Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year to Remember...Forever!

I will absolutely never forget all that the year 2014 brought me.  It was an amazing year filled with once in a lifetime fun and excitement.  Enjoy my recap of this amazing year along with some sneak peeks of photos from the wedding planning posts that are to come in the early part of the new year.

On the brink of 2014, Chris proposed to me.  I can't believe it has been a whole year (as of last night) that I've had this beautiful ring on my finger.  I surprised him last night with some cupcakes of my own to celebrate.

In January, we went to see Motown: The Musical with some of Chris' family, officially decided on our wedding date, and started our mini of the month taste test with some Cotton Candy deliciousness.

In February, we traveled to Kentucky to search for wedding venues, finally made it to Burlington, Vermont, celebrated Chris' birthday with some hibachi fun, and weren't too impressed with Toffee Crunch!

In March, I set a personal record in the NYC Half and gobbled up lots of Vanilla Cookie & Cream minis.

In April, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler with friends in DC, we celebrated four amazing years together in Providence, and gave Lemon Cheesecake a try.

In May, we returned to Kentucky for lots of vendor meetings including my favorite of the whole process - cake tasting!  I attended a book chat with the author after reading The Lullaby of Polish Girls in my work book club, and we suffered through Neopolitan mins.

In June, we watched Tim Howard the US team play before they headed off to the World Cup in Brazil, loved the Chocolate Pretzel minis, and enjoyed our engagement party hosted by Chris' parents.

In July, I was a bridesmaid on the beach in my friend's wedding in Florida, celebrated my birthday by escaping the room, and couldn't get enough of the Root Beer Float minis.

In August, I said goodbye to an old friend, had my first wedding dress fitting back in Kentucky, got outraged by a mini of the month repeat, and had a fabulous time with friends during my bachelorette weekend in NYC.

In September, I co-hosted a baby shower for my friend Mary, attended my amazing bridal shower in Kentucky, had fun at Wine Riot, and scooped up lots of Banana Pudding minis.  We also took our engagment photos and ran a race together.

In October, I wasn't sure it was going to all come together in time, but it did...and I married the love of my life on the 18th.  And if the month wasn't already jam packed with fun for the wedding, we managed a trip to Detroit, snuck some Chocolate Caramel Cookie minis, and I enjoyed Central Perk with F*R*I*E*N*D*S.

In November, we mostly honeymooned....yay!  We also saw Stevie Wonder in concert, gave Cornbread minis a whirl, and saw an amazing show on Broadway - Disgraced.

In December, I revealed my ultimate coffee date, we celebrated our first Christmas together...ever, and enjoyed some Hot Cocoa.

What were the highlights of your 2014?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#MarriedMaitlands: My Ring

Christopher did a fabulous job picking out the perfect ring for me.  I absolutely love it!  When we began talking about rings and what I might like last year, I told him I had no clue since I've never really worn jewelry on my hands/wrists.  He suggested I start looking around so that he would be able to get me something that I would prefer when the time was right.  I took him up on that suggestion and visited a jewelry store in Albany with my friend, Shannon.  She was about two months away from her wedding so she had recently been through the ring shopping drill and was the perfect companion.  After that visit, I was certain I wanted a three stone ring with a trellis setting and a white gold band.  I have small hands and the solitaire diamonds just seemed to look strange on my hand.  I took that info back to Chris, and we even visited the same store on our way to Shannon and Mark's wedding a couple of months later so that I could show him the style I preferred.  After that, we didn't talk too much more about details.  I was never quite sure when or if he had purchased the ring, but he later informed me that he did a lot of research and comparisons of various companies before making the purchase in early December.

You can see the trellis setting really well in this photo.

The company he ultimately decided was the one is Brilliant Earth based out of San Francisco.  The diamonds in my ring were mined, cut, and polished in Botswana, Africa.  They are fair-mined and fair-traded, and the company gives back 5% of their profits to communities harmed by jewelry trade, too.  Chris was very happy to find a company that fosters change and promotes growth in the realm of the diamond business. 

According to their website, Brilliant Earth believes that high quality, fine jewelry need not come at a great human or environmental cost.  Their goal is to make jewelry as beautiful as it can be. They are passionate about cultivating a more ethical, transparent, and sustainable jewelry industry. The following excerpt was particularly interesting:

We hold true to our values of awareness and transparency by carefully tracking the origin of our diamonds.  We go beyond the usual "conflict free" standard, which narrowly defines conflict diamonds as diamonds that fiance rebel movements against recognized governments.
Our beyond conflict free diamonds are sourced from mines that are free from violence, child labor, environmental devastation, and other abuses present in diamond mining.  These mines operate in accordance with fair trade principles, improving livlihoods by providing local jobs with fair wages, skilled training, and progressive working conditions.  Our diamonds are mined under strict international environmental standards to protect local ecosystems.

It is wonderful to know that not only is the ring I wear beautiful, but it was also made and carefully and thoughtfully picked out with these great principles in mind.

Do you know if your ring is fair-mined or fair-traded?

Andrea :)

Amanda's Annual Cookie Swap

In mid-December, my friend, Amanda, hosted her annual cookie swap!  I struggled to decide which cookie I should make this year.  I wanted to make something that was relatively easy since I didn't have too much luck last year with a butterscotch cookie that proved a bit too difficult for me to conquer.

After much searching, I finally decided on Rolo Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies.  I found a great recipe over at Sally's Baking Addiction.  I had no problem following it to make these yummy treats!

The only recommendation I would have for myself if I was making them again is to make less cookies and put more dough on the top portion of the cookie.  I think this would eliminate the bump on the top of them to some degree.  It was the only part of the cookie that I would change from my batch.


At the cookie swap, I actually won second place.  Yay!  I was so excited because I have never won a prize there before.  I guess it is safe to say that the cookies were a big hit with everyone!

Did you make any new treats over the holidays?

Andrea :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our First Christmas Together

Christopher and I spent our first Christmas together this year.  We got into the Christmas spirit by decorating our first tree at the beginning of December.  It was a small, real tree that we purchased from a shop nearby my work.  It was fun decorating it together!

The week before Christmas we decorated sugar cookies.  I love getting creative and making fun designs.  Chris wasn't as excited about it, but I am glad he indulged me for this fun tradition.

Since we were set to be in Kentucky for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we visited with Chris' family the weekend before Christmas for dinner and a gift exchange.  We also exchanged gifts with one another that weekend.  It was a bit of a challenge filling up the stockings as we had not done those when we were dating, but we managed to find some fun stuff for one another in the end.

On Christmas Eve while Chris trekked all over the place to get to Kentucky (and achieve Silver Medallion status in the process...yay!), I took everyone to see the Penguins of Madagascar.  Hilarious movie!  The kids really seemed to like it....and the popcorn :)

Christmas Day we woke up and opened presents.  The kids really had a lot of fun this year.  Brinley especially got into it.  It was SO much fun to be there with all the people I love most in this world.  My brothers sent Chris on a gift card scavenger hunt and tricked him into thinking he had a larger than expected gift.  He was happy with the end result both times.  Santa also left him some Ale 8 under the tree.


We took some great family photos, went to see Unbroken (it was a little long, but definitely worth seeing...amazing story), and relaxed the rest of the day. 

The next couple of days were a whirlwind, but we managed to have some fun at Malibu Jack's before we headed back to NY.  We played mini-golf, rode go-carts, and had a little basketball tournament (Chris won!). 

Chris and I had to hustle back to NY first thing Sunday morning since I had to work that afternoon.  It seemed like such a quick trip this year, but we had a wonderful time spending our first Christmas together.  We are looking forward to many more to come!

Andrea :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!  Look forward to sharing all the 1st Christmas together fun with you soon!  Enjoy today with your family and friends!!

Andrea :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

#MarriedMaitlands - TWO months!

We celebrated one month of marriage with a taco salad game night!  I started off strong winning the first few rounds, but Christopher managed to take over with most of the victories in the end.  We had a lot of fun that night as well as the rest of our second month of marriage!  Take a peek...

Date Nights

-Calvary's Solid Rock Cafe

-Brunch at Alice's Tea Cup


-Disgraced (Review Here)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

-The Invisible Hand (Review Here)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

-Top Five
My Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


-Long Island for Thanksgiving Dinner at Chris' Parents

Notable Events

-Dinner with The Felver's
-Led Bible Study for December

-First night apart as Chris traveled to LA in early December
-Decorated our first Christmas Tree

Andrea :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Long Distance Years: 2013

We traveled and explored for most of the year before Project Relocation finally became a reality. And *spoiler alert* we got engaged!!


Work kept me away for most of January, but Chris joined me in New Orleans for Super Bowl in early February.  We celebrated Valentine's Day wine tasting in the Berkshire's.  And ended the month of February with a sports filled weekend for Chris' birthday.  I was gone with work a bit more in March, but did manage to host the Pittsburgh crew for a tour of my office one day.


We celebrated our third anniversary by painting pottery in Albany.  We attended the Draft and explored Brooklyn.


Having fun at Pete and Liza's wedding!

We made a trip to Kentucky to celebrate a special little lady turning ONE!  And we had a lot of fun at a Cooperstown wedding where we managed a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame as well.


We watched the Belmont Stakes with friends.  And then traveled down to Washington DC for more fun with friends - a baseball game and cupcake tour!


We had a busy July.  We kicked it off with a Fourth of July weekend trip to Chicago to visit friends. Chris worked at my annual 7-on-7 Tournament in Cleveland.  We met my just born three days ago nephew at the end of that trip.  And then wrapped up the month celebrating my big 30th birthday!


All smiles at the Lair wedding...

We visited with friends in Pittsburgh where we saw lots of penguins and enjoyed yummy cider.  We also ventured up to Saratoga for a wedding and some race track fun!  And then we left for our multi-country European adventure!


Having a blast at Mark and Shannon's wedding!

Our trip lasted through Labor Day weekend.  We didn't do too much else in September, but we did drive upstate to our friends' wedding in Oswego.  And on the way, we stopped to look at engagment rings that I had my eye on.


Enjoying the nice weather at Oral and Carolyn's wedding!

We headed down to the Tampa area for Chris' cousin's wedding as well as a Bucs game in the early part of the month.  Chris confirmed his intentions to move down to NYC with or without a job in November so I threw him a SURPRISE going away party in Albany.  We spent the last weekend of the month back in Kentucky doing lots of Halloween type activities before going to a Jets-Bengals game at Paul Brown Stadium...who dey!!


Chris served as guide for my family when everyone cheered me on in the NYC Marathon.  I went with Chris to a wrestling show. And we traveled back to Pittsburgh for the annual football game.


We made a brief apperance on TV at the UK game in Brooklyn before heading down to the DC area to catch a snowy game at the Redskins' stadium.  And then just before the year closed out, Chris proposed...and I said YES!

Andrea :)

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