Quarterly Review

Photo by Ari Merritt Photography

We've made it through the first quarter! Three months--how exciting is that. I really thought time would slow down after the year{s} long countdown to the wedding, but if anything it's sped up. We've started getting into a good groove with our work schedules, house maintenance, and fun time together with friends. There have been a few hard days where personalities have clashed, and understanding of each other has grown. But it is so wonderful to be able to figure out things together. CJM takes his final pharmacy exams throughout the month of August, and I think it's already proven to be a bit of a stress reliever to be present and supportive of each other together in our home through this final stressful hurtle on a daily basis.

We'll be celebrating our three months of happiness tonight, reminiscing our wonderful honeymoon with a dinner of crab cakes and gin cocktails. Maybe I should also make us three different desserts to try!

Marrying McAfee | It's all in the Details

I've had a lot of questions about where I got certain items for our wedding, so I wanted to do a detailed post all about the details! Some of these ideas were things that I poured my heart and soul into, like our custom crest cups, napkins, and koozies. I'm so glad we have detailed pictures of all of the "small things" that really mattered to me, thanks to Ari Merritt Photography.

July Recipe Review

Almost three months of marriage down, and three new recipes in the books! This month we cooked a lot more at home than we usually do. It's great for the budget, and because I also need the practice. Christopher doesn't get home until after 7 or later each night, which is great because I usually like to eat later anyways. I'm practicing my wife skills and aiming to have dinner done when he walks through the door each evening...at least most nights of the week. We definitely eat out a lot more on the weekends, but have been cooking at home most of the four nights he works each week.

This month we tried three new Pinterest recipes: Low Carb Crab Cakes, Caprese Stuffed Portobellos, and Keto Egg Roll in a Boll. Christopher was really the cooker of the crab cakes, and they were so delicious I asked him to make them again this week! We used this recipe as a guide for our mixture. One cup of crab really wasn't going to do it for us, so we used the canned crab I talked about last month instead. This is a whole pound of crab meat, and I don't know about you, but I like a lot of crab cakes! We also skipped the coconut flour/oil totally, and just added another egg to the mixture to make the whole thing lower in carbs. These delicious crab cakes  topped with Braswell's remoulade sauce from the grocery store. I love using Braswell's products because they're made here in town!


I made these caprese stuffed portobellos last Tuesday, followed the directions to a T, and loved them! We ate them with turkey meatballs in a garlicky pasta sauce that really completed our Italian themed dish. This will be another make again meal.

The Keto Egg Roll in a Bowl was an adventure. If you're not familiar with the Keto Diet, it's basically super low carb and really high fat. I was first introduced to it during my brother's battle with epilepsy a few years ago as an alternative to medication. For him, following the diet strictly and eating less than 15 {if not fewer} carbohydrates a day in addition to high levels of fat intake, kept his seizures at bay. He's now seizure free for 2+ years!

The Keto Diet can also be helpful if you're familiar with the Atkins diet, but have experienced a plateau. When I saw this recipe, I thought the flavors would hit those late night Chinese cravings on the head while being a lot healthier. Unfortunately, a mistake I made caused this to be a miss that I'm willing to try again. While working through the recipe {by the way, just purchase a bag of pre-shredded cabbage to make this a lot easier!}, I used mistakenly used coconut oil instead of sesame or basically any other type of oil. As much as I've tried, I just don't love coconut oil, and the amount in this dish really over powered us. Overall the idea of the dish was delicious, and I'm planning on trying it again with a different oil soon. It really did taste just like an egg roll sans wrapper, all coconut aside!

What new recipes should we attempt in August?

a note to my readers...

Thank you. Thank you for faithfully pausing your mindless scrolling through your various social media accounts to click on a link to a post on my blog. Thank you for checking back each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to read up on me and my life. Thank you for pinning, or sharing, or commenting on my posts.

I've had this blog, Starting Out Southern, for just over three years. It was a way for me to begin documenting my adult life as I graduated from college. It's been a place for me to document my DIYs, my date nights, my heartaches, and my celebrations. There are some of you that have been here since the very first post {hi, mom!}, and some that have just discovered me in the last few months.

In January, a few of my very close friends and now husband encouraged me to really begin to focus on the blog and invest in a future with it. It's been hard at times, coming up with consistent content and learning the ins and outs of a DSLR camera during my spare time, but it's been one of the most rewarding things I've done in a really long time. My readership has tripled in the seven or so months, and I've begun making a few dollars here and there which is surprising added bonus! I couldn't have done it without the constant support of my close friends and family, and the random "Oh, I love your blog!" comments and posts from those I don't see every day. 

So in return, I ask that you keep reading and checking in. If you are a regular reader, but haven't commented before, please do! I love keeping in touch with friends {new and old}. Subscribe with your email in the box to the upper right side of the page to get posts delivered to your inbox. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram Pinterest {all social media accounts are @piperellice} so that I can follow back and keep up with your life and see what inspires you! You're an active part in helping me grow this hobby into something bigger, and I appreciate it!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Marrying McAfee | Our First Look

Christopher and I decided early on that we wanted our wedding to be very traditional. For us, that included not having a first look. I'm honestly so thankful that we didn't. I know a lot of photographers and wedding planners encourage the first look to help speed up the picture process after the ceremony, but looking back I am so thankful for that time together as a couple, newly married to just enjoy each other and spend a few moments alone.

I did want to do a little something special for my brothers, who served as ushers, and my dad so I decided to do a first look with just the three of them. It was a very special moment for the four of us, and let me get out some of my tears and anxieties beforehand. I couldn't believe how grown-up my baby brothers looked! All photos by Ari Merritt Photography

8 Secrets to Success in Sorority Recruitment

Whether you've grown up knowing you would one day follow in your mother's/grandmother's/sister's/etc. footsteps as a sorority legacy, or you're just looking for a great way to get plugged in when starting college, nerves are bound to be growing about sorority recruitment. Maybe you haven't signed up for recruitment yet {you should!}, or maybe you've been planning all summer long for just the perfect wardrobe. Either way, there's probably a lot of questions about the process and how to make a grueling week of ice breakers, skits, sisterhood days, and preference rounds go as smoothly as possible.

It's hard to believe I was one of those girls six years ago. I'm so thankful for my three years in Greek Life, and the wonderful relationships and experiences I gained through it. I've enjoyed continuing my involvement as an alumna, and serving on the advisory board of my collegiate chapter. Thanks to some helpful hints from sorority sisters and Greek Life besties, I've compiled my top eight tips to success in sorority recruitment, some of which I knew when I went through, and some of which I wish I'd known!

  1. Pack a Prepared Purse | Cut up coffee filters work excellently as disposable, affordable blotting papers. Recruitment days are long, and often hot. Use a durable setting spray to keep your face in place, rain or shine! Speaking of rain or shine: mini umbrellas or battery operated fans that can be quickly stuffed into a crossbody bag are two key items that will make the day a little better, no matter the weather. A few final items: a notepad and pen to help you make notes about houses you liked or didn't like and why; and mints, never gum! Now is definitely the time to dust off and use all of those manners your mother taught you.
  2. Less is More | Make-up, perfume, name brands, flashy jewelry, your party life, etc. Recruitment is all about leaving a lasting impression, and you want to be sure that it is the best it can be! Wearing Lilly Pulitzer {or whatever brand/style} from head-to-toe will never make you the top recruit, but your well-rounded, engaging conversational skills will. Don't distract from your shining personality by talking about things you think sorority girls want to talk about...basically anything that's on Total Frat Move should be off limits during rush week.
    Less is more is not a principle to take to heart when picking out what to wear. Please don't wear your "bar clothes" to parties, as both you and the sorority women will be uncomfortable. Most schools have guidelines of what to wear each day, and searching social media for years' past pictures will also clue you in on what will work. Most importantly: wear shoes that you'll be comfortable in all day while walking from house to house, and don't forget a long lasting deodorant!
  3. Keep it Clean | Your social media accounts and your conversation should both be carefully monitored. These are good habits to develop now, as future employers will check out your online profiles, as will the sorority women preparing for recruitment. Words and pictures you may not find offensive may be incredibly so to a group of women who represent a national organization with goals and ideals much larger than your individual realm of influence, so represent yourself accordingly.
  4. Keep an Open Mind | Most women enter the recruitment process with an idea of which house they want or don't want. If they don't already know a lot about the different organizations at the start of recruitment week, they usually hear rumors throughout the day's events shared either by other potential new members, or wrongfully so by women in the various sororities. Don't let the chatter of local girls or women in the different houses influence how you feel in your heart! This is a lifelong, life changing commitment, and only you will know what the right fit is for you. Also, sorority women should never speak poorly of other houses; if they do, that may be a good indicator of the wrong house for you.
  5. Review Your Resume | You probably had to submit a lot of information about yourself while registering for recruitment. This information, either in part or in whole, may be shared with the different sororities. Be sure to brush up on the best of you the night before recruitment begins. While you never want to seem "braggy," it is helpful to remind yourself of the different activities, organizations, and causes that you have been involved in and are passionate about before sharing about yourself with so many different women who are very interested in getting to know you well!
  6. Networking Starts Now | You're not going to like every house and unfortunately, it's a possibility that not every house will want you to return the next day. Rejection is stressful, but focus instead on getting to know as many women as possible in each of the houses you visit throughout the recruitment process. Some of my very best friends are girls I met during rush, whether they were PNMs like myself that ended up in my pledge class or in another sorority, or were active collegiate members that rushed me in the various houses. Greek Life as a whole is a great way to get connected and involved in different events, philanthropies, and friend groups early on in your college career. Don't let different letters keep you from making friends!
  7. Honesty is the Best Policy | Be yourself. Talk about things you're interested in. Share things about yourself that you're comfortable sharing. Don't hide parts of yourself in an effort to fit a perceived mold of a sorority women. The best part about being in a sorority is meeting women with all different interests, from all over the world! The right sorority will want you for you.
  8. Stay Positive | Should you not be invited back to one of your favorite houses, it's okay to feel disappointment. That's natural. But ultimately, the "system" of sorority recruitment does work 99% of the time. You'll hear it a hundred times: everything happens for a reason. In my experience, recruitment and real life, that is totally true. Be excited about and be engaging with every house you visit. The women inside are passionate believers in their sorority, and want you to be as well. You may not know anyone in the sorority you pledge...I sure didn't!...but you're bound to walk away with some of your best friends, bridesmaids, and sisters if you put 100% into the organization you're invited to join. 
My sorority sisters are women that are experiencing all walks of life with me and uplift me every day. I hope you have that experience, too! Please feel free to reach out to me personally if you have detailed questions about the recruitment process or sorority life {piperellice @ gmail . com}. And be sure to leave any personal tips or tricks in the comments section below! 

Flashback Friday | Marrying in Darien

Last weekend, our friends Amanda and Jared got married! Their wedding was full of personalized touches, which I love and hope to share in more detail once she gets her pictures back. They were married at Amanda's family river house in Darien, Georgia. Some of my favorite details of the wedding were the handmade oyster wreaths, oyster shells tied around the silverware, mismatched china, flowers arranged by her sister, and a snow cone tent during the cocktail hour!

I had the awesome opportunity of doing all of the girl's make up, including the bride-to-be, which was super fun! It's definitely something that I enjoy doing, and I appreciate the girls all letting me practice on them. It was literally the hottest wedding ever, but the Urban Decay "All Nighter" setting spray did not let us down! It's my absolute favorite setting spray that I've ever tried, and is a must have for lengthy events like a wedding.

Amanda gave us blue monogrammed button downs to wear while getting ready with cute pajama bottoms, hangers with our names on them, and this fab pearl statement necklace. I've already worn it again since the wedding last week! The happy couple is currently vacationing in Jamaica at a Sandals resort, and I'm super jealous. I think about our honeymoon everyday, and can't wait to go on another trip with Christopher soon!

I never would have imagined so many of my close friends would get married so close together. Another sorority sister is getting married the first weekend in September, and two more just got engaged! It's such an exciting time, and I love all the celebrations for these very special people in my life.

Christopher with our group's first baby. Bowtie buddies! 

Marrying McAfee | Guys Getting Ready

The guys spent the night before the wedding in a hotel in Statesboro, and got mostly ready there. Our wedding venue, Quinney Oaks Plantation, was finishing up a guest house where future grooms and groomsmen can get ready while the ladies get ready in the main house, but it wasn't quite finished when we were married in April. That being said, it did lend to some pretty awesome backdrops and angles for their getting ready pictures.

Those lucky ducks arrived at the venue around 2 p.m., much later than our 9 a.m. hair call! It was just enough time for them to put on their finishing touches, have a beer, and deal with any crises before the wedding, such as my dad's rental shoes' soles falling off! Too funny.

Christopher's gifts to his groomsmen included leather bound flasks, a really cool knife, and whiskey stones with their initials on them. All of the guys rented their tuxedos from R.J. Pope in Statesboro. We picked white for the groom because I wanted him to stand out just as much as I did in my white dress! Plus, I absolutely adore the way black and white pictures look with the couple in all white, and we got some stunners!

P.S. Isn't my groom so very handsome?

All photography by Ari Merritt Photography.