikes Place

my hot man whale watching in Puget Sound

Seattle Aquarium 

more street performers

Alaskan cruise ship docked at Puget Sound (taken from our hotel balcony)

sweet abygail taylor 

Snoqualmie Falls

me with all our luggage!

The Space Needle
the famous Duck Tours
The Public Market (scene from the movie Sleepless in Seattle)
fresh seafood @ the market

a crazy (chewed) bubble gum wall

Puget Sound

Boeing Flight Museum 
giant sunflowers in a courtyard 
ducks hanging out at the winery 
 Chateau Ste Michele winery

Tuesday, November 1

camping @the creeper!

I successfully survived my very first camping experience, and I really enjoyed it, too! Our Virginia Creeper family weekend was a total blast. The scenery was gorgeous & the leaves were incredibly bright & vibrant.  It was the perfect introduction to fall!
We arrived to the campground on Friday evening. We got our tent set up, our air mattress blown up, and our things unpacked & organized just before night fell. Then, we all enjoyed mom's scrumptious chili, along with stories & s'mores around the campfire. The kids- David, Nicole & Sam, all joined us just in time for grub! The evening was chilly and windy- the temperature was in the high 30s-low 40s. It was a great evening, filled with lots of laughter & (attempts of) scary story telling! I managed to sleep pretty well that evening, besides waking up around 3a.m. with a full bladder and extreme chills. But, after repositioning/covering myself and convincing myself that I could wait till morning to use the restroom, i nuzzled up to Ben and dozed off.
Saturday morning came. As I awoke, I was quickly reminded that I still had to use the restroom... I gathered my toiletries and walked briskly off to the restrooms/showers. The showers were very warm, which was a wonderful surprise, however they were also very full of spiders -daddy longlegs spiders! (I HATE SPIDERS!) So, needless to say, that shower wasn't exactly relaxing, and it probably won the record of the fastest shower I have ever taken. I arrived back to our campsite to the inviting & alluring scent of freshly brewed coffee, cooked sausage and bacon, scrambled eggs, and biscuits and gravy. Breakfast was delicious around the fire with all the family. Soon after breakfast was over, we all packed up, loaded the cars with bikes, and set out for our 17 mile bicycle ride through The Virginia Creeper trails. What a fun experience!!
The trails were crazy crowded, probably because of the beautiful fall weather. But the ride was incredible & the views were breathtaking. We stopped about halfway at a little ice cream & snack shop on the trail to catch our breath and carb-up on some yummy snacks. We had three babies on the bike trip & they all did awesome! Next year we all hope to ride the entire (34 miles) trail.
We spent one more night camping, and for me it was the better night. Ben & I somehow managed to snag an electric blanket from mom & dad's camper, so this night our tent was super cozy & warm!

Here's some favorite snapshots from the trip! 
just arriving & unpacking 

setting the tent up
our first camping trip together!

ready to roll! 

sweet libby with her uncle ben

leaving for the bike ride

the gorgeous fall leaves!

just hanging out 

sweet little annebell 
our littlest camper!

our tent (left) david & sam's tent (right)

The Virginia Creeper