an italian kissing booth

Last weekend, we had the incredible privilege of traveling to Butler, Pennsylvania to attend a reunion for my mom’s side of the family. The reunion was for the descendants of my great-grandparents, and there were about 100 people in attendance.

It was so much fun to catch up with family members and hear stories of treasured memories. There was plenty of hugging, talking, and, like any good Italian event, a whole lot of delicious food.Zach and I both laughed at this conversation between one of my Nona’s sisters asked her son:

“Did you eat?”

“Yeah, I ate.”

“Did you eat again?”

Yep. You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mom asks Ian if he’s hungry, he says no, and she says, “Ok, I make you something.” That’s pretty much how visits to my Nona’s house always went. I love it.

We played bocce ball, had a very entertaining egg toss, and spent lots of time catching up. There was also a lot of kissing, which Zach said reminded him of an Italian kissing booth. (He also said that I’m an awkward cheek kisser, which I hate to admit is probably right. I need to rehearse.) My mom’s cousin was generous enough to let us stay at her house Saturday night, where Zach tought everyone the Family game (one of our favorites) and we stayed up into the wee hours of the night just enjoying each other’s company. (My 94 year-old Nona was still up with everyone at 2am serenading us in Italian- amazing, right?) Basically, we had a great time.

As many of you know, my mom passed away when I was 13 months old. Although she’s gone, spending time with her side of the family always brings me so much joy. Not only are they an incredibly loving, hospitable, fun group of people, but they also help carry on her memory by telling me things about her I never would have known otherwise. (Like the fact that when my mom was born, my uncle got to be the one to choose her name. (if it had been a boy, my aunt would have gotten to choose) He chose Patricia after a cheerleader he had a crush on. So funny!) When we get together with my mom’s side of the family, I am constantly being told how much I look like her. I love hearing that because even though I never got to know her, it means a lot to be able to carry on her memory. For those of you who are curious, here are a few pictures:

hilton head, part II

So in the last post when I said I’ll share more tomorrow, what I meant was, maybe in a couple of days, if I sit still long enough to focus on the blog, I’ll get around to putting some pictures up.

So, now that that’s clarified:

My absolute favorite part of our trip was renting a double kayak on Thursday.

We took it out on one of the nearby waterways, and had a great time enjoying the quiet, peaceful setting and beautiful scenery, including big patches of spitting oysters.

As we went a little bit further, Zach and I were both super excited when we spotted a dolphin. We paddled a little bit closer, and did some crazy happy dances every time he popped out of the water. Then, for the next hour, we just paddled around with this awesome dolphin swimming all around us. It was truly amazing. I actually had the privilege of swimming with dolphins when I was younger, but there was something so exhilarating about just the two of us being in the wild and seeing him swim all around. There were lots of picture attempts, but he was a quick little guy (I hated that I didn’t get a picture of him poking his head out of the water). Basically, if you put all these together you get the gist:

And if you know me and are wondering, I did jump in and try to swim after him. The crazy thing is that it really was only about four feet deep where we were, and the bottom was super muddy, making the kayak a much more efficient means of chasing. But I tried.

After kayaking, Zach treated me to my first ever mani/pedi combo. He’s been wanting to do this for a while, but I always talked him out of it. I have a really hard time justifying paying someone to do something I can easily do myself. Thankfully, my sweet husband wouldn’t take no for an answer. He dropped me off and said I couldn’t get back in the car without painted fingers and toes. (Yep, total winner.) I went with “Dim Sum Plum”, which was a little more purple than I would typically choose, but I decided that it would be much more vacationy to just go for it. Such a fun treat!

Later that night, we drove to the end of the island to the Harbor Town/Sea Pines/South Beach area for a little exploring. South Beach is home to the famous Salty Dog Cafe, and the other areas are full of quaint shops, musicians, and a small camp pavilion for kids. There’s a $5 entrance fee, but in my opinion it’s worth it. The area is completely charming and full of great views like this:

The rest of the week was full of plenty of relaxing on beach-side hammocks,

dreaming of life on a boat (more specifically, this particular sailboat),

and just generally being goofy.

All in all, it was a wonderful week! We were both big fans of Hilton Head- it reminded us of the town we live in, only beachside. We can’t wait to go back!

we’ve been…

Despite the way things might appear on this little blog, we have not fallen off the face of the Earth. Summer just seems to be flying by- it’s hard to believe that we go back to school next week! Yikes. I’ll attempt to recap some of what we’ve been up to, but it may take a couple of days. As far as the short list goes, over the past few weeks we have:

-celebrated our fourth Fourth

– made a short road trip and picked up something fun for the house

– spent a week in Hilton Head

– spent a weekend getting kissed by lots of Italians

Today, I thought I’d share a few pictures from our trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Zach found us a great deal on Priceline earlier this summer, so we got to spend eight wonderful days here. Before we left, we stocked up on a few essentials:

Before we continue, I should warn you: be prepared for ridiculous amounts of food-related pictures in the next two posts. This trip was mostly about laying by the beach and eating.

Our hotel reminded both of us of Dirty Dancing. It was the first time either of us had stayed at a resort, and we loved it. They had tons of great events for families, and a beautiful pool deck overlooking the ocean. As a result, most of our time was spent in lounge chairs enjoying the sun, the sea, and some great summer reading:

On Sunday night, we ate at Hudson’s, which Rachel Ray featured on $40 a Day on the Food Network. The food was a little pricey, but tasty, and we left with very full bellies!


On Monday, we drove to Savannah where despite the heat, we were able to enjoy a great day exploring the city. We loved walking around and looking at the amazing architecture and beautiful trees. We also stopped in a few fun shops-I was a huge fan of both The Paris Market and the Modern General store.

Also while we were in Savannah, I found this hat on clearance. I may have felt semi-over the top wearing it, but I had fun practicing my Gone with the Wind impersonations and felt very Savannahish (not to mention, it was great for the beach!)

We stopped for lunch at Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons. I was a little nervous because I had been told by a couple of people that the wait would be ridiculous and it was overpriced, but thankfully we were able to sit and the bar and didn’t have to wait at all, and (possibly since we went for lunch) the prices were reasonable. On top of that, the food was Seriously, incredible. I had the asparagus sandwich and Zach had the crab cake burger, both which were “Paula’s Picks”, and both which were delicious. As a bonus, the bartender had a Tim Keller book, and we really enjoyed talking with him about it. Highly recommend this place!

(cheese biscuit and cornbread pancake, tea with mint, and asparagus sandwich)

On Tuesday night, we headed to Shelter Cove, where we enjoyed a great fireworks show. Since it rained in Raleigh on the 4th, we were excited to still have some fireworks as a part of our summer.

To keep from inundating you with too many pictures, I’ll share the rest of our Hilton Head adventures tomorrow.

summer lists

We just got back from a wonderful week in Hilton Head, which I’ll recap later. For today, I’ll leave you with a post I put together before we left about a fun summer date night.

Even though I’m normally a mental to-do list kind of girl, the flurry of activity around here has caused me to start getting things on paper so I don’t risk forgetting important jobs.

Titles of these lists have included: Things to Do Before Listing, Things to Do Before Showing, Things to Do Before the Beach, and Things to Do Before Tomorrow.

Most of our goals have been little jobs, but it’s amazing how quickly all the little tasks add up. It’s also amazing how doing one job (like dusting the blinds) can lead to a zillion other small jobs that most likely have no impact on the sale of our home (like dusting the tops of doorways).

Thankfully, in getting all of our to-dos crossed off, we haven’t completely lost sight of our original Summer List. On Thursday night, we decided to enjoy an outdoor movie at my favorite local venue. The movie was Red, and while tickets are usually $3, anyone with a stuffed pig (a joke from the movie) got in free.

I had a little stuffed ballerina pig Christmas ornament (nothing says Christmas like swine in a tutu), which Zach claimed as his ticket. Why would a grown man want to bring a girly Christmas ornament to a movie, you ask? Because this was his alternative:

Yep, I whipped that little guy up in approximately 3 minutes. It may have been pathetic, but it made the lady at the ticket booth laugh, and it also meant we both got in without spending a dime.

The night was wonderful. The movie was cute and entertaining, the weather was beautiful, and there was some great pre-show entertainment (I begged Zach to volunteer for the trivia contest with me, but I got turned down). The venue allows guests to bring food from home, so we’re excited to go back later this summer and enjoy a picnic dinner!


paint the town red (or at least the door)

Even though we’ve spent the past two years updating our house, this summer has been a whirlwind of last-minute fixing, cleaning, and updating. We’ve had several things on our list, but I thought I’d start by sharing one that, in my opinion, has made a lot of impact for just a little bit of money.

When we moved in, there were certain aspects of the house that had been…shall we say…well-loved. Too well-loved. One such area was our front door. It had several scrapes and smudges, and gave off more of a, “I need a nap” vibe than the “Welcome to our happy home” look we were going for.

Also, since this is the place where realtors will be fumbling with the lockbox while prospective homeowners look around and twiddle their thumbs, we wanted to be sure to make a good first impression.

We had discussed going with a fun color, but just had just hadn’t bit the bullet until Zach went to Home Depot and came back with a can of red paint. Sort of like when he goes to the grocery store and comes back with 85 boxes of cereal.

Even though Zach got paint and primer in one, we still ended up doing a few coats. Going from white to red is a pretty big leap. Thankfully, we are both really happy with the result, and it makes us smile every time we drive up.

We also like how the new color coordinates with  the furniture and accessories we were already using on the porch.

Plus, since we had to take down our NC State flag in the name of mass appeal, we are happy to still have a little Wolfpack Red represented on the front porch.

As you might have noticed in the pictures, we had removed the outer door hardware. Since then, we have updated the bronze with black to coordinate with the rest of the porch.

It was a simple, quick change, but we’re both really happy with the result!

the land of the free

Can’t believe it’s the 4th of July already! Over the past few weeks I’ve been gallivanting at the beach with some lovely ladies, finishing up lots of little house projects, spending time with great friends, and just staying generally busy. Thankfully, it’s a fun busy, and we are thoroughly enjoying our summer!

One other thing we also have been enjoying lately is the amount of free (or relatively free) stuff that has somehow crossed our paths. Here are a few:

1) This first one is a total dork out moment for me, so I’ll go ahead and get it over with. A while ago we bought a PlayStation 2 (or 3, I’m really not sure) mainly for the Blu-ray capabilities. While we’re really happy with the system, we weren’t too happy to hear that the network had been hacked. Thankfully, we were able to cash in on the two free games offered by Sony. Zach chose some game that involves guns (yes, specific) and Little Big Planet, which he told me he picked with me in mind. Ha. Riiight. This might be a good time to mention that a family friend once bought me a Sega with one game and I played that one game (Sonic) maybe ten times before we sold it. So not a gamer.


Can I just tell you that my husband was right? He usually is. Little Big Planet is super fun and completely worth the money we didn’t pay. We still haven’t played it a ton, but it’s happy and not at all gruesome, which I’m a fan of.

2) I know I’m way behind the times on this next one, but in case you are too, here it is.

I was recently reminded of the great deals available at EarthFare via a friend’s blog. The nearest EarthFare is a pretty long trek from our house, but I had some errands to run out that way a couple of weeks ago and was able to cash in on their free dinner offer. Just for signing up for their e-mails (which also include some crazy good coupons), I was able to get organic baby carrots, a whole chicken, and a carton of mashed potatoes from their deli. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but apparently a free dinner is still a possibility!

3) This next one is sort of a two-in-one. Last summer on our road trip, one of the hotels we stayed at was offering a free candy bar to anyone who left them a review on TripAdvisor. Since I was seriously in the mood for a snack, I filled out the simple survey and cashed in on my Butterfinger. A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from TripAdvisor thanking me for my input and giving me a code for a free photo book on Shutterfly. Since I’ve been meaning to put our honeymoon pictures in an album for, oh, the past four years, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity. We did have to pay shipping, so it wasn’t completely free if you’re getting all technical, but it was still worth it. In case you’re curious, you can see a copy of our book here.

4) Over spring break, I was doing some browsing on the lovely Boden website when I entered a giveaway for one of the Union Jack scarves they created to commemorate the Royal Wedding. I didn’t really think about it again, so I was super excited to discover this in my inbox:

Ever since our honeymoon (see above), I’ve been a bit of an anglophile, and I love the simple, graphic look of the Union Jack. The scarf looks just like the background of the picture above, and really like it! It’s no longer for sale on their website, but when it was, it was going for $58. Not too shabby.

We’ve definitely been enjoying so many great free things seemingly all in a row, and as we head into a time of celebrating our freedom as a nation, it seemed like an appropriate time to share them. Most importantly, we are thankful for the free gift of salvation offered to us in Christ.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, them, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Have fun celebrating today! More detials on house stuff coming later this week.

more news (and details on the numbers)

Part Two of the house listing news is that not only is our house on the market, it happens to be listed with one extremely adorable agent:

Yep, I’m a fan of his.

Zach got his real estate licence a year ago, but just signed on with an agency earlier this summer. He will continue to teach, but since we finish fairly early in the day and the kids only have PE Monday-Thursday, real estate fits well with his schedule. Plus, we’re both big fans of the whole house buying/fixing/selling process. In my opinion, he’s one smart cookie, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to houses. Plus, we all know that he’s not one to waste money- ours or anyone else’s. All in all, I really think he’s great.

Ok, now let’s talk numbers.

I initially didn’t post details on the more “salesy” side of things just because I wasn’t sure if the blog was the right place, but since I know some of you are interested, here they are.

Square Footage: 2,639

Bedrooms: 4 Baths: 2.5 (*there is also a random little room off of the guest room that doesn’t count as a bedroom but can serve as one or as an office/playroom- it’s the last picture on yesterday’s post)

Extras: .71 acres, granite, hardwoods, 9-foot ceilings, crown molding, new 15 SEER HVAC, cul-de-sac lot, porch and deck, county taxes and voluntary HOA dues

List price: $300,000

So, there you have it. If you’re interested (or if you’re in the market or are looking to sell), feel free to e-mail Zach (that handsome man up there) at