Merry Mardi Gras + Rent the Runway Review

Happy Mardi Gras!

Definitely not one of my "normal holidays" but after all the fun a few weeks ago, it may need to become one. Some of CJM's friends from pharmacy school are from Biloxi, Mississippi, and are super involved in their local Mardi Gras celebrations. They invited us to come to this year's coronation ball as Jacob was being crowned Duke and his brother king of their krewe.

Having never done Mardi Gras before, all I knew was that it was fancy...lots of sparkles and sequins. Que Rent the Runway. I thought I had a dress to wear, but I just wasn't loving it on Wednesday night; mind you, we were flying out before 9:00 a.m. on Friday. I didn't really have a lot of time to find a back up formal gown. So at about midnight, I decided to look into Rent the Runway, and I'm so glad that I did!

I packed my original dress {because a girl can never have too many options, right?} and hoped that my gowns would be at the hotel by Friday evening. So the cool thing about RTR is that you get three dresses with your order: you pick your favorite dress in the size you think you need, as well as another size {larger or smaller depending on reviews, measurements, etc.}, as well as a singular "back up" dress. For my favorite dress, I picked a gold fully-sequined Badgley Mischka dress in my size and a size up, and then a metallic cut-out Adianna Papell gown as the back up.

With the time change and our early flight, we arrived at our hotel at 10:00 a.m., and surprisingly not only was our room ready and they let us check in early, but my RTR package had arrived as well! The gowns came on gold hangers in a fabric garment bag that folds in half and zips up for shipping. I ended up wearing the back up RTR dress for a couple of reasons.

The sequin gown was strapless and really heavy, and would have scratched under my arms really badly. Plus the two dresses were totally different color golds and the one that fit me best was a really brassy gold instead of the more champagne color like the other size. Plus, the Adrianna Papell gown was so comfortable! It was an amazing almost t-shirt material but had a fab metallic sheen to it. The straps and cut-outs were comfortable and fit me just perfectly, and the slit wasn't too high. Some sparkly shoes and jewelry really set it off right.

I ended up flying home with the dresses folded up as my carry on because I'm paranoid and wanted to drop it off at UPS myself and not leave it with the hotel staff, just in case. But yes, I will definitely Rent the Runway again! It makes so much sense...I spent less than I would have on any kind of appropriate dress for that type of an event, that I never would have worn again. Plus, it saves me room in my closet which I definitely need!

"Fancy" Valentine's Day Cookies

If you've been around me in the last two weeks, you've probably heard about my obsession with "fancy cookies." I've long loved these sweet treats, but decided I would attempt making some of my own for Valentine's Day treats for work and for my loves. I went and purchased all the supplies this past week {P.S. Kroger has meringue powder wayyy cheaper than Wal-Mart!}, and got started Friday evening making my dough.

The first batch of dough I used was yummy, but really challenging to work with. I ended up making two batches of this Wilton roll out cookie recipe without any almond extract because that's not my favorite. I made about seven dozen cookies, and this royal icing recipe made more than enough for me to ice them all with with enough for probably another dozen left over! My first batch of dough was from that same recipe link, but I felt like the Wilton recipe was less material to work with, and cut better.

I used three different heart shaped cutters, and found that the wider hearts ended up looking better with the icing on them. I made four colors with gel dye: pink, red, purple and white. I used a variety of techniques and sprinkles to just try to get comfortable with this whole thing! I made only one consistency of icing, and would line the cookies and let it set for a few minutes before flooding it with color.

It does take a while for the icing to dry for stacking, but it's also been raining and will be raining for a lot of this week, so the humidity in the air may have affected the drying time! I'm definitely going to make these again...shamrocks, anyone? I think it will go a lot faster/smoother now that I've done it once and know what to expect. I'll also try to do a couple of different consistencies for decorating and texture.

If you have any royal icing tips or ideas, leave me a comment!

One Year Here

One year ago today, we closed on our house here in Dublin. This was one of many firsts: buying a home, living together full-time, moving somewhere to create a life as a married couple. While it was 'home' for Christopher, my heart and my home is all over the East Coast and I was expecting a move to a small town in South Georgia to present some challenges.

While there were a few along the way {The Great Flowerbed Flood of 2017, and Hurricane Irma just to name a few} the move was surprisingly smooth. I'm not sure that I've ever felt as at peace about living somewhere as I do here. And while a lot of that has to do with my husband, a lot of it also has to do with the people here. I've lived a lot of places, and people are not universally accepting, kind, or excited to get to know the new person. Usually there is some hesitancy and distrust of those coming it to a tight-knit community that causes the transplant to rescind and not make further attempts at developing connections and relationships.

I've never felt more universally accepted and liked than I have here in Dublin. I've met so many people who are genuinely interested in me, my husband, our lives, and in making a deeper connection. I'm not sure I've ever lived somewhere that so many people are as deeply rooted in their faith and are actively living it out. The people here are kind, and inclusive, and loving.

While we have a short list of shopping and dining options {Target will never happen here, y'all.}, we have a growing and thriving downtown community that I'm proud to work in every day. I've been included in an amazing Bible study group with some wonderful ladies that I wouldn't have met if one person hadn't taken a chance and asked me, a virtual stranger, to come over for dinner. And I feel so blessed to live in a community that values family, my marriage, and our commitment to each other.

I've learned to value the little things more, thanks to living in this small town. Even though my mother cries every time she has to make the almost five hour drive to see me and I have to Amazon my face wash each month, I appreciate the fact that it takes me five minutes to get pretty much anywhere any day of the week. I love the fact that we have 52 official St. Patrick's Day events that start in February...and don't expect to find a green bow for sale anywhere after Valentine's Day. I love that my in-laws are just down the road. I laugh at the sheer number of parades we have that makes it feel like I'm living in my very own Stars Hollow. And anytime we go somewhere, I'm always ready to get back home.

So here's to here, and a great year. Cheers to many more.