Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Wedding Shower

Greg & I were lucky to be the guests of honor at a Fiesta Dinner Party hosted by The Gal Pals this past Saturday night. The Gal Pals are a special group of friends who, for the most part, all attend the same church (Hermitage United Methodist), travel together, and, in the words of one member, "... love each other unconditionally and support each other through the good times and the tough times, too! The world would be a better place if everyone had a support system such as ours!"
L-R: Carol Ghee, Deb Matheson, Judy Sweet, Barbara Foster, Alethea & Greg, Cheryl Allen, Linda LaRowe, Jan Little Not pictured: Donna Thurman, Evelyn Tade, Peggy Speich
The party was held at the Brandywine Pointe Clubhouse in Old Hickory, TN. The ladies (particularly Jan Little & Judy Sweet, aka the "Decorating Divas") played up the Mexican theme by decorating with sombreros, a pinata, brightly colored linens, flowers, etc.
me goofing off with some of the decorations
In honor of our extensive travels of late, the guest book was actually a "1,000 Places To See Before You Die" Traveler's Journal. Everyone was encouraged to write "Worldly Words of Wisdom" for us. Greg & I also set up a slideshow featuring captioned photos of us together from 7th grade to earlier this month as well as scenic highlights from our around-the-world trip.
this is how "the other halves" deal with a wedding shower
The delicious food was catered by El Chico and included ground beef chimichangas, chicken fajita strips with onions & green peppers, rice, refried beans, salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips. Drink options were bottled water, lemonade, margaritas and an assortment of bottled beers. Barbara Foster made a special Tres Leches dessert using this recipe.
Greg & I got to eat first
Greg & I received many wonderful gifts. Many of the items we registered for at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target are kitchen-related as I love to cook and Greg is intent on learning but for now enjoys everything I fix and doesn't mind washing dishes!
a table full of gifts
Thanks again to The Gal Pals for hosting us and to everyone who was able to attend! It was a wonderful evening!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of Men & Goats

Another week has flown by. It's hard to believe our wedding is in nine short days! We have been very busy since my birthday...

Greg picked me up in the late afternoon with a gift of three red roses (to mark the third year we have celebrated my birthday together). After a scheduled appointment with a linen rental rep at the chapel where we're getting married, Greg surprised me with a wonderful dinner at Capital Grille in downtown Nashville. It is rated as one of the best restaurants in town and is located in the historic Hermitage Hotel. We lingered over two hours, enjoying the good service and delicious food. We started with appetizers (Summer Salad and Chicken Livers); proceeded to entrees (Roasted Domestic Lamb Loin and Pork Chop) and enjoyed complimentary dessert (Jack Daniels Semifreddo and Berry Pie), not because it was my birthday but because our entrees came out before we were ready so our waiter apologized and offered the free desserts to make up for it.
Jennifer Byler of Connie Duglin Linen demonstrates one way to tie chair sashes
I met my BFF for lunch at Red Lobster to discuss wedding plans and life in general. Red Lobster is offering a special 4-course Seafood Feast for $15 which is a great deal (even though Amy was paying). I ordered clam chowder, Caesar salad, Spicy Coconut & Citrus Shrimp and Key Lime pie. Of course we also got unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits. It was way too much food for me to eat everything so I brought home my entire entree (minus a couple of shrimp), the dessert, a sack of biscuits, and Amy's leftover Shrimp-and-Scallops Alfredo. My grandmother enjoyed a few biscuits and the dessert with her dinner that night, and Greg & I ate the remaining food for lunch the next day.

Greg & I both had appointments to get our teeth cleaned (for the first time in a year since we've been out of the country). We actually went to different locations because neither of us have dental insurance so we had searched for the cheapest place with available appointments prior to the wedding. He ended up at a private office near his parents' house in Old Hickory; I went to Embassy Dental in Donelson. I am happy to report that we both are in great dental shape minus a little extra plaque build-up after a year of being on the road.

We spent the remainder of the day working on wedding-related activities and talking about the future. Greg's parent's took us out for dinner (another birthday celebration) at Dusit Thai in Hermitage. The food was good but not as good as in Thailand and service was slow/erratic (there was only one man waiting tables during the dinner rush).

Greg & I drove to Knoxville to visit my aunt Elaine and uncle Don Jackson & family. We spent the evening helping with the final preparations for the baby shower (on 7/16) and catching up, watching our RTW trip videos, etc.

We were busy in the morning preparing for the baby shower, which started at 3pm. My cousin Chris and his wife Kate are expecting their first baby, Ella Catherine, who is due 8/20). Chris & Kate had no idea we were coming to the shower so it was a great surprise! I was the "official" photographer for the event and everything went off without a hitch. We all had a wonderful time and almost 40 people attended!
Kate & Chris Jackson goofing off after the baby shower (and no, that is not her beer!)
We left Knoxville around 10AM and drove back to Hermitage, stopping at my grandmother Smartt's house for lunch. Then we continued on to Orlinda where we had been asked to goat/cat/garden-sit for the next three days while my mom, step-dad, sister & nephews were on vacation at Kings Island. For the first time ever we had the big log cabin all to ourselves and we really appreciated & enjoyed the peace & quiet. Plus it was a great opportunity to check items off our multiple, extensive "to do" lists.
Ronnie Campbell feeds the goats earlier this month
Feeding the goats is fun, although you do have to watch out for the big males who could unintentionally gore or trample you just trying to get to their food! There are currently 12 goats (I think) plus 3 adult cats, 5 weaned kittens and 4 new kittens who are just starting to explore the area around the barn. Mom & Ronnie also have a good-sized garden which is producing tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash at the moment. After all the hard work of picking vegetables on these hot July days, I enjoyed incorporating the bounty in our daily meals.

That's all for this update. We're back in Hermitage now and will soon be busy with wedding celebration parties (one this Friday night and one Saturday) and other last minute wedding preparations. I will try to write at least one more post before THE BIG DAY! :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another milestone

July 4, 2010 fireworks in Portland, OR
Today I am 37 years old. Greg will not like what I'm about to say, but I think I am probably at the halfway point of my life. In another 37 years I will be 74, which is certainly still young, but I don't expect to be as healthy and capable of as much mentally or physically as I am now. Luckily for me, the past year has definitely been the best of my life so far!
on a zipline adventure in Thailand
One year ago today Greg & I were wrapping up our five month living experiment in Portland, OR. I went to my podiatrist for a final checkup on the healing of my big toes after surgery. We took back all the travel guidebooks we had checked out from the Multnomah County Library in downtown Portland. We celebrated my birthday by eating a wonderful dinner at Ringside Steakhouse. Just two days later we were on a plane back to Nashville. And, another 17 days after that, we were on our way to Sydney, Australia, the starting point of our around-the-world trip!
the road less traveled
Besides knowing how fortunate I am to have experienced so many amazing things in the past year, I am also thankful for the quality time I've spent with my family and friends. True, I was not even in the country for 3/4 of the year, but the other three months were spent visiting with parents, grandparents, siblings and closest friends. This is not the norm for me, as I have lived out of state for the past 10 years.
recent group portrait taken at the Patterson family celebration of our marriage
Within weeks of returning from our around-the-world trip, Greg proposed to me. We will be married in 17 days (on July 29th), almost exactly one year from the day we departed on our trip. I am eagerly anticipating the next year of my life, especially since I know I will be sharing it with my soon-to-be husband. I doubt it will be as breathtaking or adventurous as the past year, but considering that we will be traveling for the remainder of 2011 then moving cross country (to Portland) and looking for jobs, it will not lack for excitement.
Here's to another 37 years of living life to the fullest!