my love and my heart is back

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yes, Kurt is back in the U.S.A.! he has been back for just about three weeks and it is just so wonderful to be together again. we have a few weeks together until the next phase of our lives unfolds, but I have a feeling that this summer will be just what we need it to be. 

already we have jumped fully back into wedding planning, so I have a few posts lined up to share some of our thought processes. in the feedback I received from those of you who took the survey (thank you!), you mentioned wanting more wedding. so it is definitely on its way! 

I hope you all had a safe and restful holiday weekend – happy summer!

the last of my european vacations for this year

this year, while rocky, has also allowed me the opportunity to have some great travel experiences. in april, I was able to visit Kurt again for one last time before he comes back to the states (which is in just 10 days now!!!). during this trip we split our time between lower austria, venice, and vienna; in a word is was inspiring. with great food, beautiful places, a chance to get back in touch with some serious mountains, and a wonderful nine and a half days with Kurt, it was by far my favorite visit. here are some highlights from the tour!

lower austria:

venice:

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San Marcos Platz

vienna:

well, I’m back… and a giveaway!

with just a week left until June, I am back friends! I won’t lie – the disappearance and eventual loss of my friend shook me very hard. but after processing his death and thinking about how he would want me to live on, I am glad to be back with you all.

I do have a couple of posts lined up for the week that will share with you what I’ve been up to this spring… but as I prepared to enter back into regular blogging, I started thinking about this little blog of mine and what I hope it achieves. so, I want to hear from you! I’d love to hear what it is you love about circle city, twenty-six and what you’d be ok to not see again. as I begin to embark on some bigger life changes, I want to continue blogging as an outlet and an exploratory place. I feel like I get so much from reading the blogs of other women; I want to be able to provide something for you all that is just as impactful and meaningful! I would love for you to share your thoughts here:

 

for those of you who respond, you will be entered into a drawing for my very first giveaway! about a year ago I found social print studio and prinstagram. ever since, I’ve been printing my favorite instagram photos through them – their prints are so clear and really highlight the beauty of your instagram photos. something relatively new to their list of products are magnets – I have been dying to buy some! well, one lucky reader who successfully completes the survey will win a set of 15 magnets featuring some of my favorite photos around Indianapolis and of my travels this spring! complete the survey by June 1 to be entered.

I cannot thank you enough, readers, for joining me in the journey of circle city, twenty-six. I look forward to your feedback and continuing to build this little space on the internet!

my friend is missing.

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you guys, typing those words is so surreal. my friend from college is missing and has been since March 30. and it finally hit me tonight – that he is missing and no one has any information at all that will help in finding him. I was talking to my mom on the phone and she mentioned how upset she was and that she could hardly imagine what I was feeling. in that moment I felt the tightness build in my chest and I could hardly respond to her. because I can hardly express what I am feeling right now – is it stress? or disbelief? or a mixture of anger and defeat? I don’t know because I don’t want to believe this has happened to him.

I feel like I am caught in some dream and that any minute now I’ll wake up and he will be safe and back. but I’m not waking up and I am terrified at what could have happened to him. being in Indianapolis is not easy knowing the pain his family and friends – my friends too – are experiencing in NJ. I feel so disconnected and so helpless. this feeling is so debilitating.

I thought about him over the weekend and caught myself thinking in past tense – he WAS a genuine person. and I had to stop myself and think no, he IS a genuine person. because the thought of him not ever being found is just too much.

knowing how much good he has done and how much happiness he has brought to not only my life but the lives of so many other people I know, I have to believe that he is somewhere. and that he will be home soon. I just have to believe it.

will you be…

one of the first questions I remember being asked after Kurt and I got engaged was, “how many bridesmaids are you going to have?!” and quickly following that question, “who are you going to ask?!” I’ve said it here before, but I really was never that girl who dreamed of her wedding. and even though I am a sorority woman, I didn’t go through my college years dreaming of the day my chapter sisters would be standing up with me. so for quite some time, I didn’t know who I wanted to ask. I didn’t know how many I wanted to have. to be honest, I didn’t even know if I wanted to have bridesmaids at all!

during my most recent visit to Kurt over the Christmas holiday, we talked again about whether or not we wanted to have a bridal party. after thinking more about what we wanted our day to be like, we decided that yes, a bridal party was indeed for us. our desire to share this day with those friends and family closest to us helped us realize how important including these people would be. and I think knowing we will celebrate with them will allow us to feel comfortable and relaxed all throughout the day.

so when I decided on who I was going to ask (those details coming at a later date!), I thought a lot about how I wanted to ask these women. if you search on Pinterest for “how to ask your bridesmaids” too many options show up. seriously – try it. I went from excited that I had made this decision to immediately overwhelmed at how to carry it out. so I decided to crowdsource instead, asking women who I know that are married and/or have been bridesmaids before. this direction was much more helpful. and from those conversations, the little box below came to life!

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each bridesmaid will get the same little box – a quick notecard outlining the most important details, a handmade bracelet and nail polish for them to wear on the big day, a photo book with bridesmaid introductions, the dress options they have to choose from, and inspiration Kurt and I are using to plan the celebration, and a lovely card asking them to join us on this special day.

my favorite part of the box is definitely the photo book. this idea I saw on one of my favorite wedding blogs – Snippet & Ink. I used the 4×6 photo book template from vistaprint and filled the pages with all of the important information they will need to know. here are a few of my favorite page spreads!

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information about the dress choices they have

 

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the color palette and inspiration photos we are using

 

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a place to keep all of the important dates

I mailed each of them their boxes and now just have to wait for their responses… which I will admit has this nervous excitement running through me!

for those of you who are married, how did you ask your bridesmaids? and for those of you who are engaged but haven’t popped the question yet, how are you planning to ask? I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!

and the eyes have it… part 2!

so remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared with you all my new options for glasses? well today, I actually have some more options to share!

shortly after that last post, I was contacted by Penn Avenue Eyewear, a Pittsburgh-based glasses company who wanted me to give their home try on program a go! after peeking around on their website, I quickly found some frames that looked promising. what I really like about Penn Avenue Eyewear, though (besides their being based in PA), is their nonprofit and charity support. for every order placed, they donate 10% of the order total to the customer’s chosen charity or nonprofit organization. and as someone who likes to champion companies who make giving back a priority, I was so glad to see that Penn Avenue Eyewear fit the bill! check out their website to see what organizations they support – there is definitely an organization that would appeal to anyone I think!

because I was still on the fence about the first round of frame options, I was really excited to get some new options sent to me from Penn Avenue Eyewear. they arrived earlier this week, and I’ve spent the past couple of days giving them all a try and getting some opinions. here are the five options – which means it’s time for round two of voting to begin! same rules apply – vote here in the comments or vote over on my sockbunstyle instagram account. I’ll be tallying the results over the weekend, and hopefully picking my new frames!

the allen in butterscotch tortoise

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the morgan in sandy beach fade

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the macarthur in black/crystal gradient

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the grant in tortoise bronze

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the august in crystal violet

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using our party style to determine our wedding style

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photo from 100 layer cake

as Kurt and I have begun our wedding planning process, we have talked quite a bit about what the atmosphere is we want to create for our celebration. in the wedding blogs and magazines I read most often, I feel like I see the same “themes” over and over – romantic, intimate, rustic-chic, classic – sometimes it feels like I’m waiting for Julia Roberts to jump out and tell me my life would be easier if blush and bashful* were my wedding colors too…

in my opinion, all weddings are going to have an element of romanticism to them; an element of intimacy. that’s what happens when two people who love each other want to share it with their nearest and dearest. what I want to know is how to keep our personalities and unique love the focus of the day, and not let all of the things I “should” have (and that seem to be featured in said blogs and magazines, making me want them even more!) cloud that most important element.

I know that our “focus 3″ will absolutely help Kurt and I to keep focused during our planning. but there is another tool I found that I think is also going to help us… it’s Martha Stewart’s Party Personality Quiz! the quiz asks three simple questions – pick your poison, choose your favorite outfit, and pick your plan for snack time. my party personality? the host next door – which, coincidentally, matches quite closely what Kurt and I have talked about wanting to create for our wedding! because our venue is such a wonderful weekend retreat getaway, we have talked about wanting to create a weekend of fun and casual events for our guests, culminating in our marriage on Sunday evening. while the details are still quite fuzzy, knowing our party personality and how that intersects with our “focus 3″ should help Kurt and I to plan a wedding that is romantic and intimate, as well as being completely about who we are.

 

*from Steel Magnolias… come on people, it’s a classic!

continuing the love… brussels and tortellini

a couple of weeks ago I shared with you my love affair with brussels sprouts. well, I’m happy to say that we are going steady thank to this easy and delicious recipe! the combination of sweet brussels, caramelized onions and a zesty burst of citrus is simply wonderful, and even more simple to achieve. give it a try! 

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Tortellini with Lemon and Brussels Sprouts
sourced from Martha Stewart (again – this woman is a genius when it comes to brussels!)
makes 4-6 servings

1 pound of brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons of butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound of cheese tortellini
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook brussels sprouts until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.

With a large slotted spoon, transfer sprouts to skillet. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in pot, cook tortellini according to package instructions, then drain. Toss tortellini with vegetables and divide among bowls. Top with lemon zest and juice. Enjoy your quick and easy meal!

 

weekend DIY – a gallery wall!

if you were to look at my pinterest boards, you would see gallery wall inspiration photos all over the place. after my roommate moved out last summer, I knew that the large wall in the now spare room would be a perfect place. as I emptied out my storage unit, I set things aside that could be included. so did Kurt, as he packed up his house to move to Vienna for eleven months. and thus the gallery wall was made possible!

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the finished wall

we started the project by first measuring the wall space. after measuring, we took some painters tape and taped out the measurements on the floor in my kitchen/living room.

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wall measurements taped on the floor

then we started laying out all of the options we had for the wall, taking pictures along the way so we knew where to eventually hang things. in the gallery wall, I wanted to really highlight elements that I thought described me well. so we included old records that were favorites of mine as a child, pictures and things taken from Kurt’s house to highlight my new relationship with him, vintage sheet music from my mom and from our trip to New Orleans, a photo of the Indianapolis skyline, a map I bought when I traveled to my friend Mattye’s wedding, pictures from a trip to England when I was in graduate school, and postcards my mom collected of my alma mater that she had framed as a graduation gift to me.

IMG_1370 IMG_1369 IMG_1368after laying everything out, the process of hanging everything began. I didn’t take any photos during that process – there was too much concentrating and measuring happening. but here are some close-ups of my favorite elements after they were hung!

2014-03-02 11.48.30 2014-03-02 11.50.01 2014-03-02 11.51.41I liked the finished wall so much that I also added some prints on either side of the window on the adjacent wall. those prints are from a trip to Paris my college roommate took. you can see those up in the full photo up above!

I really love my gallery wall – it highlights so many of my favorite trips and memories. I just get the greatest feelings when I spend time in that room because of it! so to recap, building a gallery wall isn’t that difficult. spending the extra time to measure out the space you are going to fill on a floor or large area and pre-placing your items will save lots of time in the long run because you’ll be better prepared for the hanging steps. and using a mix of large and small items helps give the wall dimension and different interest points. lastly, don’t be afraid to include items that aren’t framed pictures in your wall! one of my favorite additions was the vintage plate I had.

have any of you built your own gallery wall? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments!

identifying our “focus 3″

as Kurt and I have started planning our wedding celebration, I have found myself really seeking the advice of a couple of my close friends who are planning their own weddings or have already married. that realistic advice is so valuable to me – sometimes even more so than the blogs and articles and magazines I read on a regular basis. my dear friend Mattye is one friend in particular who I find myself filing away questions for – her impeccable taste and attention to detail made her wedding to her wonderful husband Woody in November 2012 one of the most beautiful celebrations I’ve ever been to. and, to top it all off, Mattye has just begun her own blog with a wedding twist! she launched it on Valentine’s day and I already know it is going to be fantastic – check it out here at the lovingkind.  

in Mattye’s most recent post, she talked about identifying her “focus 3″ –  the three most important areas of the wedding that will receive the focus during planning. she and I have talked about this idea of the “focus 3″ before, but reading her post really helped me to understand how she and Woody identified these items for their wedding. after reading, I shared the post with Kurt and we revisited conversations about dreams and visions for our wedding. you see, since choosing our venue, we hadn’t really revisited that list. Mattye’s post sparked our conversation again, however, and we identified our own “focus 3″!

one: music
with Kurt and I both living lives that have been touched greatly by music, it shouldn’t be a surprise this was first on our list.

two: food
something we identified early on in our relationship was our shared enjoyment of really good food. and we love sharing with others restaurants and dishes we find and love just as much.

three: visual aesthetic
as Kurt and I have thought about and described our ideal wedding, we keep coming back to the visual elements we want to highlight – the design of our printed pieces, the plan for our ceremony space, the way our tables will invite conversation during our reception, our personal attire – to us, this is how all of the pieces come together to create an experience for our guests that is truly memorable.

with our “focus 3″ now identified, it should appear our wedding will now be simple to plan…… well, not really! what it does provide for us are very clear guidelines of how to inform our decisions moving forward. and I know those guidelines will be extremely helpful! with just about 600 days until Kurt and I become husband and wife, there is clearly a ton of time to get this planning right. as we make decisions in support of our “focus 3″, I will be sure to share them here with you all!