Thank you all so much for your sweet words and kind wishes last Monday! We have had a fun week of celebrating our engagement and getting the wedding plans off the ground. For a list lover, wedding planning is exhilarating! Anyway, I could go on and on about my strange adoration to lists, but I will save that for another day and, instead, get down to business.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the addition of the full wall of open shelving in the kitchen was a huge game-changer for the apartment. Not only did it roughly triple the amount of storage space and make the cooking process even more enjoyable, but it also caused us to slightly rearrange the kitchen (move the table towards the door) and, therefore, no longer have room for the little makeshift storage shelf that used to hand out along that wall. Forgive the old, ugly picture, but it is the only one I have with the shelf. I actively avoided taking pictures of this wall, because, as you can see, the shelf wasn’t doing the space any favors (though we were in no position to turn down any bit of storage before!).The new arrangement in the kitchen freed up the shelf to be used for other things. Is it the prettiest shelf in the world? No. Does it hold stuff and prevent piles of junk on the floor? Yes. This is Make It Work, people. Sometimes we can’t be picky. So we decided to take advantage of the (free!) small shelf for the nook in the living room next to the heater. This area used to have a chair, but we hardly ever used it (once again, apologies for the old pic).We decided it was better use of the space to replace the chair with the small shelf to hold the overflow of our record and book collections. Since we can always grab the chair from the garage if guests are coming over, ditching the chair wasn’t a big deal to us. In fact, having it gone makes the space feel so much bigger!
In addition to gaining some much-needed storage space for our media collections, I also managed to find a place for that gorgeous set of iron keys I got in wine country. Following your suggestions, I decided to gather all of my other keys from around the house and cluster them together to form a “key wall” (more like a key area). The newest addition to the key family is one of my favorites. When my Uncle Rick passed away, my dad found this key in his belongings and immediately thought of me. Whenever I look at it, I think of my uncle. It’s a nice little thing to remember him by.
Once again, a seemingly simple addition of storage has made our living room so much more organized and functional. We no longer have stacks of rogue records hanging around, and my keys finally have a home! The space is cleaner and more open… mission accomplished. For free. BOOM.
I don’t even know how to start this post because my brain is floating around on cloud nine with Walker’s, but we are over-the-moon excited to share that we got engaged on Saturday! It’s not often that you get to say that a day was, hands down, the best day you have ever had in your life to date, but Saturday was that day for us. I still cannot even process how amazing it is or how amazing I feel, but I am just going to grab on to Walker’s hand, hold on for dear life, and enjoy every second of this amazing ride!
But I suppose I should start at the beginning. It is crazy that the “beginning” of the engagement story was only about 48 hours ago, but it has been such an amazing whirlwind of beautiful memories that it seems like a million years ago… and also like it has all only been as long as the blink of an eye!
We woke up on Saturday morning, just like any ordinary Saturday, drinking coffee, chatting, playing on the internet, enjoying the backyard, waking up slowly, and pouting about how hot it was going to get in the apartment that day. Walker had told me on Thursday that he had gotten me a present that was going to be delivered on Saturday, but I didn’t think much of it since we always buy each other little fun surprises. However, in retrospect, I probably should have thought it was odd that he began obsessively tracking the package and checking the door all of Saturday morning but I honestly didn’t really pay much notice to it. We’re always odd, so this was no different! ;) When the package arrived around 10:30-10:45, he whisked it away into another room while I was watching a silly cooking show, completely unaware he was seeing the ring for the first time. When he came back into the room, he said, “Okay, well, I am going to hop into the shower so why don’t you go ahead and pack.” I was confused (had we officially decided to escape the heat at the beach? Did I miss something?), so I asked, “What? Pack for what?” to which he replied, “Solvang! We’re going to wine country! Surprise!!!!” What followed was a lot of shouting, squealing, and jumping!
After packing up and getting dressed for the day (We always get a little dolled-up for wine country so I set out a few of dresses and Walker helped me by picking out his favorite: the yellow one!), we grabbed our bags/dog and hopped into the car. On our way up, we stopped at In N Out for an amazing pre-wine-country lunch to line our bellies. This is why I am marrying Walker: he knows that any day that starts with In N Out’s special spread is going to be romantic and wonderful. ;)
After a couple hours of driving, we arrived, checked into our hotel, dumped our stuff, and immediately got back in the car to take the short 4-minute drive down the road to our favorite vineyard, Shoestring. The very first trip we ever took as a couple was to wine country, and we fell in love with this small husband & wife vineyard right away. It became our spot every time we have gone back to the area, as it contains so many memories of happy times. Since everything that is truly wonderful about our relationship is always at its best while we are on our romantic wine country weekend getaways, Shoestring really has come to symbolize so much more than a great vineyard; it somehow has always felt like it was a representation of the best of what Walker & I have together. I know that sounds odd, but I’m sure that you and your significant other have one of those “special places,” too! Wine country was the first place we ever vacationed together, the first place we said “I love you,” the place where we have taken some of our favorite friends and family… and somehow Shoestring has come to embody all of that for us.
Anyway, I digress. My point of all of that was that this vineyard is really special for us, and we were a mere four minutes away from what was going to become our best visit yet. What happened next was nothing short of unbelievable. Sometimes the universe is so funny! As we got into the car, a song on Walker’s RANDOM SHUFFLING iPod was in it’s first line or two. In retrospect, he must have been shocked that this little piece of technology chose to play this sing when it did. But he hid it well, simply starting it over and telling me to listen to how beautiful the song is. I am going to embed the song so you can hear it for yourself, but you are going to want to stop reading and listen to the adorable lyrics. You have to picture hearing it for the first time as you are driving through beautiful countryside on your way to one of your favorite places in the world. Enjoy…
Love Story – Harry Nilsson
How incredible is that song?! It is so much about spending a life together with someone ’til death do us part. I could go on and on about it, but just imagine how crazy it is that the iPod chose to play that as we drove to the place where Walker would ask me to spend my life with him. I’m choked up just typing about it! In fact, I didn’t know at the time, but I guess Walker was having a hard time keeping it together by the time the song ended and we were pulling into the vineyard’s gates. I don’t know how he did it, considering what he was about to do!
Okay, everyone stop crying and let’s drink some wine for a minute. ;) We sat down outdoors in some gorgeous Adirondack chairs (since we had the pup!), enjoying a tasting of Shoestring’s six wines. The weather and lighting on the vineyard were like something out of a fairytale. Mother Nature was obviously supportive of our union, because she brought out all the stops! Pure blue sky, golden sun with visible rays shining everywhere, cool and dramatic light breeze… I swear it was magical out there. As we sipped our wines, Walker was a bit quiet, but I just figured he was relaxed and enjoying the moment like I was.
Here is my then-boyfriend-now-fiance bringing one of our tastings!
So happy and he hasn’t even proposed yet!
When we finished our tasting, we got a glass of our favorite ones (Merlot for him, Syrah for me) and spent the next couple of minutes sipping each other’s wine, contemplating which one was really the best (I still don’t know… they are both so good!). Then Walker suggested we take a walk with our wine through the vineyard. We held hands (and Bo’s leash!) and strolled through the stunning scenery, chatting and laughing. We stopped to take pictures of some beautiful sunflowers before wandering over to the grapes.
Once we had gotten towards the back of the vineyard, I unknowingly gave Walker the best lead-in line ever.
I was just taking it all in and said, “I literally don’t think I could be any happier than I am right now.”
Walker smiled and said, “Really? That’s a big statement! Are you sure you couldn’t be any happier?”
“Nope. I’m so incredibly happy. This is the happiest.”
“Well, maybe this will make you even happier…”
Before I could process what was happening, I saw him put down his wine glass and start to get down on one knee. As soon as I realized what was going on, I began crying and shaking immediately! I looked around like, “Oh my god! Oh my god. It’s happening. What do I do with my wine glass?” I looked over at Bo, who just sat on the ground like he totally knew what was going on. By the time I managed to put down my wine glass and turn around, Walker was down on one knee with a ring box in his hand. He opened it up (blinding the whole world with that sparkly rock!) and asked, “Will you marry me?”
Through a bunch of overjoyed sobs, I said YES and mumbled a bunch of nonsensical sounds while I squeezed him with all of my might! We hugged and kissed and hugged and kissed and laughed and cried and hugged and kissed. :)
Then, he said, “Put on the ring!” to which I laughed and replied, “That’s your job!” He laughed and said, “Oh yeah! Good thing you’re here to remind me how this is done! You’re shaking!” as he slipped the stunning ring on my finger. I laughed and cried some more, spewing compliments at the perfect ring.
I said yes! You can literally see Walker’s reflection in the tears in my eyes! :)
The view from our engagement spot in the grass, under the trees!
Then we exchanged some private, incredibly heartfelt words about how excited we were to spend our lives together. I want to keep those to myself so I can have them forever in my heart, knowing he is the only other person in the world with that memory.
I had to stop writing for a minute… I couldn’t see the screen through all of my happy tears! But I have regained my composure….
What followed afterwards was a full recap of the ring and engagement planning over the rest of our walk: who already knew it was happening, how he had called my dad the day prior to get his blessing (which he did, of course!), how he had designed the ring especially for me with our friend’s aunt who is a jewelry designer, how he has been planning it for ages and knew right away that he wanted to propose at Shoestring, how he had been making a lot of not-so-subtle comments over the past few weeks out of excitement that I had failed to piece together (“psychological warfare!”), and about how I was indeed happier than I was before. Much happier!
After we got back to the front yard of the vineyard, we sat in our chairs and looked at each other, beaming and overwhelmed with excitement, like “Okay, what next? What do we do now?” Since we had barely touched our glasses of wine since the proposal, I suggested that we just sit and enjoy the rest of our wine before we made any phone calls. So we did. We sipped and laughed and (I cried some more and) talked and really let the moment sink in. We enjoyed every one of those minutes. That was the best glass of wine I have ever had… because I shared it with the love of my life in what is (for now) the happiest moment in our lives.
Oooooh baby! Designed just for me by my man!
How stunning is the engraving on the sides of the band?
Once we finished the glass, we decided to grab a second before the vineyard closed up for the day. We were the only ones left with the owner, so when we told her what had just happened (she was the first to know haha!), she poured us the biggest glass of wine you’ve ever seen, refused to take our money for any of the tastings or glasses for the day, cried a little, and told us that we can sit and enjoy for as long as we want (and just to leave the glasses by the door when we were done). It was so incredibly sweet of her! She honked and waved, shouting “Congratulations!!” as she drove away. We spent the next hour or so there, drinking our wine and calling our families with our amazing news, all while enjoying our own private vineyard!
Taking it all in before we leave!
We even snapped a few amazing photos with my camera’s self timer before getting in the car!
A series of unsuccessful awesome attempts at capturing a shot of our little family!
Sparkling in the sun! :)
As we drove away, I snapped one last picture of our engagement spot, which was tucked away among the trees back there!
We headed back to the hotel, making a few more calls to grandparents and a couple family members, though we quickly lost steam and decided that they could all wait until tomorrow to hear the news. We wanted to enjoy each other’s company and start talking about wedding stuff! So we got ready and headed over to our favorite steak house of all time, The Hitching Post, for a celebratory meal. Since it was a long wait, we painlessly filled the time talking about wedding stuff and calling another couple of people. The meal was amazing… two filet mignions, a free glass of champagne, and more happiness than I could consume! ;) We bought a bottle of wine to take back to the hotel and the waitress even threw in two complimentary wine glasses as a congratulations gift! We got back to the hotel and talked the night away, just absolutely revelling in the events of the day and the prospect of the ones to come!
Since then, we’ve enjoyed sharing the news with the rest of our friends and family. We’ve enjoyed using the word “fiance” way too often. We’ve enjoyed listening to love songs as possible first dance songs (though the song above is going to be a tough one to beat!). We’ve enjoyed sharing wedding ideas and plans. But most of all, we’ve enjoyed each other and the overwhelming gratefulness we feel for finding one another.
Saturday was the first day of the rest of our lives. Yes, the wedding will be an incredibly fun celebration, but I am more excited to spend the rest of my life and grow old with this man.
Happy Friday everyone! I have been meaning to post this project for a while, but the last two weeks have probably been the busiest weeks of the year! No only do I have the usual school (especially chairing styles… it is heating up! More on that later when I get my head above water), work, and life stuff to worry about, but I have also had about 40 string art orders to manage and complete from the catalog launch! Since they take me 1-2 hours each to do (plus three days of painting in prep), that is a lot of “extra” time to find in my week! I just kept reminding myself of sending out that invoice… :) Needless to say, I have finished the rush and am now back to the usual flow of orders, so I may be around more often.
I am finally getting my act together enough to share our first “Make It Work” project! Sadly, this project was completed almost a month ago, but better late than never, right?!
Like I explained, we don’t have much time or money to invest, but we NEED to find a way to make this apartment work better for us. When we asked ourselves, what’s the first thing we would change, the answer was the kitchen. I have mentioned our major lack of storage before and even proposed a cool counter-height table to add more counter space. However, what we really need is storage space, since we continuously acquire new kitchen appliances, devices and ingredients. Since we typically use the kitchen table to do out prep work, the counter space seemed less urgent.
So after a bunch of research for complete solutions under $100 (shelving is expensive! But this was the one place in the house were we were willing to spend a little dough on storage), I ended back at good old faithful: Ikea. I walked out with many shelving pieces in hand to make better use of this area of the kitchen:
Five minutes later (SERIOUSLY – the Ivar system is INSANELY easy to assemble. No tools necessary except for the back support brace!), we had a full wall of open shelving in the kitchen!
I am OBSESSED with it. Not only can we add $4-6 shelves whenever we feel like it, I also love that we were able to customize it so that my school stuff fits right underneath. Oh, and also Bo’s little eating area! :)
Thankfully, we already had most of our food and chiles in these jars, so I only had to buy two extra! But like the shelving system, buying more jars as we need them is very inexpensive going forward.
One of my favorite parts of the new shelves is the visibility of all of our spices. They used to be on a shelf I could barely reach, let alone see, so I hardly ever got creative. Now we have easy access and (seriously) our food has been better than ever this month!
Thanks to Design Camp, I also had a World Market gift card (woo!) for $10, so I decided to buy this awesome vintage oil container to keep our oil fresh (it likes the dark!) and a new spice shaker for our chipotle powder.
Also, thanks to all of the new space, we were able to display our new Nebraska shot glasses that we got on our recent trip, as well as a book of my family recipes that my brother gave me one Christmas.
It may seem like a silly thing to be excited about, but I can tell you that it has made an amazing difference in our lives! I already feel a thousand times better in the apartment and love the way it has complemented our cooking process. After a month of living with it, I wouldn’t change a thing, except that I need to find a new place for our “Life Is Good” letters.
I know I have been putting the blog as a low priority, but I really appreciate you sticking with me and riding out this busy time! I will be spending the next hour catching up on other people’s blogs… I MISS YOU GUYS!
I hope everyone has an awesome weekend. We had some lovely guests last weekend (and had a blast!), but we are looking forward to having an Erika & Walker (& Bo) weekend to just relax and spend time together after these busy few weeks!