Fresh Beginnings

First post of 2017! I can’t believe it’s already here… This year I am turning my focus to a new project so for the next month, I’ll be talking about that.

In my last post, I finally revealed some big news I have been keeping in for a while- a new blog for my new life adventure! I had been hinting toward it a little bit in the past couple of months, but wanted to keep it a surprise until I was able to provide more details.

 3 or 4 months ago, I knew I wanted to revamp my blog (or maybe start a new one), but had no idea where to start or what I wanted. Little by little, I started to collect my ideas and plans together and now I feel like it’s time to share. 

Yeah, guys. I finally got my stuff together. (pause for applause)

“Thank you, thank you.” 

If you read my last post, you know the new blog will be called Georgia Wife Life. Why? Well, because I will be a new wife living life in Georgia. (I am so creative, right?) 

I invite you all to follow my journey on Instagram at @georgiawifelife .

As you guys may know, I’m getting married on February 18 of this year. It feels so surreal to be telling people I am getting married “next month”, but that’s my reality. Only 30-something days left and I will be Mrs. Panda Crum (hehehe)! 

On GWL, I am going to be sharing what this new life entails. I’ll be talking about my journey in cooking, our house projects, how I adapt to all of the changes, beautiful Georgia, wedding stuff, and more. I have so many plans and so many fun ideas! 

Follow me on Instagram for launch information. 

I look forward to you joining me! 

16 moments of 2016… and HUGE news!!

I can’t believe 2016 is almost gone. It’s funny how time passes so quickly when you’re enjoying life. And getting old. Time definitely speeds up when you’re old. One month you’re scratching out mistaken 2015’s on documents, and then before you know it you are asking yourself where the year went. Somehow you can remember every.freakin.minute you spent at work, but the weekends come as a blur. 

2016 was a year of realization, growth, and faith for me. I learned so much about myself, my friends, and my God. 

2016 was a blessing, as every year becomes.

I am alive. I am not on the streets. I am doing what I love. I have a beautiful support system. What more can I ask?

 I thought for my last post of the year I would show you some of my favorte photos and memories of the year. But stick around, I have an exciting announcement afterward. 

Here were some special moments of my year! 

1. Because pine cones just smell amazing. Not.        

2. New Orleans City Park shenanigans with my cousin.

    
3. One of my favorite photos from our engagement shoot.

4. My girl was stylin’ at her beach wedding.

5. This was a night full of moonlight dancing and laughs.

 6. This year brought a new cousin, cute and chubby.

7. I took this two days before they said “I do.”

 
8.Daiquiris on the beach, sand in our hair. 
9. My nephew modeling my new Kia.

  
10. The beautiful bride.

11. My FAVORITEST guy.

12. The beach squad.

  
13. This little boy lights up my life.

14. Life can change in a second. I welcome change, happily.

15. Justin took this photo in Florida. I like how it makes me seem… deep. Like I’m thinking thoughts.

16. Fog in the New Orleans Business District.

– • — • – • — • – • — • – • — • – • — • – • — • –

It’s funny that everytime I am online I see people complaining about how awful 2016 was and how 2017 is going to be awesome or lit or amazing. The truth is your year is what you make it. I had many awful or scary moments this year, but the good will always outweigh the bad if you let it.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Hmmm… there was something else I wanted to share with you guys. What was it…? 

Oh, maybe it was the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! 

As you know, I have been talking about revamping my blog. I’m been looking forward to refining it, making it more aesthetically pleasing, utilizing the blogging tools I have been learning over the years, and telling my story in a way that enlightens and entertains others. 

Blah. Blah. Blah. Yada Yada. Get to the point.

2017 will be the year my new blog launches. 


It will be called Georgia Wife Life, and (you guessed it!)  it will be about my life as a Georgia wife. I’ll have a few of my posts from this blog on there because they deal with important issues like LDRs and friendships, but GWL  will focus on:

  1. Food
  2. Relationships
  3. Home
  4. Ladytalk
  5. Beauty

I’ll be talking about my adventures in the kitchen, how we furnish the house, products I’m liking, feelings and emotions, and of course I’ll be sharing wedding photos when I can! I am so excited to share this exciting news with you.  

I will definitely keep you guys updated, but expect the launch to be in Early Spring. 

I won’t be posting much in January, only because I am preparing some stuff for the new blog and getting ready for the wedding. {Only 50 days until “I Do” and I am beyond excited!}

In the meantime, feel free to follow Georgia Wife Life on Instagram. I’ll be posting updates on there soon! See you guys there!

“…they won’t even care.”

“After the wedding, no one will even care.”

Believe it or not, this is the nicest and most welcomed consolation I have been given so far  when it comes to wedding planning and the drama that ensues.

Let me tell you, wedding planning isn’t a cake walk. It’s not just about choosing between ivory and eggshell or picking chicken over steak. (As if steak was ever an option. Fun-ny.

Wedding planning is about learning to say no to those closest to you, being emotionally mature enough to recognize that you can’t make everyone happy, and having enough confidence in your vision to reject the unrelenting notions to add this or choose that. 

My family and friends have been such a great support system. I would love to take this moment to say THANK YOU SO MUCH  for being there, for caring (at just the right level), and for making me feel in control of this wedding. I definitely plan on showing you all just how   much I appreciate it.

Many of them know me well enough to know how to be there and not be there at the same time. They know not to push certain things, but to provide ideas and pinterest pins when necessary. Almost all of them have provided such great ideas and advice. 

As for the others who have provided me nothing but drama, insecurities and pressure, I have come to look in expectation to what so many have told me: “Don’t worry, in just a couple of months the wedding will be over and no one will even care.” 

For all of you who have told me that….Thank you. 

Of course I want a beautiful wedding, but I am a simple girl. I am not going to spend thousands of dollars on flowers and food, and do not intend on having debt from a celebration that literally only lasted a few hours. 

My wedding won’t be the event of the season, and that’s okay because it will be the event of my lifetime. 

It relieves me to be reminded that for everyone else this is just a wedding. They’ll go home and say “that was nice” or “the food was too spicy”, and that’s it. They may think of it every once in a while over the years, but that’s it.

What colors I pick, who my florist is, the flavor of the cake, the music we dance to, everything will be in the past. A memory.  That’s not just good, it’s FABULOUS. 

A wedding is a beautiful occasion, a sacred one. Yes, there’s cake, but it’s no cake-walk. 

You guys have any interesting wedding drama stories, or advice on how to deal with it? Share in the comments section.

7 Reasons Why an L.D.R Isn’t So bad

Well, it’s offical. 

I’m at the tail-end of a long distance relationship. Only a few months until I will be  sucking it all in as my white dress is being zipped up, paying others to make me feel the most beautiful I have ever felt, and looking down at all of my belongings in boxes, ready to be transported to a new home.

This relationship has had it’s ups and downs as every other relationship, but one thing that has been a constant down has been the long distance aspect of it. With almost 500 miles seperating us, distance isn’t something that we enjoy or planned, but it is something we have grown to respect and appreciate. 

Once you stop looking at things so black and white, you start to realize there can be some good aspects of these dreadful circumstances. 


Here are some of the not-so-apparent benefits of being in a LDR:

1. You learn to communicate better. Just because you are far away doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of each other’s daily lives. Communication really becomes a lifeline in LDRs. I say this because if you have nothing in common, can’t agree with one another, or aren’t willing to yield or change at times, your relationship will drown. LDRs are real relationships. 

If you are communicating as you should, distance shouldn’t hide who you are. It should showcase who you are.

 
2. You are always up to date with technology. No avoiding this one, you’ll be the first to notice updates in social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram. And you’ll spend precious precious time discovering new emojis and sending special videos to one another. Personally, my fiancé and I FaceTime a lot, are big on Snapchatting and frequently Pinterest ideas for our future home. Though we don’t use these apps, I have heard that Marco Polo and Voxer are helpful too. We are trying out this app called Avocado at the moment, and I actually kind of like it. It allows you to connect to your significant other and share a calendar, lists, and photos. The free version has some limitations, but I’d say its worth a try. 

Technology is your friend when distance is the enemy.

3. Time together is precious. I can’t imagine a better way of illustrating it aside from this: Imagine your best friend moving away. You are still super close but only see that person every once in a while. Reuniting with your boo thang is even more emotional that that. Wear the waterproof mascara. There will be long hugs and cry sessions. There will be lots of “I missed you”s and “OMG”s. Since your long-distance love is back in your arms, life once again seems whole. 

It’s long absences that truly help you realize how important your time together is, and that you shouldn’t take a second for granted. 

 
4. Physicalities don’t get in the way of what’s important.  Not having your special person near is hard, but it helps you to focus on one another without distractions. Their strengths and weaknesses will become very apparent when all you do is talk all night. You learn who they really are in all types of situations and don’t have the opportunity to overlook important faults because of something physical. 

Differences in outlooks in life, family size, or morale cannot be fixed with a hug or kiss. Just so we are clear. 

 
5. Makeup isn’t a necessity 24/7. I wake up every day at 6:00 am to work an 8 hour shift, sometimes even having to work another 5 hour shift right after. Makeup isn’t on my priority list sometimes. Sometimes I want to sleep. So, not having to physically see your significant other is a blessing in disguise sometimes. Sorry, but it’s true. On those (ugly, ugly) days, I either find a mode of communication that doesn’t involve my face, or make a frantic dash to my makeup bag when it is time to talk face-to-face.

When it’s time to Facetime or Skype, your makeup will look flawless and fresh, and he’ll never know what hit him! 

 
6. You learn to be YOU, not Y’ALL or THEY. Sorry, is my Texas showing? Independence is always looked at negatively in regards to relationships, but the truth is you have to have some sort of self-worth and self-respect to have a healthy relationship in the first place. Independence is vital in not only surviving a LDR, but any relationship. Heaven forbid you split up or your significant other flatlines while being operated on by Meredith Grey at Seatle Grace Hospital!  You need to have strength and determination in yourself to continue on in life. (And yes, of course that last example can happen!)

The foundation for a strong and happy couple is two strong and happy individuals.

 
7. You can take advantage of opportunities to be creative. Yes, it’s sad you can’t be together. But that doesn’t mean you are limited in ways to show you care. Pinterest is loaded with ideas for LDR couples. Wouldn’t a movie date be fun? Why not watch a movie together while video chatting? Send a care package to show her how much you care. Send him a surprise gift or an unexpected love letter. Send yourself as a surprise! 

Nurture your relationship by any means necessary.

    There it is: seven reasons to appreciate long distance relationships!

    What do you guys think? Can you add to my list? Put your thoughts in the comment section below; I would love to hear from you!

      Counting Down #weddingupdate4

      {Sigh}

      Hot Honeymoon

      Just when I was feeling like I had it semi-together.. our honeymoon plans went up in flames. Literally. 

      Me and my fiancé were planning to spend a beautiful week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If you’ve been there, you know how gorgeous and natural it is, full of wildlife and culture. Well, it was.

      Recently, a wildfire devastated the town. 


      Aside from a few people dying in the fire, there were a hundred or so businesses and homes that were significantly damaged or reduced to ashes. (If you want any further information about how extensive this fire was and how you can help, click here.) Thankfully, recently two people were charged for purposefully starting this fire.

      Unfortunately, our cabin (which we worked so hard to find and seemed like such a perfect fit for us) is ashes. Gone. So not only do we not have a place to honeymoon now, but we only have two months to find a new destination that’s cost-effective and beautiful. Most people book their vacations many months in advance (like we did the first time), so hopefully it won’t be difficult finding something.

      We’ll figure it out, I know it. I am just super irritated that there’s a question mark floating in the air right now. Taunting me. 

      Plus there were sooo many things I wanted to see in Gatlinburg. Aside from the beautiful Smoky Mountains and wildlife, I wanted to visit the Titanic Museum, eat at the Pancake Pantry, and go to one of the local wineries. It is all literally in my planner. Now with a cross striking through it. 

      All our plans. Poof! Gone.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. “Get over it”.  I’m trying, I’m trying. 

      Wedding Website

      Our site is  finally up! 

      I am so excited for you guys to see it! It has our story, registry information, photos of our wedding party, and more engagement shots. Justin and I (well…mainly him) worked really hard on getting it together, and we are overjoyed to share it with the world.

      Decoration/Food/ect.

      As regards to the rest of our wedding plans, things are going pretty smoothly. I’m busy trying to get plans and decorations together, and my soon-to-be hubby is busy making money so I can spend it. Just kidding. Well, maybe only a little bit. 

      I have a list of the things to purchase still (which sucks), but I am excited to get it all over with. It’s actually a little painful seeing so much money leave my account so fast, but it makes me feel good to know that I’m getting  things done. Don’t have to think about it as much. 

      Invitations

      Oh, I am in love with how they came out. They are perfect. They should be going out soon, in the next couple of weeks. Since we are having a small reception, we are including a reception card with the invitations for those invited to the after-party. 

      We have many people we love, but not very much seating, which sucks because we would hate to offend anyone. 

      I have been trying to let out-of-town people know ahead of time all of the information they  may possibly need concerning the wedding since it’s going to be a busy weekend. Not only is it Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but I  literally getting married blocks away from where the All-Star game will take place. Brilliant. 

      So, yeah. Wedding planning is going as expected. 

      Only 2 months to go! Hopefully, my final update will be short and positive. And hopefully stress hasn’t caused me to do something to make the state penitentiary my new home.. 

      10 Reasons Why Screenshotting is a Way of Life

      Because:

      1. I can be petty. Let me just get that out there. But sometimes people will try you and your pettiness has nothing to do with it. I have been guilty of screenshotting stupidity and ridiculousness (in a heartbeat) and sending it to my fiancé.

      2. My memory is awful. I constantly see things online that are amazing and realize at once I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT; then later forget about it because (guess what) I can indeed live without it. Screenshotting helps me with my denial. 

      3. I see so many beautiful ideas on wedding websites and on other blogs, and I definitely intend on stealing some of them.

      4. Sometimes my boo sends me the cutest and funniest messages!!


      5. People say they will send group pics but never do. Then you see them on Instagram. If you look good, a screenshot is all you have. And if you look hideous, refer to Reason 1.

      6. Snapchat stories pass so fast! Wait, what do you mean “that’s the point?”. 

      7. Pinterest has wisdom for days, and screenshotting is so much easier than figuring out where the “save image” button ran off to since the last update.

      8. Because sometimes people make the funniest faces in homemade music videos, and you just have to – HAVE TO – screenshot it in hopes of laughing at it forever.

      9. Passwords are my kryptonite.

      10. Coupons never want to load when you are in line and ready to pay for your items. Ever. 

      How about you guys? Y’all as screenshot-crazy as I? Let me know below!

        Engagement Photos #weddingupdate3

        With 3 and a half months until the big day, we finally got our engagement photos done. Boy am I happy, because these photos dictated what we would do for our website and possibly invitations. 

        We let our photographer, Jasmin, of June 28 Photography, know we wanted a fall shoot and I sent her some screenshots of some poses we liked. She hit it out of the ball park. (If you live in the Atlanta area, definitely check her out!)

        We had some hiccups along the way, (somehow I managed to burn my eye with some “deep clean” contact solution containing hydrogen peroxide and we had numerous surprise animal cameos) but I am so happy with how they came out. Here are a couple I posted on social networking:


        And here are some insiders for my loyal followers: 



        We did our shoots in Cumming, Georgia (the photos where we are both wearing blue) and in Byron, Georgia (the ones where we look super fall-y). And I must say GEORGIA IS GORGEOUS IN FALL. I am so glad we had the opportunity to take our pictures when and where we did. I am ecstatic that they came out the way they did. I feel like they came out even better than I expected. 

        Is it weird that I envision our future together when I look at these photos?

        I’m not talking about seeing us wrinkled and grey-haired  rocking on our front porch, though that will be nice in it’s time. I’m talking about Us next year, Us in 5 years, Us with pets and children. Us. Cooking together, laughing together, dancing together. It definitely makes me feel some type of way. 

        I am so ready for February 18, and I am so ready to be Mrs.Crum.

        Getting things done.

        So aside from the engagement photos, we also had our website to design and our invitations to order. Among many many many other things. 

        We started the site, and so far it looks good! I’ll link it in a post when it’s all done. We’ll have more pictures, registry information, and you’ll be able to meet our bridal party (if it all works out as we want). We also ordered and received our invitations. We used a similar design as one from zazzle.com, but edited it to our liking. They look awesome! So excited to send them out. 

        I have so much left to do in regards to wedding planning, (and it is definitely not as fun as I thought it would be as a child,) but I’ll try my best to keep you guys in the loop as best as I can! 


        Trying Something New

        Before I get into my new interest, let me tell you how the wedding went! 

        This weekend I was honored to be a part of my friend Lena’s destination wedding in Florida.  I have to say they truly had it all together; Lena and her fiancé researched everything about the legalities of getting married in another state and knew exactly what they were doing. The three of us drove up to Panama City Beach on Wednesday and visited the nearby city hall to get their marriage license. 

        We headed back home to New Orleans, then prepared for the true road trip the next day. Thursday started with mani/pedis at a local nail salon, with the bride decked out in a “wifey” shirt (from an etsy shop called cutieandmore that I highly recommend) and a sash that said “Bride To Be”. Six manicures and 3 pedicures later, we were on the road.

        We made it to PCB after sunset around 7 that evening, and pulled up to the most GORGEOUS beachhouse. Open floor plan, large kitchen with new appliances and marble countertops, tall doorways, large “rain” showerheads, game room, 4 bikes to explore with, and an amazing community pool across the street. The best part? Each of us only payed about $200 for the 3 nights. 

        Anyway, back to the wedding: It turned out beautifully. It was on Friday after sunset on the beach. There were tiki torches guiding a path to the groom and candles forming a heart for the bride and groom to stand. We all formed a semi-circle around the couple and watched on as they said “I do.” My fiancé did the photography (and some videography) and I have to say he did an excellent job! I was a little nervous the lighting would mess things up, but he really impressed all of us. {I was like “There goes my baby!”}

        Get to the point, please.

        Okay, okay! Well, since Justin has skills, I had him train me behind the camera, and I have to say I am pretty impressed with myself. I’m sorry to do this, but I absolutely need to show you guys some photos I shot before the wedding ceremony. All by myself.




        Photographers, bloggers, readers: let me know how I did. What could I have done better? And tell me how you discovered photography, I am super interested.

        Or just ignore that last paragraph. I mean, it does take 15 whole seconds to type out a response. (Ugh, I hate passive aggressiveness and sarcasm. My apologies.) Talk to you guys soon!

        Time is Ticking #weddingupdate2

        Last Tuesday marked 150 days until “I Do”, or until the Crum Conversion [as my fiancé and I have coined our upcoming nuptials]. Are we ready to get married? Yes. But are we ready to get married? Ummm… debatable. But we are getting there! 

        Cake

        Justin came last weekend to visit and as you have probably guessed by my introduction, we finally did a cake tasting at a bakery called Gambino’s, which is popular in the New Orleans area. This bakery is known for delicious, beautiful event cakes and has been deemed the “King of King Cakes” since the 1940s. We had an amazing experience and ending up choosing a Gambino’s cake for our wedding! 


        {They gave us this candle to thank us for choosing them, and it smells WONDERFUL.}

        Registry

        We also got some registry shopping done last weekend. We are registered at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, and have put most of the items we need on the list. I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but I feel super uneasy shopping for gifts for myself. Like, yeah, I understand that people need to know what we need, but it makes me second-guess everything. It this too expensive? Will people laugh at the thought of gifting us this? Do people even love me this much? Basically, we have put the basic things we need on the registries. We have omitted $50 pillows and $20 towels and kept to the necessities, out of fear of being that couple who expects everything. 

        Decoration

        I have become a little obsessed with Michael’s in the last few weeks, I have to admit. This store has become a go-to store for helping me find wedding stuff for my friend who is getting married this Friday, and at the same time, I have found some great deals for myself also. I am a Michaels Rewards user (it was free!) and find the coupons and notifications they send so helpful.

        Online, I found a great deal for charger plates for the wedding (which were originally a little more than $2.00 per plate). With coupons and sales I was able to get them half off, an additional 10% off and get free shipping. So instead of paying $250, I paid $111! For 108 charger plates. Tell me that it’s not a good deal.

        To Do

        We have sooo many things to do, including making decisions on catering, photography, music, and thanking our bridal party. Also, we have to set up our wedding site sometime this month. Oh yeah, and don’t let me forget how we have to finish paying off everything. I mean, if they really need to take all of our money..

        Slowly but surely, things are falling into place in my brain. This wedding certainly won’t be the event of the century for everyone involved, but it will definitely be the event of my lifetime. I’m so excited to get everything together! 

        This week, though, is about my friend, Z , and her beach wedding. I am sooo happy to be beside her this week on one of the biggest days of her life. And I am equally as happy to be beaching in Florida for (possibly) the last time this year. Finally get a vacation, and I am beyond ecstatic! I’ll enjoy the beach wedding and talk to you guys soon. 

        Always a Bridesmaid, Almost a Bride

        Disclaimer: I’m going to suppress my pressing inner desire to fill this post with 27 Dresses references, but t’is more difficult than it appears.

        I can’t say I have been a bridesmaid anywhere near as many times as the fictional character Jane but I can definitely say I have been in many weddings. 

        The whole idea of finding the perfect guy and having your closest friends there with you as you make one of the most important vows of your life has always filled me with wonder. As a bridesmaid, it seemed to be such a beautiful thing, witnessing someone you’ve known (for what seems like) forever stepping into a new life. (Geez Rhanda, do you have to make this sound like they are dying?)

        Being able to witness my friends get married and support them on their day of celebration is always an emotional adventure. It truly is something special to go from giggling with a friend about a crush to seeing the first official “couple” post on Instagram (#millenials). Then next thing you know you are gushing about the new bling gracing their left hand. And now here they are donned in the most beautiful white gown with an overwhelmingly radiant glow emanating from their skin and all you can do is look back on what brought your friendship to this place.

        I love my closest girls like family. These members of my framily (yes, you read that right!) have taught me numerous life lessons and helped me understand so many aspects of myself, whether it was by sharing their experiences or simply by being present with me through my own. Interestingly, they each have different lives, some more private than others, some more care-free than others. But that’s just what attracts me to them. Our differences. So standing next to them on their wedding days has been an honor.

        Friendship is precious.

        I’ve traveled across numerous state lines to “bridesmaid” (officially making it a verb, whether you like it or not) and have spent as little as two days and as much as 9 days out of town for the sake of being next to one of my girls as they said “I do.” 

        Was it too much to hop on my first plane, fly to a huge international airport alone, sleep in a cramped bed with two other girls, stand in a wedding, cry perfusely during the ceremony, clean up after the wedding, and then sleep for three hours before hopping on an early morning flight back home? Nope, not at all. 

        How about riding a Mega Bus for 12 hours to spend over a week in another state in order to attend both a shower and the wedding, and knowing that not only did I not have a car to come back to (due to recent transmission problems), but I also may not have had a job… Was that too much? I do not regret a thing. 

        These were just sacrifices for the sisterhood. 

        So as I prepare for my own wedding, I look back at those beautiful (yet trying) experiences as practice runs for me. Yes, I know that it sounds a little selfish to say that, considering I wasn’t the bride, only the maid. But I gained such valuable tools! I learned napkin folding, shower planning, bouquet-making, dress fluffing, and most of all tongue-holding. Ok… That came out wrong. I meant I learned how to hold my tongue… (Awkward.) Out of all of the beautiful ladies I have supported, all were mature enough not to go Bridezilla on everyone. Good examples to me, especially now as I come to a realization that WWIII may just break out in my house. (Government, if you are reading this, that was a mild exaggeration… Please don’t send any SWAT units to my front yard.)

        Now, as I await the day when I walk down the aisle with some of my closest friends looking on, I feel appreciative that I was able to share some of their special moments with them. I do not expect them to spend a week in New Orleans with me (during the height of Mardi Gras season) and I don’t expect them to bestow upon me any special attention or gifts. No, that’s just not me. All I truly want is their support and love. And maybe a little alcohol. Daquiri anyone??